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Tuesday, 26 July 1904

Mr SPEAKER - I would point out to honorable members that in the motion submitted by the Minister there are two distinct issues. One has reference to the method of voting, which is contained in the various clauses and sub-clauses of the resolution; the other is practically a votingpaper, which it is proposed to set before honorable members in the form of the schedule. In the earlier clauses we have an Electoral Act, and in the schedule a ballot-paper containing the various sites to be voted upon, and I suggest to the House that it is desirable to separate these two matters in the discussion. With, the consent of the House, therefore, I propose to prevent any discussion upon the places mentioned in the schedule during the debate upon the clauses. When the schedule is reached honorable members will be at liberty to discuss the question of whether districts or sites should be mentioned, and, if so, how many. Of course, I do not propose to preclude incidental reference being made to any of the places which are named in the schedule.

Mr Wilks - Would an honorable member be allowed to show, by way of illustration, the effect of voting in a particular way ?

Mr SPEAKER - So long as the relative value of districts or sites is not introduced, I shall not object, but the question of whether honorable members should vote for three sites or districts, or for more, ought to be discussed upon the schedule. That is not touched by the question of the method of voting to be adopted. I propose, therefore, to confine the debate to the question of the method of voting to be adopted until the schedule is reached.

Mr Reid - I see very great difficulties in the way of carrying out the suggestion N which you make, sir. Very great importance must be attached to the two issues together. I understand that the Minister of Home Affairs has submitted one resolution, and I would point out that we are not now in Committee upon the Bill. Seeing that the Minister has submitted his proposals as one resolution, I am not av/are of any parliamentary law which prevents an honorable member from discussing any part of them. I know, sir, that you do not wish to make parliamentary law, but I cannot remember any case in which an honorable member, upon being asked to consider a series of resolutions with a schedule, was precluded from discussing both the resolutions and the schedule simultaneously. I suppose, sir, that you would not insist upon taking the course which you have suggested if it had the effect of prejudicing the rights of honorable members in discussing the series of resolutions? It is an important matter.

Mr SPEAKER - I recognise the importance of the subject, and consequently made the suggestion which I did. There are two distinct issues involved hereissues which have nothing to do with each other. Under our Standing Orders it is quite competent for any honorable member to suggest in reference to any complicated issue that questions should be put separately, and I merely intimated that, with the consent of the House - by common consent - I should follow the course proposed. If there be no objection raised, I shall follow that course completely, but if there be any objection urged, of course I shall not press the point. Is it the pleasure of the House that I should confine the debate to the question of the method of voting--

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Suppose that at this stage we decide to adopt sites in the schedule, what is to become of the original Bill, upon which it is now proposed that we should go into Committee? ' Surely, the whole matter would then be again open to discussion in the widest possible way ?

Mr SPEAKER - I would point -out te the honorable member that the second reading of the Bill has been carried When this matter has been dealt with, the House will go into Committee, and will proceed to debate the Bill, if desired, upon every word and every clause.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In fact, to go over the whole thing again.

Mr SPEAKER -The whole Bill will be open to discussion in Committee, but it is not open to debate at this stage. The only matters which are now so open are two in number. The first- is - " How shall the House proceed to vote and scrutinize its votes upon certain issues?" and the second - "What are the issues upon which the House shall be asked, in some form or other, to pronounce its judgment?" Is it the pleasure of the House that the debate at the present stage be confined to the method of voting?

Mr Reid - This is an important question in itself, though it is chiefly important as a matter of precedent. I should like you, sir, to consider whether it is competent for the House in the signification of its pleasure to debar any honorable member from discussing any particular matter contained in this series of resolutions. Some time ago, when the pleasure of the House was being taken as to whether a certain interruption should be allowed, one honorable member alone* objected, and you decided that his objection was sufficient to prevent the adoption of the course which was then suggested. If only one honorable member, out of seventy-five, objects to being precluded from discussing the resolutions now submitted to the House, I would ask whether the House can, by general consent, shut the mouth of that honorable member? Of course we are familiar with the course which is adopted when resolutions are put to the House seriatim. It is often a matter of convenience that the House be allowed to vote separately upon distinct propositions, but I have no recollection of a series of resolutions being put seriatim in the sense of precluding honorable members from discussing them as a whole. I have no recollection of any case of that sort.

Mr SPEAKER - I said just now that any consent on the part of the House must be given unanimously. If there be a single objector, the whole matter will require to be discussed at once together. It is the pleasure of the House that I should confine the debate at the present stage to the method of voting?

Mr Reid - I object.

Mr SPEAKER - The discussion will proceed in the ordinary way.

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