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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Kennedy raises a point of order.

Mr McDonald - I did not raise a point of order, but I objected to the course adopted by the Prime Minister.

The CHAIRMAN - I may point out to the honorable member that there is nothing in the Standing Orders providing that the Estimates shall be dealt with in any particular way. The Estimates are referred by the House to the Committee, which deals with them as it thinks proper. The practice has been to submit the Estimates by divisions ; but it is quite competent for the Prime Minister to move that the whole of the remaining Estimates be agreed to. It will be competent for honorable members to discuss any item included in the Estimates not already passed.

Mr. McDONALD(Kennedy). - Is it seriously contended that the Prime Minister can move that the whole of the Estimates be agreed to upon one vote ? If that be so, what is the use of submitting them to Parliament ?

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member can object to any of the items.

Mr McDONALD - But suppose that the Estimates were submitted in the first instance by an unscrupulous Government, and that a motion were proposed that the Estimates as a whole should be agreed to. If the Government had a majority at their backs, honorable members would be perfectly helpless. I defy any honorable member to quote an instance in which that course has been followed in any British Parliament. If the Committee were prepared to allow such a motion to go without objection, well and good.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the Chairman's ruling.

Mr McDONALD - I have objected to the motion being submitted in that form, and I maintain that as a member of this Chamber, and a representative of the people, I have a perfect right to raise a dissenting voice in such a case. No departure can be made from the ordinary course without the unanimous consent of the Committee. I hope that the Prime Minister will not allow his desire to rush through the Estimates to cause him to make a serious departure from the ordinary practice in this Chamber.

Mr Deakin - Does the honorable member desire to discuss any particular items in the Estimates?

Mr McDONALD - Yes. I desire, inconnexion with the Electoral Department, to discuss the way in which the rolls have been collected, and other matters in connexion with the management of electoral affairs.

Mr Glynn - There is nothing to prevent the honorable member from discussing that subject now.

Mr McDONALD - I know that we could enter upon a general discussion in the same way as upon the Budget ; but it is preferable that we should discuss each matter in connexion with the vote proposed for the Department with which it is associated.

Mr DEAKIN - I desire to withdraw my motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr DEAKIN - I now move-

That divisions 2 to18, inclusive, be agreed to. This will enable the honorable member to discuss the matter to which he has referred in connexion with the vote for the Electoral Office in the Home Affairs Department.

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