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Thursday, 12 May 1960

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade) . - I listened with interest to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). Having regard to another matter that is to come before the House to-day which perhaps will be embarrassing to the Opposition, I can only believe that this matter of urgency was submitted as a time-consuming device. My colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who will follow me in speaking to this matter would, I believe, support that view. Here I stand to reply to the honorable member who led1 for the Australian Labour Party in the defence of Australian industry, and I count on the Opposition benches seven members of the Australian Labour Party, who are present to hear their own advocate.

Mr Ward - How many are there on the Government side?

Mr McEWEN - What has that to do with it? This matter was submitted on the Labour Party's initiative.

Mr Peters - Answer the proposition. Do not be a humbug!

Mr McEWEN - This matter of public importance was submitted ostensibly as a matter of urgency. [Quorum formed.] It is interesting that the de facto Leader of the Australian Labour Party, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), should have called a quorum to attract members of the Labour Party to hear the debate that his own party has initiated. After the quorum bells had rung, there were still only seven members of the Australian Labour Party in the chamber. This is a sham debate. It is designed for no other purpose than to consume the time of the Parliament and so restrict the embarrassment of the Labour Party on another issue.

Mr Ward - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I take it that the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister reflect on the Chair, because the decision that a matter submitted for debate is of urgent public importance lies with the Chair. The right honorable gentleman has said that this is a sham debate and in my opinion, that is a reflection on the Chair.

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