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Tuesday, 17 July 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .- We have cause for congratulation in the fact that even at this late hour what appears to have been something in the nature of a conspiracy of silence amongst direct Government supporters and the majority of the Labour Party has been broken up by the speech to which we have just listened.

Mr Hutchison - What nonsense ! A number of us have spoken on the measure, and the honorable member knows it.

Mr JOHNSON - Very few honorable members on the Ministerial side have spoken- upon this Bill. Indeed, very few of them have been in the chamber at any time while the Bill has been under discussion. Even when the Minister of Trade and Customs was explaining the) provisions of the Bill, the Ministerial and Labour benches were empty, and the 'honorable gentleman had to be content with an audience made up of members of the Opposition. That does away with the statement that it is because they do not desire to listen to speeches of members of the Opposition that Ministerial supported leave the chamber. When the Minister professed to explain the provisions of the Bill - and the more the honorable gentleman tried to do so, the more plainly he showed that he knew very little about them - nearly the whole of the honorable members present were members of the Opposition. We know that Labour members as well as direct Government supporters were conspicuous by their absence.

Sir William Lyne - Where was the honorable member's leader?

Mr JOHNSON - During the discussion of this most important measure, which is calculated to affect the lives or liberties of a very large section of the people, they were conspicuous by their absence from the chamber. During the discussion of this measure, there has, at times, been only one lay member present on the Ministerial side, and he has been asleep. It therefore ill becomes the honorable member for Fremantle at this late stage of the proceedings, when he has always been one of those most conspicuous by his absence, to get up as he has done, and deliver a diatribe upon the utterances of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and twit him with his frequent absences from the Chamber.

Sin William Lyne. - It was a very good speech. Where has the honorable member's leader been all the time?

Mr JOHNSON - My leader is not idling away his time in amusements, like Ministerial supporters, but is doing some excellent work for the benefit of this country in another place. At any rate, he is not engaged in following his own pleasure in other portions of this building when he should be attending fo his public duties here or in the country. Honorable members on the Ministerial side cannot urge the same valid excuse for their absence from the Chamber. Thev are not engaged in the work of explaining to the country the pernicious character of the legislation proposed to be put on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, a" sample of which is before this Parliament at the present time.

Mr Bamford - The right honorable gentleman has never mentioned it.

Sir William Lyne - The right honorable gentleman is not game to mention it.

Mr JOHNSON - Honorable members opposite are not engaged in work of that kind or there would be some excuse for them. They are engaged, as we know, in pursuits of a very different character.

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