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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I am unable to accept the amendment. Although I loathe all-night sittings, I know that occasions may arise when no other alternative will be left to the Ministry if it is to get on with business. No Government wantonly seeks all-night sittings ; but I submit to those who have had parliamentary experience that the keeping of a House sitting all night is a reserve power which must be left in the hands of a Ministry. If it is abused, the House will be competent to prevent the repetition of the abuse.

Senator Wilson - Has it not been said this afternoon that it was abused last week ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The speeches that have been made have rather justified my motion. I had the honour to sit' in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales with Senators Gardiner and Thomas, and they will remember what followed when a motion similar to the proposal of Senator Thomas was adopted by that body. Half-a-dozen men were then enabled to holdup the business of the Assembly. They used to saunter into the chamber, having dined well, if not wisely, and after occupying time until 10 'or 10.30 p.m., would go home, paralyzing the transaction of business.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Honorable senators do not do that.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No: but it might be attempted. The honorable senator's proposal is an incentive, should the occasion arise, for the blocking of business by three or four honorable senators.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Even if the amendment is carried, the Senate will be able to sit after 10.30 p.m.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Honorable senators would still be able, if the amendment were not carried, to refuse to sit all night. Irrespective of the Tariff discussion, the power to ask the Senate to sit all night is one which should be left in the hands of Ministers, for meeting with extraordinary circumstances should they arise. I join with Senator Thomas in de precating all-night sittings; but without the right to require the House to sit all night on occasions, any Government would, sooner or later, find itself unable to proceed with business.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then this Senate comes down to the level of an ordinary Chamber.

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