5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I want to direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to some statements alleged to have been made by a member of this House concerning yourself.
– Is the Prime Minister asking a question or making a statement! If he is making a statement, I wish to know if he has the permission of the House to do so.
– I am addressing Mr. Speaker.
– The Prime Minister, I understand, is rising to a question of privilege.
– Yes; and of privilege affecting your own position in this House, Mr. Speaker. Some statements have been made by the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I rise to. a point of order.
– There is a question of privilege before the House.
– I submit thak the matter of privilege cannot be interrupted by a point of order.
– A point of order cannot be raised at this stage.
Mr.Frazer. - One can be raised at any stage.
– I understand thai the Prime Minister was addressing me on a question of privilege. Does he propose to conclude with a motion!
– I propose to direct your attention, sir, to some reflections on yourself.
– What is the point of order of the honorable member for Cook?
– I understood from a previous ruling of yours that an honorable member is not entitled to quote newspaper reports unless he is able to vouch for their accuracy. I submit, therefore, that the’ Prime Minister is out of order unless he can vouch for the accuracy of the statement to which he refers.
– I have not read from a newspaper report.
– So far, the Prime Minister has not read from a newspaper report.
– The honorable gentleman said, “ I see from a newspaper report.”
– Mind your own business.
– Honorable members are allowed to refer to newspaper reports, but not to read them in asking questions. That has been decided over and over again. Every day, almost, honorable members ask questions founded on newspaper reports. It is when they have proceeded to read from newspapers that I have interrupted them.
– An honorable member, at Ballarat, on Sunday evening, made some statements to the effect that you had lost the confidence and respect of the House.
– Hear, hear ! We agree to that.
– I am sorry to hear that statement cheered.
– Order !
– I do not think I need carry the matter further. The honorable member for Barrier-
– On a point of order-
– What is this humbugging speech all about?
– I would point out to the Prime Minister that it is not in accordance with our proceedings to make a statement to the House, or to draw attention to a matter of privilege, unless it is proposed to take some action. The Prime Minister would be in order in asking a question on the subject, but he may not make a statement as a matter of privilege without the consent of the House unless he intends to take some action.
– I rise to a point of order. I direct your attention now to the remark made by the honorable member for Barrier.
– The honorable member will not be in order in debating this matter unless he proposes to take action.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the insulting observation concerning yourself made by the honorable member for Barrier-
– Is this in order?
– Who now says that they believe, over there, that you have lost the confidence and respect of the House ? If that be not a point of order, I should like to know what is.
– I distinctly heard the honorable member for Barrier make a remark of that kind. It was a distinct reflection on the Chair, and, therefore, a reflection on the House. I ask the honorable member for Barrier to withdraw his reflection on the Chair and his insulting remark.
– What reflection have I to withdraw ?
– The honorable member said, “We agree over here th 01 the Speaker has lost the confidence and respect of the House.” That was the statement.
– The honorable member for Barrier knows perfectly well what he said, and the House heard what he said. It is, therefore, not necessary for me to repeat the words that he used. I ask the honorable ‘ member to apologize for having insulted the Chair, and for having insulted the House.
– I rise to order. I wish the House to be calm in this matter.
– There is a point of order already under discussion. I submit that the Leader of the Opposition, is riot in. order.
– It is seldom that I rise to a point of order.
– I submit that there can be no point of order at this stage.
– Are you running the Speaker ?
– As this deals entirely with order, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether an honorable member may not legitimately hold an opinion, and desire to express it in a proper way, without in any way reflecting on you or on the House ? Do not let us get silly altogether, otherwise we shall not be able to express any opinion.
– Don’t you become idiotic.
– Order ! I intimate again at this stage of our proceedings that if I cannot have order preserved I shall have recourse to a standing order to enforce my directions. It is most unseemly that day after day our proceedings should be interrupted by honorable members, and that Mr. Speaker should have repeatedly to call attention to the disorder. I call upon the honorable member for Barrier to withdraw the reflection, which I heard him make on the Chair. It is not competent for other business tointervene until the honorable member has obeyed my direction.
– I desire to say that I do not intend to be thrown out to-day, because . every vote will be wanted.
– The honorable member will withdraw his remarks, without qualification, and apologize to the House.
– I was coming to that.
– The honorable member must withdraw his remarks without any qualification whatever.
– I am simply stating that I do not intend to be thrown out.
– The honorable member must also apologize to the House.
– I am going to apologize, if you will allow rne to do so.
– If the honorable member persists in defying the direction of the Chair, I shall have to take another course. The honorable member knows as well as any other honorable member, and better than many honorable members who have not a long parliamentary experience
– Do not lecture. Shut up, and I will apologize.
– The honorable member has again insulted the Chair. I now name the honorable member.
Several members interjecting,
– Mr. Speaker-
– Will “the Prime Minister resume his seat for a moment. If I hear any more insulting observations made across the Chamber, I shall direct the Clerk to take the names of those who make them.
– Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member for Wide Bay is out of order in interrupting the Speaker when he is on his feet. If any more insulting observations are made, I shall ask the Clerk to take the names of the members who make them, and the words that they use.
– Mr. Speaker-
– The Prime Minister. Motion (by Mr Joseph Cook) put -
That the honorable member for Barrier be suspended from the service of the House.
The bells for a division- having been rung :
– I rise to order, sir.
– The House is in division.
– I put to you, sir, a question which I wish to put again, and that is whether an honorable member may not express in reasonable language that he thinks-
– It was insulting language.
– He did what you can never do - he spoke civilly.
– The honorable member for West Sydney is out of order.
– The honorable member for West Sydney is out of order.
– I desire to know, sir, whether it is not in order for an honorable member to express his view that the presiding officer may not have the confidence of the House without in any way-
– The whole House is affected.
– If I may be allowed to speak between the interjections of the Prime Minister, sir, I desire to know whether an honorable member may not express that opinion without in any way reflecting on the Chair or on the House.
– The honorable member will perceive that it is impossible to make an interjection of that kind without conveying an insult to the Chair, and a reflection on the Chair, and thus an insult and a reflection on the whole House, of which the Speaker is part.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order !
– Is the honorable member for Barrier out of order when he has already given notice of a motion that the Speaker has lost the confidence of this House ?
– Order 1 The honorable member is not in order in asking a question at this time ; but if he means that for a point of order, I say that the fact that an honorable member hasa notice on the business-paper does not entitle him to set at naught the ordinary rules of the House, or to make insulting observations to or reflections on the Chair.
– On a point of order, sir, may I ask whether, in putting a motion of that kind on the business-paper, an honorable member is under any disability as a member, and may not be heard like another honorable member?
– I do not rightly understand the character of the point of order. All that I am concerned about is that the honorable member for Barrier will have the fullest opportunity to express his opinion when his motion is under the consideration of the House-
– Order ! And the fact that the honorable member has a motion on the business-paper does not entitle him to a privilege which other honorable members do not enjoy - that of reflecting on the Chair, or of insulting the House by interjection or otherwise.
– May I put another point of order, sir ?
– Order ! Will honorable members remain silent?
– That is right.
– Will the honorable member remain silent?
– For once.
– May I ask you, sir, whether it is not a rule in all Parliaments that when a reflection, by motion, is made on the Chair, for the Government to treat the matter as one of urgency, so that the House can at once declare its opinion, and deal with the matter effectively ?
– That is a point of order which has not the slightest reference to this matter. The position is that during the course of proceedings the honorable member for Barrier made some reflection on the Chair of an insulting character. I called upon him to withdraw the reflection, and to apologize, and, instead of proceeding at once-
– What were the insulting remarks that I made? I want to know that.
– After giving the honorable member two or three opportunities to do that, I named him, and the question now is that he be suspended from the service of the House.
– You might state the words which he used.
– The “Ayes” will pass to the right, and the “ Noes “ to the left.
– How can we vote, when we do not know what the honorable member said?
– I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Richmond tellers for the “Ayes.”
– Mr. Speaker-
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I appoint the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for South Sydney tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I decline to be a tool in the hands of the Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable member has made use of an expression which I cannot overlook, and that is another reflection on the Chair with which I shall have to deal unless he recedes from that position. I ask him to apologize.
– Fire him out.
– I will take notice of the honorable member’s conduct after the division has been taken.
– Well. I decline to be a teller.
– Put us all out.
– Order ! I appoint the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Bendigo tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I would prefer net to act in this division.
– May I call the attention of honorable members to the fact that it is a very serious matter for any honorable member to refuse to act as a teller under the direction of the Speaker?
– Would you accept my services, Mr. Speaker?
– I appoint the honorable member for Batman and the honorable member for Hindmarsh tellers for the.” Noes.”
– I decline to tell, Mr. Speaker.
– I cannot allow myself to be placed in the invidious position of telling, seeing that the question has been wilfully forced on the House by the Prime Minister.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that reflection on the Chair.
– Any reflection on the Chair, sir, I withdraw absolutely.
– As there appears to be an objection on the part of many honorable members to tell, I shall take the course which has been adopted before of appointing tellers.
– I do not decline. I will serve, sir.
– Order I There is no obligation resting on the Speaker to appoint tellers from one side so long as tellers are appointed for each side.
– I would like you, sir, to know that I offered to tell.
– Several members of the Opposition have, on being called upon, declined to act.
– What have I done?
An Honorable Member. - There are dozens here willing to act.
– I shall give a further opportunity for two tellers to act for the “ Noes,” and if they refuse to act I shall appoint tellers from the other side. I appoint the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Darling tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I do not like my mate.
– Do I understand that the two tellers for the “Noes” refuse to act ?
– I appoint the honorable member for Nepean and the honorable member for North Sydney tellers for the “Noes.”
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Barrier having left the chamber,
– I now direct your attention, sir, to a report which appears in both newspapers this morning of some remarks-
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he rises to a question of privilege or not?
– I rise to a question of privilege, of course.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that when any honorable member rises to a question of privilege, he has to intimate to Mr. Speaker and the House that he intends to conclude his remarks with a definite motion. I wish to know whether you are going to insist upon the Prime Minister doing that?
– I submit that I am not bound to conclude with a motion unless I choose to do so.
– What is the number of the standing order under which the Prime Minister is proceeding?
– Standing order 285.
– Read standing order 111.
– I am taking action under standing order 285, which reads -
Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher-
T am afraid that I cannot do that - and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
– The Prime Minister said that he need not conclude with a motion.
– I do not see that I am under any obligation to do so.
-I must ask honorable members to maintain order.
– Suspend the lot of us. That is the best thing to do.
– I said that this was a Chinese Parliament.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is out of order in interrupting the Speaker.
– That is right. Throw him out. I would not have any of his damned nonsense. It isall right - I apologize.
– The honorable member for Bourke is out of order in interrupting the Speaker when he is on his feet. Standing order 283 reads -
Any member may rise to speak “ to order “ or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.
Standing order 284 reads -
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
Standing order 285 reads -
Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
The only provision in our Standing Orders for concluding with a motion appears to relate to complaints against newspapers. So that a question of privilege in this case can be raised, apparently, withouta motion having necessarily to be moved.
– The statements made by the honorable member for Ballarat in that city on Sunday evening were to the effect that the Speaker had lost the confidence and respect of honorable members, that he had deliberately altered a Hansard proof, that he had acted in a biased manner, and was proving himself a bitter partisan.
– True, every word true.
– I rise to a point of order.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to withdraw that reflection on the Chair.
– I withdraw it.
– Having directed your attention, sir, to these statements in the newspapers, I feel that my duty for the moment has ceased. I draw your attention to them as an insult to yourself and to the House.
– I rise to a point of order-
– I should like to know now what course it is proposed to take in regard to this matter.
– I desire to speak on the question of privilege which has been raised. I take it that one of the privileges which, for some considerable time, has been handed down to us, is that of discussing questions of privilege raised by honorable members. The Prime Minister has taken exception to certain remarks which are alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Ballarat at some meeting in that city. In the first place, I submit that the Prime Minister should have come here armed with a copy of the newspapers in question, and should have given us the names of the printers or publishers, and thus have complied with standing order 285. But that is not the point that I desire to take in relation to this matter. I wish rather to know the position that the Prime Minister himself occupies in this connexion. He has done much more than has the honorable member for Ballarat. He has gone round the country telling the people that he can practically command your vote, sir.
– What is that statement ?
– I say that the Prime Minister has practically gone about the country from time to time and told the people that, with the aid of Mr. Speaker’s vote, the Government were going to do so and so.
– I have never said that.
– I have brought the matter up in the House. The honorable member has.
– No I
– I rise to a point of order. I submit, sir, that interjections from one side of the House are just as disorderly as are those coming from the other side, and I call your attention to the interjections by the Prime Minister.
– I ask honorable members on both sides to refrain from disorderly interjections.
– I was saying, when interrupted, that the Prime Minister, from time to time, had cast reflections on the Chair - reflections which I regret very much. If there is one thing that is more degrading than another, it is the action of the Prime Minister in going about the country and telling the people, from time to time, that he has practically full and complete command of your vote, Mr. Speaker.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it in order for the honorable member to attribute to me statements which I have not made and which, if I had made, would reflect upon me as the Leader of the House? I take the honorable member’s remarks to be an insult, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– The honorable member has made statements against the Prime Minister to which he takes exception. I ask the honorable member to withdraw them.
– I am in an awkward position, sir, since I have produced in this House documents containing the statements made by the Prime Minister.
– Order !
– Then, I shall say that I have produced in this House documents containing statements alleged to have been made by the Prime Minister, and have read them here. The honorable gentleman will probably say, as he does in every case, that he was misreported. The Prime Minister has insulted not only you, sir, but the House. He has arrogated to himself the right to arrange the business of this House, a matter which should be in Mr. Speaker’s hands. There are, for instance, on the business-paper certain motions, the order of which it should be the duty of you, sir, to arrange; but the Prime Minister has told the country, by means of press interviews - interviews which appeared in Saturday’s Herald, or the morning papers - that the Government are not going to allow the discussion of certain motions that have relation to some action which you, sir, are alleged to have taken. The Prime Minister has no right to tell the people that he has full and complete power to arrange the business of the House.
– I have never said that I have.
Mr.McDONALD. -The honorable gentleman took up the position that he could do so.
– I claim only the right to arrange Government business.
– Yes ; but the honorable gentleman went further than that. He said, not merely that he was going to arrange the order of Government business, but that a certain motion, which is now on the business-paper-
– On a point of order, I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable member for Kennedy is in order in speaking to this motion?
– There is no motion before the Chair.
– The honorable member is in order in speaking to a question of privilege.
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that the honorable member has no right to make a speech at this juncture. I have invited your attention to a certain statement on the part of the honorable member for Ballarat, and I wish to know whether . you propose to take any action regarding it? If you do not, I have done with the matter.
– When the Prime Minister rose, I asked him whether he rose to ask a question, or to a matter of privilege. He replied that he rose to a question of privilege. In the circumstances, therefore, it seems to me that he has opened up a debate arising out of a matter of privilege in which I, as Speaker, have no power to intervene.
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that a debate cannot proceed unless there is a motion before the Chair.
– This matter has been sprung upon me suddenly, and I have not had time to look into the position under the Standing Orders, but, so far as I am able to judge at present, it seems to me that, a question of privilege having been raised, honorable members are entitled to discuss it. I make that statement with some diffidence.
– You put the question clearly to the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, and when I inquired, by interjection, under what standing order he was proceeding to raise this question of privilege, the honorable gentleman said that it was standing order 285. If the honorable gentleman- doubts your word in the matter, may I invite him to look up references to be found in the tenth edition of May, at pages 235, 244, and 258, or at pages 245-6, 257, and 270, in the eleventh edition. He will obtain from those references all the information he requires.
– I do not want all that.
– The honorable member took the point-
– Why do not you “ gag “ him, and have done with it?
– I object to the insults which the Prime Minister is constantly hurling at the chief officer of the House. In an interview published in yesterday’s issue of the Age, he said - I do not know whether the honorable member will say, as he usually does, that he has been misreported-
– But this is an interview.
– Yes, an interview with the Prime Minister, published in the Age on Monday, 10th instant.
– I rise to a point of order. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to May, eleventh edition, page 81.
– The eleventh edition has nothing to do with us.
– Has it not?
– No; look at the Constitution ; it is the tenth edition with which we have to do.
– May states at the page I have given that on an occasion similar to this, in the House of Commons -
An accusation of partiality in the administration of the closure-
A much milder offence than this - directed against the Speaker by a member at a public meeting, was informally brought before the House by a question addressed to the chair. The Speaker, in his reply, explained the nature of the offence which had thus been committed against the House by the member’s conduct towards the Speaker; and the member made, in consequence, an apology in terms that averted the consequences of the offence. Subsequently, however, the same member published in a newspaper a letter which contained a repetition of the same offence against the Speaker. The House thereupon, having heard the member in his place, resolved that the letter was a gross libel upon Mr. Speaker, deserving the severest condemnation of the House, and that the honorable member be suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the session, or for one calendar month, whichever should first terminate.
I submit that on this information being brought to your notice, Mr. Speaker, the first step to be taken by you is to ask the honorable member concerned what is his attitude in the matter - to ascertain whether these statements have been accurately reported or not.
– What has this to do with a matter of privilege?
– I, first of all, asked the Speaker’s permission to put a question, and he declined to let me proceed along those lines, and said I must fall back on a matter of privilege.
– The Prime Minister rose to a point of order.
– I am on a point of order. I am asking Mr. Speaker to direct the House as to the best method of procedure, since he will not permit the procedure I propose to adopt. There, so far as I am concerned, the matter has to end; I can do no more.
– The standing order requires that when a member rises to a point of order, the Speaker shall give a decision. It is true that, in practice, a debate has sometimes been allowed if the Speaker has not made up his mind, but not when he is prepared to give a decision. I wish to point out a misconception which I think exists in the mind of the Prime Minister in regard to what he actually did. When he rose he said, “ I want to direct your attention “ to certain things. I asked the honorable member then whether he desired to raise a matter of privilege. At that moment several members were interjecting, and there was, as usual, unfortunately, some confusion. The Prime Minister later said, “ I propose to direct your attention “ to something in a paper. I asked the honorable gentleman once or twice whether he proposed to ask a question or raise a matter of privilege, and he distinctly stated that he desired to raise a question of privilege. I had already noticed what had appeared in the papers, and I was familiar with the proceedings under such conditions; and it was my intention, had he put a question, to have asked the honorable member for Ballarat whether he had stated what was attributed to him. But the Prime Minister is mistaken, or I am - I am not sure -which, but one of us is mistaken - as to whether or not he asked a question. According to my memory, he did not ask a question affecting privilege, but raised a matter of privilege by directing my attention to some reflection on myself. In this case, may
I point out that it is not for the Speaker to say what he will do, but for the Prime Minister himself to take what action he may think necessary, having regard to the reply of the honorable member who is personally involved.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– An honorable member cannot make such an explanation in the middle of a speech’ by another honorable member.
– The honorable member for Kennedy was in possession of the chair when the point of order was raised, and he cannot be further interrupted for the purpose of a personal explanation.
– It is evident that the time at my disposal will be largely taken up by points of order-
– I must raise another point of order. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, under what standing order a debate can proceed in the House without there being some motion before us?
– “Under standing order 283, which says -
Any member may rise to speak “ to order,” or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.
– When I was interrupted, I was saying that if there is anybody to whose conduct exception can be taken for passing remarks outside, it is the Prime Minister himself.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that this is absolutely irregular on both sides of the House.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– No. I think that on both sides we are entering on a discussion which is practically impossible under the Standing Orders. The principles are set out in May, and you, Mr. Speaker, have already conditionally ruled in the matter. You have stated that, the point having suddenly arisen, you have not had full opportunity to consider it, and that you ruled with very grave doubt. I ask leave to draw your attention to the fact that, according to the Standing Orders, which affect both sides of the House, there can be no debate on a matter in regard to which there is no question before us to be decided. There must be a question that can be decided, because the three standing orders have to be read together. Standing order 283 is -
Any member may rise to speak “ to order,” or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.
Standing order 284 says -
All questions of order and matters of pi; ,i- ‘ lege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
It stands to reason - and the further standing orders point to the same thing - that anybody who rises to a question of privilege must put it in the shape of a motion of some sort. I think we are all getting into a wrangle about something which ought, in the interests of both sides, to be settled.
– The Prime Minister is responsible for it.
– It does not matter who is responsible for it. The honorable member will see that this is not a matter which will in any way affect the liberty of honorable members to speak on a question of privilege, but the question, whatever it may be, ought to be placed in a position in which we can debate it.
– The Attorney-General should remember that four honorable members on the Government side have spoken to each one on the Opposition side.
– I have not said a word on tha merits of the question, and I do not intend to. What I say is that the matter ought to be placed in a position to give honorable members an opportunity to debate it; if we debate it with nothing before the House, the debate will be interminable, and there will be no rules available at all. If we look at May, 11th edition, page 271, we find the widest statement in favour of bringing forward a question of privilege -
A privilege matter may also be brought forward without notice-
– I rise to a point of order.
– A point of order cannot be taken while another point of order is under discussion.
– The extract from May is as follows : -
A privilege matter may also be brought forward without notice, before the commencement of public business, and is considered immediately
What is considered ? We cannot consider something in blank - something to which there is no end, without any resolution or determination of the House- on the assumption that the matter is brought forward without delay. and that its immediate consideration is essential to the dignity of the House ; yet, though, in some respects-
– Is this a point of order I
– Have I said a single word in relation to the merits of the question before honorable members ? I am asking Mr. Speaker to reconsider his ruling.
– I had some doubt in my mind at the moment in giving my ruling, which, as I stated, I gave with some hesitation at that time; but it seems to me that the whole trouble has arisen from a wrong procedure in the beginning, or, at least, from what I believe to have been a wrong procedure. If this matter had been Drought up in the form of a question to the Speaker, everything would have been perfectly in order, but it was not brought forward in that way, according to my memory. The attention of the Speaker was directed to something that had appeared in the papers, and this was done as a matter of privilege. The only point, however, to decide now is whether this is a question of “ privilege suddenly arising,” as provided in standing order 283. I do not know that this is a matter of privilege that has suddenly arisen, but it is certainly a matter of privilege in regard to which this is the first opportunity any honorable member has had of bringing it under the notice of this House. But the proper procedure was to bring it under the notice of the House by a question addressed to the Speaker.
– So I did.
– If the honorable member assures me that he did so-
– I say he did not.
– I distinctly understood the Prime Minister to say that he brought the matter forward as one of privilege.
– Afterwards only.
– The Prime Minister assures me that he asked a question on the subject. I cannot say that I heard him do so, owing to the numerous interjections, but I must take his assurance that he did ask me a question, though I may not have heard it. In those circumstances, any debate is irregular. The Prime Minister having asked me a question, I am bound to take notice of it.
– Let us have the Mansard proof of the proceedings.
– Let me draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Prime Minister said that he would conclude his remarks with a motion.
– That is so. I certainly asked the Prime Minister when he rose if lie was going to conclude with a motion.
– And he lied.
– The honorable member for Bourke must withdraw that statement.
– I apologize for having expressed the truth.
– Order ! I hope the House will not give concurrence to these continual abuses of the privileges of the House by certain honorable members. If they are proceeded with I must certainly ask the House to take serious notice of them. I call on the honorable member for Bourke to again apologize for aggravating his offence.
– Yes, I do so. I am very sorry.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat?
– Yes; I am seated.
– The honorable member must keep silence when I am on my feet. I hope I shall be allowed to proceed in silence.
– Will you call for the shorthand report?
– The honorable member for Cook is out of order. The Prime Minister at one stage of his remarks certainly did intimate that he intended to conclude with a motion, and he read standing order 285-
– May I ask a question t
– Order ! If the Prime Minister assures me that he did ask a question I have no option but to accept it as such.
– I assure you I did1.. I had not the slightest intention of raising the matter as a question of privilege; I only did so afterwards.
– The Prime Minister says that he raised the matter as one of.’ privilege afterwards, but the procedurewas irregular. However, the Prime Minister has now asked me an important question.
– Do I understand that I am to be deprived of my right to speak ?’
– Yes ; otherwise the whole proceedings would be irregular.
– T rise to a point of order. I do not wish to traverse your ruling in any way, sir, but when you asked the Prime Minister whether he could bring forward this matter as a question of privilege, I interjected, “ Under standing order 111,” and the honorable member said “No.”
– That was afterwards.
– I do not care when it was. That is a matter of no moment. The Prime Minister said, “ No, I am raising it under standing order 285,” and the Speaker then pointed out that the Prime Minister must conclude with a motion.
– That was because I understood from the Speaker that I could not bring forward the matter in any other way.
– I cannot help what the honorable member understood from the Speaker. The honorable member was distinctly told that he must conclude with a motion, and he said that he would do so.
– On what?
– I do not know. The point of order I wish to take now is, that the Prime Minister having misled the Chair-
– I object to that statement entirely.
– Owing to the remarks of the Prime Minister the Speaker was misled.
– I require that ‘the honorable member’s insulting statement be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the statement, and I will try to put it in another way less offensive. I do not intend to be offensive, because it is not worth while being so. The Speaker informed the honorable member that he must conclude with a motion, and the honorable member said he would do so. I do not know whether the honorable member did. I do not think he did.
– That is an important point.
– The honorable member’s offence was that he said he would do a certain thing, but did not. If 1 rise and say that I wish to speak to a question of privilege, as I am entitled to do under the rules and forms and procedure of the House, and if, after twenty minutes or half-an-hour I sit down without submitting a motion, I would deserve the severest censure from the Chair; but to-day the Prime Minister, when another honorable member got up to reply to some of the statements made under cover of privilege, and not under the cover of submitting a question, said, “ I did not move a motion of any description,” after having practically, by his action, deceived the House.
– And involved the Speaker.
– Involved the whole House - the Speaker no more than any other honorable member. In the circumstances the Prime Minister cannot upset the forms of the House. If the Prime Minister is not going to proceed with his motion, then it will be necessary for me to take some action.
– Very good.
– It will be necessary for me to take some action in relation to an utterance of the Prime Minister in which he reflected on the Chair of the House.
– On a point of order, 1 take advantage of this point of order to say what I did immediately I entered the House to-day.
– Is this a point of order ?
– I shall attend to that when I hear it.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has been traversing the proceedings of the last half-hour. When I came into the House to-day, I did what I conceived to be my duty. I am not quite sure whether I put it “in this way-
– Is this a point of order ?
– It is not a point of order; but the Prime Minister will be in order in making a personal explanation.
– Has the honorable member for Kennedy concluded his remarks ?
– That honorable member has resumed his seat. I ask honorable members to try to help the Speaker to conduct the business in a regular manner. All the confusion has arisen through honorable members trying to proceed in an irregular manner. I make these remarks without special reference to any honorable member; but I say that if honorable members proceed in a regular manner, we shall get along with the business much better. The Prime Minister is not speaking to any point of order, but is rather saying something in the nature of a personal explanation, as he is perfectly entitled to do, seeing that the honorable member for Kennedy has resumed his seat.
– The honorable member for Kennedy has, on a point of order, traversed the whole proceedings, right from the beginning, and now it seems that, on the same point of order, I am forbidden to touch them. He has actually gone over every detail of the case, and stated his own version of them. Do you rule that I cannot say anything about the matter on the point of order?
– The honorable member was perfectly in order in asking a question; and, if I did not hear it, I must plead the disturbed condition of the House during the proceedings. This debate is irregular at this stage. Debate may follow later if the Prime Minister intends to take a certain course; but, before the matter proceeds to that length, I have to intervene in another way. The Prime Minister, having asked me if my attention has been drawn to a report which appeared in the newspapers this morning of a speech made by an honorable member at a public meeting, reflecting upon the
– So far as this debate is concerned, yes. I pointed out that the debate is irregular. I think it would be irregular in any case. There must be some sort of motion before the House, because standing order 284 provides that-
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any lime arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
Before a point of order can be decided, it must be stated, and before a question of privilege can be decided, a substantive motion must be submitted for the decision of the House. In this case, it has not been done, nor, in the circumstances, at this stage, unless a motion is made, can the matter be decided. Before a motion of that kind can be moved, an opportunity must be given to the honorable member for Ballarat to have his attention called to the matter, and to be heard.
– I submit, as a point of order, that an altogether irregular matter, brought up in an irregular way, cannot become a matter on which any honorable member can be interrogated. Before any interrogation can be put te any honorable member, there must be something regularly before the House. I submit, therefore, that you cannot proceed in the matter until you have something regular before you, in accordance with the Standing Orders and proceedings of the House.
– I submit that I brought this matter before you in a regular, way. I cited the statements that the honorable member made, and directed your attention to them ; and concluded by asking you what you proposed to do in the circumstances.
– The honorable member rose to a question of privilege.
– The Prime Minister certainly did conclude, at a later stage, by asking me what I proposed to do in the circumstances. The more correct form would have been for him to ask me if my attention had been directed to the report, rather than to make a statement directing my attention to it ; but that is only a difference of form . I will now answer the Prime Minister’s question about what I propose to do. My attention having been directed to a report of an alleged speech by the honorable member for Ballarat appearing in the newspapers this morning, I ask the honorable member if he has been correctly reported ?
– Is it incumbent upon you, as Speaker, to take notice of statements made outside?
– I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, under what standing order or rule you have a right to interrogate me on the speech I made in Ballarat ?
– I have the right of all parliamentary procedure in every Parliament and in every country. It is a matter of courtesy I am extending to the honorable member in asking him whether he has been correctly reported.
– During certain proceedings last week, you were very emphatic that the Standing Orders guided us. I suppose the same Standing Order, guide us to-day, and I want to know where in them you find any authority to ask me such a question?
– In standing order 1, which provides that in all cases not hereinafter provided for in these Standing Orders, resort shall be had to the practice, and forms, and rules of the House of Commons.
– I rise to a point of order.
Ministerial members interjecting,
– They are a lot of mongrels.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– It is withdrawn.
– You have asked the honorable member for Ballarat a question. That question arises out of a matter of privilege brought up by the honorable member for Parramatta. Before a question of privilege is properly before the House and competent to be discussed, a definite motion must have been submitted. Before you can ask the honorable member for Ballarat, or any other honorable member, a question in relation to a matter of privilege, that matter must be properly before the House, and must have left the hands of the honorable member who brought it up in a definite manner. At present, it is inchoate. There is nothing before the House, and the Prime Minister has contrived to waste an hour and ten minutes of time.
– Does the honorable member accuse me of wasting time? I rise to order.
– Exception has been taken to some words used by the honorable member reflecting on another honorable member.
– I withdraw them. They are quite immaterial. The point is that one hour and ten minutes has been allotted to this point, which could have been settled in three minutes.
– Now you are wasting time.
– If the honorable member interjects I shall have him stopped.
– I shall not be bullied like this.
– Order ! The honorable member is now interjecting.
– Before we discuss this matter any further, we demand from the Prime Minister that he shall conform to the rules and Standing Orders of the House by putting: the question of privilege, of which we have heard a great deal, but of which we have no definite knowledge, properly before the House, by concluding with a motion, as you have times without number told him he should do. I submit that this should be done before you can ask any question of the honorable member for Ballarat.
– My decision is governed by the procedure of the House of Commons in a similar matter. I have before me the reference to a case which is on all fours with the matter which has now arisen.
– May I ask what date ?
– If the right honorable member will allow me to proceed without interruption, I will give him the date, or, at least, I will give him the reference.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
– This governs all the procedure of the House of Commons up to that time, and since.
– Read standing order No. 1, and see if you understand it.
– If the honorable member for Bourke again interjects, or misbehaves himself, or commits any disorder in this House, I shall certainly ask that action be taken against him.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Listen to the “gaggers.”
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to withdraw that reflection upon honorable members.
– Very well; I withdraw “ gaggers.”
– At page 81 of the eleventh edition of May - and the reference will also be found on another page in the tenth edition - I find the following -
An accusation of partiality in the administration of the closure, directed against the Speaker by a member at a public meeting, was informally brought before the House by a question addressed to the Chair. The Speaker, in his reply, explained the nature of the offence which had thus been committed against the House by the member’s conduct towards the Speaker; and the member made, in consequence, an apology in terms that averted the consequences of the offence. Subsequently, however, the same member published in a newspaper a letter which contained a repetition of the same offence against the Speaker. The House thereupon, having heard the member in his place, resolved that the letter was a gross libel upon Mr. Speaker, deserving the severest condemnation of the House, and that the member be suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the session, or for one calendar month, whichever should first terminate.
In pursuance of the course of action then taken, I now direct the attention of the honorable member for Ballarat to the question submitted by the Prime Minister, asking whether my attention had been called to the statements alleged to have been made by the honorable member. I ask him whether the newspaper report referred to is a correct report of what he said, and whether he desires to say anything in regard to the matter.
– In answer to my inquiry, sir, you quoted standing order No. 1 as giving you power to ask me the question you have asked. That standing order reads -
In all cases not provided for hereinafter-
I ask you, sir, to note those words. That is to say, that if any offence is provided for later on, we are nob to be governed by the customs and practices of the House of Commons. Standing Order 285 says : -
Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper.
That has not yet been done.
– Why does not the honorable member own up to it?
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to listen to the honorable member for Ballarat, and there have been a number of interjections from the other side, to which you have given no attention.
– Order! I ask honorable members to be silent.
– Standing order 285 provides that: -
Any member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question-
You have thought fit, sir, to ask me a question on the matter without obtaining a copy of the newspaper - nd.be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher-
I do not think that either of these things has yet been done - and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
On a question of privilege I claim that as the member for -Ballarat, representing an important constituency, I have a right to address the people at public gatherings, and to tell them what I think is going on in Parliament.
– Bat truthful statements.
– Order 1
– Truthful statements were made. If honorable members opposite would take a lesson from them, perhaps there would be fewer of them here. Before you, sir, can inflict any punishment on me, I submit that you must have some evidence - the evidence required by the standing order I have quoted. I decline to recognise your right, in the circumstances, to ask me the question.
– In regard to the point of order involved in the honorable member’s statement, I point out that standing order 285 refers to statements made in newspapers, that is to say, statements made by the newspapers on their own authority. This is a different matter altogether. We are dealing with a report of something which the honorable member for Ballarat is alleged to have said at a public meeting. In accordance with the practice of the House of Commons, I now ask him whether he is correctly reported as having made the statements attributed to him in the newspapers.
– I think I am justified in adopting the answer sometimes given by Ministers in dealing with questions which do not meet with their approval, and I ask them to give notice of that question.
– Order ! The honorable member must not address the Speaker in those terms, or be disrespectful to the Chair. He may decline to make a statement, if lie so desires, but to ask the Speaker to give notice of a question is quite irregular.
– No; the honorable member asked Ministers.
– Do I understand that the honorable member for Ballarat declines to make any statement in regard to the matter, or to say whether the report of his remarks appearing in the newspapers is correct or not?
– I understand that we have to ask questions through the Speaker, and I ask through you, sir, that the Prime Minister should give notice of his question.
– A question affectinga matter of privilege is not a question that requires notice.
– But you have said this is not a question of privilege.
– T point out to the honorable member for Ballarat that if he did make the statements attributed to him at a public meeting-, he has been guilty of a gross abuse of the privileges of the House. No honorable member is entitled at a public meeting to reflect upon the House as a whole by making charges of the kind he is alleged to have made against the Speaker in the newspaper report which has been referred to. An honorable member who does so, commits a grave breach of the privileges of the House, which the House is entitled to take action upon if it so desires. I do not know whether the honorable member did make the statements attributed to him; but if he did, may I draw his attention to the fact that all fair-minded people, and all persons possessed of any sense of decency, will estimate at its true value any charge made against a public man, who, owing to the position he occupies, has his hands tied behind his back, and is not able to reply in the same way. I ask the honorable member, therefore, again, in his own interests, to say whether or not he did make the statements attributed to him.
– Mr. Sneaker-
– Order ! I have called on the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I desire to raise a point of order. It is that you, sir, have distinctly ruled, time after time, that reports in newspapers that are brought before this House must be verified by those who bring them forward.
– I have asked the honorable member for Ballarat if the report in the newspaper is correct.
– It is for those who raised the question to find that out.
– Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you are reversing the usual order of things, and are asking me to prove what hitherto you have asked the mover of a motion to prove?
– I ask whether the honorable member is or is not correctly reported ? Will honorable members remain silent?
– Take action against some of those opposite.
– I shall take action against any honorable member who interrupts.
– I must see the report, and read it, before I can give any opinion upon it.
– Do I understand that the honorable member has not seen the report, and has not had time to read it? If so, under the circumstances, I take it, he is not in a position to say whether it is or is not correct. I therefore, now ask the House to let the matter rest where it is. At the present stage,I do not desire that any action shall be taken.
Honorable members interjecting,
– The honorable member for Bourke is once more out of order. I understand the honorable member for Ballarat to say that he has not seen the report, and therefore is not in a position to say whether it is or is not correct. While asking the House to overlook the matter, and to take no further action at the present time, I warn honorable members that they place themselves in a very serious position in taking advantage at public meetings-
– This is quite unnecessary.
– The Prime Minister does it every day.
– To older members of the House my warning may be unnecessary, but it is only fair to the newer members, who are not so familiar with our procedure, to make them acquainted with the seriousness of the position that may arise under circumstances like those which have been discussed.
– The same statements have been made on the floor of the House.
– I hope that the matter may now be allowed to drop.
– I shall be glad if you will indicate, sir, what your wishes really are. Is the matter to drop altogether, or what is to be done?
– Let the motion come on.
– I want to say very plainly that I feel that I have a duty to this House, as well as to yourself, Mr. Speaker.
An Honorable Member. - Fire away.. Move your motion.
– I want to know where I am in this matter. I am not going to be made a football of this House, if Mr. Speaker is.
– I ask that notice be taken of that statement.
– The Prime Minister must withdraw the reflection on the Chair expressed in the statement that the Speaker is made the football of the House.
– Nothing was further from my mind, sir, than the wish to reflect on you. I should like to call your attention-
Mr.Fisher. - Withdraw the remark.
– Of course, I withdraw it, if it is taken to reflect on Mr. Speaker. 1 should like to call your attention, sir, to the fact that several times recently 1 have been asked to take action in this House - and you and the Chairman of Committees have asked -
– What is this ?
– What is the Prime Minister asking?
-i am entitled to know howfarI am expected to go in preserving the decencies of debate in this House, and in protecting the House and the Chair from insult and from contumely.
– It was you who dragged the Speaker in.
– I have never in my life seen a more direct-
Mr.W atkins. - Is this a question?
– I ask whether the Prime Minister is in order in reflecting on the House and, indirectly, on you, Mr. Speaker, in commenting on matters of this kind ?
– The Prime Ministei would certainly not be in order in reflect ing on the House. There is nothing to prevent him from taking such action as he may think to be necessary to protect the rights of the House.
– I will end this. I move -
That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of this House-
– I rise to order.
– for the remainder of the session, unless he sooner unreservedly retracts the words uttered by him-
– I rise to a point of order.
– at Ballarat on Sunday, the9th October, and reflecting on Mr. Speaker, and apologizes to the House.
– I rise to a point of order, and you, sir, have a right to ask an apology from the Prime Minister for proceeding with the reading of his motion after I had risen. My point is that the Prime Minister can move a motion only by leave of the House. He could move a motion on a question of privilege, but he has not said that he moved this motion as one of privilege. He moved it without making any statement of the kind. Unless he moves on a question of privilege, the motion cannot be dealt with now. Let him do the right thing. He first said that the matter to which he drew attention was one of privilege, and then he denied that it was. Now he is trying to take action in some other way. Unless he moves as on a question of privilege, the motion must be out of order.
– I am proceeding in. accordance with the passage in May which you, Mr. Speaker, have just read.
– The AttorneyGeneral is telling you so.
– I first called your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat. You addressed the honorable member, who, after a great deal of discussion of one kind and another, stated that he had not had his attention called to these remarks. I then, perfectly regularly, according to the passage in May, moved my motion, which, I submit,- is in order and in accordance with the precedents and privileges of Parliament.
– On the point of order-
– I am prepared to decide the point of order at once. The honorable member has no right to speak on it.
– I want to know if we have any rights at all. It is coming to that.
– Hand Parliament over to Joe Cook.
– The whole matter relates to privilege. The motion is undoubtedly one relating to privilege, and is therefore in order.
-Do I understand you to say that the Prime Minister is moving on a question of privilege?
– It does not matter whether he moves on a question of privilege; this, in any case, is a question of privilege.
– The point I take is that the Prime Minister says that this is not a question of privilege, and that he does not move in it as a question of privilege. The Prime Minister has practically told the House that this is not a question of privilege, and therefore cannot move his motion without notice if he says that it is not a question of privilege-
– I never said so.
– The honorable member distinctly said that this was a matter of privilege.
– It is essentially a matter of privilege.
– The AttorneyGeneral says that it is essentially a matter of privilege, but the Prime Minister, even when his coat tails are being pulled by the Attorney-General, refuses to say that it is so. I maintain that the motion is out of order unless it has been moved as a matter of privilege.
– Mr. Speaker, have 1 not a right to speak to the motion before the Chamber?
-The motion is not yet before the House. It cannot be debated-
– What next?
– Order ! It cannot be debated until it has been stated from the Chair. It is not yet in the possession of the House. That is what I am trying to get honorable members to understand, but I am not allowed to state a question without being interrupted, and there are jeers when I complete my interrupted sentences. The Prime Minister asked a question affecting the privileges of the House, and any action that lie has taken by way of a motion must have been taken on a question of privilege. If it were otherwise, the motion could not be received. The motion is one affecting the privileges of the House, as it has arisen out of a question of privilege. It is therefore in order. It is -
That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of this House for the remainder of this session, unless he sooner unreservedly retracts the words uttered by him at Ballarat on Sunday, the gth October, and reflecting on Mr. Speaker, and apologizes to the House.
– This is one way of getting a majority.
.- I desire to ask the House to give careful consideration to this matter, and not to be carried away by party feeling. A good deal of discussion having already taken place, when you, Mr. Speaker, questioned the honorable member for Ballarat concerning a certain newspaper report, he replied that he could not vouch for its accuracy.I ask other honorable members to put themselves in the position of the honorable member for Ballarat. He stated that he cannot vouch for what is contained in a newspaper report, and you, Mr. Speaker, accepted his statement, and gave the warning to honorable members generally that they must not make similar speeches, at the same time tacitly admitting that there was no evidence implicating the honorable member for Ballarat. Without a scintilla of evidence being placed before the House, the Prime Minister, who was the prime instigator in the matter, and who felt his position,because he could not have his own way, gets
– I rise to order. The honorable member has accused me of taking action simply because I cannot get my own way.
– Quite right.
– Perfectly true.
– It is a reflection, sir, which I ask should be withdrawn..
– I ask the honorable member for Hunter to withdraw any reflection which he cast on the Prime Minister.
– Is this regular?
– It is the custom, when an honorable member objects to a statement, for the Chair to ask for its withdrawal.
– If the Prime Minister takes exception to my remark, 1 withdraw it. After repeated attempts by the honorable gentleman to get you, sir, to take action which you subsequently decided should go no further, he submits a motion - to do what? Not to suspend an honorable member from the sitting, but to suspend an honorable member, without a scintilla of evidence in justification, for the rest of the session.
– Do you not see their “ move “ ? They want to put the Preference Bill through.
– I appeal to honorable members opposite who have a sense of justice and fair play to consider that they may be in a similar position. I feel sure that if they were ever so placed, they would not like the Government to take advantage of their situation without producing some evidence.
– He had a right to say yes or no.
– Order !
– I submit that the onus of proof rests on the accusing party, and not on the defendant. Before the Government take drastic action, I appeal to honorable members who have any sense of fair play in their composition, whether any evidence has been adduced today to warrant this motion, especially in view of the Speaker’s statement that he was perfectly satisfied with the explanation made. He merely warned honorable members against uttering such things as had been alleged, but not proved. Are they, in such circumstances, going to vote to suspend a representative of the people from the service of the House for the rest of the session? Let the Prime Minister, if he desiresto take action, comply with the Standing Orders. Let the Government make a statement, produce evidence from the newspapers, and give the name of the editor and the printer, and then the matter can be dealt with at a later period. But to ask us to suspend a member without producing a scintilla of evidence in justification of the motion, is bordering on the ridiculous. I take it that justice has not yet forsaken the Chamber.
– Yes, it has.
– If justice has left the Chamber, I submit that the public, when they realize the actual position, will emphatically condemn the Government.
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that you ought to direct the Clerk to read the statements from the newspaper-
– You are a bit late.
– Also that you yourself should ask the honorable member for Ballarat if he made them or not. You have asked him that question without the reading of the report to him, and that is the trouble.
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that you have already decided to allow the matter to go; but now the Prime Minister is bringing it up again.
– Order I There is a point of order already before the House.
– We are out to reverse things.
– The honorable. member for Maribyrnong is again reflecting on the Chair. I ask him to withdraw that remark.
– Who did ?
– The honorable member made a remark which reflected on the Chair.
– I think that you, sir, are making a wrong statement. I said, “ We are out to reverse things,” and so we are.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– Because it is a reflection on the Chair.
– If you want to be ridiculous
– I withdraw the reversing of the order of things.
– A point of order is raised-
– Order ! Will honorable members on both sides maintain silence? It is not for the Speaker to say whether the House shall take action or not. The Speaker may express his own view on the matter, and his own personal feeling, and the hope that the House will not take further action; but he cannot prevent the House taking action if it so desires. I did not direct the Clerk to read the statements, because I thought that the matter probably would be allowed to drop. Out of consideration for the honorable member for Ballarat, I preferred personally to take that course. The Prime Minister, however, has intimated that he, being in charge of the business of the House, is not prepared to let the matter go at that; and I have no power to prevent him from moving a motion; but, before it is submitted, I will direct the Clerk to read the report in the newspaper, and again ask the honorable member for Ballarat the question which I put to him.
Report in the Argus, of Tuesday, 11th November, read by the Clerk, as follows : -
Attack on the Speaker.
Ballarat, Monday. - Speaking in the Australian Workers’ Union Hall last night, Mr. McGrath, M.H.R. (Labour), said that it was probable that Mr. Thomas’ motion that the Speaker no longer possessed the confidence of the House would not be allowed to come on for discussion, as the Government had the ordering of the business-sheet. Therefore, he wanted to say what he would not be allowed to say on the floor of the House.. The Speaker had lost the confidence of members. There was good reason for the motion. “ We have,” he added, “ absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a ‘ Hansard ‘ proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, according to his own words, and he altered the pre of to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.” The Speaker was acting in a biased manner, and was proving himself a bitter partisan.
– Order ! The Clerk will sit down for a moment. I call upon the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to withdraw that reflection.
– I withdraw it, sir.
The Clerk, continuing ;
The proof of that was the Speaker’s ruling on Mr. Cook’s point of order, that the want of confidence motion moved by the leader of the Opposition should be treated as private members’ business. During the debate he left the chair, and Mr. McGrath had no doubt that he had a consultation with the Attorney-General. For that reason the Speaker no longer possessed the respect and confidence of the House.
.- Now that the Clerk has read the report in the newspaper, I submit, with all respect, that the question rests simply on that part of the statement that refers to something having been eliminated from, or something which was not uttered in this Chamber having been added to Hansard. In order to substantiate the case that is made against the honorable member by the Prime Minister, I think, sir, it is first necessary that we should get that copy of Hansard.
– But you have the admission from the Chair that it was done.
– We must first get from the records of Hansard all the proof that is possible in order that we may see whether the statement alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Ballarat was in accordance with fact or not.
– On a point of order, sir, I understood that, at the suggestion of the Prime Minister, you ordered the Clerk to read the report for the information of the honorable member whose conduct is impugned, and that you were about to ask the honorable member whether the report correctly represents what he said. I submit that, until that is done, the debate cannot properly go on.
– I had previously asked the honorable member for Ballarat whether the report in the newspaper was true, and he indicated that he could not say whether it was true or not until he had seen it. The point of order is quite correct. Instead of calling on the honorable member for Gwydir, I should have again asked the honorable member for Ballarat that question. I now ask him again if the report in the newspaper, as read by the Clerk, is correct ?
– I desire to rise to a point of order-
– Is no point of order permitted, sir?
– What is the point of order ?
– My point of order is that no newspaper report can be taken as evidence for or against an honorable member in connexion with his utterances.
– I rule against the honorable member for Bourke. The honorable member for Ballarat will be heard.
– I rise to order. There is before the House a motion the terms of which you have read. It relates to a statement purporting to have been made by an honorable member. We have no knowledge of whether he made that statement or not; or whether he accepts in toto, or in part, responsibility for any of the remarks it contains, but it is a statement made in a newspaper. The Clerk has given us the name of the newspaper, and that brings the matter under standing order 285.
– The honorable member for Ballarat has gone away now.
– He will be back.
– Will the honorable member for West Sydney resume his seat ?
– Yes, sir.
– I have decided already that this is not a newspaper statement within the meaning of the standing order, and that question cannot be raised again.
– My point of order is entirely different, sir. It has no relation to what you said. If you will read standing order 285, you will see that it relates to a statement made in a newspaper, and the person who uttered the statement, as well as the person who printed it, may be declared by motion guilty of contempt. I submit, sir, that when you are dealing with a matter of privilege, and one which affects the rights of an honorable member, you must insist on the Standing Orders and customs of the House being most scrupulously followed.
-Order ! When the honorable member rose, he told me that he was not going to raise this point again. It has been decided, and cannot be raised again. The honorable member for Gwydir is in possession of the Chair, the honorable member for Ballarat having left the Chamber : I asked him to state whether the report in the newspaper was correct or not, and he has not availed himself of the opportunity.
– I rise to order. I do not know under what standing order I may submit my point, sir, but I ‘ want to ask you, as a matter of fair play and honest justice, whether you can legitimately and properly ask an honorable gentleman to make a statement that would proclaim himself guilty of an offence which might be punishable under a law.
– Order ! The question I asked the honorable member for Ballarat was in accordance with the practice adopted in the House of Commons in similar cases, and I read distinctly the procedure followed there. It is a matter of courtesy to an honorable member to give him an opportunity of offering an explanation or making a retraction or an apology before action is taken. I accorded to the honorable member for Ballarat an opportunity; he has not availed himself of it, but has walked out of the chamber.
– I rise to order.
– Order !
– My point of order has reference to your remark that the honorable member for Ballarat had walked out of the chamber. He was sent for on a very urgent request.
– That is not a point of order, but. a statement.
– It is a statement which ought to be made, surely.
– It is a statement of facts.
– Order !
– You drew pointed attention to the fact that he did walk out.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. I interrupted the honorable member for Gwydir in the course of his speech in order to allow the honorable member for Ballarat to make a statement, but for some reason or other - I do not know what - he is notin the chamber at the present time, and consequently I have to call upon the honorable member for Gwydir to resume his speech.
– When I was interrupted by the Attorney-General, I was just about to remark that the whole position hinges upon the truthfulness, or untruthfulness, of the statements which are alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Ballarat. If, after proper investigation, the statements reported to have been made by him in the newspapers prove to be untrue - seeing that they reflect on your honour, sir, and upon the dignity of this House - we shall then have something like a basis upon which to ground a just decision. But if, after proper inquiry, those statements are proved to be true, if it be established that the things which are alleged to have been done have actually been done, it would be a travesty of justice to call upon the honorable member to withdraw and apologize. If it can be proved from the records of Hansard that the statements attributed to the honorable member are true, it is plain that he had justification for them. Before any actiou is taken by this House, I submit that a thorough investigation should be made, and Hansard should be called upon to produce its proofs, in order that we may see whether the honorable member - if he did make the statements credited to him - had any ground for doing so. Is this a Star Chamber?
– It is a Chinese Parliament.
– Are we here to take away the reputation of a man on a charge based upon a newspaper report without affording him any opportunity whatever of proving the truth or otherwise of the allegations upon which that charge is made? The Hansard proofs alone can establish the truth or falsity of the statements attributed to the honorable member.
Mr. Tudor. - I draw attention to the honorable member for Wannon interjecting.
– I rise to a point of order. I direct your attention, sir, to the conduct of the honorable member for Yarra. He is constantly making interjections, and constantly pointing over here. I submit that he is out of order.
A number of honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Order ! Order ! Order ! I have already stated several times that honorable members are guilty of disorder when they interject, and I must again request that these disorderly interjections across the chamber shall cease, otherwise I shall be compelled to take action under our Standing Orders. I do not wish to do that, especially in view of the present position of affairs.
– I wish it to be clearly understood that honorable members upon this side of the Chamber are quite as jealous of the rights and privileges of members of the House, and of the dignity of Mr. Speaker, as are honorable members opposite. Unless due regard be paid to those rights and privileges, no Parliament could exist with any decency or respect for itself. But I object to the Prime Minister attempting to get this House to pronounce judgment upon insufficient evidence. I do not think that there is an honorable member opposite who, if he were a member of a jury, would convict any prisoner in the dock upon evidence such as that upon which we are asked to convict the honorable member for Ballarat. If all that is required to procure the conviction of an honorable member is the publication of a statement in a newspaper, I say that this House will be acting in flagrant opposition to the basic principles of British justice. You, sir, showed almost from the beginning of these proceedings that you are not in any way malicious or revengeful, because you held out the olive branch, and said, in effect, that the matter having reached a certain stage, you hoped that it would not be proceeded with further. You affirmed that, on account of the honorable member for Ballarat being a new member, and probably unfamiliar with our procedure, some leniency should be shown to him. But what do we find the Prime Minister doing? In that revengeful mood which has characterized his actions so much during this session, and with a desire to reduce the number of members upon this side of the House - by methods which are not creditable to him - he has sought to reduce the minority against him by tactics-
– I rise to order. The honorable member is making a most sinister imputation against me by declaring that I am acting in this way simply to reduce the minority on the other side of the chamber. I ask that that imputation should be withdrawn, and not repeated.
– I ask the honorable member for Gwydir not to cast reflections on the Prime Minister, and to withdraw any imputation of improper motives.
– If the Prime Minister alleges that I have made any imputations which hurt him, I will withdraw those imputations for the time being.
– I ask the honorable member to omit the words “ for the time being.”
– Then I withdraw the imputations sine die, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member must withdraw without qualification.
– I do. The effect of the action of the Prime Minister will be to diminish the numbers upon this side of the House, and thus secure what he probably could not secure in the ordinary constitutional way. After you, sir, have shown what, in my judgment, is at least something like a regard for decency in our procedure, we have the bloodthirsty conduct of the Prime Minister-
– Order !
– Is that remark out of order ? If so, I withdraw it. Then I will say we have the revengeful conduct of the Prime Minister-
– Order ! I would point out that, by the use of these adjectives, the honorable member is imputing improper motives. I ask him to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it. I was going to say that the action of the Government, in this instance, will do them very little credit in the minds of decent people. When the electors learn that, by these means, they are seeking to thwart the representation by honorable members upon this side of the chamber, with a view to augmenting their own majority, they will visit them with condign punishment. An attempt is being made to impeach the honorable member for Ballarat for some statements which have been published in the newspapers. Surely the honorable member has a right to prove his case ? I ask the Attorney-General whether, if he were a barrister representing a prisoner, he would allow that prisoner to be convicted upon such flimsy evidence? Would he ever dream of permitting a prisoner to go from the dock to gaol upon the kind of proof that has been adduced here?
– If the honorable member will give me an opportunity, I will tell him.
– I will give the AttorneyGeneral an opportunity by-and-by.
I am very pleased to learn that he is inalined to make a further explanation concerning the equity of the action of the Prime Minister. I know of no case in my experience in which a member of Parliament has been suspended for a whole session - and therein lies the gravamen of the offence - upon such unsubstantial evidence.
– I desire, sir, at this hour to direct your attention to standing order 119.
– Order ! I would point out to the honorable member that standing order 284 reads -
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
– I ask your ruling, sir, on the point which has been raised. I submit that the standing order which you have just read does not confer upon you the authority you allege it does. I would direct your attention to the key words in standing order 111. It says -
An urgent motion, directly concerning the privileges of the House, shall take precedence of other motions.
And for obvious reasons. It will take precedence of Orders of the Day, of Sessional Orders, in short, of everything; because it is important that it should be brought forward. But the standing order
Bays no more It says no more than that questions of privilege are of such a character that they must be dealt with before any other business. But it does not say that they shall override any other standing order in relation to motions.
– Look at standing order
– Standing order 284 deals with questions of order and privilege. It reads -
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
That means that all such questions shall be decided- r
– And everything else shall be suspended pending their decision.
– I quite agree with the Minister of Trade and Customs that that standing order undoubtedly extends the period for the decision of privilege motions coming before the House. In this instance, therefore, I think that it conforms to common sense; because, if a question of privilege arises it should take precedence of other business.
– Why have other matters of privilege been put at the end of the business-paper ?
– It is a singular thing that matters of the gravest importance to the House have, by the action of the Government, been placed at the bottom of the business-paper. I am dealing now, however, only with the question of order.
– With regard to the question raised by .the honorable member for Kennedy, I would point out that the matter is governed by standing order 284, which provides that-
It will therefore be seen that under the Standing Orders no other business can intervene until this matter has been settled.
– May I ask, sir, why certain other questions of privilege on the notice-paper have been placed at the bottom of the list?
– The honorable member is not in order in asking me that question at the present juncture. To ask such a question would be to contravene the standing order which I have just read. I call on the honorable member for Gwydir to proceed.
– Whilst resting, I have been thinking of the manner in which this question of privilege has been engineered by the Prime Minister. The honorable gentleman rose, first of all, to ask a question, but was informed that an honorable member, as we have frequently been told by Mr. Speaker, is not in order in asking a question referring to a newspaper report. He was then asked whether he proposed to raise the matter as a question of privilege, and he agreed to do so. But, having got in what he had to say, he did not conclude his statement, as the standing order requires, by submitting a motion. Subsequently, when the matter was debated, Mr. Speaker said that he understood the Prime Minister rose, not to ask a question, but to raise a question of privilege. The Prime Minister then reiterated his statement that he had raised it in the form of a question, and Mr. Speaker had ultimately to take his assurance that he had not done what we knew he had done, and done more than once.
– I must ask the honorable member not to state that an honorable member has done something which that honorable member says he has not done. It is the custom to accept the assurance of an honorable member.
– You, Mr. Speaker, had to take the Prime Minister’s assurance as to what he had done. The honorable gentleman raised the question as a matter of privilege, and it had ceased to exist when you, sir, advised the House to let it drop. It was then resurrected without any definite motion or question of privilege being submitted. It was resurrected as a new matter having nothing to do with the question of privilege. It was brought before us by the submission of a bald motion, whereby the Prime Minister sought to expel from this House a certain honorable member for a limited or an unlimited period, as the case may be. The whole procedure has stamped upon its face something more than fair play or justice to honorable members. It does not bear the imprint of conduct such as we have a right to expect from a man holding the high and honorable position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. The Attorney-General now tells me that he will explain why we should convict the honorable member for Ballarat on the meagre evidence that has been put against him.
– There is not a tittle of evidence.
– It is only an allegation. We have had only a newspaper report put before us, but I think I had better allow the Attorney-General - the lawyer, the man who ought to be able to tell us - to say why we should convict the honorable member without first having a thorough investigation of this question. I shall allow the Attorney-General now to explain why we should convict on such meagre evidence as has been submitted - on the allegation, for it is only an allegation, that has been made against the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I agree with the remark made a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Hunter that this is a grave matter, and one on which the House should not proceed without due consideration. I shall deal in a moment or two with the question of what evidence is necessary, and what evidence is possible in a matter of this sort. The charge that has been made is one which, if true, cannot well be minimized. It has been read from one newspaper - the Argus - and I propose to read once again, from the Age report, the important words-
– On what page does it appear?
– In the middle of page 7. This is what the honorable member is reported to have said -
The Speaker had lost the confidence and respect of members, andhere was good reason for that motion. He had absolute proof that the Speaker had deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried-
– Is that not true?
– It is not true.
– The honorable member for Cook was not here.
– I say that the statement is not true, and that I myself heard the question put. We are not here, however, to consider the merits of the question; we are here to consider whether or not this statement was made.
– We ought to consider the merits of the question.
– I am not now dealing with the merits of the question. The report proceeds -
He had absolute proof that the Speaker had deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, andhe altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried. Furthermore, the Speaker was acting in a biased manner. He was proving himself a bitter partisan.
The other paper-
– The honorable member quotes from the Ant as proof?
– The other newspaper from which I shall read is the Evening Echo, published in Ballarat, and, as the honorable member whose conduct is impugned knows, it is a paper which represents Labour views.
– The honorable member knows that this is not proof.
– I shall deal with that point in a few moments. The Evening Echo reports the honorable member to have said -
I wish to make some reference to the motion moved by Mr. Thomas that the Speaker no longer possesses the confidence of the House. It is probable now that that motion will not be allowed to come on for discussion, as tbe
Government has the ordering of the businesssheet. Therefore, I want to say now what I or any other member would not be allowed to say on the floor of the House.
Mr. Thomas’ motion is quite correct. The Speaker has lost the confidence and respect of members. There was good reason for that motion. We have absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, according tj his own words, and he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.
Furthermore, the Speaker was acting in a biased manner. He was proving himself a bitter partisan.
He then proceeded to deal with the details supporting that accusation. Honorable members will, therefore, see that in these three newspaper reports, which, apparently, are independent reports, in substance, although not in exactly similar words, the statement reported to have been made is identical.
– Which part does the honorable member think the most important ?
– Surely the Leader of the Opposition will not call upon me to answer that question. Can he, representing the Opposition in this House, entertain the idea that language such as that which the honorable member for Ballarat is reported to have uttered could be passed over by any Government or any party ?
– But the AttorneyGeneral is bound to say which he thinks is the most important statement.
– If the right honorable member asks me for an opinion, then I say that to accuse the Speaker of the House of having deliberately altered a Hansard proof, with a view of making the proceedings in Parliament appear to have been other than they actually were, is to level an accusation against Mr. Speaker, which, unless supported by absolute proof-
– Or something which would appear to the honorable member making the statement to be proof. Would that be sufficient?
– Rubbish !
– Do not jump at things.
– I do not.
– But supposing it were true?
– First of all, surely the House will consider whether a statement of this sort is libellous. I do not think any honorable member will dis pute that on its face it is not only libellous, but a gross breach of the privileges of this House, as well as of the Speaker. Then there are the other words accusing Mr. Speaker of being a bitter partisan. They are strong enough to be characterized in any way honorable members please. But the gravamen of the charge, as I put it, is that some one who presides over this House is said to have deliberately and fraudulently altered a Hansard proof.
– “Fraudulently!” Where does that statement appear?
– Does the honorable member for West Sydney say that it is not fraudulent for the presiding officer of the House to deliberately alter the records of this House ? The word ‘ ‘ fraudulent “ was mine.
– Oh, I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
– But the word used by the honorable member was “ wilfully.” I hold that no term but “ fraud,” and “the grossest fraud,” could describe such an action if the accusation were true. No House, not to speak of any Government, could pass by such a statement and retain its self-respect for a moment. I invite honorable members to consider what was done in the House of Commons in a case which does not appear to me to have been as strong as this is. We are told in May that there was an accusation of partiality in the administration of the closure levelled against the Speaker of the day. That was serious enough in itself. But in this case we have that accusation - the accusation of being a bitter partisan in the application of the closure - made against the Speaker, and added to it a statement of gross misrepresentation of the proceedings of the House on his part. What was done in the minor case in the British House of Commons to which I have referred ? We are told that the honorable member concerned was called upon to make a statement in the ordinary way from his place in the House, but that in the meantime he had made an apology which averted the consequences of the offence -
Subsequently, however, the same member published in a newspaper a letter which contained a repetition of the same offence against the Speaker. The House thereupon, having heard the member in his place-
I shall refer in a moment to the matter of procedure and proof. Having heard the member, what did the House of Commons do? Did it give him a further opportunity to withdraw and apologize or to retract the language that he had used ? Did it do as does this motion, which gives the honorable member an opportunity at any moment, after it is passed, to reinstate himself in the House by withdrawing and apologizing ? Nothing of the kind. The House of Commons vindicated its own honour by declaring that the member should be suspended for the remainder of the session, or for one calendar month.
– I guarantee that he was on the losing side.
– Order ! The motion that the House is asked to pass, for the purpose of vindicating its own honour, is as follows: -
That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of this House for the remainder of the session unless he sooner unreservedly retracts the words uttered by him at Ballarat on Sunday, the oth November, and reflecting on the Speaker, and apologizes to the House.
– The motion has been altered. The 7th October was mentioned originally, and the alteration has been made by the Prime Minister without any authority from the House.
– Assuming that the honorable member used in substance the language referred to, which is reported in three newspapers independently, of the Speaker of this House, can any honorable member for a moment suppose that any course is open to the House of a milder character than that which is now proposed ?
– Does the AttorneyGeneral not see that the motion prejudices the whole case by assuming proof before it is actually known ?
– That is the very point to which I am coming. The House must be satisfied by reasonable proof.
– This motion could not go as an honest motion before any House or Court.
– The right honorable member is entirely wrong. Even supposing it were a matter of a prosecution in a court of law, the offence is always stated as having been committed before any evidence is given in support; and it must be so. I shall now point out the nature of the evidence which the House of Commons, and every other House, have always required.
– In this case, sentence is passed before the evidence is put in.
– The House of Commons has never sought for evidence of the character which is produced in a court of law - that is, evidence on affidavit or from witnesses called - except in the case of inquiries on private Bills, where there is a Committee authorized for the particular purpose of taking evidence to determine certain facts. What is the practice that has always been adopted in regard to proof ? Of course, if the honorable member for Ballarat says that the words were uttered, but they are true, we shall know how to deal with him. Honorable members say that there is no proof that the words were uttered; but the practice which we are following here is that which has always been adopted by the House of Commons, whose practice we are not only allowed, but directed by the Standing Orders to adopt in cases for which our own Standing Orders do not provide. The practice is that laid down by May, and it does not require, in any case, evidence on oath to be given in the House, either by affidavit or otherwise, in support of any statement made. What is done in all cases of contempt is to call on the person who hae committed the contempt to appear at the bar of the House, if he is not a member, or to call upon him, if he is a member, in his place to admit or deny the allegation made against him. May, 11th edition, page 89, after dealing with various matters in regard to privilege, says -
It is the present practice, when a complaint is made, to order the person complained of to attend the House, and, on his appearance at the bar, or, if a member, in his place, he is examined and dealt with according as the explanations of his conduct are satisfactory or otherwise ; or as the contrition expressed by him for his offence conciliates the displeasure of the House.
That has been the practice, and the only practice, in these matters which can be found to have been adopted, and any other course is impracticable. What has been done here? The Speaker has had read a report from one newspaper, and two other newspaper reports have been read by myself, and these, though not identical in language, are identical in substance, in representing the honorable member for Ballarat to have made this extremely defamatory and libellous statement. The honorable member has himself been called upon to say “ yes “ or “ no “ as to the accuracy of the report, and he has declined to do so. In thus declining, he has left the House to form its own estimate, which it must form, as to the truth of the report.
– The honorable member has not declined.
– He has declined.
– The honorable member has declined to answer, the matter having been expressly put to him by Mr. Speaker.
– The Attorney-General is wrong; the honorable member has not declined.
– The honorable member for Adelaide cannot have been in his place in the House at the time this took place. I understand that, after the report had been read by the Clerk - though I may be wrong - Mr. Speaker asked the honorable member for Ballarat to say whether it was true or not.
– The honorable member for Ballarat can reply at any time before the motion is put.
– Quite so; and I sincerely hope, for his own credit, and for the credit of Parliament, that he will, before the motion is put, reply to such a very grave accusation. It is quite true that the House ought not to act without all reasonable proof, which in such cases is obtained.
– The Government act without any proof.
– I shall take no notice of the honorable member’s comments. The Prime Minister has a duty to perform, from which he cannot withdraw unless he withdraws from the leadership of the House altogether. I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, to make it absolutely clear, before the motion is put, that the honorable member for Ballarat has the fullest opportunity to say “ yes “ or “ no “ as to whether those newspaper reports are accurate or not.
– I desire to give the honorable member for Ballarat a further opportunity, if he so desires, to make a statement. The newspaper reports have been read, and now the honorable member, if he desires, may rise and make a statement as to whether or not they are true.
.- First permit me to say that I think the Government have dealt very unfairly in submitting the motion before I have had an opportunity to study the reports of my speech in the Age and Argus. Secondly, let me say that the evidence that has been adduced by the Attorney-General boils down to this : That at that meeting there was neither an Age nor an Argus reporter present.
– How does the honorable member know?
– I know there was not a reporter present from either newspaper. So far as the Echo report is concerned, I have not read it. I made some statement, in view of the motion submitted here by the honorable member for Barrier, in which the following occurs -
In view of the following words, “ In the circumstances, I directed the Clerk to carry out the decision of the House, and to read the Bill a third time before I put the motion,” being added by the honorable the Speaker to the Hansard report of his statement on the point of order raised by the honorable member for Kennedy, on 30th October . . .
Those quoted words were not in the original Hansard proof, but were added; and I criticised the position very severely, as I claim I had a perfect right to do, in view of the refusal to permit us to discuss it in Parliament, and of the fact that the motion of the honorable member for Barrier has been put lowest down on the business-paper. It was not a matter of going outside and criticising a gentleman whose hands, as the Speaker said, are tied. I tried to criticise the position in this Chamber, but I was denied the opportunity of dealing with the motion of which the honorable member for Barrier had given notice. I dealt with the statements made, but, as to my exact words, I have not much recollection. I say, however, that neither the Age nor the Argus had a reporter present, and, therefore, neither newspaper could know what I said.
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister has based his motion on a report appearing in the Argus, and we now have an absolutely authoritative statement that neither tha Age nor the Argus had a reporter present at the meeting.
– How does the honorable member know?
– We know it to be an absolute fact; we have proof of it. That being the case - the Argus reporter not being present, and the charge being based on the Argus report - I contend that the motion is out of order.
– The point of order raised does not affect the position at all. It is not within the knowledge of the House, nor is it the concern of the House, whether the Age or the Argus reporter was present.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– Will Mr. Speaker read the motion?
– Do I understand some honorable member to ask whether the motion has been altered ?
– I should like to hear it read.
– There has been a correction made in the motion, and I propose to submit that correction to the House. October was mentioned inadvertently instead of November; it is only a verbal correction.
– The motion was put as originally drafted, and it cannot be altered unless it is altered by the House.
– I propose to submit the alteration for the consideration of the House before the motion is dealt with.
– It has been decided time after time that newspaper articles-
– I rise to a point of order, though I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member. Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you propose, at some later hour of the day, to put this technical and verbal alteration to the House? May I submit that such corrections are constantly made-
– They have no right to be made.
– I say they are made every day in connexion with the business of every Parliament, and they have never been objected to until now. I submit that the motion is perfectly in order. I have a perfect right, at any time, to have corrected a mistake of my own, so long as it is only of a purely verbal character.
– Not after a motion has been put from the Chair.
– The position is, that, after I had stated the motion to the House, the Prime ‘Minister asked me for the notice of motion, saying that he had made a mistake in mentioning October instead of November. The honorable gentleman made the correction, and I intended at that moment to draw the at tention of the House to it, but the honorable member for Wide Bay asked to see the motion, and I handed it to him. Under these circumstances, the matter temporarily escaped my memory until I happened to overhear a question bearing on the matter. And then I remembered that it had been altered. In the circumstances, when a motion has once been stated from the Chair, any alteration made in it should be made with the consent of the House. Of course, any honorable member may move to amend it.
– May I suggest that you secure the consent of the House to the alteration ?
– Yes. I should have done so at an earlier stage.
– Could it not be done in an orderly way by way of amendment?
– Yes ; I have just said so.
– I do not propose to object to the alteration, but I think it should be done in the proper way.
– Is there any objection to leave being granted to the honorable member to alter the motion ?
– You have ruled, sir, time after time, that newspaper cuttings that are produced in the Chamber-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member addressing himself to the original motion or to the amended one?
– When the honorable member for Bourke has had an opportunity of saying a sentence or two I shall be better able to determine that matter.
– I was pointing out when I was interrupted that time after time you have ruled in this Chamber-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that it is a well known rule of Parliament that necessary alterations, even to Bills, are made after their passage through the House.
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is a point of order already before the Chair.
– My point of order is that no amendment is necessary, nor is the consent of the House needed to alter the motion.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I am calling attention to the practice of Parliament.
– Are you running the show?
– Order !
– This is the Cook Parliament, not the Federal Parliament.
– Order ! Honorable members must maintain silence.
– It is the practice of Parliament that verbal amendments are made in motions, Bills, or any proceedings of Parliament after they have been passed. I submit, therefore, that in the circumstances, there is no need to ask for the leave of the House, and that the motion is perfectly in order with the alteration made.
– It is true that the Chairman of Committees sometimes makes a verbal alteration in a Bill, but where a question has been stated from the Chair, I think the proper procedure is, - if the motion has been altered by the honorable member moving it - to inform the House of the alteration, and get the concurrence of the House to that alteration.
– Do you rule that this has been the practice of the House ?
– I think it has been the practice of the House. At any rate, it seems to me that a very peculiar position could arise if, after a motion has been stated to the House, and the House 13 in possession of it, the honorable member moving it could make material alterations that might altogether alter the character of the motion. If an alteration is made in one case without the consent of the House, then in every case alterations could be made, and a motion, when put from the Chair after debate, might be entirely different from that submitted from the Chair at the outset.
– It could only be done with your connivance.
– But if I could accept the alteration of one word in a motion, there would be just as much connivance if I consented to the alteration of a dozen words, and I do not think it is proper to put a Speaker in that position. The matter should be dealt with by amendment or by the consent of the House.
– Time after time it has been pointed out in the Chamber that those who produce newspaper clippings, or anything of the kind, must vouch for the accuracy of the reports they produce. I am not troubling much about that particular point, but I ask where a position like the present will lead us if those who produce these reports are not asked for any evidence or proof? It simply means that if this practice is permitted to develop, the majority may expel, one after another, the whole of the minority. The old order of procedure has been entirely reversed; the practice has been entirely altered. It was the practice laid down that before any one could propose to act in the direction now suggested, they must furnish evidence of the accuracy of the reports they produced, but here to-day no one is asked to furnish the least proof of the accuracy of the statements contained in these newspaper clippings. Simply on the basis of a newspaper report, and without producing any evidence whatsoever of its truth, it is proposed to take certain action against an honorable member in this Chamber. There never has been a time in the history of this Parliament when, acting upon newspaper assertions, half the members of this House could not have been expelled in the same way.
– There is always the opportunity to retract.
– The Attorney-General has referred to the practice of the House of Commons. I venture to say that he cannot produce any authority to show that this power has ever been exercised in the House of Commons, except during a most corrupt period in its history. Certainly it has never been exercised in normal times and under normal conditions. The honorable member for Ballarat has not covered himself by the privileges of Parliament in order to defame any person; but he mounted a platform and made a clear and definite statement, which the AttorneyGeneral says is defamatory and libellous. If it be defamatory and libellous, then the Speaker, or any honorable member inside the Chamber or outside, can have recourse to the Courts of the country to secure a proper remedy. It is because they do not believe that the courts of law can provide a remedy, because they are not too sure that there is anything defamatory or libellous in the matter, that they take action in the Chamber. In fact, they seek a remedy here because they think they cannot secure it in the courts of the country. The honorable member for West Sydney asked the AttorneyGeneral what proof Ministers had, and what it was upon which they hinged their action. The reply was that it was in connexion with the accusation that the Speaker had altered the Hansard report. The Attorney-General also said -o that the honorable member for Ballarat should not have said anything against the Speaker unless he was sure of his ground, that the honorable member ought to have had some facts or evidence before saying anything against the integrity of Mr. Speaker. Yet here the AttorneyGeneral has the audacity to take action against the honorable member for Ballarat without a tittle of evidence. All they do is to take a newspaper report and present it to the honorable member for Ballarat, and ask him to say “yes” or “ no “ as to its accuracy. Why ask him to say “yes” or “no”? If they are sure of their ground - if they are sure that the honorable member for Ballarat has committed some offence against the privileges of the Chamber, why the need to ask him such a question? But they ask him the question because they propose that he should become his own executioner, and give them some justification for their action. Their only reason for asking him the question was that they might get some assurance for the action they proposed to take, and which they would take against every member of the Opposition on the slightest provocation. It is not the dignity, nor the honour, nor the privileges of this Chamber that they propose to uphold; it is their majority they seek to maintain. What would have been thought of us, sitting on those benches during the last Parliament, if we had seized on newspaper reports and taken the utterances of the honorable member for Parramatta and others - if we had - abused the power and authority with which we were invested by the votes of the people of the country, and had accused honorable members of the then Opposition, one by one, on questions of privilege, and expelled them from the Chamber without the slightest tittle of evidence or truth, simply acting on some newspaper reports - in which they were alleged to have said something which was an attack on the privileges of the House ? Why, the whole country would have howled with indignation. I do not blame honorable members on the Government side, but their good sense and good taste must bein revolt against this proceeding. We have in the Chamber to-day what we had ten years ago, a resurrection of that spirit of hostility, coercion, subjection, and tyranny that, once invested with power, will brook noopposition. To honorable members sitting behind the Government I say, ‘’ Beware ! We live only for a day. The tables may be turned, and you may find that to-day you are utilizing a weapon that may be to-morrow utilized to the injury of every member of the Chamber.” I hope the honorable member for Ballarat will stand solidly to his position, and that he will be charged distinctly on evidence. I hopethat before he is expelled from his position as a member of the Chamber we shall know upon what evidence that action is taken. I appeal to honorable members sitting behind the Government not to let passion and prejudice carry them away. I say to them, “ Be very careful that you do not commence a course that, from Parliament to Parliament, will be injurious to ourselves as individuals, and injurious to the best interests of this country.”
.- After listening to the violent tirade of the honorable member for Bourke, I think a reply should be made to him. It appears to me the honorable member has threatened us on this side of the House, and has said that we should not record” our votes in favour of what we think proper to maintain the dignity and honour of Parliament.
– Dignity be hanged T You have not got any.
– Order !
– You will do anythingto get a majority.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is out of order.
– Dignity is dead.
– I have several timescalled honorable members to order. I must insist on my orders being observed. I shall not continue to injure my throat in vain efforts to maintain order by appeal. If honorable members will persist in following the course they have adopted, I shall proceed to other measures in order to maintain order.
– The honorable memberfor Bourke threatens honorable members on this side, so that they may not record their votes to maintain the honour. and dignity of Parliament, by saying that when his party gets back into power they will retaliate.
– He does not say that.
– On a point of order. The honorable member has completely misrepresented me.
– That is no point of order. If the honorable member deems that he has been misrepresented by anything that the honorable member for Indi says, he can make a personal explanation at the conclusion of the honorable member’s remarks. The honorable member can rise to a point of order if any reflection is made upon him, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I certainly think that an untruth is a reflection.
– The honorable member must not say that another honorable member has told an untruth; but if the honorable member for Indi has said something which the honorable member for Bourke considers a reflection upon himself, I ask him to withdraw it.
– Certainly I withdraw it if the honorable member for Bourke did not intend to threaten honorable members on this side. I accept his assurance that he did not. Members on this side should maintain the dignity and traditions of the House in every way, and we resent such charges as were made against us by the honorable member for Bourke, dancing about the floor as he has been for the last few minutes. The honorable member made the most extraordinary statements that I have ever listened to. He asked why the AttorneyGeneral suggested that the honorable member for Ballarat should be asked if the statements were correct. I take it that, in all fairness to the honorable member for Ballarat, the honorable member should be asked if he did, or did not, make the statements. He should not shelter himself in the way that he did. He said that, so far as he knew, there were no reporters of the Argus or Age present. What does it matter to this House whether there were reporters present or not ? If the honorable member for Ballarat made these statements believing there were no reporters present, and thinking that they would not come back to the House, his conduct is all the more reprehensible. The whole question is, “ Did he make those statements, or did he not?” I hear the honorable member for Bendigo interject that there is no proof. I have been waiting with some interest on this very important question - the procedure and practice on which in the House of Commons has been put before the House by the Attorney-General - for the legal lore of the honorable member for Bendigo to assist the House; but all that he has, so far, contributed to the debate is an interjection which is not of much use to us. The honorable member for Bourke said that members on this side were dragooned into supporting the Government in this matter. He asked why the question was put to the honorable member for Ballarat. It is put to him, following the procedure of the House of Commons, and it is only a fair thing that it should be put to him, in order that he may have an opportunity of saying whether the report is correct or not. In his remarks, and the honorable member for Bourke has confirmed it, the honorable member for Ballarat said he did make certain statements. Apparently, the honorable member for Ballarat was speaking so wildly the other night that he did not know what statements he made, and now, when he is charged in this House, he will neither father them nor deny them.
– The honorable member for Indi is misrepresenting me by saying that I made wild statements, and that I came to this House stating that I did not know what I had said.
– That is not a point of order.
– Why not be a man ?
– I can hardly expect ohe honorable member for Cook to be a man at any time. The honorable member for Ballarat does not seem to know, judging by the statements he has made to the House to-day, what he said at Ballarat the other night. If he believes that the report is substantially correct, let him tell the House so; if he does not agree with the statements as reported, then his plain duty is to tell the House that he does not approve of them, and that he did not intend to reflect on the Speaker. As a matter of fact, I think that, in this case, the ordinary legal proof is not required. The honorable member has an opportunity of saying whether the statements which he is charged with making are correct or not. If they are correct, then the House knows how to deal with them. If they are not correct, let the honorable member say so, and that will be the end of them.
.- It is distinctly refreshing to hear the honorable member for Indi, who, I understand, is a member of the legal profession, assert that, in a case of such magnitude and importance, involving the question of whether an honorable member shall or shall not sit in this Chamber, and represent his constituents, as they desired that he should, when they elected him, legal proof is not necessary before we eject that member from the Chamber. Really, one is astounded to find that that honorable member, despite his knowledge of the law, is prepared, without proof, to vote with the Government to turn a member of this Chamber out of it, and refuse to allow him to represent his constituents. How would you cauterize such conduct, Mr. Speaker, were you on the floor of the House ! I venture to believe that your sarcastic reference to the honorable member would be such as to make him curl and hide himself for ever and a day. May I remind the honorable member, who seeks now to prove another honorable member guilty upon a newspaper report, that only a few weeks ago it was my privilege to draw attention to a report that appeared in the Wangaratta newspaper, in which the honorable member himself was reported to have grossly misrepresented the Labour party, notwithstanding that he had the proof to the contrary in his hand at the time. When I brought this forward and read it, the honorable member said he would neither deny nor acknowledge it. He sat in his seat over there and said, ‘ You have the newspaper, consequently you are responsible for bringing it forward; you can give the proof,” meaning that if proof could not be given other than such as appeared in the newspaper, he consequently could not be deemed to be guilty. The honorable member now speaks about traditions, and honour, and dignity, but when he was indicted for a gross misrepresentation he refused to allow a report in a newspaper to convict him. Why, then, does he now allow a report in a newspaper to convict an honorable member on this side of the House ? Surely that is a fair proposition to put to him ? No doubt his little outburst was congenial to himself, but if he demands that a newspaper shall not convict himself, he is guilty of something underhand if he wants to convict another member on like evidence. Let me remind the House that it is a most serious thing to eject a member from this Chamber, because by doing so you tell 16,000 bond fide electors of the Commonwealth that they shall not for the time being be represented here. You are, therefore, doing more than merely ejecting a member; you are practically insulting a whole constituency. I ask that this shall not be done for party motives, merely that one side or the other may have a greater majority than it has at present. I ask that before it is done they shall bring such proof as will be reasonable in the minds of every bond -fide citizen, such proof as can be substantiated here, and also satisfy the court of public opinion. If we wait for that to be done, it seems to me that the honorable member will not be ejected. I heard an outburst from the honorable member for Indi about the honour, and dignity, and traditions of this Chamber. Let me tell the honorable member what the traditions of the last three years were, when the Labour party had a substantial majority in both branches of the Legislature. We allowed every member of the Opposition the full and free right of speech. We allowed every member to properly represent his constituency, and to give utterance to what he conscientiously believed was right. On no occasion did we seek to close the mouth of any honorable member, no matter what advantage he was taking, in our opinion, of the Standing Orders. Those were the traditions of the last three years, notwithstanding the majority we had in both branches of the Legislature, and we were successful in that period in passing much legislation of national importance. If honorable members have any regard for the traditions of the House, it would be well for them to give the Opposition an opportunity to speak as they think fit, so long as they obey the Standing Orders. The Attorney-General occupies an extraordinary position. He has brought forward the Age newspaper to prove that something was said by the honorable member for Ballarat.
– Three newspapers.
– I am dealing with the Age for the moment. During the current session, and only a few weeks ago, the Attorney-General submitted a copy of the Age newspaper, and characterized it as “a mendacious liar.” Nothing could be more stinging or cutting than the words which the honorable gentleman used to describe the Age when it suited him. It was, at the time I refer to, a mendacious liar, but now that it suits him to think otherwise it is a paper on the strength of a report in which he « is prepared to turn a member out of this Chamber. An honorable member on the other side is not guilty because of a report in a newspaper, and an honorable member on this side is guilty because of a report in the same newspaper. The Age is a mendacious liar when it refers to the Attorney-General, but to-day a report in that newspaper apparently justifies the honorable gentleman in an effort to expel an honorable member from this Chamber. Could we have greater inconsistency? To submit a report appearing in the Age or any other newspaper as a sufficient justification for turning a member out of this Chamber is going to an extreme which I am confident the people of this country will not submit to when they properly understand the position.
– It is submitted to the House; that is all.
– Might I say to the Prime Minister that these proceedings seem to indicate that we ought to go to the country as early as possible ? I would not for a moment reflect upon you, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure you will permit me to say that evidence is not wanting to show that this Chamber is becoming unworkable. The sooner we go to the country, and ask the people for another verdict, the better - that we may know which party is in a majority in this House, and that we may be able to place on the statute-book legislation of the character which the majority require.
– The honorable gentleman has done his best to make it unworkable, but he has not quite succeeded.
– There again the Prime Minister is incorrect. I have, on a few occasions, said what I had a right to say, and what I thought should be said in the circumstances, and I might have said a little more on certain questions had it not been for the fact that the Government, fearing criticism and exposure, systematically applied the “gag.” I was prevented from expressing the views of my constituents on im portant subjects, because the “ gag “ has been systematically applied.
– Order 1
– That again seems to me to indicate the necessity for an appeal to the people. We have had a motion submitted that the honorable member for Ballarat should be removed from this Chamber unless he makes some form of abject apology. Notwithstanding the reference to the Standing Orders, and the assertion of the Attorney-General, it is not proposed, in this case, to adopt the procedure of the House of Commons, when a somewhat similar occurrence was dealt with there.
– The offence was much milder than this is.
– In the case which has been referred to, the honorable member who had offended was permitted to explain his position. Here, before the honorable member for Ballarat has had an opportunity to explain his position, as he should have had, he is threatened that, unless he does so, and apologizes, he will be removed.
– That is not quite correct.
– He was asked to speak.
– He has been prejudged.
– The honorable member has been prejudged. We point out to honorable members opposite that they are unable to prove the honorable member guilty, and then, with charming innocence, they actually ask the honorable member to himself say that he is guilty. If he were to cry, “Yes, I am guilty,” then they would punish him, if they could, or force from him some abject apology. Before he has had an opportunity to explain, and in the face of the admission of honorable members on the other side that they have no proof of his guilt, the Government submit a motion which may result in his removal from this Chamber. In the case quoted from the proceedings of the House of Commons, the offending member was remove’d only after he had repeated his offence, and after he had actually written the offensive words. He did not say them in the heat of debate, and they were not due to the excitement of the moment when a man is making a big speech to his constituents. The member in question sat down calmly in his office, or somewhere else, and wrote out, and published, his offence in the newspapers. You, sir, and honorable members opposite, know well, but, unfortunately, the public of Australia do not know, that, even after the offending member of the House of Commons had repeated his offence in the way stated, he was again given an opportunity to explain his conduct.
– Did the House proceed to prove him guilty ?
– The reference to the matter in May says, “ The House thereupon, having heard the member in his place.” That was on the second occasion.
– You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.
– There are fools in every company.
– The honorable member has been prejudged. He has been adjudged guilty before he has been allowed to speak, and without an atom of proof other than a reference to a statement appearing in a newspaper, whichhas been characterized by the Attorney-General as a mendacious liar. The honorable member is to be removed if he does not favour honorable members on the opposite side with an abject apology. Let us considerthe course which was followed in the House of Commons in the case which has been quoted. It appears that an accusation of partiality in the administration of the closure was directed against the Speaker by a member of the House of Commons.
– At what date?
– Two cases are referred to in a footnote, one occurring in 1891, and the other in 1893.
– There was a case in July, 1891, and another in March, 1893.
– Apparently, in 1904, there was a case of a somewhat similar nature. In the case dealt with by the Attorney-General, and on which the Government base their action, an honorable member had accused the Speaker of the House of Commons of partialitv in administering the closure. His offence was brought before the House; the Speaker explained the nature of the offence which had been committed against the House and the offending member madean apology in terms which averted the con sequences of his offence. He was evidently given an opportunity of speaking and of saying whether he had or had not been guilty of the offence. He must have admitted that he was guilty in some way or another, and, subsequently apologizing, escaped the consequences of his offence. But the question of his suspension arose afterwards, when, after making his apology to the House, he repeated his offence in a letter to the party press. Here, before the honorable member for Ballarat admits that he has said anything, and before he is given an opportunity to discuss the matter in any way whatever, a resolution is submitted forhis expulsion for the session.
– The honorable member for Ballarat was twice called upon to explain.
– Having heard the member in his place, and the member having, evidently, acknowledged the repetition of the offence, and having refused to apologize in any way, the House of Commons then, and only then, proceeded to take the action which has been referred to. Is this House justified in taking the action now proposed on the first occasion, and without proof of any description? The reference to May seems to have been hurriedly read, and the procedure overlooked, when it is claimed that the case referred to was on all fours with the case that has arisen here. In the case referred to punishment was only meted out to the offending member when he had offended a second time, and had cheerfully acknowledged his offence. There is no acknowledgment of offence on the part of the honorable member for Ballarat. As a matter of fact, the honorable member has not had a full opportunity to say whether the reports of his speech appearing in the newspapers are correct or otherwise.
– Yes, he has.
– In the few moments during which the honorable member referred to the matter, he emphatically stated that, so far as the reports appearing in the Argus and Age are concerned, there were no reporters present to represent those newspapers, and, so far as the Echo is concerned, the honorable member stated that he had not had an opportunity to read the report appearing in that newspaper.
– It was read to him here.
– Does the Minister of Trade and Customs mean to say that the honorable member is guilty because a statement has been read from a newspaper ?
– The honorable member said that the honorable member for Ballarat had no chance to read the report in the Echo, and I reminded him that it had been brought to his knowledge here.
– The reply to the reference to the Age and the Argus is that those newspapers were not represented at the meeting by reporters, ‘ and it is a reasonable assumption that their reports, in the circumstances, are not reliable.
– Does the honorable member deny them?
– I do not know what the honorable member will do.
– He rose three times, and failed to do so.
-I do not know what the honorable member for Ballarat will do when he has the opportunity. What I am taking exception to at the present time is the apparent determination of honorable members on the Government side to remove the honorable member from this Chamber, whether he be guilty or not, and whether he acknowledges an offence or not.
– I rise to order.
-For the twenty-second time.
– I am sorry that I have to do so. The honorable member for Adelaide has made the statement that we are apparently determined to remove the honorable member for Ballarat from the Chamber, whether he be guilty or not. That is a gross imputation upon honorable members on this side, and I submit that it is out of order.
– If the honorable member stated that, it certainly is a reflection on the Ministry, and the statement must be withdrawn.
– I spoke of the appearances to my mind. I did not speak of the actual desire of honorable members opposite. If you say that I must withdraw a statement of what appears to me to be the desire of honorable members opposite, I will withdraw it. Must an expression of opinion as to appearances be withdrawn ?
– I think the statement should be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the statement. Apart from whether the honorable member for Ballarat admits that he made these statements or not, and apart from whether the Age, Argus, and Echo reports are correct or not, what the House has to consider is, not whether the honorable member for Ballarat made these statements, but whether he was justified in making them. Were the honorable member’s statements true? If there be a reasonable ground for the honorable member making the statements, then I take it that the House will not be considering its own honour and dignity by removing the honorable member.
– There are four specific charges.
– Which of the four charges is relied upon?
– They all reflect upon the Speaker.
– Is number 1, 2, 3, or 4 to be relied upon, and are any of them true ? Suppose an honorable member feels in his heart that he has some justification for making statements, we havenot to consider the particular words used, because he might have conveyed precisely the same meaning in different words. Each man chooses the words’ with which he is most familiar, and does not necessarily use them with a complete knowledge of their finer meaning. What may appear to some a comparatively mild statement may appear to others as being very pointed. Let us look at this question from the point of view, not of numbers, but of justice. This is the first statement in the report which forms the basis of the charges laid against the honorable member for Ballarat -
Therefore, he wanted to say what he would not be allowed to say on the floor of the House.
Although honorable members opposite may feel that they have the power to remove the honorable member for Ballarat from the Chamber, they must recollect that the public will say that he was sent here to speak his mind &3 the representative of his constituents. If, because of the application of the closure, he feels that he was not allowed to say what, in the interests of his constituents, he ought to have said, there was some justification for his telling the people so. It is thev who ought to be, and who finallv will be, the masters of this Parliament.
– Then the honorable member thinks that the report is correct?
– Even if the statement is correct, even if the honorable member for Ballarat said what he is reported to have said, it must be remembered that he said it when smarting under a sense of grave injustice, and feeling that he had been prevented from saying in this House what he should have been permitted to say.
– What he would not have been allowed to say here.
– That is not so. Had he been allowed to speak to the motion of which notice was given, that Mr. Speaker does not possess the confidence of the House, he would have been able to say things reflecting on the Speaker. In discussing that motion, he could have made statements which could not be made in the ordinary course of debate. As to the remarks made at Ballarat - supposing the report to be correct - the honorable member made them when smarting under a sense of injustice, because his rights and privileges as a member had been taken from him by an unprecedented use of the Standing Orders. To continue the quotation from the report -
There was good reason for the motion, namely, that the Speaker had lost the confidence of members. We have absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberatelyaltered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, according to his’ own words, and he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.
That is the charge reported to have been made against the Speaker by the honorable member for Ballarat, to which the Attorney-General has added the word “fraudulent.” If the right of free Speech was recognised in this Chamber, and if there was opportunity to discuss the motion of want of confidence in the Speaker, of which notice has been given, might it not have been possible for the honorable member for Ballarat to bring proof of his assertion, and would honorable members say, if he proved it to the hilt, that he should be removed from the Chamber for having made it? Are they going to take the responsibility of removing from the Chamber a man who proves to the hilt a charge that he has made ? Honorable members opposite will dare a great deal in their sudden and temporary accession to power, but I doubt whether they will go so far as to say that a member should be removed when he proves to the hilt a charge that he has made. The Attorney-General presupposes that there is no proof, and is consequently prepared to condemn the honorable member, but we have the clearest proof that the Hansard report of Mr. Speaker’s remarks concerning the third reading of the Loan Bill was added to by someone. And the addition gives to the report a complexion differing from that which it would otherwise have had. Under these circumstances, are honorable members prepared to vote for the suspension of the honorable member for Ballarat? Let them compare the original report as transcribed, not by the representatives of party newspapers, but by the official reporters, who have no party to serve, and no ends to gain in this matter, with the report that was allowed to go forth to the public. If they do so, they will find that words were added to the remarks of the Speaker, and that those words give a different complexion to the report.
– Do they differ from the Clerk’s record ?
– The Clerk is a subordinate officer; that is as far as I care to go at the present moment in speaking of his record. But I repeat that words were added to the original Hansard report of Mr. Speaker’s remarks, and that they give to the report a different complexion.
– That is a charge against Hansard.
– No; the original Hansard report was correct.
– I do not know who altered the report. I do not know whether the honorable member himself did so.
– There is a definite rule prohibiting alterations affecting the meaning of a passage.
– All I know is that an alteration was made, and that fact gave some justification to the honorable member for Ballarat for saying to his constituents what he was prevented from saying here.
– How does the honorable member know that an alteration was made ?
– We have a proof of the original report. The honorable member, if he desires to be fair, can obtain a similar proof, and compare it with the published report. Apparently the honorable member, without attempting to ascertain whether there is justification for the statement of the honorable member for Ballarat, is ready to support a motion for his suspension.
– Read the alteration to us, and prove that it was made.
– Everything will be read.
Silting suspended from 6.30 lo 7.1/0 -p. in.
– When the House adjourned for dinner, I was endeavouring to deal with that phase of the motion which necessitates the bringing forward of proof, my contention being that honorable gentlemen on the Ministerial side will not be justified in voting for a motion which is based on a newspaper report, of whose accuracy they have absolutely no proof. I take it, at present, that honorable gentlemen are desirous of being fair. I take it that they will not lightly throw an honorable member out of his place ; that they will not lightly disfranchise the Ballarat constituency; and I take it that, in general, they will agree that the representatives of constituencies should be given the right of expressing their opinions to their electors, even though, in doing so, they should come near to dealing with the Speaker himself in that capacity. It would be a serious matter if the conduct of the Speaker, being such as even a majority of the House desired, the minority were not to be permitted to express their opinion in respect thereof. I quite agree that it would not suffice for any honorable member to go outside the Chamber, and make serious reflections on the conduct of the Speaker, or even on that of honorable members, without notice being taken of his statements. At the same time, honorable members will not desire that the right ot criticism, fair and reasonable, and the right of expressing an opinion in keeping with conscientious beliefs, shall be denied. For that, indeed, would be creating a serious situation, and curtailing a liberty which Australians in the past have prided themselves upon. T submit respectfully, that it would be going much farther than the constituencies in general would really desire. For, if I understand my fellow countrymen aright, they will maintain, at all costs, the right of free speech; and the right of any of their representatives to express in public the views that he honestly holds.
– And always provided that they are true.
– And it will not suffice for even this House, with all its traditions and all its powers and privileges, to take that right away from any citizen. I was contending that this motion must turn on the question of whether there was any justification for the honorable member for Ballarat using expressions of the character he is reported to have used. I take the interjection of the honorable member for Hume as indicating his trend of thought - that if the statements alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Ballarat are true, or substantially true, then there was justification for the making of them. I ask the AttorneyGeneral, I ask honorable members on the other side who have not yet made up their minds, whether, if those statements are substantially true, it must not follow, in keeping with the interjection made just now, that the honorable member for Ballarat had justification for making them. If he was justified in using those expressions, will honorable members be justified in removing him from the Chamber? Will they be justified in depriving his constituents of his services here, and depriving him of the right of criticising what is going on in connexion with the affairs of the country? Before we adjourned for dinner, I said that, as regards the first part of his alleged remarks, which read as follows,
Therefore, he wanted to say what he would not be allowed lo say on the floor of the House. the honorable member had justification, because of the repeated applications of the closure, and because, in respect of the very motion with which he was then dealing, the Government had taken an unprecedented course.
– Do you suggest that, if there had been no closure applied, he would have been permitted to say that?
– Because the Government had practically said to him, “You shall not discuss the motion,” for they have put it at the bottom of the businesspaper. Every honorable member conversant with the ordinary procedure of Parliament knows that the placing of a motion there means that the Government did not intend the honorable member to discuss it. Consequently, having been prevented from discussing it here, where he should have been given the right to discuss it, and in the proper place, he had some justification, I put it to the honorable member for Hume, in taking the complaint to his constituents - to his masters.
– I rise to order. I submit, sir, that the motion is entirely out of order, according to a ruling given by you. I draw your attention to the fact that, when, on the 30th October, the honorable member for Maranoa proposed to read a statement from a newspaper, you said -
The honorable member will not be in order in founding a question upon a newspaper report and reading from a newspaper. . . . Anything contained in a newspaper report is outside the cognisance of the House, and cannot be taken notice of.
I submit, sir, that on the ground you then stated, you must rule against this discussion taking place.
– I would remind the honorable member for Bourke that the point of order he cited related to questions founded on newspaper statements, and that I ruled that a newspaper statement could not be read and then made the basis of a question. When the present question was raised, the newspaper report was not read, although it was a matter affecting the privileges of the House; but, subsequently, after a motion was moved, I directed the Clerk to read the words on which the motion before the House was founded.
– May I raise a point of order ?
– The honorable member may not traverse my ruling. I cannot allow him to again raise the point of order, because it refers to another matter altogether.
– First of all, the honorable member for Ballarat had justification for taking the complaint to his constituents. That is charge No. 1 which is laid against him on a newspaper report. It goes on to allege that he used these words -
We have absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, according to his own words, ind he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.
The honorable member for Ballarat is alleged to have used those words, which, according to the AttornevGeneral, amount to a charge of fraud against the Speaker. I put it this way - that we have proof that the report of Hansard was altered after the proceedings of the House had ended, and that the addition made to Hansard put a different complexion on the report. I am not here prepared to say that the Speaker himself altered the report. I do not know whether the Chairman of Committees, who interjected before dinner, altered it. I do not know who altered it.
– Is that fair?
– The honorable member interjected.
– Is that fair?
– The honorable gentleman brought it upon himself.
– Be fair.
– I do not know whether even the Minister of Trade and Customs altered the report.
– You will say anything.
– I do not know that any honorable gentleman on the Government side altered the report.
– Did you alter it?
– I am not prepared to say that even the honorable member for Kooyong altered it.
– It is quite possible that you did it yourself.
– I am not prepared to say that I did it. All that I do know is that the report was altered, and consequently the honorable member for Ballarat had justification for bringing the matter before his constituents.
– And charging the Speaker with the alteration?
– And so far as is alleged here, if the honorable member charged the Speaker, then, on the face of it, it would appear that the Speaker was the only man who was interested sufficiently to alter the report.
– You do not defend the attitude of the honorable member ?
– I say that the Speaker was the one man above all others on this earth who would appear to have some reason for altering the report.
– What reason?
– Because it was the report of what the Speaker is su noosed to have said. Honorable members haveasked me for the proof. Here it is - Hem sard as it left the House, and as it was submitted to honorable members. When the honorable member for Kennedy raised a point of order as to the procedure, pointingout very clearly that the motion for the third reading of the Loan Bill had not been put, and in the circumstances could not then be put, and consequently the proceedings were not as subsequently it was desired to say they were, the Speaker replied as follows: -
Technically, the position is as the honorable member for Kennedy states. After the decision “That the Bill be now read a third time” was arrived at, the Bill was not read a third time ;
The Speaker admits that the Bill was not read a third time. but, under a misapprehension, I take it, the Prime Minister moved “ That the House do now adjourn.”
That is the full and complete report as it left the impartial hands of Hansard. As, however, it appeared to the public these words had been added -
In the circumstances, I directed the Clerk to carry out the decision of the House, and to read the Bill a third time, before I put the motion.
– That is perfectly right.
– Those words were added.
– It was the duty of the Speaker to add those words.
– Order !
– The AttorneyGeneral is merely expressing his party opinion.
– Because it reports what was done.
– In the first place the Speaker admitted that the third reading was not put.
– “ Not put!” Not read.
– That the Bill was not read a third time.
– Had the Hansard reporters a fair chance to hear what the Speaker said?
– I do not know; the honorable member may have been interjecting.
– No, but honorable members opposite were. We could hear nothing.
– The AttorneyGeneral was merely expressing a party opinion when he said that it was the dutv of the Speaker to add something to his report. If that be the duty of the Speaker, it must likewise be the dutv of any honorable member to add to his report - to alter it to suit his subsequent views.
– To state the facts.
– Of what use are the reports of the proceedingsof the House if, after consideration, any honorable member can add to them or take from them; because, if he has the right to add, he should have the right to take away?
– It is both the right and the duty of the Speaker to make Hansard agree with the facts so far as his decisions go.
– It is not the right or the duty of the Speaker to add to Hansard reports.
– Or to manufacture facts.
– Every honorable member corrects his speeches.
– Let us remove the party aspect of it for a moment, if possible.
– Ah, ah!
– I know that the Honorary Minister is utterly unable to do so. I am not appealing to him, but to honorable members upon his side of the House. Let us remove the party aspect of it for a moment, if possible. If honorable members have a right to alter their remarks as they are recorded in Hansard, the official report of our proceedings will be valueless.
– Has the honorable member ever corrected his Hansard proofs?
– Here is the covering note which is sent out with every proof of Hansard -
Honorable members are respectfully requested to note that emendations which alter the sense of words used in debate, or introduce new matter, are not admissible.
– It is the absolnte duty of the Speaker to make the Hansard record coincide with the facts.
– Here is the covering note which is sent out with every Hansard proof -
Honorable members are respectfully requested to note that emendations which alter the sense of words used in debate, or introduce new matter, are not admissible.
It is necessary to rub that into the mind of the Attorney-General, who says that it is the duty of Mr. Speaker, if he feels so disposed, to add to the Hansard report.
– He did not say that. The honorable member will make Ananias turn in his grave.
– Here we have proof that an addition was made to the official report of Mr. Speaker.
– Which it was his duty to make.
– The AttorneyGeneral may continue to claim that it was his duty to make it.
– The honorable member knows that it was his duty to make the Hansard report coincide with the record of the proceedings of the House.
– I do wish that the honorable member would be cool. This impetuosity is distressing. It is not the right of any honorable member to add to the Hansard report in any sense whatever, much less is it his right or duty to add to it in such a way as to put a wrong construction upon what has taken place here. The Bill was not read a third time.
– It was read a third time.
– That is a reflection on Hansard.
– Hansard could not hear it, on account of the howls of honorable members opposite.
– The Bill was not read a third time, and, therefore, did not pass this Chamber in the proper way. In these circumstances, it was not the duty of the Speaker to add words which made it appear that the Bill had been read a third time, and had passed this Chamber. I, therefore, submit that there was justification for the honorable member for Ballarat drawing the attention of his constituents to this matter. After all, he was merely telling them what transpired in Parliament. And who have a greater right to know what takes place here than an honorable member’s constituents ? Will honorable members opposite, because they have a majority for the moment, say that the honorable member shall be removed from this Chamber for the remainder of the session merely because he is alleged in a newspaper to have done what he conscientiously believed to be his duty? We know full well that our constituents cannot rely on the daily newspaper reports, and if, in addition, they cannot rely on the Hansard reports, in the name of God, who has a greater right to explain to them what has taken place here than has an honorable member?
– Then the honorable member says that the honorable member for Ballarat was quite right?
– I have not said anything of the kind, and the Prime Minister should not interject. He is distinctly out of order, and I do not like his interjections interpolated into my remarks. The honorable member for Ballarat is reported to have said -
The Speaker was acting in a biased manner, and was proving himself a bitter partisan.
That is the newspaper allegation. That is the charge which honorable members opposite make, but which they are unable to prove. The words are emphatic, if they were used. But, after all, the Prime Minister himself in other words has said precisely the same thing. He has intimated to the public that the Speaker is a partisan. He has intimated to the public that he knows how the Speaker is going to vote. He has intimated that he will retain his seat, and score on a particular motion, because of the vote of the Speaker. If he, as a bitter partisan, is acquainted with the way in which Mr. Speaker is going to vote, then he must be equally culpable - if culpability there be with the honorable member for Ballarat. He, then, of all persons in this House, should be the very last to make a charge of this character, or to seek to remove from the Chamber an honorable member because he is alleged to have referred to Mr. Speaker as a partisan. Here is a report of the proceedings in this Parliament on the 9th September last, as will be seen on reference to Hansard, page 943. It is headed, “Vote of Mr. Speaker,” and reads -
– Did the Prime Minister, as reported in an interview of the last issue of the Sunday Times, of Sydney, in connexion with a motion regarding the AttorneyGeneral
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in quoting from Hansard on a matter which is not before the House.
– The honorable member for Cook is reported to have asked the Prime Minister whether he was correctly reported in alleging, in respect of a particular motion, that the Government would win by the Speaker’s vote.
– He made the same statement at Wangaratta.
– The Prime Minister had to admit that he had no authority for making that statement. In other words,. he acknowledged that he had made a statement charging the Speaker with being about to give a party vote. He admitted that he had no authority to make it. If, then, the honorable member for Ballarat has made a statement to the effect that the Speaker is a partisan, he is but following the example of the Prime Minister. Is he wrong in following that example? I am not charging you, sir, with being a partisan, but when the Speaker has to come down and vote for his party, his action removes him from that high and exalted atmosphere in which we love to see him.
– Why did the honorable member’s party bring him down last session to vote for the referenda proposals?
– But a little time ago the right of the Speaker to vote in Committee was questioned. I do not wish to say that you, sir, cannot hear the interjections from the Government side of the Chamber-
– Order ! I would point out that the honorable member will not be in order in referring to proceedings in Committee, and to a matter which has been decided in Committee.
– I do not propose to do so. I intend to read a passage from the eleventh edition of May, page 368. There I find the following -
But while in the chair the Speaker is thus restrained, by usage, in the exercise of his independent judgment-
– Order ! The honorable member is now distinctly referring to a matter which took place in Committee. That matter was decided in Committee, and cannot again be revived.
– It must never be quoted again?
– I am entitled to quote it in relation to this matter.
– The honorable member must not traverse my ruling. He may dissent from it if he chooses. I have already ruled that the matter to which he refers was decided in Committee. The extract which the honorable member was about to read was quoted in Committee, and the matter cannot be raised again in the House.
– I rise to a point of order. Do I understand you to rule that because a certain quotation was made in Committee it cannot be quoted again?
– The honorable member did not understand me to rule that generally. But this particular matter has already been decided in Committee. The quotation which the honorable member for Adelaide was about to make was read in Committee, and upon the reading of it, and of other quotations in connexion with my action in voting in Committee, a decision was arrived at. Consequently, that matter cannot be raised again.
– I rise to a point of order. The question before the Chair is, first, whether the honorable member for Ballarat made certain statements in regard to yourself, and, secondly, whether he was justified in making them. It appears to me, therefore, that the whole of your conduct during your occupancy of the Chair is under review, and I would respectfully suggest that you are limiting the field which should be open to honorable members, if you rule that your conduct must not be reviewed in any way.
– I have not ruled that my conduct must not be reviewed in any way, and the question of justification does not arise. The only question before the House is whether, at a public meeting, certain statements were made which constituted a libel on the Speaker or a reflection on him, or upon the House. That is the matter which has to be determined.
– I do not wish to traverse your ruling, sir. But you must admit that references in May may deal with a thousand different subjects. I may quote the same words in relation to an incident which took place a week ago or in relation to what is taking place now. I do not wish to use the quotation I was about to make in its relationship to what took place a little while ago, but only in its relationship to the truth or justification of what is alleged to have been said by the honorable member for Ballarat. I propose to go a little further, and to point out my meaning, if you will allow me to do so. I intend to read only two sentences.
– I hope that the honorable member will not persist in his present course of action.
– Very well. I merely wish to point out that, although forty or fifty years ago it was the practice of the Speaker in the House of Commons to vote in Committee, that practice has of late years fallen into disuse. There, the
Speaker does not vote in Committee, and consequently be sits in a higher atmosphere, in my judgment-
– Order ! The honorable member is now distinctly referring to a matter which took place in Committee. That question was decided in Committee. It was decided that the Speaker, as a member of the Committee, has a perfect right to exercise his vote there. That matter cannot be reviewed in the House, because the Committee is master of its own procedure.
– Very well. You, sir, are not supposed officially to know what takes place in Committee. However, I will not refer to that aspect of the matter. The allegation against the honorable member for Ballarat, upon which the Government have based this motion, reads -
The Speaker was acting in a biased manner, and was proving himself a bitter partisan.
I repeat that the Prime Minister has said practically the same thing.
– There is another matter to which I desire to call attention. When our present Speaker was nominated for the Chair, there was absolutely no opposition to his appointment. We could have opposed him. There were 37 members on each side, and we could have demanded a division, with the result that the Speaker would have had to vote himself into the Chair. We refrained, however, from doing so. Quite apart from party considerations, honorable members of the Opposition unanimously said, “ The Speaker must go into the Chair in circumstances in keeping with the highest traditions of his office. As far as is humanly possible, we will free him from any atmosphere of partisanship. We will refrain from taking any exception to his appointment.” We desired to clothe him with a strict and punctilious impartiality, and, as far as was humanly possible, we did so. The proceedings of the House have come now to tliis - that in certain circumstances, because of the state of parties, Mr. Speaker is forced to vote. The very moment that Mr. Speaker votes in Parliament, that moment he discloses his hand, and comes down, so to speak, from his exalted position of impartiality.
– What rubbish ! The Standing Orders provide for his voting.
– I acknowledge that when the honorable member votes he does not disclose his hand.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We have been told during this debate that if this motion be carried the electorate of Ballarat will be disfranchised. If it should be disfranchised, that, of course, would be a matter for regret, but if it were disfranchised because of any act of its representative, that would be a matter for which this House would be in no way responsible. It would be for the honorable member himself to explain away that act. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, like every other honorable member of the Opposition who has spoken, did not attempt to justify an accusation of this kind being made against Mr. Speaker. That fact stands undoubted. The newspaper which has been handed in contains a report of what every one admits to be one of the most serious reflections that could possibly be made against a Speaker. The reflection is contained in the paragraph
There was good reason for the motion. “We have,” he added, “absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan bill was not carried, according to his own words, and he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.”
One has only to turn to the Votes and Proceedings, which are kept by the officers of the House, to find that on the motion of Mr. Joseph Cook the Bill was read a third time.
– The Prime Minister admitted that he never moved the motion.
– The Prime Minister has made no such admission. Honorable members opposite have said, “ There is no proof that the honorable member for Ballarat made this statement,” and the honorable member for Adelaide has also said that the honorable member for Ballarat did not have an opportunity to make a statement to the House this afternoon. May I remind honorable members of what took place. Mr. Speaker ordered the proceedings to be read. The paper containing this accusation
– Give us a true statement of what took place.
– Will the honorable member allow me to state my own case? He will have a right to’ reply to me. The Argus report of the speech was read by the Clerk of the House.
– After the motion had been moved.
– The honorable member said that the Speaker ordered the “ proceedings “ to be read.
– I meant to say that he ordered the newspaper report to be read. The report was read, and the honorable member was asked whether he had anything to say. Points of order were then raised by several honorable members of the Opposition, and, whilst these were being discussed, the honorable member for Ballarat, for some reason or other, left the chamber. He came back again, and his attention was once more called to this very matter. Mr. Speaker said, “ I give the honorable member for Ballarat precedence over all others ifhe wishes to make a statement.” The honorable member made a statement. And what was the nature of it? He said, first of all, that no reporter from the Argus or the Age was present at the meeting in question; but he did not say that a reporter from the third newspaper quoted - the Ballarat Evening Echo - was not present. That, however, is not the point. The question to be determined is whether or not the honorable member used the words attributed to him. He was asked whether he did or did not; and to that question he had an opportunity to say “ Yes “ or “No.” But we know what his answer was. He still has the right to state to this House whether or not he used the words complained of. It is, therefore, idle for honorable members opposite to try to evoke sympathy on his behalf on the ground that he has had no opportunity to explain. He has had two or three opportunities, and it is still open to him to be heard.
– As long as he remains silent, he is repeating the libel.
– As long as he remains silent, the presumption is that he admits having made the statement.
– The honorable member is a fine lawyer.
– Honorable members opposite treat this matter as if it were that of a criminal standing; his trial. The honorable member for Bendigo interjected this afternoon, “Should a man be compelled to come into this House and incriminate himself?” That is the way the position is put by tne Opposition. The honorablemember for Ballaratis a mem ber of this House, and’ every member is responsible to his fellow members for what he says. The House, in dealing with one of its own members, does not proceed upon the principle that he is a criminal. It rather proceeds upon the principle that he is an honorable man who, if he has made a statement, will have the manliness to rise in his place, and either stand by it or withdraw it. In dealing with a case of this kind, we do not proceed on the principle followed by a Court in a case where a man is being prosecuted for larceny, or some petty offence. Then, again, honorable members opposite ask, “ Where is the proof that the honorable member has made this statement? He may be guilty, but you have to prove him guilty.”
– And the honorable member says, “He may be guilty; therefore he is guilty.”
– I say nothing of the kind. The honorable member for Ballarat is alleged to have made a gross attack upon the Speaker of this House, and three different newspapers attribute to him substantially the same statement. He was asked in this House whether or not he made it, and we all know what reply he has made. Honorable members of the Opposition now say, “ But you have to prove that he made this statement.” I propose to show that the procedure adopted in this case is the accepted procedure in the British Parliament, and the practice and procedure of the House of Commons are the prae’-ice and procedure of this House. Let me quote four cases, showing exactly the procedure followed in a matter of this kind in the House of Commons. On the 20th July, 1888-
– A Tory Government was then in power.
– What an intelligent remark to make. On 20th July, 1888, aa reported in the Commons Journals -
Complaint made to the House by Lord Randolph Churchill, member for South Paddington, of a letter written by Mr. Conybeare, member for the Camborne division of Cornwall, and published in the Star newspaper of this evening, reflecting on the conduct of the Speaker of this House in the chair.
The said paper was delivered in, and the letter complained of read.
A motion was made on the question being proposed, and the member was heard in his place, and the suspension followed. Then, again, on 13th March, 1893, com plaint was made of another case of a let ter reflectingon the conduct of members “ and of the Speaker of this House in the chair.” Then the report sets forth that “ The said newspaper was handed in, and the letter complained of read.”
– The letter purported to have been written by a member of the House of Commons.
– That is so. The honorable member was not called upon for an explanation, as the matter was passed over. On the 4th July, 1893, the same procedure was adopted in the House of Commons. The report states that “ The said paper was delivered in, and the letter complained of read.” In yet another instance - 7th July, 1893 - the newspaper was delivered in. The report states that “ whereupon the said letter,” which appeared in the Daily Chronicle, “ was again read.” There has never been, to my knowledge, a case in the House of Commons where legal proof has been required, or where the procedure has been such as if the member were being prosecuted for a criminal offence. The House of Commons has in each case appealed to the member’s honour, and has given him an opportunity to explain whether or not he did that which was alleged against him. That is the position of this House to-day. The House is appealing to the honorable member’s honour, and is inviting him to say whether or not he used these words, which undoubtedly reflect seriously upon the position of Mr. Speaker, and are of such a character as to compel the House to take action. I have quoted these instances to show that we have adopted the proper procedure.
– What was the punishment in the cases referred to by the honorable member ?
– In one case the honorable member concerned admitted that he had written the letter complained of, but apologized, and the suspension was withdrawn. In the case which occurred on 7th July, 1893, Mr. Conybeare was heard in his place, after which he was ordered to withdraw from the Chamber, and the House proceeded to decide in his absence.
– Did he withdraw the words ?
– No. Later on, however, he came into the House and expressed his regret. He was again directed to withdraw, and the motion was then moved that he be suspended from the service of the House for one week. That motion was withdrawn on the honorable member re-entering the House and expressing his contrition and regret. The motion submitted in this case is -
That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of this House for the remainder of the session, unless he sooner unreservedly retracts the words uttered by him at Ballarat on Sunday, the 9th October, and reflecting on the Speaker, and apologizes to the House.
If the honorable member be suspended, his period of suspension will depend entirely upon his own good judgment and common sense. If the motion be passed to-night, he will be able to come in to-morrow, to express his regret for having used the words complained of, and to apologize to the House for his conduct. If he does so, then, by the very terms of the motion, the whole matter will immediately lapse. I wish now to refer to only one other point. The honorable member for Adelaide, in one of his moments of self-righteousness, said, ‘ What a magnificent precedent we set during the three years that we were in office. There was no application of the closure, nor was any member suspended.” It was the conduct of the Opposition for those three years that made that record possible. I do not suppose that, in the history of responsible government, there ever was a Government that received such courtesy, attention, and assistance from the Opposition as did the late Administration. What I regret is that honorable members opposite do not adopt the traditions of that Opposition, because, if they did, it would be better for the dignity of the House and the progress of public business. Before I sit down, I desire to make a technical correction in the drafting of the motion, and I move -
That the word “October” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ November.”
– There are two most important principles at stake; one is the freedom of speech, and the other the basis on which our Constitution and liberties rest, namely, a fair trial for every person against whom any charge is levelled. In this House, and in the country at the present time, there is a most extraordinary state of affairs. The honorable member for Darling Downs, in reply to a statement by the honorable member for Ade- laide that the Labour party, during its three years of office, had never used the “gag”said that no Government was ever confronted with an Opposition such as confronts the present Government - that in the history of responsible government there never was an Opposition like the present. With that observation I entirely agree. There never was an Opposition, which, in the face of such provocation, remained, as we have done so, supine. If we take the history of responsible government, as made in the mother of Parliaments, and contrast the scenes that have occurred there with the proceedings in this place, under such provocation and disorder as we have had these last few days, we can compare with satisfaction this calm and orderly array with that tumultuous and huddled mass of men, fighting and struggling, as they are borne out of the chamber. Such scenes have been known in the House of Commons on far less provocation than we have had. But, happily, we have never seen them here. However, I shall not waste time in dealing with what has been done in other Parliaments. I wish to say at once that nothing the Opposition have done in any way excuses what the Government have been guilty of. The Government have done what they have done without provocation, excuse, or justification.
The charge levelled against the honorable member for Ballarat is that on Sunday last, in the course of a speecli in his constituency, he made some statements in regard to Mr. Speaker, including a criticism of the Speaker’s fairness, to the effect that he was a biased Speaker, that he had altered Hansard, and that he did not possess the confidence of the House. For making those statements, it is proposed to expel the honorable member for Ballarat from the House for the remainder of the session. That is to say, it is proposed to deprive some 40,000 electors of this State of the privilege of being represented here at a time when parties are evenly divided in the House, and in the country. What is proposed to be done to-night cannot be divorced from the consequences of the act, and from the circumstances that surround it, and give rise to it. I have never myself said anything against the occupant of the Chair - either against yourself, Mr. Speaker, or your predecessors.
– I rise to a point of order.
– This is the twentyeighth point of order !
– The Prime Minister is like a bally porcupine !
– How long, Mr. Speaker, am I to be subject to these insults?
– It is an insult to the porcupine !
– I call the attention of the honorable member for Gwydir to the fact that interjections are disorderly, and that the nature of his interjection is even more disorderly, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
– Did you not hear the further insult, Mr. Speaker?
– I did not catch it.
– The honorable member for Grey says that it is an “ insult to the porcupine.”
– I must ask the honorable member for Grey to withdraw the words.
– Have 1 to apologize to the porcupine or to the Prime Minister?
– Will the honorable member for Grey resume his seat? The honorable member has made a remark which casts a reflection upon the Prime Minister, and to which the Prime Minister has taken exception. The honorable member, who has occupied a responsible position in this House, knows that, under the circumstances, it is not only customary, but imperative, that the words objected to shall be withdrawn.
– At your special request, sir, I make the most abject apology.
– My point of order is that there is only one question that can be debated on this amendment, namely, whether the word “ November “ shall be substituted for “ October.” The honorable member for West Sydney is traversing the whole question, and he will be enabled to deliver two full speeches on the same subject if he is permitted, on the amendment, to debate the main question. After the amendment has been decided, the honorable member may, of course, deliver his speech to his heart’s content.
– The Government, in the original draft of the motion, made an error as to the date; and there was no serious objection taken to an amendment to include the facts.
– There was no objection at all.
– There was.
– There is no serious objection made to the amendment of the date.
– The objection is to the Prime Minister taking the motion out of the possession of the House, and altering it.
– The objection I took myself was that the alteration was being made in the motion without its being submitted to the House.
– And when the amendment was submitted to the House, it was objected to.
– The objection was to the alteration being made without its being brought before the House, and the fact was recognised immediately by Mr. Speaker, who said that the amendment would be placed before us at some suitable moment. I think, however, that it is quite unnecessary to put the amendment now, because the amendment and the main question may very well be discussed together. The amendment is not in issue at all, and it is not proposed to have two debates - the matter is too important. The amendment has nothing to do with the principle involved, beyond impressing honorable members with the serious nature of that principle.
– Let us carry the amendment on the voices, and then get to the main debate.
– I suggest that we take the debate as a whole, and deal with the amendment later on.
– There is nothing in the Standing Orders which limits debate to an amendment, except that standing order which requires that members shall address themselves to the question before the Chair. There is a special standing order limiting debate to an amendment which is moved in Committee, but, so far as I am aware, speaking without the chance at the moment to look up the matter specially, there is no standing order which requires that debate in the House shall be limited to an amendment except in the case of a member who has spoken to the main question.
– Do I understand your ruling, Mr. Speaker, to be that an honorable member, by any kind of tech nical amendment, may traverse a subject as often as he pleases? I submit that that cannot be good parliamentary law. Honorable members, I submit, should agree to this technical amendment, so that the question may not be traversed twice.
– It has been our practice - for instance, no later than the beginning of the session, when there were a motion and amendments submitted - to allow discussion on both motion and amendment to proceed at the same time. It seems to me, however, that it is the desire of the House that this technical amendment should be agreed to now.
– I think it is preferred that the motion and the amendment should be discussed together.
– Will the honorable member for West Sydney proceed?
– As I was saying-, I have never made any reference to the previous occupants of your office outside the House other than I should make inside, and I ‘ have never criticised the Speaker in such fashion as to merit his censure. But, nevertheless, the Speaker, as such, is no more immune from criticism than anybody else. The honorable member for Ballarat has made some charges, and he was perfectly free to make them. The charge against the honorable member is that he made statements against Mr. Speaker. Whether his charges be well or ill founded - whether he has exercised his right of speech to a point degenerating into licence - is a matter of opinion and for consideration ; but that he had a right to speak as he thought fit, there is no sort of doubt whatever. The honorable member for Ballarat, as a representative of the people, is entitled to say here what he thinks of the Government, of any public business, and of yourself, Mr. Speaker. But he has been denied the right to say here what he thinks; and, as reported, that is the reason he gave for saying what he did at Ballarat. It is asserted now that the honorable member had no right to say what it is alleged he said. Why? Any citizen could have said the same thing. There is not one citizen in Australia, other than a member of this Chamber, whose right to go to Ballarat, or anywhere else, and say what the honorable member is reported to have said, would be called in question.
It has come to this, then, that a representative of the people, privileged to enjoy rights and opportunities that are not granted to the ordinary citizen, is not only denied those privileges that belong to him as a member of this House, but is also denied the ordinary rights and privileges of a citizen - amongst them the right of free speech. Now, what did he say about you, Mr. Speaker? He said that you were a “biased” Speaker. That may give you offence; it may even arouse the ire of honorable members who sit on the Government side of the Chamber : but surely it is a charge that can be made ? What is there, in the very nature of the language, in a statement that the Speaker is biased that warrants the expulsion of an honorable member? Are we just hearing for the first time that there are persons occupying judicial or presidential chairs in this Parliament or elsewhere who are biased ? Have we not heard of biased Judiciaries? Has it not been declared by the supreme tribunal of this country that a citizen was at liberty to say with impunity that one of the High Court Judges was biased and a creature of the Labour party ? The High Court dismissed the point with contempt when its attention was directed to the fact that a newspaper had said something against Mr. Justice Higgins much stronger than anything said by the honorable member for Ballarat against you, sir.
The charge preferred against you, Mr. Speaker, by the honorable member for Ballarat, falls under three heads - that you are biased; that you altered Hansard; and that you had lost the confidence of the House. As to the first charge - that you are biased - it is a matter of opinion, and you cannot control opinion. Nor, indeed, the expression of opinion. Are you going to say that if I think you are biased I may not say so ? Are you going to say that if I think that any decision of yours is wrong I may not criticise it, provided I do so in a personally inoffensive way? What does a charge of bias amount to? From the very nature of things man is prone to err and unconsciously lean in one direction or another? As to the second charge - that you deliberately altered Hansard - that, of course, is a question of fact, and it is susceptible of proof or disproof in the usual way. There is, on page 2789 of Hansard, a statement made by yourself that the third reading had not been carried, and you made a correction in Hansard, in which you said that you ordered the Clerk to correct the procedure because at the time there was such disorder as to warrant, in your opinion, a departure from the strict form necessary and proper in such circumstances. The statement made by the honorable member, therefore, was not technically inaccurate. As to the third charge - that you had lost the confidence of the House - what does that mean ? It is a mere matter of opinion. Only last week, the Leader of the Opposition said that the Government had lost the confidence of the House, and that was not regarded as an insult, though it was regarded as an excuse for an action which is without parallel in this Parliament, and, so far as I know, in any other Parliament. Therefore, the charges made by the honorable member for Ballarat, if they were made against you, were charges that are to be met and treated in the way in which all charges are met and treated, first of all by having a statement of them, and then by requesting the person charged to say whether he admits having made the remarks complained of; and whether, if so, he considers them true.
– What are true?
– The reference to the honorable member for Ballarat was a belated one. The charge was levelled, and the whole force and vehemence of the criticism of honorable members were behind it long before it was considered desirable to submit the matter to the honorable member who was charged. But why this startling departure from the settled practice? There are two persons now being tried in the House. The honorable member for Ballarat is being arraigned because he made a charge against the Speaker; and, with deference to you, Mr. Speaker, you cannot escape from the tribunal either; because the charge alleged to have been made against you by the honorable member for Ballarat is being heard, is being tried, and will be tried . As to the general propriety of such motions, it is alleged that this is being done only because it has reference to a charge against the Speaker. We are told that if it had been a charge against any other honorable member no notice would have been taken of it. I submit it is a charge which only incidentally has relation to the Speaker, and that the real gravamen of the charge is that it is an attack upon a member of one party by the other party, where both sides are so evenly divided that the Speaker is carrying on the government of the country. If, on the Government side of the House, there was an overwhelming majority, this charge would mean nothing - it could mean nothing in the very nature of it - it would be a mere personal attack on the Speaker that might properly be resented; but, when democratic government rests in the hands of one man, he can never hope to escape criticism; nor should he escape it if he merits censure. In such circumstances such a charge takes on a very different complexion. This charge is one levelled at that freedom of speech and right of criticism which are the two great principles underlying representative government. If this motion- is carried it will be competent for the Prime Minister to rise to-morrow or some other day and stop my mouth, or the mouth of some other honorable member, for saying some other thing to which he takes exception. In this country, and under this form of government, which we call Democracy, a man should be allowed to say anything he pleases providing it does not create disorder, is not blasphemous, and is not personally offensive, and is couched in decent language. Subject to that, speech is free, and the attempt to fetter speech by any other means must inevitably destroy the very base upon which democratic government rests.
I come now to the attempt to bolster this charge by precedent. The AttorneyGeneral says that the House of Commons is able to guide us in the matter, and the Minister of Trade and Customs quoted some cases in support of that, and we are told that in the House of Commons the honorable member charged was not even heard, but was condemned and suspended for the remainder of the session, the presumption being that conditions there were exactly the same as they are here. That is quite inaccurate. In one of the cases quoted, that in 1887, the member for the Camborne division of Cornwall, Mr. Conybeare had made a statement outside Parliament to which very strong exception was taken. It reflected upon the fairness of the Chair. It had to do, I understand, with the closuring of Mr. Conybeare. It was a very natural thing.
The member had been closured, and he objected and went to his constituents and said that Mr. Speaker was biased, and so on and so on. He was called upon in the House to apologize, and he did so in these words -
And, again, I say that if, at a public meeting, in the heat of the moment, I said anything that could possibly convey any erroneous impression that 1 intended to reflect on your conduct and authority in the chair, I can only say I am sorry for it, for I had no such intention. I spoke on Saturday with a full consciousness of the gravity of the situation. I felt it to be my duty to express my opinion, however inadequately, on, the present position of affairs ; and, with the explanation which I have now offered, I humbly submit that I did not transgress my duty in saying what I did say on such a grave constitutional crisis.
If you call that an apology and withdrawal, you must be very easily satisfied. Mr. Conybeare said he was sorry if he offended the Speaker, but he saw no reason to regret what he had said, and that what he had said was fully justified in the circumstances.
– The honorable member will not even say that.
– I come now to the following year, when the same gentleman was again charged with the same offence. Lord Randolph Churchill moved that he be suspended. I want to trace the procedure of the House of Commons that is used as a cover behind which honorable members are now taking shelter for the method pursued by them. There is a fundamental distinction to be drawn. First of all, Lord Randolph Churchill asked leave of the Speaker to address a question to the honorable member who was charged with the offence. Having obtained leave, he then asked the honorable member charged whether he was the author of a letter complained of which had appeared in the press. The member charged admitted that he was the author of the letter. That was the foundation of the proceedings - first of all the proof that the charge was true, and was admitted to be true by the member charged. The letter was then read, and it certainly went very far beyond what the honorable member for Ballarat is alleged to have said on Sunday last. It accused the Speaker of being biased; it said that the member had been treated unfairly, and that he had only spoken for a quarter of an hour, ‘when he waa closured, &c. The next step after the reading of the letter was to move that the member be suspended from the service of the House. Remember that this was his second offence within one year. The member was asked if he had anything to say. When he had said what he had to say, he was asked to withdraw. Then the Speaker explained the whole of the matter. He pub his side before the House. Please note this, sir : The charge was made in Mr. Conybeare’s letter; Mr. Cony bear e was asked, “Did you write that letter?” He said, “ I did.” He was then asked if he had anything to say in reply, and he made a statement. Then Mr. Speaker was asked if he had anything to say. At any rate, Mr. Speaker said something. He justified what he had done. Here we see a vitally important distinction between the two proceedings. In the one case the foundation was the admitted authorship of the article. The member was then charged. He pleaded to the charge. The Speaker, who was presumably offended, then made his case clear, and afterwards the House debated the matter. The Speaker said that he did not wish to speak with any heat nor to import any kind of passion into the controversy, and then he went on to relate the circumstances, after which the matter was discussed. During the discussion, Mr. Gladstone, perhaps the greatest parliamentary authority of our time, said it was highly inconvenient to call in question the conduct of the Speaker except in a regular and formal manner. But Mr. Gladstone, although he held, as I hope we all do, that it is very undesirable to have to criticise the Speaker at all, recognised that, for proper cause, he may be criticised like any other person. This point needs special emphasis. I most strongly protest against this gratuitous and wholly unwarranted assumption that the action, the conduct, and. utterances of the Speaker may not be criticised, discussed, or censured. The thing is absurd. The highest judicial tribunal in this land is, very properly, not beyond criticism. Parliament itself, whose ceremonious and formal mouth-piece you are, sir, is not beyond criticism ; and the public may say of this Parliament collectively a hundred times more than it was alleged that the honorable member for Ballarat said against you, and the people cannot be punished for so doing. You cannot formulate an indictment that will include a whole nation. It is alleged against the honorable member that he said you were biased; that is not by any means unusual in those holding judicial and presidential offices, as I have said; that you altered Ilansard, technically, you admit it; that you have lost the confidence of the House; I do not think it is saying too much to say that you have lost the confidence of half the House. In those circumstances, what has the honorable member for Ballarat said for which he is to be punished in this way ? Excepting that he has said it, perhaps, without those extenuating phrases that a man naturally weaves into his speech when he speaks at length, how has he offended ? They have taken three or four phrases out of the honorable member’s speech. They have published the engraving without the frame. They have taken two or three things out of their context, and upon this the Prime Minister, because it has offended his nobility, because some one has dared to criticise him and his work, dared to criticise you, who were at one time his colleague, and are now the Speaker of the House, asks the House to take this most extraordinary action. - You were the proper person to take notice of this, and, had you taken notice of it, I should have been one of the first to ask the honorable member for Ballarat to withdraw it, because, after all, whatever opinions we may have, while you are the Speaker of this House, we must- always endeavour to pay you that respect your position deserves. I have not the slightest quarrel with you as an individual, but I claim my right, and shall exercise it to the last ditch, to criticise anything you do or any other person does,” in this Parliament or out of it, in spite of all the endeavours honorable members on that side may make to close our mouths. They have, no doubt, seized upon this pretext to endeavour to persuade the public to overlook their action on Friday last, which will remain unforgotten to the end, in spite of all they do. Standing by itself, it is a monument for decent men to avoid. It is a pillar of flame which will light them to destruction. I recall the Fusion, and what they did, and I know what became of them.
– You ought to welcome it, then.
– The present Government have the advantage of the honorable member’s advice, which, I think, will be remembered in the political graves of every one of those who take it. This charge ought never to have been made, and it is the first time that such a charge has been made against any member of this House. The pretext is, on the face of it, perfectly inadequate; the alleged cause is ridiculously disproportionate; the proposed punishment not less so. The honorable member for Ballarat exercised his right as a citizen. He went down to Ballarat and made a speech; if any one is aggrieved by it, the law of libel and slander remains. Let them proceed under that. No jury would give a verdict in such a case, as the Attorney-General knows. Thank God that in this country we can say quite a number of things yet without being hamstrung or “gagged,” and I hope we shall go 011 doing it. If honorable members put out the honorable member for Ballarat because he lias done that which he had every right to do. they will have assured till the end of time that the honorable member for Ballarat will remain the honorable member for Ballarat. If I were the honorable member, and had such a margin as he had, instead of the very comfortable one that I got, I should be very glad to think that my enemies had done this thing for me. It was said by some one, “ Oh, that’ mine enemy would write a book”; but the prayer of the politician should be, “ Oh, that mine enemy would suspend me from the sittings of Parliament because I have said what the honorable member has said.”
– You have no confidence in Ballarat, then ?
– I feel sorry for the Attorney-General. I deeply regret that a man of his capacity and reputation should sink so low. I hope the House will reject the motion. I hope that every member will vote according to his conscience, and not vote for the motion merely because the Prime Minister tabled it, or because he does not agree with what the honorable member for Ballarat said. That has nothing to do with the question of whether we should suspend a man because he said something with which we do not agree. Honorable members should note that point; it is vitally important. Even if honorable members disagree with the honorable member for Ballarat to the very uttermost; even if they say his speech was an error of taste, of judgment, intolerable, going to the extreme, they should not suspend him or expel him, because he has the right as a free citizen of this country to exercise the right of free speech. I cannot believe for a moment that the honorable member had any intention of being personally offensive to you, Mr. Speaker, because if he had, I feel sure that you yourself would have taken exception to it. I hope you will put this matter fairly to the House. I hope you will put your side of the case, because you cannot sit entirely unconcerned in a matter in. which you are so vitally interested. Although the Prime Minister has brought the matter up, you are so closely associated with it that your opinion ought to be given to us, so that we may take advantage of your counsel and know your mind in the matter. I hope the House will reject the motion with a majority that will show the Government that the House is still in favour of free speech, although it may not agree with the speaker and his utterances.
– Mr. Speaker, we have just heard-
– On a point of order, if the Prime Minister speaks now, will he not conclude the debate?
– If the Prime Minister speaks now to the main question, he will certainly close the debate. He will be in order in speaking to the amendment.
– I have never yet discussed the main question.
– The Prime Minister moved a motion, which I stated to the House. Having moved it, and resumed his seat, he would not be in order at a later stage in proposing to speak to it.
– I wish only toreply to one. statement made by the honorable member for West Sydney.
– If the honorablemember desires to do so as a personal explanation, he will be in order ; but if hewishes to reply to the honorable member ‘sspeech on the main question, he will not be in order in doing so.
– I confess I do not understand the practice as now laid down. I will bring the matter to a point if honorable members will permit me. The debate has gone on sufficiently long.
– The honorable member can only make a statement, and interrupt the debate, by leave of the House.
– Is there anything I can say on the amendment?
– What is the scope of the debate on it?
– The amendment proposes to omit the word “ October,” and insert the word “ November.”
– Then am I to understand that I am to be confined to the discussion of the question whether the word “ October “ or the word- “ November ‘ ‘ shall appear in the motion ?
– At present, the honorable member will be confined to speaking to the amendment, because, if he were to go beyond that, he would then be replying to the debate. At a later stage of the proceedings, notwithstanding the fact that he was speaking to the amendment, he would be able to say whatever he might desire in reply to the general debate.
– I wanted, if I might be allowed to do so, to make an appeal to the honorable member for Ballarat. .
– Order !
– Very well, sir, I move -
That the question be now put.
– I knew it was coming ; I could see it. Why did not the honorable member do it openly?
– Expelling a member with the “ gag.”
– It is only to carry a technical amendment, that is all.
– The motion moved by the Prime Minister is,” That the question be now put.” The question before the Chair is the question of the amendment that the word “ October “ be omitted with a view to the insertion of the word “November,” and the immediate question that the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
– On a point of order-
– There can be no point of order raised on the closure motion. The question, “ That the question be now put,” must be put without debate. The standing order provides that -
When the motion “ That the question be now put “ has been carried, and the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further motion may be at once made which may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the Chair.
There has already been a question proposed from the Chair.
– You are voting for this without a chance of amendment.
– I do not wish to closure the main debate.
– Well, withdraw your motion.
– Order ! Will honorable members remain silent whilst the Speaker is attempting to elucidate the point? May I take this opportunity of again pointing out that all the trouble we are now involved in has arisen from disorder on the part of the House itself, and as a result of the difficulty in which the Speaker has been placed as a consequence of disorder in not being able to secure the attention of the House, and to make his meaning clear to honorable members. It is grossly unfair to the occupant of the Chair to be placed in such a position. I must ask honorable members to try to accord to me the consideration to which any occupant of the Chair is entitled. The standing order dealing with the closure reads -
(a) After any question has been proposed, either in the House or in any Committee of the Whole, a motion may be made by any member, rising in his place, and without notice, and whether any other member is addressing the Chair or not, “ That the question be now put,” and the motion shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.
The only question which the closure motion now moved can affect is the question arising out of the amendment, and, after that is decided, any further motion may be moved.
Question - That the question (Mr. Groom’s amendment) be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority … …1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I am very glad that the Prime Minister apparently does not propose to immediately move that the main question be put. If honorable members will try as far as possible to dissociate themselves from a party view, we may be able to come to some decision which will be acceptable to all parties. Every one who has been watching the proceedings in this House for the past month or so must sympathize very greatly with the Speaker. I very frankly confess that, in my opinion, you, sir, have tried to do your level best to be impartial. I am well aware of the difficulty that any occupant of the Chair is in, even when the predominant party in the House has a large majority; but the position of the Speaker when parties are evenly divided is difficult in the extreme. In my opinion, the honorable member for Ballarat had some reason for what he is reported to have said, if he did say it; and I make that statement without in any way desiring to reflect on your conduct as Speaker.
– How can the honorable member say such a thing without reflecting on the Speaker?
– In my opinion, you, Mr. Speaker, have been put in an unfortunate position by honorable members such as the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral. You have not yet voted for the closure, and it has been said outside that you desire not to be put in the position of having “to do so. To put you in that position would be to put you in a position which no other Speaker or President, so far as 1 know, has been in, and would be most unfair. The Speaker, President, or Chairman of an assembly is an umpire, and the rule is that he shall vote always for further consideration. But you, Mr. Speaker, have been so worried by honorable members on the Ministerial side-
– And on the Opposition side.
– Perhaps we have worried Mr. Speaker - perhaps I have worried him a little - but it was my intention not to worry him so much as to worry the Ministerialists. The Prime Minister took a most extraordinary course in regard to a motion of censure. Every other such motion moved in this House has been debated, from start to finish, without any interruption such as was made when your attention was drawn to standing order 119. That standing order says that all motions not disposed of within two hours after the meeting of the House shall be interrupted, and Orders of the Day called on. It is the application of that standing order that has given rise to all the trouble. The Attorney-General and the Prime Minister approached you, and drew your attention to the standing order, asking you to interpret it literally, according to their reading of it. These are the words of the standing order -
If all motions shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate thereon shall be interrupted, and unless the House otherwise orders, the orders of the day shall be taken in rotation.
You were asked to abandon all the traditions of parliamentary procedure, and to depart from the practice of the House, by making that standing order apply to a motion of censure, to which it had never before been applied. You decided to do that. You said “I shall interpret the standing order literally,” and you interpreted it literally as far as the word “interrupted”; but, when the Leader of the Opposition asked you to interpret the latter portion of the standing order literally, and allow the House to say whether the debate on the motion of censure should be continued, you said, “No; I cannot agree to that, because the practice of the House is that the fixing of a day for the resumption of the consideration of a motion, or the moving of a motion for the continuance of its discussion, must take place within two hours after the meeting of the House.” If the standing order means anything, it means that, after two hours have elapsed, the House shall order what is to be done with the motion before it. I quite admit that the practice, has been to deal with motions, other than censure motions, in one way or another within the two hours ; but that is not required by a literal reading of the standing order; and, in your interpretation of the standing order you made, I think, a mistake.
– That point has been raised, and has been decided.
– I do not mention these matters in order to reflect on you, because I honestly believe that you’ have tried your level best to do your duty impartially, and the trouble that has arisen has been due to the conduct of honorable members on the one side or the other, and I include myself if you wish. The honorable member for Ballarat, not having had experience in the chair, may take another view; but I ask whether you ought not, under the circumstances, to give him a chance to modify or withdraw his statement. He said that you had altered Hansard, or that Hansard had been altered at your direction. We have seen to-night how much importance you attach to the alteration of the wording of a motion. You refused to allow the Prime Minister to substitute “November” for “ October “ in his motion until the House had given him leave to do so ; but it has been proved, without question, that the Hansard report of your remarks about the Loan Bill has. been altered.
– Added to.
– That is an alteration. I dare say that, for. all practical purposes, you were justified in making an alteration ; but it was a very dangerous, thing to do.
It was a very awkward thing to do, and establishes, perhaps, a precedent.
– Suppose the records of the House show that an alteration was absolutely necessary to make Hansard correct, should not the alteration be made?
– Which is the record - the shorthand note ?
– No ; the official record is kept by the Clerk.
– Strictly speaking, if the Speaker finds that a motion has not been put, or that a Bill has not been read a third time, he ought, even at the risk of delaying the proceedings, to mention that fact, and let the House make the alteration. Possibly, sir, a serious thing has not been done in your having that alteration made, but I do appeal to you that when the honorable member for Ballarat found that the alteration had been made, he was justified in saying so on a public platform. And if he believed that you were acting in a biased way because you had taken an extraordinary action with regard to the motion of no confidence, I think he was entitled to say that on a public platform, and should not be deprived of his seat in the House for the rest of the session. I want to come to another point, and that is with regard to the newspaper. We are adopting to-night a practice which is quite contrary to your ruling. When the honorable member for Maranoa, the other evening, drew attention to the fact that the Prune Minister had accused the Leader of the Labour party of being guilty of a “ dirty trick,” you refused to allow the newspaper to be even read, and you gave this ruling, on page 2713 -
Anything contained in a newspaper report is outside the cognisance of the House, and cannot be taken notice of.
– Is the honorable member in order, sir, in reading from Hansard ?
– I have prevented another honorable member from quoting from Hansard of this session, and also, decided the point which the honorable member for Capricornia has raised.
– I do not wish to quote from Hansard, except for the purpose of being strictly accurate.
– The honorable member may not do so.
– I. will not read any further from Hansard.
– The Votes and Proceedings will do.
– There is the fact, sir, that you have disallowed the reading of a newspaper, and now honorable members opposite are called upon to vote for the expulsion of a member, for that is practically what it means, on a newspaper report. If honorable members vote, as they have voted during the past week or two, they are likely to vote as a body on this motion. I appeal to them that they ought to take a different view, and to try to look at this proceeding from the standpoint of a man outside of the House. They have seen a motion of no confidence taken out of the hands of the mover, and postponed indefinitely on the ground that there was nothing fresh in it. That may be a very easy method of dealing with a question to a Prime Minister who is prepared to adopt that attitude. But I think honorable members ought to make this allowance for the honorable member for Ballarat. - that never before in the history of this Parliament has such a thing been done, and never, I think, in the history of the Parliament, has the Speaker given an instruction that Hansard be altered or added to.
– But you must know that that is frequently done by a Speaker for the purpose of bringing the Hansard record into accordance with the Votes and Proceedings.
– No; I never did it, anyhow.
– I have no doubt that most honorable members, if they find they have used an expression that is not perhaps quite parliamentary, and do not want their constituents to be made aware of the fact, alter that expression. But this is a somewhat different thing. The AttorneyGeneral will see that there is a statement put in ‘Hansard that the Loan Bill was read a third time, whereas as a matter of fact it was not, and Hansard has been altered to that extent, and the honorable member for Ballarat said so at Ballarat.
– You are not accurate there.
– I think so.
– What is reported in Hansard is that the Bill was directed by the Speaker to be read a third time.
– As we all know, Hansard is a report of what is said in the House, not of what is done. What is done is recorded in the Votes and Proceedings, and it is not in order for anybody to insert in a Hansard report that something, was said when it was not said.
– It is the duty of the Speaker to see that Hansard agrees with the fact.
– That is a matter of opinion. Anyhow, because the honorable member for Ballarat takes the view that Hansard has been altered, is that a reason why he should be suspended from the service of the House to the end of the session ?
– The Attorney-General admits that an alteration was made.
– The statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat was that the report was altered to state what did not take place.
– Honorable members can only make up their minds as to what they are going to do in this matter. I have my idea of what the public will think of it. They know that there are thirtyseven members on each side here. They know, too, that one honorable member on. this side was suspended to-day, making the numbers thirty-seven on one side and thirty-six on the other. Does the AttorneyGeneral propose to try to increase his majority by bringing down a newspaper report for the purpose of getting a member out of the House - a newspaper report which I believe would not have been taken notice of by Mr. Speaker but for the action of the Prime Minister ?
– The Speaker said lie wanted to allow the matter to drop.
– There is another reason why honorable members should not vote for the expulsion of the honorable member for Ballarat. The Speaker himself has asked that this matter should be allowed to drop. In view of that request, why does the Prime Minister insist upon pressing the motion ?
– Why does not the honorable member for Ballarat act like a man ?
– Why do not Ministers act like men ?
– I am afraid that the Attorney-General is allowing his passion to carry him away. He is not credited outside with being governed much by passion ; he is supposed to be very placid ; but I am afraid that he is responsible for a great deal of the trouble which has bee’n brought upon this Assembly.
– I am certainly prepared to take my share of all the responsibility.
– I want to assure you, sir, of my great respect for the Chair, and my anxiety to obey your decisions. I also want to appeal to you to make that allowance which I think ought to be made for the statement reported to have been made at Ballarat, and one which I frankly admit, in the circumstances, I might have made myself. I again assure you, sir, of my belief that you have done your level best to act impartially in your position.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! I think that at this stage the House might, perhaps, permit me - and I think it is due to myself - to say a few words, on account of the number of statements that have been made; otherwise I intend to call upon the honorable member for Werriwa. I intimated to him that I would like to have the opportunity of saying a few words to set a matter right which is wrong altogether, and which has formed the basis of a portionof these accusations. The statement contained in the report which has been read, and which is, therefore, in the possession of the House, is that -
The Speaker had lost the confidence of members. There was a good reason for the motion. “ We have,” he added, “ absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a Hansard proof.”
Let me take that statement first. The fact that the Speaker has altered an uncorrected Hansard proof is not an evidence that there is anything wrong. That is a right which belongs to, and is exercised by, every honorable member of this House. No uncorrected galley-proof of any honorable member’s speech has any right to be quoted without the authority or consent of the member concerned. An uncorrected Hansard proof of one honorable member’s speech should not be in the possession of any other honorable member without his consent. An uncorrected proof of the Speaker’s decisions or remarks has no more right to be in the hands of a private member than has an uncorrected proof of any honorable member’s speech to be in the hands of another private member. Indeed, it is more important that an uncorrected proof of the Speaker’s decisions should not find its way into the hands of a private member, because those decisions are embodied in a permanent record for future reference, and will be quoted as precedents. Therefore, it is imperative that the Speaker should go carefully through his unrevised proofs and make necessary corrections in order to make his meaning clear, or even to make emendations and additions where omissions occur. This has been the right and the practice of Speakers in every Parliament that has ever existed. Not only has it been the practice of the presiding officer of the House, but of every private member of it. I do not know how an uncorrected proof of my remarks, which, I understand, had not even been seen by the Hansard staff themselves before it was quoted in this Chamber, came into the possession of an honorable member.
– It was sent time in the ordinary course.
Several members interjecting,
– Order ! These interjections are disorderly. In this instauce, I am informed that an uncorrected proof of my remarks was in the hands of tomebody else, even before it had been corrected by the Hansard staff when it came from the Printing Office.
– The proof was sent to me in the ordinary course.
– I accept the honorable member’s statement. The Speaker has a right to exercise the privilege of revising his Hansard proofs, just the same as has any other honorable member; and if he is to be denied that right, then every other honorable member must be denied it; and, in such circumstances, no honorable member would be permitted to receive an unrevised report of his own speech to enable him to make his own corrections. He would, also, be exposed to the risk of having errors iu his speech made the subject of subsequent accusations against himself. It will be seen, therefore, that, in exercising the right of emendation, I merely exercised a right which is exercised by every other honorable member. When I examined my proofs, I saw that certain words to which I had absolutely given utterance in this House, were not included in the report.
– They were never heard.
– I am not surprised that some honorable members did not hear them. There was a turmoil at the time such as is now proceeding, to a more limited extent - such a babel of interjections and crossfiring that the Hansard staff might well have been prevented from heating anything that I said. That is exactly what did happen. The correction was necessary. Had there, been any improper emendation on my part, the chief of the Hansard staff would certainly have refused to accept it. He would have declined to accept an improper alteration which I had no right to mal:e. But I distinctly used the words - .
In the circumstances, I directed the Clerk, to carry out the decision of the House, and to read the Bill a third time, before I put the motion.
I used those words, and, having done what I said I had done, they had a right to be recorded in Hansard. Consequently, I did but exercise my undoubted right in making a necessary emendation, to include words I had used, but which, apparently, were not heard by the reporters in the babel of conflicting interjections.
– They did not appear in the first proof of Hansard.
– No. They did not appear in the uncorrected proof. That is what I say. I exercised my right of revision, and of making correct an uncorrected proof.
– It was not a case of revision, but of making an addition. Was not that an addition, and not an emendation ?
– An emendation may take the form either of an omission in the case of something which has been incorrectly reported, or misunderstood, or mutilated, or of an addition which may be necessary to make one’s meaning clear. Proofs will show that honorable members upon both sides of the House have exercised the same right very freely, and the Hansard staff themselves will see that no improper corrections, or additions, or emendations are made in them. If improper corrections are made, they will bring the matter under the notice of the Chair. So far as that part of the question is concerned, I say distinctly that I used the words, but that they were, apparently, not heard by the Hansard reporters in the turmoil of interruption, the babel of tongues, and the confusion which was proceeding at the time when I was vainly calling upon honorable members to preserve order.
– I never heard them.
– Nor did I.
– In the general disorder which prevailed at the time the Hansard reporters, I am sure, must have experienced considerable difficulty, especially as an altercation was proceeding across the table, of which I have a very distinct recollection. The newspaper report goes on to say that -
The proof showed that the third reading i»f the Loan Bill was not carried, according to his own words, and he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.
I wish to make it clear that I did nothing of the kind. Here I have the uncorrected Hansard proof, which is a direct reply to that charge. That uncorrected proof - honorable members will see that the report is printed on the yellow paper - reads -
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– Do you think, Mr. Speaker, that it is right to move that motion?
– I am not called upon to express an opinion on that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Bill read a third time.
That is the record of Hansard, and I have not altered one single word, or even as much as a comma, in that record. It. will be seen, therefore, that the record of Hansard is that the question was put,. “ That the Bill be now read a third time.”
– Was there a division upon that?
– No. The question was decided on the voices.
– It was not.
– Order ! The honorable member has no right to say that. There is the record of Hansard, which has not been interfered with by anybody. It is also borne out by the official record of the proceedings. I know what was done perfectly well, because I called for order until really my vocal chords were severely strained in an endeavour to bring members to order. At the time, the leaders upon either side of the House were engaged in a heated argument, across the table, and I then put the question to. the House, “ That the Bill be. now- read a third time.” I called out in the usual way, “For the question say ‘Aye’; against the question say ‘ No ‘,” and I declared that the “Ayes” had i% That is what is meant by the Hansard report saying, “ Question resolved in the affirmative.” I did not tell the Hansard staff to put that in. They heard it. They must have taken notice that the question had been decided, and, as a matter of fact, an. honorable member upon the Government side of the House, after it had been decided on the voices, interrupted .the argument between the leaders upon either side of the chamber, and said something to the Prime Minister, which I caught. That something was to the effect that the third reading had been carried, whereupon the Prime Minister rose immediately and moved, “That the question be now put.” That is reported by Hansard. We have the statement in the Hansard proof -
Motion (by Mr. joseph cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Hill read a third lime.
It was here that the proceedings were interrupted, and my attention having been called to the fact- that the Bill had not been read a third time, I interrupted the motion for the adjournment of the House, and directed the Clerk to read the Bill a third time, he having, meanwhile, drawn my attention to the fact that that formality had not been complied with. It was because I had directed him to read the Bill a third time that it was necessary for me to .make the alteration or addition in the words I have mentioned. In the circumstances, I directed the Clerk to carry out the decision of the House, and to read the Bill a third time before I put the motion. The uncorrected Hansard proof which I have in my hand shows that very clearly. Then, according to this proof, the honorable member for Kennedy, on a point of order, said -
I maintain that the only question before the House now is “ That the House do now adjourn “ ; but a totally different question has been put.
The rest of the report does not affect the point at issue. The main point is that I did not alter a word - not even a comma - of the report in regard to the question of putting the motion for the third reading to the House. The motion for the third reading of the Bill had been carried on the voices, but the formality of giving effect to the decision of the House “ That the Bill be now read a third time “ had not been carried out by the Clerk, and I directed him to repair that omission, as already explained. That fact had a right to be recorded in Hansard. But this is not the only charge contained in the statement. The further charge is made that -
The Speaker was acting in a biased manner, and was proving himself a bitter partisan. The proof of that was the Speaker’s ruling on Mr. Cook’s point of order that the want of confidence motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition should be treated as private members’ business.
In regard to that charge, I wish to say that, so far as I was concerned, there was no question of partiality involved in the matter. I had simply to carry out the Standing Orders as I found them, and I acted conscientiously in the discharge of my duties. I would remind honorable members that the honorable member for West Sydney when speaking particularly emphasized the point that I had to carry out the Standing Orders as they were. If I had departed from the Standing Orders I should have laid myself open to justifiable attack in the House for having done so, but I did not. Motions of no confidence have not previously been interrupted in this House in a similar way because the point has not been raised, owing to the usual automatic suspension by the decision of the Government not to proceed with other business pending the decision of the House on the no-confidence motion. But, in this case, the Government intervened, and said they would go on with business. Then there is in this statement another implied charge -
During the debate he left the chair, and Mr. McGrath had no doubt that he had a consultation with the Attorney-General. For that reason the Speaker no longer possessed the respect and confidence of the House.
I wish to say at once that I did not leave the chair for the purpose of having any consultation with the Attorney-General as alleged, but that I asked the honorable member for Perth to relieve me for a little while on account of an urgent matter having arisen which required my attention, and which had nothing whatever to do with the question before the House.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. During the course of your remarks, sir, you said that you would like to know how I obtained the uncorrected proof of Hansard. Here is the proof, and it was sent to me just ,as- proofs are sent to every honorable member etch morning. I wish you and the House to clearly and distinctly understand that it came into my possession in the ordinary way.
– From the Government Printer.
– It came to me in the ordinary way, and I hope the- statement made by you, sir, will not be taken by honorable members to imply that I came by it by some underhand means. If I had no right to have proofs sent to me, your statement, sir, would be perfectly right, but I maintain that I have in this regard the same rights and privileges as has every other honorable member of this House.
– I desire to assure the honorable member that I had no intention of reflecting on him. I did not know into whose possession the Hansard proof had gone, but I had the assurance of those connected with the Hansard staff that it was an uncorrected, unrevised proof, and had not even passed through their hands before some honorable member received it.
– I trust that, having heard your statement of fact, Mr. Speaker - and that statement having been borne out in a very large part indeed by the uncorrected proof now in the hands of the ex-Speaker-
– No fear. It is the other way about.
– In a very large part, Mr. Speaker’s statement is borne out by the uncorrected proof in the hands of the ex-Speaker. That which is really essential is borne out by it.
– No, there are admissions fey. the Speaker.
– Mr. Speaker has stated exactly what addition he made - an addition of which he informed the House at the time - and his statements are borne out by members of this House. It has been admitted by several honorable members that they heard Mr. Speaker distinctly say so.
– The honorable member was not here.
– Some of us never heard a word.
– Quite so. It is admitted also, I think, that some honorable members did not hear a word of what transpired. Owing to the disorder that was taking place it is manifest that very little could be heard, but when we find that the Clerks of the House have absolutely entered on their records the statement that the Bill was read a third time, and when we find also that Hansard states that the motion was put, I think we are entitled to accept the statement that it was. So much having been made clear, does not the honorable member for Ballarat recognise that, whatever mistake was made, the charge of falsification of the Hansard report entirely disappears?
– He admitted that much .
– The honorable member will see, on the admission of the late Speaker, that the statement he made is not correct. The honorable member may think it is correct, because he never heard one side of it, but if he says his statement is correct, I presume he -will not dispute the accuracy of the report in the Age or the Argus. The honorable member is chairman of directors of the Ballarat Evening Echo Newspaper Company. A reporter from that newspaper was present at the meeting at which he made this statement, and furnished a report of his speech to the paper, so that there is probably no doubt whatever of the correctness of the statement.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Werriwa has said that I am chairman of directors of the Evening Echo Newspaper Company. That is not true.
– The honorable member is a member of the board of directors.
– The honorable member is not in order in making a statement concerning the honorable member for Ballarat to which he takes exception.
– I shall correct my statement and say that I understand that the honorable member for Ballarat is a member of the board of directors.
– That will do.
– Surely the difference between the two statements is too trivial to argue about. The honorable member for Ballarat occupies the same position that is held by every honorable member of this House. When an honorable member denies a statement, his denial must be accepted and the statement withdrawn .
– He is not bound to do that.
– He has to take the consequences if he does not.
– At the hands of a packed jury.
– Under laws made by the Labour party themselves, in this instance.
– No, no!
– At all events, the Labour party took a very large part in the framing of all measures relating to the suppression of debate. Next Monday, it will be just eight years since I pointed out that the very first party to squeal under those laws would be the Labour party.They had not the brains to grasp the facts then, and had to wait for actual facts to prove it. The honorable member for Bendigo has given us some law.
– AndI shall give the honorable member some more directly.
– The honorable member has said that the honorable member for Ballarat is simply accused; but what Court is there in the world in which the honorable member for Ballarat would not have to plead either guilty or not guilty? The only case in which a plea is not taken is where the accused is incapable of understanding what he says; therefore, the inference is that the honorable member for Ballarat did not know what he was saying, or, in other words, that he was either imbecile or insane.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong.
– The honorable member for Werriwa has said, a million times over, things a thousand times worse than those said by the honorable member for Ballarat.
– There is no getting away from the fact that Parliament Is a Court of the highest record - that it is the chief Court of the country. No member is responsible in any other Court for any remark he makes in the House; and, consequently, when he is outside, and makes remarks about Parliament, the House has to take notice of them if they reflect on the honour and integrity of members. There is no doubt that the statements of the honorable member do constitute a charge against the honour and integrity of the House, inasmuch as they convey that the House is guilty of keeping in place a Speaker who has been practically guilty of fraudulently altering the records.
– The Speaker admits it.
– Nothing of the sort: and I cannot expect the honorable mem ber to appreciate the distinction that lies here, though I should expect a school boy of five or six to understand it. It is a very wise provision that enables this House to sit as a Court on honorable members. The Labour party voted for a law which gave £700,000 odd to certain big sugar-planters and mill-owners; and, supposing I had gone about the country charging them with having been paid £100,000 to pass that law, ought I not to have been charged in this House?
– One of the honorable member’s party did so charge us, so far as the Tobacco Trust is concerned; and the honorable member himself made worse charges than that during his election campaign.
– The honorable member will never find me making such charges. He may find me expressing a desire to know why honorable members act in such a way that, if they were in America, they would be charged with having been paid large sums for voting; but I have never said that honorable members have received money for doing such a thing. No authority but Parliament can call such statements in question. There has been attached to the statements of the honorable member for Ballarat an importance that any one who knows the honorable member would not attach to them. We know that the Labour party have not attached much importance to what the honorable member said ; and the honorable member fcr West Sydney and the honorable member for Adelaide have made various explanations which tend to show, in the first place, that the honorable member was not responsible for what he said, and that, if he did say it, nobody ought to believe it or take any notice - therefore, that the House ought to take no notice.
– That is absolutely incorrect. That is the honorable member’s idea of truth.
– The honorablo member for Adelaide distinctly said so.
– He did not.
– The honorable member for Adelaide said that the honorable member for Ballarat did not know who was responsible for the alterations, and made it perfectly clear that that honorable member was not correct in what he said; while the honorable member for West Sydney went so far as to say that he was quite sure the honorable member for Ballarat did not mean anything by his statements.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I am very sorry I misunderstood the honorable member for West Sydney; and, while I wrote down the words when he spoke, I accept his assurance that he himself did not mean anything by what he said. If the proposed punishment appears to the honorable member for Ballarat rather severe, it is a matter which clearly rests with himself. If the honorable member will say that he did not make the statements, the House will at once accept his disclaimer, and solemnly “ wink the other eye,” probably knowing that he did make them.
– You ask him to lie in order to do that?
– That is an admission by the honorable member that the honorable member for Ballarat did say it, which is one of the things, in other words, that I have endeavoured to show. If it is the case that the honorable member has been misreported, I hope that he will see that all the reports in the press are corrected immediately. If he now says that he did not say this, he is trying under false pretences to secure a sympathy which he does not deserve. One honorable member has urged that it will strengthen the position of the honorable member for Ballarat, and put him back in Parliament for many years to come. By pretending something, the honorable member is striving to get the votes of the electors in Ballarat in years to come.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in saying that an honorable member is striving to do something by pretending that something is the case which is not the case.
– I have no hesitation in withdrawing any such statement. What is the next position? If the honorable member for Ballarat admits that he did say this, but rises and apologizes to the House, and says that he was not aware it was contrary to parliamentary practice to have said such a thing, at once the honorable member tells us what is probably the truth, and gets out of the whole difficulty, and prevents many honorable members of the House being put in the painful position of having to vote against him.
– Suppose he did sayit, do you not think the punishment toexclude him for the whole of the session is too great?
– It only excludes, the honorable member until he apologizes.
– If the motion had been to exclude the honorable member for Ballarat for the whole of the session,, without any hope for him to come in at any time and admit that he did say this, I would not vote for it. But that is not the motion. It is open to the honorable member, even at the ‘ present moment, to say, “ Yes, I did say it, and I withdraw the statement, because I find! that it is unparliamentary, and I apologizeto the House.” Then the whole incident is ended, and no punishment falls on the. honorable member.
– Why should he withdraw the statement if he believes it to be true?
– Listen to those, rebels over there.
-Honorable member on both sides must not interject.
– It certainly appears’ that honorable members on the Government side of the House are the guardians! of the honour of the House at the present time, because, judging from the remarks of one or two honorable members, all sense of what is due to the honour of the. House seems to have been lost sight, of to a great extent by them. I urge the honorable member for Ballarat to withdraw his statement. If a member is named for using unparliamentary expressions, and persists in his conduct, and does not withdraw, practically the . whole of the House votes against him. It: is the same in this case. I consider that, . if the “honorable member for Ballarat . does not withdraw his statement now that it has been brought to the attention of the House, not only members on the Government side, but practically the members of the Opposition also should, vote against him, unless he adopts the usual parliamentary procedure, and apologizes to the House for what he has said.
– He is not likely to do that.
– Then all I can say is that the honorable member is very badly advised, because, if he does not apologize to-day, why should he apologize to-morrow, now that the error has been pointed out to him, and he has had the opportunity of seeing the records of Hansard, where, at least, two statements appear showing that there was no alteration?
– A faked Hansard.
– There was no addition.
– How dare you say that?
– I rise to a point of order. Mr. Speaker, did you hear the expression - half-a-dozen times repeated - “ a faked Hansard “ ?
– I ask the honorable member for Bourke to withdraw that expression.
– The honorable member may not speak the truth,
– Of course, I respectfully Withdraw the words and apologize.
– That is all the honorable member for Ballarat is asked to do. Surely, if the honorable member for Bourke-
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to an incident I have already disposed of.
– I am pointing out to the honorable member for Ballarat that what he has heard one honorable member do is quite within his province to do, and at the same time he could save the House a great deal of difficulty.If he does not follow that course, then I say honorable members opposite have no escape - if they have any consideration for the procedure and rules of theHouse - from voting with this side upon this matter. In regard to the observation of the honorable member for Wide Bay, “who said, “How can you say that?”-
– I said, “ How dare you say such a thing? “
– I was just pointing out that surely, in regard to two of the statements made, the honorable member for Ballarat had the assurance of the Speaker himself. The Speaker pointed out that in the noise certain words were not heard by the Hansard staff. The Clerks of the House, who are close to the Speaker, were able to hear, but the two Hansard men, who were further away, did not hear them because of the yelling that was going on. Surely those who were near the Speaker are permitted to say what they heard. I suppose there are millions of people who have never heard anything said in the House, but it does not follow that it has not been said. An honorable member who did not hear what was said from the Chair would not contradict the Clerks of the House, who noted on their records what was said.
– No; not the Clerks of the House.
– That is what is put forward, and I know of nothing outside that. I refer, further, to the action of the late Speaker of the House whenhe was reading some of the remarks he had made. Some of them had been put in.
– If you say that, it is a deliberate falsehood.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement,
– Yes, I do so; but it has been several times stated by the Attorney-General, and by others, that while I was Speaker Hansard was altered. There was never a solitary line of Hansard altered by me, and to satisfy yourself ask the Principal Parliamentary Reporter. At any rate, the honorable member for Werriwa should withdraw the statement, He should not make a statement that is not true.
– Did the honorable member ever see such disorder during his term of office ?
– I saw much worse disorder when you were in the House previously.
– Probably, but I was following the lead of the honorable member in many respects. I was indebted to him for many points of order - and disorder also.
– I remember you talking the whole of one night.
– And I have not the slightest doubt the honorable member praised me very much for it next morning. At the same time, I do not recollect what particular night it was.
– You were both together; I remember it well.
– If the honorable member for Ballarat says that he did not make this statement, the House at once accepts his assurance, although we may think otherwise. If, on the other hand, he says, what is probably true, that he did say it, and expresses regret for having used unparliamentary language, the House acceptshis apology, and no punishment is meted out to him. But the honorable- member for-
Ballarat made a further statement. He said there was a deliberate falsification of the records. Let us look into this. It is admitted that the only thing that happened was that the Clerk of the House did not read the title of the Bill. I am going to show what was omitted from the proceedings, if there was any omission. Instead of the Clerk jumping up and saying -
A Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and expending of thesum of Three million and eighty thousand pounds for certain purposes.
– That is the heading of the Bill, and that is all the Clerk had to read. To pretend that there was a falsification for other purposes, when the only question is whether these words were uttered or not, is to mislead the public into believing that something was done that was not done. The whole question turns on whether those words were read, and those were the only words that were necessary to complete the third reading.
– Had we not an opportunity to vote on that?
– As the honorable member saw, the closure was being put on all these motions, and the vote would have been just the same as it was before - 26 to 14. So that, again, the honorable member for Ballarat conveyed a wrong impression to the public when he led them to suppose that there was anything else involved but the matter of the reading of these words. For an honorable member to make charges against the Speaker or the House itself in such circumstances is to make a grossly incorrect statement, and I cannot understand any man who has any belief in himself, or any respect for the House, pretending that what happened was a serious infringement of the rights of the House, It can only be done for purposes that I hardly care to describe in the House, but if I were outside on the platform, I should criticise them in a very marked manner. The honorable member for Adelaide said that the Labour party, when in power, allowed the right of free speech, but that was only because the forms of the House were never abused by honorable members of our party like they were to-night, when, although it was only a slip of a wordas between October and November, the Opposition actually divided the House, and wasted the time of the House.
– I appeal to the records of the House. Surely, honorable members will not say they were not wasting time, and we may yet find the honorable member for Ballarat rising with his tongue in his cheek, and saying, “ I withdraw; I have wasted all the day on a thing of this sort. You thought I meant it, but I never meant to do anything but waste time.”
– Order ! I ask the houorable member to withdraw the accusation of wasting the time of the House, as applied to the honorable member for Ballarat.
– Of course, I have no hesitation in withdrawing it. One of the very first things that all honorable members ought to learn to do is to withdraw unparliamentary expressions, otherwise any House of debate would become a beai garden, and the only man to be listened to with any respect would be Jack Johnson, or some other person of that sort. I make one last appeal to the honorable member for Ballarat, and if he does not accede to it, I shall have no hesitation in voting for the motion, because his action will show at once that he intends to try to get an advertisement out of it, and I, for one, shall not attempt to prevent him.
– I desire to correct a possible misapprehension that may have arisen from my previous remarks. It might be inferred, when I spoke about having directed the Clerk to read the Bill a third time, that the Clerk had been neglectful of his duties. I did not intend to convey that impression, because, as a matter of fact, it was the Clerk himself who called my attention to the omission of that formality.
.- The honorable member for Werriwa has made a speech of some importance, and containing a great deal of unintentional misrepresentation. On his misstatements he founded a declaration that the honorable member for Ballarat would be able to go to his constituents, and say that he had wasted a day. Does not the honorable member know that the statement on which he founded that assertion is an absolute error ?
– On a point of order, I submit that the right honorable member is not in order in referring to a statement that has been withdrawn by the honorable member for Werriwa.
– I did not understand the honorable member for Wide Bay to do so, but if he did refer to a statement that has been withdrawn, he would not be in order.
– It is my misfortune in this Parliament never to be heard without interruption from the front Ministerial bench, and other places. The honorable member for Werriwa maintained with great vehemence that we divided the House on the question of the alteration of the word “ October “ to “ November.” We did nothing of the kind.
– You divided the House on the motion that the question should be put.
– The practical result is the same.
– How can we accept the opinions and evidence of members who will do and say those things? It is a deliberately incorrect statement. The records are quite the contrary, yet on that incorrect statement the honorable member for Werriwa founded a charge against the honorable member for Ballarat, and on the same kind of statement this case has been maintained the whole night. Will the honorable member for Werriwa have the honesty to withdraw the state- m ents he has made, and apologize to the honorable member for Ballarat for making them?
– Practically, they are absolutely correct, There is the division in the book. We can appeal to Hansard to-morrow.
– Not only is it not correct, but I stated again and again that there was no objection to the amendment being passed on the voices, and it was passed on the voices.
– But there was objection earlier.
– The Prime Minister comes; to the aid of the honorable member for Werriwa.
– I call on the records of the House.
– There was no division. The amendment passed on the voices.
– You delayed the matter on the first vote, but not on the second.
– What was theother argument of the honorable member in this matter. He said that one positive statement that a member did hear was worth ten negative statements that he did not hear. Notwithstanding the fact that there had been twenty positive voices in support of what I have said, and only the honorable member’s voice opposed to it, he still maintains the position he took up. He applies his rule in one way to one case, and in another way to another case, as it suits him. Is that the course which the honorable member proposes to follow in this Parliament, when he assumes a virtue above that of all other honorable members? The honorable member lectured the honorable member for Ballarat for not rising in his place and immediately apologizing to the House for what he had said of Mr. Speaker. He suggested that, because the honorable member for Ballarat did not do so, he was seeking kudos.
– It might have been obstruction merely.
– On the merits of the case, although I do not associate myself with all the language that has been used, the honorable member for Ballarat acted and spoke in accordance with the record appearing in a Hansard proof. Mr. Speaker inadvertently mentioned in his main statement that a proof copy of the Hansard report had got out that ought not to have got out. The impression was left on the minds of honorable members, and would be left on the minds of the public from that statement, that the Opposition had secured their information in a surreptitious, and not in a direct, way. The honorable member for Kennedy brushed that allegation on one side by showing that in the ordinary proof sent to him, as in the proof sent to every other honorable member, there was contained the actual Hansard record of what Mr. Speaker said on that occasion.
– Should an honorable member make use of that proof before it is revised?
– The honorable member for Riverina has asked that question about nine times during this sitting.
– No, I did not.
– May I point out that Mr. Speaker was again in error in his general statement in saying that proofs of rulings by Mr. Speaker were never sent out in this way before. The very opposite is the case. Until the receipt of my last Hansard proof it was always the custom for a ruling of the Speaker, given in the course of a speech of an honorable member, to be included in the proof of the speech sent to the honorable member who made it. That is a matter about which we need not argue at length. There is, I understand, among the records of this Parliament every proof that has been sent out and returned. The evidence is, therefore, awaiting inspection to determine whether my statement in this connexion is correct or not. Honorable members know that it is correct. Until the receipt of my last Hansard proof it was invariably my experience that the rulings of Mr. Speaker were included in the proof of the honorable member’s speech in the course of which they were given. How would it be possible for any honorable member to correct his proof of a speech dealing with a point of order unless he saw the actual ruling of Mr. Speaker or of the Chairman of Committees? Do honorable members deny that what I have stated has been the practice up to last week? I am sure they do not. That is another special plea put forward to buttress the case against the honorable member for Ballarat, and it is not correct. The honorable member for Ballarat made only one charge.
– May I ask the right honorable gentleman a question?
– The honorable gentleman is always asking questions. Yes, he may.
– Does the right honorable gentleman agree with the statements of the honorable member for Ballarat?
– The honorable gentleman might as well ask me if I agree with the grossly inaccurate statements made by the Prime Minister.
– Do you concur in these statements by the honorable member for Ballarat?
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member for Wide Bay to withdraw the words he used accusing an honorable member of making grossly inaccurate statements.
– So far as they referred to myself, I know my statement to be a fact; but, in accordance with the rules of the House, I courteously bow to your ruling and withdraw it.
– The Prime Minister’ wishes the honorable gentleman to answer his question so that he may throw him out also.
– I am not alarmed about that. That hardly enters into the question. When the Attorney-General was speaking he endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to arouse the passions of honorable members on his own side by suggesting the heinousness of the offence committed by the honorable member for Ballarat. I asked the honorable gentleman if he would be good enough to say which of the three charges laid against thehonorable member for Ballarat constituted the major offence. The Attorney-General said that the principal offence committed by the honorable member for Ballarat was that he charged Mr. Speaker with having fraudulently - the AttorneyGeneral put that word in himself - but we may leave it out and say that he charged Mr. Speaker with having deliberately altered a Hansard proof.
– With a view to making the proceedings appear to represent what had not taken place. Let the honorable gentleman look at the newspaper reports, and he will see what was said.
– I will deal with the newspaper report later on, but, on this point it states that the honorable member for Ballarat said -
We have absolute proof that the Speaker has deliberately altered a Hansard proof. The proof showed that the third reading of the Loan Bill was not carried, according to his own words, and he altered the proof to make it appear in Hansard that it was carried.
– Could the honorable gentleman possibly have a more serious charge?
– The honorable member for Ballarat had the evidence of the Hansard proof to support him in the belief that his statement was a fact.
– Whether it was. true or not, could there be a more serious charge ?
– The Attorney-General now says that that is the gravest charge of all, whether true or not. Does not the honorable gentleman see that the honorablemember for Ballarat acted on the only evidence open to him, and that the Hansard proof regularly sent out in the ordinary way justified him in making his statement ?
– It did not justify him in a single statement that he made.
– It was not until today that he could in any way qualify his statement, because the Hansard proof was the only evidence oh which he could go, and if he believed it to contain a correct report he was entitled to say what he did say.
– Absolutely no, because that portion of the report contained no statement about the third reading being carried.
– It did not say anything about the third reading being carried. Mr. Speaker’s proof - a yellow proof, not known to honorable members - did say something about it. But was the honorable member for Ballarat to know that?
– Not about the third reading being carried, but about the Bill having been read a third time by the Clerk.
– That is not on the yellow sheet produced and read by Mr. Speaker .to-day. I was present when the incident occurred, and was waiting for an opportunity to call for a division on the third reading of the Loan Bill, but I did not hear a word of the putting of the question for the third reading.
– It never was put.
– The Attorney-General says that he heard it put, and I am not here to contradict him, but I was sitting in my place intending to call for a division on the third reading, and I did not hear the question put.
– That is extremely likely, but it is hardly the question now.
– The honorable member for Kennedy raised a question at the time, and Mr. Speaker admitted that the honorable member’s statement was quite correct, but the Hansard record was something different; that is the material point. When there is no difference between member and member, or party and party, a correction is of no importance, but when a Hansard proof is corrected in regard to a material statement of fact about which there is a difference of opinion, not merely between one member and another, but between one party and another, it is a serious thing: When Hansard is altered, it would be wise for the presiding officers to take the earliest opportunity to inform the House about it. How can you guarantee and protect one member against another if that is not done? There ought to be absolute good faith between the presiding officer and the House, and between one member and another, when error arises. My complaint at the present time is that the House was not taken into the full confidence of Mr. Speaker. That has been the cause of all the trouble.. I do not think that the two charges made by the honorable member for Ballarat are material; they do not seriously reflect on you, Mr. Speaker. There must be some amount of discussion of a free and open kind in the country. I do not care about reflections on presiding officers, because I do not think that it is wise to make them, even when there is justification for them. But on the main issue I. say that no serious charge has been proved against the honorable member for Ballarat. He spoke on evidence that was before him, which he absolutely believed, and which Mr. Speaker has now pointed out was not absolute evidence. He had a proof in his possession in which he absolutely believed. Knowing him as I do, I know that, having been present when the incident occurred, he believed that he was stating the absolute truth regarding the facts.
– Every one is apologizing for what was said, except the honorable member who said it.
– In my twenty years of parliamentary experience, I have never known a case like this to be dealt with as it has been dealt with. The Government hurried; made a jump, plunged, if you will.
– The motion was not moved until they had got one of our men expelled.
– Things did not come off as they intended. They thought that the matter could be dealt with in a summary fashion, and that probably the honorable member for Ballarat would have no defence to make until he was outside the House.
– That is an absolutely incorrect statement.
– The Prime Minister fought strenuously to get out of the difficulty of moving on a question of privilege. Why? Because if he could have moved in another way there would have been no open, free debate, in which the facts could be put before the country. ‘ Having- ninetenths of the newspapers at their service to present their views of the case, they would have prejudiced the facts in the minds of the people. There will be a different story told to-morrow, if an honest report about the proceedings is published. The members of the Government have attempted too much. They have attempted to punish the honorable member for Ballarat with expulsion for an innocent offence.
– We shall apologize to him directly.
– You ought to.
– I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that it is a very serious thing to suspend a member for the remainder of the session, whether that session be long or short. In my mind, this action has malice behind it.
– It is time that this language was stopped. The Leader of the Opposition is alleging now that we moved this motion with malice.
– I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay not to impute improper motives.
– I withdraw the remark, though I do not think that “ malice “ is an unparliamentary word.
– The remark was offensive.
– Then I withdraw it. If the Ministry moved the motion with the hope of preserving the dignity of the House they did not, in my opinion, move it in the right way. In moving for the suspension of the honorable member for the rest of the session they acted with an exaggerated idea of the necessities of the case, and made it absolutely impossible for the honorable member to get a reasonable opportunity of correcting any mistakes he- had made, or withdrawing any reflection he had cast on Mr. Speaker.
– He is the one man whom we want to hear.
– Let him withdraw the statement and allow us to go home to bed.
– He is the one man who could settle the whole thing.
– There is a great anxiety now to hear the honorable member for Ballarat.
– There has been all along.
– We do not want to vote against him.
– A little while ago honorable members opposite wanted to jump him right out.
– There is another phase of this question which has not been mentioned before, and that is that the newspaper on which the charge is based was not published on the day after the gathering at which the honorable member is reported to have made the statement. There are daily newspapers here which pride themselves on their early and accurate news. I think it is to-day’s Argus which accepted as authoritative a report of part of an address made by the honorable member for Ballarat, and that is one of the large daily metropolitan newspapers. The honorable member for Adelaide dealt with what the Attorney-General thought about the reports in those newspapers. I am not dealing with that phase of the question. I am dealing with a phase which shows that it wa3 quite possible for a reporter to have produced an exaggerated report - he had to do it - which would enable the Government, for party purposes, to make an unfair attack on the honorable member.
– There is an Echo at Ballarat.
– The Echo is not included in this charge.
– Yes, it is.
– It was put in by the Attorney-General.
– The report in - the Argus was handed to the Clerk to read, and that is the only evidence of publication on which the Government and the House can found a charge. If the honorable member for Wannon wishes to hit at the honorable member for Ballarat, not on evidence before him, but on the prejudice which is in his own mind, nobody can prevent him. But no honest minded man would do such a thing even to a criminal. Why did the Government choose the newspaper that came out with a report two days after the event? They chose that newspaper, I presume, because the language of the report gave them the largest pull over the honorable member in their desire to humiliate him, to degrade him, and to oust him from the House for a particular period. Having said so much on that point I think that the Government would be well advised if they withdrew the motion.
– I am very much inclined to withdraw it and apologize to him.
– I say to the Prime Minister and to honorable members on the other side that the honorable member for Ballarat had warrant in the official evidence of Hansard for the statement he made, but I have said again and again, sir, that I do not agree as to the charge laid against you. I want to emphasize that point. I think that the honorable member was clearly in error in saying that we had absolute proof that the Speaker altered the Hansard proof.
– If he did say it.
– I have assumed the charge in the report to be accurate. I think that the honorable member for Ballarat exceeded what he should have said ; because I believe that he had not evidence that the Speaker altered the proof.
– What do you call evidence, then ?
– The honorable member would have been within his rights in saying that the Hansard proof was altered.
– That is right.
– With that exception, 1 think that the honorable member can really plead that he was doing what he considered to be a public service in making the statement he did. But, in my opinion, he had not evidence to warrant him in saying that the Speaker did soandso and so-and-so, any more than he had evidence to justify him in saying that the Prime Minister did so-and-so and soandso. He had the evidence of the Hansard proof, and it would have served his purpose equally well to say, “ It has been said and reported so-and-so; it has been reported otherwise later, and the report has been amended in such a way as to alter the whole position and misrepresent what took place.” Had he confined himself to that, I think that no exception could have been taken to his statements; and, in that respect, he was distinctly in error. I think, too, that the error of attacking the Speaker, particularly in accusing him of doing certain things, is the only justification for a motion of this kind being moved.
– Nothing in the other statements ! They are all right, are they?
– The other statements hang on the main one.
– No; distinctly not.
– “ The Speaker has lost the respect and confidence of the House.”
– In every circumstance, whether right or wrong, we must protect the Chair to enable business to be carried on for a particular time; but there are methods and means of properly protecting the Chair and maintaining the rights of honorable members. It is our duty to protect the Chair in the best way possible, and I will always “be prepared to do that.
– What is your advice to the honorable member?
– I will come to that point. The justification for the honorable member’s subsidiary charges is that a motion on the business-paper states exactly the same thing, in practically the same language. That motion may be right or wrong, according to the views of honorable members; but there is a statement made by the honorable member that, in his opinion, the relationship of the Speaker with the House is not, to put it mildly, viewed favorably. An honorable member is quite entitled, surely, to use outside the same terms as can be used inside in dealing with the conduct of the Speaker, or the conduct of a Minister.
– The. Speaker held the other day that those terms could not be used in the motion, and excised them.
– They are on record in Ilansard.
– They are not.
– If these particular terms were excised-
– They were, as insulting to Mr. Speaker.
– They are on record in Hansard.
– Order ! I would remind honorable members that they are now going into a matter which is practically sub judice. The motion on the business-paper has no right to be discussed at this stage. It is only a notice of motion at the present time, and has not yet been decided.
– I will not pursue that phase of the question any further. In my opinion we shall do violence to the best traditions of Parliament if we carry the motion which has been submitted by the Prime Minister. I do not say that because its effect may be to provoke reprisals when other Governments come into office. If I have the privilege of being in another Parliament I will not countenance any such motion for any such offence. It is subversive of the principles of representative and responsible government. It has been brought forward because of the bitter feeling which exists, and not as the result of calm judgment. If carried, it will impose an undue penalty on the honorable member for Ballaratevery honorable member in his own heart recognises that - and I have no doubt whatever that it will not have the effect which its mover desires it to have. I trust that it will not be pressed to a division in the form in which it has been submitted to the House.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to refer to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that. I have asked the same . question nine times to-night. That is not so. The. question which I asked earlier several times by way of interjection was whether the proof of Hansard, as corrected by Mr. Speaker, did not accord with the records of Parliament as kept by the Clerks. To that question I received no reply. What I just now asked the honorable member for Wide Bay was whether it was a fair thing that an uncorrected Hansard proof should be utilized as a .weapon for an attack upon Mr. Speaker, or any private member. I think that was a fair question to put.
– It is a shorthand report, anyhow.
– That does not affect my question. In reply, I was met with the statement that I asked the question because it was the only thing I knew. I, of course, admit that I do not know, and never hope to know, as much as does a Labour member of Parliament.
– I take this opportunity of saying that I thought the honorable member was rising to correct some matter on which he had been misunderstood or misrepresented. He has certainly said something about being misunderstood. But I would remind him that the statement to which he referred was made in response to an interjection by himself, and not in respect to a speech which he had made..
.- I was very pleased to hear the Leader of the Opposition give expression to his ideas in regard to maintaining the dignity of the Chair. Of course, honorable members upon this side of the Chamber are not so much concerned with the alterations which may- have been made in Hansard to bring hat record into harmony with our *Votes and Proceedings as we are with the reasons advanced by the honorable member for Ballarat as proof of the bitter partisanship of the Speaker. This House has a perfect right to bring the honorable member to book for having made such statements. I think he should look at the matter in a fair and manly way.
– What part of his statement does the honorable member wish him to withdraw ?
– That part in regard to proof of bitter partisanship on the part of Mr. Speaker.
– Then, why do not the Government rest their charge on that ?
– I happened to be here on the Friday morning when the Loan Bill passed this House. We were kept here till ten minutes past 4 o’clock. I was present, and heard every word that was uttered, and I can bear out your statement, sir, absolutely. Honorable members opposite have repeatedly stated that we are a packed jury; but I consider we were eye-witnesses of what took place on that occasion. The preponderance of evidence as to that is certainly upon this side of the House.
– Get out ! The third reading of the Bill was never carried.
– Twenty -six members upon this side of the Chamber are prepared to stake their political existence that the third reading was carried ; whereas, on the other side of the Chamber there are only thirteen members who can say the opposite. The others were at home, asleep, reclining on feather mattresses, and kapok. The motion which has been submitted is based upon the evidence of three newspaper reports.
– That is not evidence, but mere hearsay.
– At question time, during the past five months, the honorable member for Capricornia has brought forward newspaper reports upon which he has based charges against the Government. He has gone back twenty-five or thirty years to rake up charges against the Prime Minister. If honorable members opposite can base their attacks on the Government upon newspaper reports, why should we not rely upon the reports of two leading newspapers in Victoria, as well as on that of a provincial newspaper ?
– Have a bit of common sense. This motion is based upon the procedure of the House of Commons.
– The honorable member for Ballarat has made certain charges against the Speaker. I do not think that the honorable member for Ballarat really knew what took place on that occasion.
– He was here.
– The honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Gwydir were appointed as tellers by Mr. Speaker,and the honorable member for Ballarat occupied fifteen minutes in counting thirteen members.
– He was counting those on the Ministerial side.
– At all events, it took him fifteen minutes to count twenty-six members, so that I really do not know whether he was responsible for what he was doing. I do not think he knew exactly what took place.
– On a point of order, sir, the honorable member for Calare has been detailing what took place on a division in the House last week, and he has accused the honorable member for Ballarat of not knowing exactly what he was doing. I think that remark implies certain behaviour on the part of the honorable member for Ballarat, and that it should be withdrawn.
– The honorable member is not in order in reflecting on the capacity of another honorable member, and I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– I shall gladly withdraw, but when the honorable member for Perth was in the Chair-
– Order I I must ask the honorable member not to refer to matters that take place in Committee.
– I withdraw unreservedly. The honorable member for Bourke said that when the honorable member for Ballarat made these charges against you, sir, it was your duty to bring an action against him for libel. The statement, however, was made only on Saturday or Sunday last, and it is not for you to be going all over the country raking up reports of the kind. I take it to be the duty of the House to maintain the dignity of the Chair, and to protect its occupant. This matter has been brought before the House, which is the highest tribunal in the land, and we have a right to settle it ourselves, and to maintain the integrity and dignity of the Chamber.
. I wish to preface my remarks by stating that I intend to follow a lead which you yourself, Mr. Speaker, gave us last week. I desire to distinguish between the honorable member for Lang and Mr. Speaker. Whatever I may have to say to-night - and I am sure the same thought is in the mind of every honorable member who has spoken, or who holds any opinion in regard to this matter - I wish it to be understood that, so far as the honorable member for Lang is concerned, we entertain for him personally the highest respect. Any remarks we may make are directed towards you in your official position as Speaker, and not in your private capacity as an individual. Every honorable member realizes what a serious thing it is to impugn the honour or to question the integrity or impartiality of the Speaker, because, after all, Mr. Speaker occupies a position that must appeal to the House generally. Every honorable member must rely upon him to do that which is fair and reasonable. We on this side especially have to look to you, sir, to protect us, and to secure to us the full exercise of our privileges in the House. Honorable members on the other side, being in the majority, can well look after themselves. But unless Mr. Speaker is going to protect the minority, to secure to every member of the Opposition his rights and privileges, and to secure to him also an opportunity to exercise those rights and privileges, without restriction, then we are in a very bad position indeed. I listened very carefully to your explanation to-night in regard to the charge of having altered the Hansard report, and I regret that you should have thought it necessary to make such a laboured statement. The fact that you did make such a long and heavy explanation unfortunately conveyed to my mind the idea that there was some support for the argument and the charge that had been made against you. I confess that, until you spoke, sir, I did not think there was much in the charge. I was inclined to think that the honorable member for Ballarat had made an exaggerated and unnecessary charge against you. Your own explanation, however, convinces me that there was some ground for the statement which was made. I listened with something like amazement to your own admission to-night - an admission which I find is corroborated by the Hansard report - that you put the motion that the Bill be read a third time while the House was in a state of disorder and uproar. The Hansard report distinctly states that honorable members would not come to order, and then it goes on to say that the question was put while the House was in that condition. A more pitiful admission of weakness on the part of a Speaker I never heard publicly made. That the Speaker himself should admit - and I say this with great regret - that he put such a motion while honorable members would not come to order, is pitiable. Mr. Speaker has repeatedly refused - and I commend him for his action - to go on with business until honorable members have come to order. Why did he not take up the same attitude on that occasion? I regret that I was unable to be here, and that, therefore, I cannot speak with any personal knowledge of the matter; but your own statement to-night, Mr. Speaker, has convinced me that the honorable member for Ballarat had justification for his statement. I cannot imagine that the Hansard reporters could have neglected to hear or see that the Clerk had read the Bill a third time. The Clerk had to stand up in the ordinary way, and read the words, “ A Bill foran Act to authorize the raising and expenditure of the sum of £3,080,000 for certain purposes.” We are coolly asked to believe that the Clerk could stand up and read those words without the Hansard reporters either seeing him or hearing him. I decline to believe that. I decline, therefore, to believe that the Bill was read a third time, notwithstanding Mr. Speaker’s own statement to the contrary. I say that with very great regret.
– On a point of order, I wish to know if the honorable member for Brisbane is in order in taking this roundabout way of calling Mr. Speaker a liar.
– There may be a difference of opinion as to the good taste of the honorable member’s remarks, but where I personally am concerned, I do not desire to intervene unduly.
– Is the Chairman of Committees in order in saying that an honorable member is attempting to call Mr. Speaker a liar?
– The honorable member for Perth should not, I think, have made a remark of that kind, and, as it is in part a reflection on the honorable member for Brisbane, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As to the charge in regard to the partisanship of the Speaker, it is peculiarly fitting that the Prime Minister should be the man chosen to introduce such a motion; and this, because of two things particularly. The first is that the Prime Minister himself was the first in this House to degrade the Speakership by making it a political position. 1 have previously from my place here entered my protest, and expressed my objection to the attitude of the Prime Minister, in the early stages of this Parliament, in going around to meetings, and on every public occasion, referring to the Speaker as a political partisan. He repeatedly referred to the fact that the Speaker was going to vote in a certain way - that the Speaker’s vote was a pocket vote that he held entirely at his disposal. I do not know whether ib was because of the protests from this side, but it was very evident, or manifest, that some influence had been brought to bear on him, because these statements in regard to the Speaker’s position suddenly ceased. Although the Prime Minister has not referred to the matter since the protests were made, the fact that he himself - I do not know that any other member of his party did so - took the position that the Speaker, whose fitness he proclaims, was going to be a party man - a political partisan-
– Where did the Prime Minister take up that attitude? Give us an instance ?
– My second reason for thinking it particularly fitting that the Prime Minister should have introduced this question is that he has evidently decided that honorable member a on this side shall be heard neither in nor out of the House.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Is the honorable member for Ballarat not to be heard ?
– Nothing can intervene before this motion is put.
Question - That the question (That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended) be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
The bells for a division having been rung,
Telling having proceeded,
The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Ballarat then left the chamber.
Colonel Ryrie. - I recognise that my conduct was unparliamentary, and I unreservedly withdraw.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) pro posed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The remarkable scene, and the remarkable conduct of the Government which we have just witnessed in this House-
– I rise to a point of order.
– I am rising to a point of order. The Prime Minister has prevented the honorable member for Ballarat from having an opportunity of saying
– Order ! The honor.orable member must resume his seat for the present.
– On a point of order, I submit that the honorable member may not traverse anything that has been done before this motion was submitted.
– 1 was just about to draw the honorable member’s attention to the fact that he will not be in order in referring to the proceedings which took place before the motion for the adjournment was moved.
– Very well, sir. There is a wide range of questions of public interest open to discussion on a motion for the adjournment. I think it is in the public interests that no Government who would attack an honorable member on a certain matter, which he honestly gave to the public in a clear and definite way-
– Order ! The honorable member is now out of order.
– I wish to deal with a most important question, which concerns not this Parliament only but every Parliament. A representative of the people should, in my opinion, be dealt with fairly and reasonably, and should be given a proper opportunity-
– I rise to order.
Honorable Members. - Sit down !
– Order ! I understood that the honorable member for Wide Bay was speaking to a point of order himself.
– I hold that it is within the scope of the discussion permitted on a motion for the adjournment of the House to raise a general question as to whether an honorable member should not, before he is suspended, be given a fair opportunity to make any explanation he wishes to make upon a matter which is of public interest.
– The honorable member had an opportunity to do that all night.
– The Prime Minister took good caro that he got no further opportunity.
– Is this in order ?
– I have already decided, and it is in accordance with our practice, and also with the StandingOrders, that, on the motion that the House do now adjourn, references cannot be made to a matter already dealt with.
– I am convinced now, against my best anticipations, that the Government are making every possible effort to create a majority for their purpose.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Lie down!
– I have only tosay that the statement of the right honorable gentleman is absolutely incorrect.
– It is absolutely true.
– Is the Prime Ministerreplying ?
– Yes; I have been called.
– I will not take the honorable gentleman’s word. I wish to know from Mr. Speaker whether the honorable gentleman’s speech is in reply, and will close the debate.
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. Certainly. The Prime Minister has been called. No other honorable member rose in his place.
– Yes; I rose.
– In the circumstances, though I did not see him, if the honorable member rose I give him priority.
– It is not very much that I wished to say when I did rise. T understand that the Prime Minister desired to speak to a point of order.
– The honorable member does not know what to say.
– I do, and I have a lot to say. I do not wish to say it now, but will say it at a more convenient time. It is now six minutes past 12 o’clock, and we have been kept this late after the “ gag “ was moved to expel a member from this House for the rest of the session.
– In order that the Government may “ gag “ their measures through.
– They have started a movement, I may tell the Prime Minister
– Is this in order?
– Order ! The honorable member for Maribyrnong is not in order.
– Why not, on the adjournment ?
– I have already pointed out that it is not in order to revive a matter which was decidedby the House before the motion for the adjournment was moved.
– I do not wish to revive the matter, but I wish to say that the present Fusion Government have started a movement in Australia which will lead to their absolute political annihilation. I rejoice at it. I am looking into the faces of many honorable members opposite who, I am sure, are ashamed of what they have done.
– Is this in order ?
– Order ! The honorable member for Maribyrnong is now distinctly referring to a matter which was dealt with in this House this evening.
– All right. I do not desire to keep this House any longer. I did not have an opportunity to speak to the motion which was discussed this evening, and I have made use of this safety valve to let a little bile off.
– What a lot we lost.
– We did not lose much when the honorable member was outside. He will soon find himself in Federal politics where he was in State politics. There will be other opportunities to deal with this and kindred questions.
– So far as you and I, sir, are concerned, I do not think it necessary to say that personally I have the highest admiration for you, but I wish to say that the Government, or those who hold the reins of power at the present time in the Commonwealth by a fluke, are carrying on a course that can only reflect discredit upon themselves. That is a matter which I might hail with pleasure, but they are publishing to the world the fact that in Australia a Government that holds possession of the Treasury bench by one vote are willing to maintain their position by performing any atrocity that it is possible for politicians to perform.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the atrocity. That puts me in mind of a drill instructor in the army whom I knew when a youngster. He was an old martinet, something like the Prime Minister, and one of the men whom he was drilling asked what would happen if he were called a scoundrel. He said that the man would get the cells. “ Well,” the man asked, “ what will happen if I think that you are one?” I think it just the same. The people of Australia have to take their information of our proceedings from the reports appearing in the various newspapers, and I ask honorable members opposite if they think that it is a fair and square deal that the members of the Opposition should have to put up with onesided reports. We do not object to the criticism of the newspapers, but later today the newspapers will publish their accounts of what has taken place. They will inform the people of Australia that the Government have used their majoritv to insist that this Parliament shall be conducted as it ought to be conducted. They will fail to tell the people that the Government, taking advantage of yourself, Mr. Speaker, as the majority, have expelled a member from the House so that they can carry on any corruption they like, without calling on you to vote for that particular corruption.
– The honorable member is now again referring to a matter which has been the subject of a debate. He is not in order in doing that.
– Is the honorable member in order in accusing this party of endeavouring to institute corruption ?
– If the honorable member imputed improper motives to other honorable members, he is out of order, and I ask him to withdraw the imputation.
– I withdraw the corruption.
– I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the AttorneyGeneral, while standing within the bar of the House, is addressing some one in the strangers’ gallery.
– I was sent into this House by the electors of my division to carry out certain promises that I made on the hustings. Finding here a Government who are reactionary in every sense of the word, the members of which, at every tea meeting, pleasant Sunday afternoon, and other gatherings that they attend, endeavour to make it appear that we on this side are retarding legislation, I wish to place it on record that we are not doing so. The Government have only a chance majority, really no majority at all. Therefore, every effort of ours is legitimate when we try to prevent them, not from placing on- the statutebook legislation which would improve the condition of the people, hut from wiping out legislation introduced by the Fisher Government to bring about a better state of affairs in Australia. We have done nothing to retard legislation of a beneficial character, but we have tried to prevent the Government from doing what is detrimental to the people of Australia. I feel that what we have done is warranted by the action of the Government, led by the Prime Minister, which will be a standing disgrace to them so long as Australia is a nation.
– Yesterday morning’s newspapers contained reports of some very interesting speeches delivered at a civic function in Melbourne on Monday night. The GovernorGeneral favoured the gathering with one of his brilliant and interesting speeches, and, altogether, I read the account with considerable pleasure, especially the references to the great development here, and the future possibilities of the continent. In addition to the GovernorGeneral, His Excellency the Admiral, and the Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Forces, made interesting speeches. When I read the newspaper accounts it occurred to me as peculiar that the representatives of the Navy and Army should have precedence of the Prime Minister. That I regarded as a reflection on the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I have no particular regard and love for naval and military preparations, which, as I have previously said, I look upon as an unfortunate and regretable necessity. But after what has taken place during this sitting, I think that not only should the representatives of the Navy and Army take precedence of the Prime Minister, but that there are a large number of individuals in the country who, if honorable conduct and reasonable behaviour is to count, are entitled to take precedence of him.
– I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the insulting language the honorable member is using.
– My attention having been called to something which the honorable member said which is regarded of an insulting character, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– I rise to order. I do not know what words are complained of, but the proper course is for the Prime Minister to move that the words to which he takes objection be taken down.
– Since I have been a member the practice has been, when objection has been taken to any words that have been used, for the presiding officer to ask that they be withdrawn, and they have been withdrawn as a matter of course. That has happened in innumerable cases, the records of which I have before me.
– I was only expressing my personal opinion in regard to certain matters. I can assure you, sir, that it arouses the very strongest feeling in my breast when I read patriotic utterances delivered at functions similar to that which was held last night. There are some of us who, fortunately in some respects, have made this their adopted country, and there are others who have the honour of being Australian born. But, whether we are Australian born or have come from the older countries of the world, we all have an undiluted idea that Australia is the best country on earth ; that Australia should be preserved to Australians; that its institutions should be developed in the best possible way; that every care should be taken to eliminate those established prejudices, customs, and methods of conducting business which have hindered, and to some extent spoiled, the reputation of older countries. For instance, if I may refer-
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– That is right - “ gag “ us. That is the proper way - put the “ gag “ on.
Question - That the question be now put - put.
The bells for a division having been rung,
– This is the “ Lynch Family of Bell-ringers.” There is plenty of bell-ringing here.
– I ask honorable members to refrain from disorderly interruptions while the division is being taken, because they have already seen the result of disorder.
– “ Gag “ them, bind them, hang them, and draw them ! .
– I appoint the honorable member for Richmond and the honorable member for Cowper tellers for the “ Ayes,” and the honorable member for Newcastle and the honorable member for Bendigo tellers for the “Noes.”
– I respectfully decline, Mr. Speaker.
– I decline, Mr. Speaker.
– I cheerfully offer my assistance, sir.
– Order! As there appears to be a disinclination on the part of honorable members on one side to act-
– It is the only way in which we can protest.
– Order! I will pursue the same course as I have pursued in similar conditions. I appoint the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Wilmot tellers for the “Noes.”
– Why am I boycotted, sirf
The House divided.
Majority … … 2
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 2
Questionso resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at12.35 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131111_reps_5_71/>.