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Thursday, 13 October 1904

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) - I was rather surprised; to hear the somewhat heated remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. No one has made any reflection upon him. He has accused honorable members upon this side of having been actuated by a partisan spirit,, but the objection taken by the leader of the Opposition, and by other honorable members who shared his views, was to the introduction of a party spirit in connexion with the measure. As the Bill, had been in the hands of the honorable member for Hume for some time past, it was felt that a party complexion would be imparted to it if it were transferred to the charge of an honorable member who happened to be on. the Government side of the Chamber. It was only in that sense that the leader of the. Opposition referred to the matter.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are there two Bills on the notice-paper?

Mr BATCHELOR - No, there is a Bill and a motion,; the Bill stands in the name of the Honorable member for Hume.

Mr McCay - As a matter of fact, it stands in the name of the Minister of Trade and Customs.

Mr BATCHELOR - Exactly , and the honorable member for Hume was the Minister of Trade and Customs when the Bill" was introduced", and so far as this Parliament is concerned, his name alone has been identified with it. The late Government were willing that the Bill should be allowed to remain in the hands of the honorable member, and if he were deprived of the opportunity of proceeding with it, honorable members might suppose that an attempt was being made to serve some party object. That is what, the leader of the Opposition meant by saying that the passing of the measure would not be assisted by any such" proceeding.

Mr Austin Chapman - What does the honorable member infer from that?

Mr BATCHELOR - Exactly what was said.

Mr Austin Chapman - Are we not justified in presuming that the leader of the Opposition meant that he would adopt some special measures in connexion with the Bill?

Mr BATCHELOR - The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is absurd to suggest that any one would vote against the Bill because it had been transferred to his hands. Our claim is that the Bill should continue to be regarded as a non-party measure, and that that would be the best course to adopt in the interests of the project itself. Honorable members are inclined to put themselves- to some trouble in regard to a measure in which they believe if it is being treated fairly, but not otherwise. No one intended any reflection upon the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but some honorable members felt, at the same time/Thai no slight should be put upon the. honorable member for Hume.

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