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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - I wish to direct attention to the fact that, from a parliamentary point of view, we appear to be getting into an unsatisfactory method of doing business. I recognise that existing circumstances might compel us to do things which we should not care about doing under ordinary conditions. We have before us now a Bill to provide for five months' Supply, and it will leave only two months of the financial year unprovided for. I am, therefore, disposed to look upon it as practically the final appropriation measure for the current financial year. I understand that it is the intention of the Government, after this Bill is passed, to go on with a considerable amount of further legislation. Honorable senators on both sides have been accustomed to recognise that it is necessary that the Senate should retain its hold of the purse if it is to be in a position to control the actions of any Government. If at the present time we were sitting on the other side, and Senator Millen and his friends were representing the Government, I wonder what we should say. I am inclined to think that we would probably do what was done by the Senate on a memorable occasion six or seven years ago. After the final Appropriation Bill for the year had been passed in this Chamber the Government of the day discovered that a considerable amount of further legislation was necessary before the session could be brought to a close. You, sir, were a member of the Senate at the time, and you will remember that we did not say anything, but when the President read the messages received from another place, and the Minister in charge moved the first reading of the Bills referred to in those messages, we said " No," and we thus made it clear to the Government in another place that it was of no use to send up legislation to the Senate after the final Appropriation Bill had been dealt with. We are adopting a slipshod practice, and I hope that there will not be very much more of this kind of thing. If the Government are to be allowed to get what is practically a final Appropriation Bill through, and then seek to go on with further legislation, I shall be found voting with the other side when that legislation is submitted in the Senate. Every honorable senator realizes that as soon as the final Appropriation Bill for the year has been passed the Government are in a position to laugh at Parliament.

Senator Long - Parliament is only a majority of its members.

Senator TURLEY - Certainly ; but that is no reason why the majority should continue to stand behind the Government if they propose to do what is wrong.

Senator Long - No; the assumption is that, while they have a majority, they are doing what is right.

Senator TURLEY - At the time to which I refer the President and I were supporting the Government of the day, but we took the action we did in order to make it clear that the Senate, was not prepared to depart from the usual practice, and permit the Government to send up legislation after the final Appropriation Bill had been passed.

Senator Long - The honorable senator suggests that we should become fossilized.

Senator TURLEY - I do not. I say that when Parliament passes what fs practically the final Appropriation Bill for the year, the Government have matters in their own hands, and are able to announce the prorogation of Parliament at any time, and what would Senator Long be able to do with them then if he objected to what they proposed ? I hope we shall not drift very far in that direction, whether the Government in power be one which we support or one which we oppose. There are certain safe lines on which the government of the country should be conducted, and I shall do what I can to see that Parliament retains the power to speak its mind to the Government of the day.

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