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Friday, 13 October 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I have no objection to the Leader of the Opposition discharging his functions by finding fault with anything that the Government may do, and I am sure that Ministerial supporters will not object if he continues to do that for a long time. We all recognize that Senator Millen is a very capable Leader of the Opposition.

Senator Millen - Let the honorable gentleman take the private opinions of his own supporters on this question.

Senator McGREGOR - The Minister of Defence has explained the position occupied by the Government in this connexion. Had I attempted to do so the debate would have been closed, and Senators St. Ledger and Sayers would have been denied an opportunity to urge their objections - objections with which I have been familiar ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth.

Senator Sayers -If the honorable gentleman wishes to get his Supply Bill through he had better be a little more CiVil.

Senator McGREGOR - To be uncivil was the last thing in my mind, and I am sure that Senator Sayers ought not to object to the jocular manner in which I feel disposed to treat this question, because he is a bit of a joker himself. The Minister of Defence has explained not only why this Bill has been introduced a day or two later than it would have been under other circumstances, but why Supply Bills are almost invariably brought forward a day or two later than they ought to be. The Leader of the Opposition stated that it was the deliberate intention of the Government to introduce Supply Bills late in the month because a contingent motion in reference to them had been placed upon the businesspaper. I can assure him that not a single member of the Ministry is responsible for the motion save myself. I placed it upon the business- paper without consulting anybody. I did so because from the inception of this Parliament I have recognised that a difficulty may arise in connexion with the presentation of a Supply Bill, if we have to rely upon the passing of the motion without notice to secure the suspension of the Standing Orders. As honorable members know, such a motion requires to be carried by an absolute majority. Consequently I thought it wise to place upon the business-paper a contingent motion relating to all Supply Bills, so that if anybody is to be blamed in that connexion it is myself alone. I hope that honorable senators will permit the Bill to pass through all its stages to-day, and that they will exhibit the same expedition that they have always shown in dealing with Bills of this description.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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