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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Mr FULLER (Illawarra) - I move-

That this House dissents from the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker, that an honorable member is not entitled to repeat an argument already used by another honorable member in the same debate.

I consented to the postponement of this motion yesterday, because I had no desire to interfere with the arrangement entered into between Ministers and other honorable members with regard to certain business. I think, however, that the matter should be disposed of to-day. The ruling to which I take exception was given during the debate upon the proposed new standing orders. Whilst I was speaking, the Deputy Speaker, with whom I regret to have to disagree, called me to order for repeating an argument which had been already used by another honorable member in the same debate. He referred to standing order 276, which reads as follows: -

The Speaker or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the House, or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, or the taking up of time by a speech of such unwarrantable length as to obstruct the business on the part of a member, and may direct such member to discontinue his speech.

I should like to draw attention to the fact that no question of irrelevance or tedious repetition was involved, but that a broad ruling was given in the terms I have indicated. I respectfully submit that when the Deputy Speaker gave his decision he was under a misapprehension as to the ruling which you, sir, had already given. You were very careful in giving the ruling recorded at page 5366 of Hansard, to point out that so far as repetition of argument was concerned, it was the duty of honorable members to avoid the repetition of arguments used by other honorable members in the same way during the same debate. Further on you said -

Many honorable members will probably recollect a ruling I gave some two or three years ago, when, I think, the consideration of the Tariff was drawing to a conclusion. A letter which had been written concerning the Tariff was read two or three times by different honorable members, and I ruled, under standing order 276, that the letter having already been read more than once, I could not allow honorable members to repeat it in the same relation.

In your rulings on this point, you have specially pointed out that honorable members are not entitled to repeat arguments in the same way that they have been used by other honorable members or in the same relation. I presume that if an honorable member pointed out that -two and two make four, . and that another honorable member did the same thing, and still another followed his example, you would be entitled under the Standing Orders to call upon the third member to refrain from repeating arguments used previously in the same way, and in the same relation. If, however, the decision of the Deputy Speaker that no honorable member is entitled to repeat arguments already used is to hold good, debate will be seriously hampered. For instance, the Prime Minister is frequently absent from the Chamber attending to public business outside this House, and it may be desirable, upon his return to the Chamber, to repeat an argument used in his absence. Under the ruling of the Deputy Speaker, however, it would be impossible to adopt that course. Further, we know that in connexion with important matters - such as. for example, the second reading of a Bill - the first five or s.ix speakers present most of the arguments that can be advanced for or against the measure. Under such circumstances, those who were nor lucky enough to be included amongst the first five or six honorable members to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. would be denied an opportunity of putting their views before the public, and before their constituents.

Mr Page - We had a concrete illustration of that in connexion with the request by representatives of country districts for a revision of the fodder duties. They all used the same arguments.

Mr FULLER - Yes. and upon that occasion, it was verv necessary that the arguments employed by them should be driven home. At that particular crisis in our his tory it was most important that the representatives of rural constituencies should have a full opportunity of giving expression to their opinions. In conclusion, I should like to point out that time after time the necessity arises, for repeating arguments which have been previously advanced. We all know that many lawyers find it is only by constant repetition that they are able to establish their case before a jury. Whilst it may be necessary to put into operation the standing order to prevent irrelevancy and tedious repetition, I submit that the Tilling of Mr. Deputy Speaker, if adhered to, will prove inimical to the best interests of debate in this House. I therefore move the motion standing in my name.

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