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Thursday, 1 July 1915

Mr FISHER - Briefly, may I say that I made a statement that the time would be required for dealing with the referenda.

Mr J H Catts - That was some time ago.

Mr FISHER - I announced some time previously that both sides would be agreeable that the time should be devoted to the discussion of these Bills. That was the reason I said what I did. I think it was expected that the time would be given entirely to# the discussion of the referenda proposals.

Mr J H CATTS - I should like to make a personal explanation. I understood that the only portion of private members' time that was to be taken away was the time usually devoted, on Thursdays, to dealing with private members' notices of motion, but I also understood that the usual arrangement regarding the third Thursday was not to be interfered with. Consequently when I proposed the amendment I did last Thursday I considered that I was quite within the arrangement by which this time at least was guaranteed to private members. I met with a number of interjections, and in the confusion hardly knew whether an arrangement had been made or not with the Opposition that this particular private members' time should be also sacrificed. Certainly I did not know of any arrangement. I offered then to give way if any arrangement had been made. This offer was refused. I can quite see that the Prime Minister did not intend the statement as it appears in Hansard, which might lead readers to believe that the time I was occupying was part of the time covered by an arrangement previously entered into.

Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There was no arrangement of any sort.

Mr Fisher - I made a public statement in Parliament that these days were required for the discussion of the Referenda Bills.

Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You made a public statement that you would like to debate the Bills in that time; that was all.

Mr J H CATTS - The Opposition Whip now supports his leader in stating there was no arrangement. I did not understand that the third Thursday was to be taken away from private members. If that had been the intention there is a proper way of doing it - by moving to take such time for Government business. The fact that the Order of the Day being called on shows it was not arranged or understood that it should be dispensed with.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.

Mr J H CATTS - I do not want the people of this country who read Hansard to be under the impression that I had broken any arrangement. It appears now that this was not an arrangement made to do away with the time allotted to private members on the third Thursday. It came as a surprise to me to find that the Opposition had only occupied about fifteen minutes in dealing with the referenda business, which shows that they could not have arranged for the whole afternoon beforehand.


Mr SPEAKER - I have received a letter from the honorable member for Nepean, in which he states his desire to move the adjournment of the House in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, " the administration of the military camp at Liverpool."

Five honorable members having risen in their places,

Question proposed.

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