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Thursday, 20 October 1904

Mr KENNEDY (Moira) - I think that it is the duty of the Government to see that a little more progress is made with the business of the country. It is quite refreshing to hear the honorable member for Wide Bay lecturing the Government for transferring so important a measure as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to the charge of a private member of the House, when, as a matter of fact, the Ministry of which he was a member, laid down the precedent which is now being followed. Why did the leader of the late Government give the honorable member for Hume the right to deal with a measure of this importance ?

Mr Fisher - The honorable member is wrong in saying that we created a precedent for this action; the Barton Government extended a similar privilege to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.

Mr KENNEDY - The Manufactures Encouragement Bill was a plank in the platform of the Deakin Government, and it was only when the Watson Government assumed office that this measure was transferred to the charge of a private member.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - It was not transferred to the honorable member for Hume, but the promise was made that he should be allowed to take charge of it.

Mr KENNEDY - And as honest men, the members of the late Ministry would have kept that promise. The honorable member for Wide Bay has lectured the Government for doing that which his own Ministry was prepared to do. I think that the Government ought to take a firm stand. If they are going to continue to allow the Opposition to conduct the business of the House the sooner they leave these benches .the better.

Mr Reid - What are they doing?

Mr KENNEDY - We know that there is a great deal of work to be done, and the Government, having allowed a private member time to place the Manufactures Encouragement Bill before the House - a fact of which I do not complain - have permitted the Opposition to say .when the consideration of it shall cease. When the Bill was re-introduced to the House a few nights ago, by the honorable member for EdenMonaro, no one was prepared to continue the debate. Personally, I do not desire to speak on the motion for the second reading, because I realize that we had a second reading debate on a previous occasion. I am prepared to vote without speaking to the motion, and those who support the Bill are taking an unjustifiable risk in occupying so much time in discussing it at the present stage. If the Government are. going to allow the debate to be adjourned at this early hour, night after night, and to refrain from bringing forward other business, they will place their supporters in an unfair position. I made an appointment - the first I have ventured to make for a considerable time - for to-morrow, but I now find that, owing to the want of decision on .the part of the Government, I shall have to break it. Am I to be compelled to remain in this House, week after week, for twelve months in the year? When I sought the suffrages of the electors, no one contemplated that I should be compelled to sit here day after day all the year round, and that I should be debarred from- devoting any time to my private business. It may be all very well for those who have wealth and leisure to sit here day after day, but I have neither. It is the duty of the Government to insist on the reasonable despatch of public business. This is the second occasion on which I have entered my protest, and if the conditions to which I object are allowed to continue, I shall take the very first opportunity that presents itself to express by my vote a very decided opinion about the matter. * I have no hesitation in saying that if such an occasion again arises, the Government should not allow the Opposition to determine, so to speak, the hour at which the consideration of public business shall cease. With this clear and distinct statement of my position, I shall conclude by saying that I look upon the present method of conducting business in this House as an absolute waste of time. 9 t

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