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Thursday, 11 August 1904

Mr SPEAKER - Standing Order 407 requires -

In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order, or Orders of the House, may be suspended for the day's sitting, on motion, duly made and seconded, without notice : Provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of the members of the House.

Does the honorable member claim that the question he desires to discuss isone of urgent necessity?

Mr WEBSTER - I maintain that the question is urgent, because the Opposition, in refusing to allow the Government to recommit Clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill for its full consideration in Committee, have in view the defeat of the Administration, and their action deprives those who support the Government of the opportunity to justify that support, while it at the same time prevents other honorable members from giving their reasons for opposing the Government. The action of the Opposition is intended to deprive honorable members of their inalienable right to defend their attitudte, not only in regard to a particular measure of legislation, but in regard to the general support given to the Government during its term of office.

Mr SPEAKER - I am not sure as ro whether what may be disclosed by the honorable member in the course of his speech, or in the speeches of those who follow him, will show that the matter is one of absolute urgency ; but if I find it necessary later on to interpose I shall take the opportunity of doing so. For the present the honorable member mav proceed.

Mr WEBSTER - I maintain that the matter is urgent because, should the recommittal proposals of the Government be defeated, members of this House would be deprived of the opportunity of discussing the general question. They would be deprived of their right to explain why they have given the Government their support in the past, or why they have religiously opposed the Government in connexion with its legislation and administration. I maintain that the course of conduct which has been adopted by the Opposition, with a virw to steal a march upon the Government, has practically prevented honorable members from placing before the electors, whom they may have to face in the immediate future, any reason or justification for the attitude thev have taken up, not only on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but on questions involving the whole policy and administration of Ministers. I wish to ask what justification any member of this House has - be he one of those who has great responsibilities cast upon him, or be he the least influential member of the Chamber - to come forward, and by means of the method of procedure which has been adopted, endeavour, while defeating the Government, to rob honorable members of their right to express to the country in general, and to their electors in particular, their reasons for the attitude they have assumed, and their justification for their conduct, whether as supporters or opponents of the Ministrv? If honorable members wish to have detailed argument. I should like to say - why should we send an honorable member like the honorable and learned member for Bendigo back to his constituents, depriving him of the right-

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