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Thursday, 1 May 1902

The CHAIRMAN - I must direct the honorable member's attention to Standing Orders 173 and 274, whichclearly lay down that discussion must be limited to the particular amendment or clause before the committee. The honorable member is discussing some motive of the Government - improper or otherwise - and is therefore entirely out of order.

Mr WILKS - The manipulation of this Bill has been truly remarkable.

Mr Barton - I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member uses that term as in any way reflecting upon the honor of any member of the Ministry ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister has no right to ask that question.

The CHAIRMAN - If the Prime Minister considers the statement of the honorable member for Dalley offensive he must withdraw it. I ask him to say whether he used the term in an offensive sense.

Mr Barton - If the honorable member did not intend his remark to be offensive let himsay so, and I shall be satisfied.

Mr WILKS - Certainly I did not intend it to be offensive, as my past record in this House will show.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to know if the Prime Minister is in order in rising to his feet, and, without addressing the Chair, demanding from another honorable member an explanation of some term which he has used. I submit that, in such circumstances, the proper course for the right honorable gentleman to adopt is to rise to a point of order.

Mr Barton -.- I did address the Chair when I rose.

The CHAIRMAN - The Prime Minister addressed me when he rose, and intimated that he considered the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley offensive. I then called upon the honorable member to state whether or not they were used in an offensive sense.

Mr WILKS - I have no desire to labour this question any further. I shall content myself with having uttered a protest of an all too mild character against the procedure which has been adopted on the present occasion.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Higgins) proposed -

That ohe word "extraordinary" be inserted after the word "an," line 7.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas). - I quite agree that this word should be inserted. The present is the first occasion in the history of constitutional government upon which a Bill has been taken out of the hands of the Ministry and so completely altered. It is wise, therefore, to insert the word proposed, seeing that the measure is in every sense an extraordinary one.

Mr.' MCDONALD (Kennedy).- I think that the new leader of the House in the person of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is acting wisely in moving to insert the word proposed. Everyone recognises that the position is an extraordinary one. Usually, when the leadership of the House is taken out of the hands of the head of a Government, Ministers resign.

Mr Barton - There is no danger to fear from the honorable and learned member.

Mr MCDONALD - I do not know what the Prime Minister proposes to do now, but I certainly think the course he has adopted is as extraordinary as the measure will be when it leaves the committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. HIGGINS(Northern Melbourne).I move -

That the word "eight," line 7, be struck out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word "ten."

Mr Watson - What is the reason for providing £10,000 t

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