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Thursday, 7 July 1904

Mr McDONALD (Kennedy) - I take this opportunity to enter my protest against the manner in which the business of this House is being conducted. I do so because it appears to me that a number of honorable members who desire to get to their homes are in the habit of making arrangements by which, so far as they are concerned, the sittings of this House are limited to two and a half days a week, since they leave Melbourne on the Thursday afternoon. One result of these proceedings is that some of us who are compelled to remain here altogether are placed in an unfortunate position. The session extends for very much longer than it should, and we cannot get back to our constituents at all, whilst other honorable members are able to visit their constituents at frequent intervals. By the time we get through the Estimates and have waited for the Senate to deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill', we shall probably have been here this session until November. Of what use is it to ask a man who represents a constituency in Northern Queensland to visit it in November, when the rainy season sets in, and may last until' the following April ? He is compelled either to stay in Melbourne or to visit one or two places in the other States, and possibly the 'Southern portion of Queensland, and he is unable to go round his electorate. Apart from the inconvenience which this custom imposes upon .myself and Queensland members generally, there is another feature which I deprecate even more, and >that is that arrangements are made between members of this House that a certain amount of business shall be done. In order that they may get away they are prepared to arrange that so many clauses of a Bill shall be dealt with.

Mr Robinson - That is bad government.

Mr MCDONALD - I am not blaming this Government for it. It is a common practice that has grown up in the conduct of the business of this House, and it may lead to very disastrous results. No honorable member present can conscientiously say that the clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which we have passed this afternoon, have been thoroughly understood.

Mr Robinson - They were purely machinery clauses.

Mr Crouch - They were all examined and accepted previously.

Mr MCDONALD - I am inclined to think that when some of those clauses are thoroughly scrutinized some honorable members will be very sorry that they agreed to the arrangement.

Mr Kennedy - I think so too.

Mr MCDONALD - And they will not be members sitting on this side of the House.

Mr Crouch - We can recommit the clauses if necessary.

Mr MCDONALD - What I object to is that honorable members should say, " We will allow the Government to pass so many clauses of a measure, provided we are allowed to go home this afternoon." If any honorable member took exception to one of those clauses, and called for a division, it would be found that there was not a quorum present, and he, therefore, is compelled to hold his tongue, and swallow the clause to which he objects, or accept responsibility for putting the Government and the House in a very awkward position. The time has arrived when this kind of thing should be stopped. It has been my lot on several occasions in past sessions to direct attention to the fact that hon-


orable members who come from long distances, and who naturally desire to visit their electorates occasionally, should receive some consideration. The practice which has been adopted is a very selfish one on the part of honorable members who are continually absent from the House. There is one honorable member who has attended only eleven out of forty-five sittings which we have had this session. That is not very creditable to the honorable member, and though some may say that the matter is one between' him and his electors, I ask honorable members to consider what would follow if we all adopted the same course. The practice which has been adopted may lead to a state of affairs which will not be creditable to this House. I could not allow the motion to be passed without entering my protest against the adjournment until Tuesday next. I am aware that I can do nothing in the matter, because the position is as I have stated it.

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