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Friday, 21 September 1928

Mr BRUCE (Flinders) (Prime Minis ter and Minister for External Affairs) .- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

I very much regret that yesterday, when I introduced this bill, honorable members of the Opposition took advantage of the Standing Orders to prevent me from giving immediately to the people of Australia the explanation to which they were entitled in regard to a measure of such grave importance. The hill deals with the unfortunate situation which has developed in connexion with the maritime transport industry. Almost hourly, the complications are increasing, adding to the sufferings and losses of the people, and it is essential that the public should have information at the earliest possible moment regarding this proposed legislation. When the measure is clearly understood, honorable members will realize that it is designed to bring about a resumption of activities in connexion with maritime transport, and prevent further suffering and loss on the part of the people. The attitude of the Opposition yesterday was contrary to the established practice and precedents of this House. During the six years I have been privileged to be Prime Minister I have introduced very many measures, and yesterday was the first occasion upon which exception was taken to the usual practice of allowing the Minister in charge of a bill to give to the House and the people an explanation of it immediately after its introduction. I trust that in the discussion and consideration of this important bill the attitude of honorable members opposite will not be patterned on the hysterical and . unbalanced outburst of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) yesterday morning. The measure is entirely free from politics. It is designed to assist Australia at a very critical period in its history, and is worthy of the support of every honorable member, regardless of party divisions or political differences. The object of the bill is to uphold the law, preserve the authority of this Parliament, ensure the continuance of a vital service, and safeguard the people against great loss and suffering. Surely the consideration of such a proposal can be free from the bitterness of political partisanship, and without suggestions such as those by which the honorable member for Bourke degraded himself yesterday.

Mr Fenton - I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister has accused the honorable member for Bourke of having degraded himself in this House. Surely that is a disorderly remark to apply to an honorable member.

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