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Thursday, 13 October 1904

Mr McDONALD (Kennedy) - This is the most extraordinary spectacle that I Gave witnessed during my political career. We have in power a Government which has just been given a new lease of life by a very narrow majority, and which now proposes to hand over to the charge of a pri vate member a Bill involving an expenditure of£300,000 of the tax-payers' money. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister cannot cite a similar case in constitutional history. When a Government comes into power it is usual for it either to take up thebusiness which appears upon the paper or to reject it. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill is of sufficient importance to warrant the Ministry in assuming control of it, and any Government which is willing to hand it over to the charge of a private member should not be permitted to remain twenty-four hours upon the Treasury bench. I quite agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that it is about time honorable members displayed some little decency. From the way in which' business is being conducted honorable members would appear to be losing all self-respect, and to care very little for their constituents or the country generally. The Government say that they cannot carry on any business of a contentious character, and yet business of a contentious character involving hundreds of thousands of pounds is handed over to a private member. Whatever position the honorable member for Eden-Monaro may have held under the Deakin Government- he is now but a private member of the House, and it is not right that he should take charge of a measure of such importance. I agree that the Government would have no more right to hand this measure over to the honorable member for Hume. If they are prepared to assist in the passing of the Bill they ought to have taken it up themselves. When the Prime Minister sanctions this sort of thing, I very much question the sincerity of the right honorable gentleman's regard for the welfare of the community.

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