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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I gave notice of my intention to move -

That, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting of the Senate be 11 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday in each week.

As the motion, to my great surprise, was declared "not formal," I ask permission, before submitting it, to put it into a shape which will more clearly express the intention which I ask the Senate to indorse. I wish to add to the motion, as it appears on the business-paper, the words- and that on such days the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, shall be suspended from 1 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Probably if no such amendment were made, the sittings would be suspended as proposed for luncheon; but I wish the motion amended as I have suggested in order to bring it into conformity with the standing order regulating the hours of sitting on Fridays.

Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In submitting the motion as amended, I want to assure honorable senators that I do not do so out of sheer hunger for prolonged sittings. I point out the position into which we are drifting in connexion with the consideration of the Tariff. It is not to be assumed that by submitting this motion I am inviting honorable senators to scamp their duties in any way. That is the last thing in my mind. It must be obvious to honorable senators that we have taken, oyer a number of items in the Tariff, an amount of time out of proportion to that consumed in the consideration of previous Tariffs, and to that occupied in another place in dealing with the Tariff now under consideration. The Senate has considered the Tariff on eight sitting days, on one of which the hours of sitting were extended until seven o'clock on the morning following the day on which the Senate met. We made very good progress on that occasion, I may say-

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And then adjourned over the whole of Friday.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We did more than we should have done if we had adjourned on Thursday night until the usual hour of meeting on Friday. I challenge Senator Thomas, as an old parliamentarian, to deny the statement I now make : That if on the Thursday night we had adjourned till 11 o'clock on Friday, we should have spent the whole of Friday in a second-reading debate on the one item. By the course we adopted we did 'dispose of that item and several others. I have said that the Senate has considered . the schedule of the Customs Tariff Bill on eight days, and during that time has dealt with 135 items. There are 430 items in the Tariff. I turn to the records of another place, and I find that honorable members there dealt with 290 items in twelve days.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They scamped their work, and we have had to spend time in rectifying their errors.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know whether the honorable senator considers himself quite In order in reflecting on the work of the other Chamber.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) -They could not have done their work well in view of the vast correspondence we have had asking for reductions of the duties.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator affirm that any House could pass a Tariff that would prevent such correspondence being received ? Honorable members iri another place dealt with 290 items of the Tariff in twelve days, whilst we have dealt with 135 items in eight days. If we continue the same rate of progress during the next four days we shall have dealt with 202 items in twelve days as against 290 items dealt with by the House of Representatives in the same period.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) -All the more credit to us !

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is no credit to a legislative chamber merely to occupy time. I remind honorable senators in making a comparison with another place that its membership is twice as numerous as that of the Senate.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Would the honorable senator say that it has twice the intelligence ?

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