Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 15 September 1904

Mr SPEAKER - I point out to the right honorable member that the question before the House is -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next.

The. only question that' is open for discussion is whether or not that motion shall be carried. The no-confidence motion itself, of which notice has been given, will appear upon the notice-paper later on, but it will not be competent to discuss the general question on the motion now before the House.

Sir JOHN FORREST - Do I understand that I am not at liberty to discuss the question whether it is advisable for the House to adjourn until Tuesday ?

Mr SPEAKER - The right honorable member can discuss that and' only that.

Sir JOHN FORREST - I am going to give my reasons why I think it is very inopportune for the House to adjourn at this time. All parties have taken a great deal of trouble 'in regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. That measure has reached such a stage that a few hours more would have, been sufficient to finish our work in this House. I have no doubt that it could have been completed between now and the usual time for adjourning to-night.

Mr Mahon - What about the honorable member for Moira?

Sir JOHN FORREST - I have not consulted any one, but seeing that the majority in favour of the measure last night was so large, I have no doubt that a very few hours would have been sufficient to complete the Bill in this House.

Mr Mahon - Some of the right honorable member's friends in the corner intended to prevent that.

Sir JOHN FORREST - There are only one or two honorable members on this side of the House who have spoken strongly against the measure.

Mr Mahon - They have done so twice before.

Sir JOHN FORREST - I am speaking in the interests of Western Australia, and I do not think that I should be interrupted by members from that State. The measure was just about to be disposed of finally by this House. A very few hours' work would have attained the object that the people and the representatives of Western Australia have desired so long, and for which they have worked so arduously. What is the reason for this hurry ? Surely we might have disposed of the Bill, to which I have alluded, before the honorable member for Bland gave notice of his adverse motion, as we did in the case of the Arbitration Bill? If, of course, the debate upon the Bill were likely to occupy a week or two, political exigencies might demand that the no-confidence motion should be proceeded with. But, seeing that it was not likely that long speeches would be made, we could have finished the work to-day or to-morrow at latest, and the measure that is so important and so urgently desired in. the interests of Western Australia, of the Commonwealth, and Federation itself, would have been disposed of, so far as this House is concerned. Is it fair or reasonable that this measure should be cast aside, and its progress set back for months probably, and especially when there is no urgent reason whatever for doing so?

Mr Frazer - It must be in the forefront of the programme of any Government.

Sir JOHN FORREST - But we might have had the Bill passed, and the survey commenced, before the measure is likely to reach its present stage again. I think that the other Western Australian members must be of the same opinion as I am.

Mr McDonald - Why did the right honorable member allow the question to remain so long in abeyance, while he was a Minister ?

Sir JOHN FORREST - One cannot get all one wants in a day. We have had very up-hill work in regard to this matter, and now that we are just upon succeeding, as far as the House of Representatives is concerned, the work is to be put back, and for no reason that I can see - because notice of the motion which the honorable member for Bland has just read might as well have been given to-morrow, or even next week. We might just as well have finished our work on the Bill before adjourning.

Mr Groom - That would not have carried the matter any further.

Sir JOHN FORREST - We could have disposed of the Bill in this House, and it would have gone to the Senate, in the same way as has been done with the Arbitration Bill.

Mr Groom - Would the Senate have proceeded with it, while a no-confidence motion was being discussed ?

Sir JOHN FORREST - Will they proceed with the Arbitration Bill ? Is it fair to Western Australia that this precipitate action should be taken? Why was this notice of motion given to-day instead of tomorrow, or even next week? I should like some one to answer that question. Unless the intention was to delay the passing of the measureand, in view of the large majority by which the resolution was passed last night, I cannot believe that that was the motive - I am at a loss to account for the action of the leader of the Opposition. lean only say again that I very much regret the action which has been taken, because I conceive that it is unjustifiable, and absolutely opposed to the interests of the State I represent. A large majority of honorable members have declared themselves in favour of the proposed survey. The Bill was not likely to be the subject of any further great controversy.because honorable members had already given their decision, and we should. have disposed of it in a few hours. I am certain that the people of Western Australia will be greatly disappointed at the result, and I can only express' my astonishment that my honorable friends of the Labour Party, who have worked so hard, and are so much in sympathy with the proposal, .should have allowed the present action to be taken. The effect of our adjourning from to-day until Tuesday may have the effect of postponing the passing of the Bill for months, and will be regarded as most unfriendly by the people of the western State.

Suggest corrections