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Thursday, 20 October 1904

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I ask the honorable member not to discuss the Bill.

Mr McDONALD - I do not intend to discuss the Bill.

Mr SPEAKER - Any debate which would be in order on the motion for second reading would not be in order on this motion.

Mr McDONALD - I wish to discuss only the position in which we are in relation to the Bill.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - What the honorable member is going to say will be in order on the motion for the second reading.

Mr McDONALD - The honorable member does not know exactly what I am going to say. I desire to refer to a question of procedure, and not to the merits of the Bill. We are in an unfortunate position as regards the Bill with which we have been supposed to be dealing to-night. When the Government came into office, they had the right to take or leave whatever measures they pleased. They abandoned this Bill, and then we witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of the Prime Minister getting up and handing it over to an honorable member who is not in a position to make a reply to the debate. The honorable member who moved the second reading of the Bill is the one who is in charge of it.

Mr Wilks - Surely, if honorable members are friends of the measure, they will not quarrel about that.

Mr McDONALD -It appears to me that the person who introduces a Bill, and moves the second reading, is the person who ought to reply to the debate; and that is a clear proof that the honorable member for Hume ought to be in charge. The Prime Minister had no more right to hand the Bill to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro than I should have had to hand it to the honorable member for Lang.

Mr Johnson - I would not have anything to do with it.

Mr McDONALD - We shall probably come to that position before this is all over. The honorable member for Hume moved the second reading, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is in charge, and it is the Minister of Defence who objects to the adjournment of the debate. The Bill seems a sort of bone thrown into ' the arena for . the whole of us to worry. I regret much that the Government should be in a position to be practically dictated to by any honorable member who sits behind it.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK(Parramatta).I am sure the Prune Minister will appreciate very much this intense sympathy of the honorable member for Kennedy, and his party, in view of their expressed intention, which they appear to be carrying out pretty persistently.

Mr Fisher - The Prime Minister has had a good deal of support from us.

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