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Friday, 4 November 1904

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) - I desire to emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Kennedy with regard to the indifference displayed by some honorable members in reference to the passage of two very important measures. Whilst we are prepared to deal with matters of practical legislation, we find the Treasurer adopting a course which can only have the effect of prolonging a useless debate, and involving serious waste of time. Why did not the Treasurer adopt the course permitted by the Standing Orders of allowing the Estimates to stand over for the present, and thus afford honorable members an opportunity to proceed with the business on the noticepaper in its proper order?

Sir George Turner - That would shut out Supply, and we should start on Wednesday where we began to-day, and have another long discussion.

Mr WEBSTER - The Treasurer should be prepared to adopt the course best calculated to facilitate public business and to avoid waste of time. There is no more effective way of wasting time than by continuing a debate of this kind. We could dispose of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill this afternoon, and might also make some progress with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, whereas the Treasurer is quite content that honorable members should continue a useless debate.

Mr Reid - Are these the high standards of the new national party?

Mr WEBSTER - We should be promoting the best interests of the country by discussing measures which deal with great national issues. If the Prime Minister will consent to proceed with the measures I have indicated I shall do my best to assist him in keeping a quorum, and I am satisfied that the honorable member for Barrier will give a similar undertaking. The right honorable member for Swan has complained that the State he represents has not been fairly treated in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, but, apparently, he has made no effort to induce the Government to push on the measure.

Mr Reid - Is this the high ideal of the great Labour Party? Is this their concep tion of how the public business is to be transacted ? " Oh ! what a falling-off was there."

Mr Thomas - The right honorable gentleman cannot expect much from the "steerage passengers."

Mr WEBSTER - I do not see that much objection can be taken to the attitude of the Labour Party, when they are expressing a desire to proceed with the legitimate business of the country. We are trying to promote the business, whereas the Treasurer has proposed a course which will lead to further delay.

Mr SPEAKER - I would point out to . the honorable member that the question before the Chair is whether we shall take steps preparatory to resuming the consideration of the Estimates in Committee of Supply, or proceed with the orders of the day as they appear on the notice-paper. That matter has nothing to do with the personal attitude that may be assumed by the Treasurer or other honorable members.

Mr WEBSTER - I cannot deal with the motion without referring to the mover.

Mr SPEAKER - No personal matter can have anything whatever to do with the motion.

Mr WEBSTER - I am not dealing with a personal matter. I am endeavouring to deal with the right honorable gentleman who is representing the Government.

Mr SPEAKER - Will the honorable gentleman resume his seat? The question before us is whether we shall proceed with the motion preparatory to considering the Estimates or deal with the orders of the day.

Mr WEBSTER - I am endeavouring to argue that we should go on with the orders of the day.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member will be quite in order if ,he does that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is hardly a success as a humorist.

Mr WEBSTER - I do not claim to be. I do not regard this as a place for humorists, but as one in which we should give our serious attention to the business of the country. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill is of great importance, and as a" supporter of it, I desire to see it passed. Then there is the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, which is urgently needed, and should be disposed of as soon as possible.

Mr. THOMAS(Barrier).- I trust that the Treasurer will not press this motion to a division to-day. I think that it would be a pity to postpone the orders of the day- :

Sir George Turner - Why not take a vote upon it in order to ascertain the wish of the House ?

Mr THOMAS - To my mind, the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill is one of very great importance.

Mr Reid - That is right. The honorable member continues to maintain the high ideals of his party.

Mr THOMAS - I do not see that the Prime Minister can expect much from " steerage passengers."

Mr SPEAKER - I would remind the honorable member that " steerage passengers " have nothing whatever to do with the question that is before the House.

Mr THOMAS - Personally, I have always supported the proposal to authorize a survey of the projected transcontinental railway. I am very glad to see that the right honorable member for Swan is present. I know that he is intensely anxious to see that work carried out. I understand that if the Bill to which I have referred were proceeded with this afternoon it would meet with no opposition from honorable members upon this side of the House. If the Government will consent to the adoption of that course I am prepared to remain in Melbourne - instead of leaving for Adelaide this after - noon - for the purpose of assisting to maintain a quorum. I am prepared to stay here until midnight, or even later, if necessary.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honorable member reformed ?

Mr THOMAS - I understand that the people of Western Australia earnestly desire the construction of this railway. I claim that we ought to do all in our power to satisfy the citizens of that State, who have already expressed approval of our actions in this connexion. The honorable member for Kennedy has expressed the opinion that the Government should afford the House an opportunity to proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Personally, I think that it would be too much to ask the Prime Minister to devote more time to the discussion of that measure, in view of his own utterances upon it. There is one other reason why I should like to see a division upon the motion submitted by the Treasurer deferred until Tuesday next. As honorable members are aware, the honorable member for Darling, who is one of the most regular attendants in this Chamber, is absent to-day. He was not present at the count-out which occurred upon Wednesday evening,' and I think that he should be afforded an opportunity of stating why he was absent.

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