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Thursday, 27 October 1904


Mr REID (East Sydney) (Minister of External Affairs) . - I promised tomake a statement to the House with reference to the proposals of the Government as to the business for the remainder of the session, and I propose to make that statement now. I think the Government will consult the convenience of honorable members generally if an effort be made to so despatch public business as to enable Parliament to rise in the beginning of December. That is the desire of the Government ; but, of course, we are prepared to continue beyond that date if necessary. We ask the co-operation of honorable members, and of members of the Senate, to endeavour to bring about the result I have indicated. I should now like to mention the matters with which we propose to deal before the session closes. Before doing so, however. I may point out, not only for the information of the House, but for the information of the public generally, that, as a matter of fact, for the past eighteen months there has (been a recess of only something under a month, and that was a recess prior to indulging in the pleasures of a general election. I think that fact ought to be known as a reply to a number of people outside, who are always speaking to the countrv as though this Parliament were never in session. As a matter of fact, there is no Parliament in the world which is so much in session.


Mr Mcwilliams - No Parliament which sits so long and does so little !


Mr Fisher - I thought the complaint was that we had done too much.


Mr REID - I should not like to make the remark just uttered by the honorable member for Franklin, but as the result of my experience generally, since I came into public life, I will say that itby no means follows that the longer the session the more the work. My impression is that it sometimes happens that when sessions are not of undue length more work is done than if they are long.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is in accordance with what mathematicians call the inverse ratio.


Mr REID - That is sometimes the fact. This House met, as honorable members know, at the beginning of March, so that by the beginning of December we shall have been in session for nine months of the year. There may be some rare exceptions in the Chamber who would like to sit for twelve months in the year; but I do not suppose honorable members who come from very distantparts of Australia are anxious to be complete exiles from their States. Whether that be so or not, the Government propose to use every legitimate effort to bring the public business to an end by the beginning of December.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Or earlier if possible.


Mr REID - I do not care how much earlier we may complete the business, but I do not think it possible to fix an earlier date. In the first place, the Government is earnestly desirous that the Arbitration Bill should be finally dealt with before the prorogation - that is a foremost matter of importance in connexion with the measures now before the two Chambers. Then after the Budget debate is finished I think it is of pressing importance that we should pass the Estimates, and get to the first stage of the Appropriation Bill. I think honorable members will agree with me that the Papua Bill ought to be completed this session. We have only one clause for consideration in this House, all the others having been passed; and I think honorable members will be of opinion that the sooner the management of this Possession is put on a business footing the better.


Mr Bamford - Will the Bill be recommitted ?


Mr REID - As I intimated, I shall yield to any reasonable request in that direction. If I omit any Bill in. the course of this statement, I shall be glad if some honorable member will remind me of it, because I did forget to mention one or two on the last occasion. Now, however, I have provided myself with notes, so that I do not think there will be any mistake. The Government also hope to complete the Transcontinental Railway Survey Bill, and I may here sav that both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament have passed resolutions to reserve twenty-five miles on both sides of the route within the State. We shall also have to. introduce a short Billto amend the Defence Act, practically, however, only in one respect. The Government propose to submit to the House the result of their deliberations with reference to a system of reorganization of the Military Forces, and the decision we have arrived at involves some slight alteration of the Defence Act. We are very sorry to have to add this Bill to the list, but an amendment is absolutely necessary to bring about the changes the Government intend to submit to the House. The Minister of Defence proposes, under an arrangement which I feel sure the House will sanction, to make his statement as to the proposed reorganization in Committee of Supply on the Estimates. He will do so very soon after the discussion on the Estimates has begun, so that honorable members may have some interval of time in which to consider his propositions before we reach the Defence Estimates. The Cabinet came to a final decision only today, but the Minister of Defence will be prepared on Tuesday to make his statement, and the Defence Estimates will be postponed for a reasonable time in order, as I have said, to give honorable members full time to consider the proposals. We hope, also, to pass the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill. This measure has been passed by the Senate, and if we can deal with it this session it willbecome an Act. I do not desire to go into any details as to some provisions of the measure which mav have to be considered, but, if it be possible, I am sure honorable members on both sides will be glad to have it passed into law. Then there is a short Bill we should like to complete, but I admit it deals with a subject of some difficulty, namely, the extraordinary conditions under which persons have to ship fruit from Australia to other countries. The whole subject will have to be considered, probably, in connexion with the Navigation Bill. We think that the conditions which shipping agents and shipowners impose upon consignors of perishable products sent from Australia are so foreign to common sense and equity that it will be necessary to control them by Act of Parliament.


Mr Hutchison - That is a good Socialistic measure.


Mr REID - I donot care what honorable members call it, so long as they pass it. Some day or other we shall have a set debate upon the different definitions of " Socialism." In the meantime. I wish to sav that if I can help the individual enterprise of the producers of Australia by the use of the powers of the Legislature, I shall be most happy to do so. I stop short of abolishing the enterprise of individuals, and converting their industries into Government factories. However, I hope that the inflammable season will not set in in connexion with this useful measure. I should like also to say that although we have already given a week to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in connexion with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, we are very anxious to afford him a further opportunity to deal with that measure.


Mr Mahon - Give him another week.


Mr REID - I cannot invite my honorable friend to help the Government in a matter of that kind yet, and I will not make any promise upon the subject; but

Ave are anxious to give the honorable member for Eden-Monaro a chance to push his. Bill through.


Mr Thomas - What ! After the right honorable gentleman's speech against the Bill?


Mr REID - If my honorable friend could only speak as well as he can interrupt, he would be a statesman. There is another subject, upon the importance of which we all agree, although widely different views are taken in this Chamber in reference to it, that is, preferential tradeAs I have said, we do not at all propose to accept the honorable member for Hume as a leader upon that great subject. We think that the natural leader of the movement in Australia in favour of preferential trade is the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and as we have said, we proposeto give him an opportunity of introducing that subject. We have, the less difficulty in doing that, because there is no doubt whatever that the subject was thoroughly canvassed at the last general election, and is, therefore, one upon which the House may be fairly invited to express its opinion. I think honorable members will agree with me, however, that it is one upon which a very lengthy debate must take place.


Mr Mauger - Is there any chance of our passing a Bill upon New Zealand lines ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The debate would be absolutely barren.


Mr REID - It would be perfectly inconsistent with the state of public business and the length of time we have been sitting, for the Government to give time this session for that discussion ; but we propose, at an early stage next session, to afford the honorable and learned member for Ballarat an opportunity to take the sense of the House on that subject.


Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - What are we to do in the meantime?


Mr REID - I think that in the meantime, the honorable member had better consult Mr. Anstey. He would do better to occupy himself in that way during the next six months than to devote his attention to any other matter.


Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - The right honorable member may safely leave Mr. Anstey to me. 1


Mr REID - May I point out to the honorable member that as we have been sitting for nine months out of the twelve, only some gentleman who has some ulterior motive to serve, some highly disorganized individual who has no sense of proportion, would wish to sit' for a longer period.


Mr Mahon - And no desire that the Government shall get into recess.


Mr REID - I am told that since the delightful events of yesterday, a new party has been formed in this House, which is composed of a large majority of the members of all parties. That party has only one plank - one with which every member of the Government agrees - and it is called the " Recess Part v."







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