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Tuesday, 17 July 1906

Mr CROUCH - I desire to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following passage in a resolution with regard to the Braddon section of the Constitution, unanimously passed by the States Premiers at the recent Conference : -

Subsequently this clause was modified by the Premiers' Conference, in 1898, at the instance, chiefly, of New South Wales.

The alteration suggested by the Premiers' Conference resulted in the present section of the Act, but neither Victoria nor South Australia nor Tasmania submitted the amended Bill to the electors.

We therefore believe that the majority of the electors are still in favour of the original clause, and that the earliest opportunity should be afforded to them of directly expressing their opinions to that effect before any attempt be made to vary the present system of distribution of the Customs revenue.

We believe that the most opportune time for such reference to the people will be at the ensuing general elections, and we therefore invite the Prime Minister to move in that direction.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to a point of order. The course that is now being adopted by the honorable and learned member is an abuse of the privileges of honorable members in addressing questions to Ministers. If this kind of thing is to be permitted, honorable members may read the whole of the reports of conferences such as that referred! to by the honorable and learned .member.

Mr Page - Are we not entitled to ask questions, in a form in which they will elicit the information we desire?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, in the proper way. But I submit that the honorable and learned member is abusing his privilege.

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