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Wednesday, 5 October 1904

Mr REID (East Sydney) (Minister of External Affairs) . - The honorable member for Gwydir ought to have known, that his suggestion was impracticable. A proposal for such an alteration in our time of sitting, must be preceded by due notice to the House, and the suggestion was made at a time when it was impossible to carry it out. In connexion with debates involving the position of the Government, the Ministry cannot act as it is often in a position to do when other matters of public business are being discussed, and bring pressure to bear on the House to shorten discussion. We have to allow every honorable member - and properly so. too- the fullest opportunity to express his opinions upon our administration. Both the leader of the Opposition and myself are anxious to do what we can to shorten the debate, and we had a consultation this morning to see if we could possibly bring it to a close this week. Knowing, however, that a large number of honorable, members desired to address the House, and claimed the same right that had been conceded to -others, we came to the. conclusion that it would be impossible to close the debate this week; but we both hope that avote will be taken on Tuesday next, or on Wednesday at the latest. 'We are anxious that there shall be no surprise in connexion with the division, but that all. honorable members shall be acquainted with the time at which they will be called upon to record their votes. Those honorable 'members who have made . long speeches must concede the same right to other honorable members who have not yet spoken, and if the Government were to attempt to curtail debate, they would be exposing themselves to the imputation of attempting to stifle discussion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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