3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether he has seen the following apparently inspired paragraph in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald: -
It is understood that Sir Robert Best, Minister for Customs, intended to reply to the attack made in the Senate yesterday by Sir Josiah Symon on the Prime Minister, but that Mr. Deakin preferred that no notice should be taken of the criticism. Mr. Deakin was silent on the subject when interviewed to-day.
I desire to know whether the Minister will ask the Prime Minister to permit him to reply to the speeches of other honorable senators ?
– This is not a question at all, but impertinence.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will be good enough to give notice of the question.
– It is only an inspired paragraph. The Minister had no intention of speaking; he is too feeble.
– It is an inspired question.
– Simply crushed out.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator P. J. Lynch, on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator St. Ledger) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of this Senate a return showing -
The number of days occupied by the
Arbitration and Conciliation Court in the hearing of industrial disputes or in inguiries into matters relating thereto since its institution.
– Is it proposed, sir, to debate the notice of motion standing in the name of Senator Neild, and proposing the appointment of a Select Committee to report upon Brennan’s “Improvement in switches and crossings for compound gauge railway”?
– What does the honorable senator desire to do in regard to the notice of motion ?
– Senator Neild has asked me to request that it be struck off the notice-paper.
– The honorable senator, on behalf of Senator Neild, desires to withdraw the notice of motion ?
– Yes, sir.
– I understand that Senator Henderson, as Chairman, is preparedto move the motion standing in his name for the adoption of the last report of the Printing Committee. With that object in view, I beg to move -
That Government business be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Of course, it is quite understood that the Government has no intention of going on with any business in the Senate until the challenge which has been launched against it in the other House has been disposed of ; but that should not, to my mind, interfere in any way with the consideration of the private notice of motion in the name of Senator Henderson.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That the report of the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on 8th July,1909, be adopted.
– I move -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ and that the prayer of the petitions for the abolition of State Governments and Parliamentsbe also printed.”
I have not had an opportunity of ascertaining from the Chairman of the Printing Committee, why ithas not recommended the printing of these petitions. I had expected that he would offer some reason in that regard. It is not necessary to print the names of the petitioners; but whether we agree with the prayer of the petitions or not, we must recognise that it is not an ordinary one.
– Were the petitions presented to the Senate or to the other House ?
– I think to both Houses.
– No; to the other House; but this is the report of the joint Committee.
– I do not agree with the prayer of the petitions. I do not believe inunification, but when petitions in favour ofunification, or anything else,are presented tothis Parliament on behalf of 58,000 electors, that I consider is an important fact in ournational life, and one which should receive recognition by printing the petitions in the papers of one Houseor the other. It should be remembered that, whether we agree with this movement or not, it is part of the national life of Australia. Our national life as it is reflected in Parliament is embodied in the printed papers, and not in those which are deposited in the archives and forgotten. We should see that our parliamentary papers are as nearly as we can make them a reflection of the various expressions of public opinion which come before the Senate or the other House from time to time. It would be a regrettable thing if these petitions were not printed. It may be that they representthe beginning of a movement which is going to have big effects in Australia. We must recognise that there are strong arguments behind this movement for unification. In fact, theyare so strong that they have assisted a sister Dominion to adopt that principle.
– Order ! The honorable senator is touching on the question of. the value of unification,which he would not be in order in discussing. He may, of course, make an incidental allusion to the matter.
– I only desire to say, sir, that this is not a movement which has no substance, but one which has such substance that a neighbouring Dominion has practically adopted unification rather than Federation. I hope that honorable senators will not object to the printing of these petitions simply because they do not agree with their prayer.. Unless there are good and valid reasons to the contrary, I would like the Printing Committee to agree to my amendment, so that there may be a record on the Journals of one House or the other that such petitions were presented.
– I also consider that it is advisable to print the petitions. There are times when honorable senators are obliged to take an opportunity of this kind to contradict false impressions about their attitude on public questions. As it has been said more than once that certain honorable senators, including myself, are in favour of unification, I desire that every publicity should be given to this petition, although I do not concur in its prayer. For very good reasons I hold that belief. Amongst those reasons -
– Order ! The honorable senator will notbe in order in discussing the proposals made by the petitioners. All that he can do is to give reasons for or against the printing of the petitions.
– I thank you, sir, for pointing out where I was straying. By the printing of these documents many false impressions may be removed. For instance, there is an impression that the Labour party favours unification. The printing of the petitions will show that it does not. The State which I represent is undoubtedly against unification, and the printing of the petitions will furnish very good reasons for the attitude which has been taken up by its representatives here, and by, I think, all the members of the Opposition. I shouldlike to see the documents printed, if for nothing else than to make that fact clear.
– As a member of the Printing Committee, I wish to say that not one of the reasons which have been assigned as the probable ground for that body not recommending the printing of these petitions is correct. The fact is that a majority of the Printing Committee were opposed to their being printed. A motion which I moved to that effect was defeated bv five votes to four. Those who desire to ascertain why my motion was defeated should direct their inquiries to those members of the Printing Committee who constituted the majority. I, for my part, considered that in the future the petitions might be regarded as valuable historical documents, and that as such they should find a place among our parliamentary papers. I hold that, no matter whether anybody agrees with the prayer of the petitions or has any desire to further or retard their object, undoubtedly as valuable historical records they should be included in the records of Parliament. There is a further slight misconception which ought to be removed. From reading thePrinting Committee’s report, one would imagine that the petitions were merely in favour of unification. To convey such an impression is misleading, because the prayer is that a referendum be taken for the purpose of ascertaining whether a majority of the electors are in favour of unification and reconstruction. The documents ought to be printed. I took up that attitude as a member of the Printing Committee. The majority of that body who were opposed to the printing of the documents were, without exception, supporters of the present Government, whilst the minority, as usual, consisted ofmembers of the Labour party. I shall support the printing of the petitions. I do not think that it is fair to saddle the entire Printing Committee with blame for having refused to recommend that they be printed, seeing that the facts are as I have stated.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and that the Return - Public Service : Accidents to Commonwealth Employes - be also printed.”
The Printing Committee has made no recommendation in regard to this particular paper. I moved for the return in question, and if I had not thought the information which it contained of some value, it is not likely that I would have gone to that trouble. To my mind, it is exceedingly desirable that Parliament should know how many accidents have happened in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The honorable senator will want to know the nature of the accidents as well.
- Senator Findley is always very apt at interjections. If he will permit me to proceed in my own way, we shall get along very much better. I think it is desirable that Parliament should know the number of accidents that have happened in the Commonwealth Public Service, the nature of those accidents, how they were caused, and the defects which caused them. Those defects might be remedied. Then it is exceedingly desirable that we should know what compensation has been paid in connexion with accidents where compensation has been paid at all. We ought to be in possession of the facts connected with every accident that happens in Commonwealth employment. The objection urged by the Chairman of the Printing Committee to the printing of the document in question is that the cost thus involved would be out of all proportion to the utility of the document. I submit that the information set out in the return is necessary to the proper conduct of Commonwealth affairs.
– The paper will remain in existence.
– But its usefulness would be very much enhanced if it were printed and placed upon the ordinary records of the Senate. If it be deposited in the archives, probably nobody but myself will know of its existence. I think that such a document would prove very useful if the Commonwealth ever sought to establish an accident insurance fund in connexion with its employes. It would then have some data upon which to work, and in that way Commonwealth business would be very greatly facilitated. I suggested to the Chairman of the Printing Committee that if the details of each accident mentioned in the return were not printed, at least the summary should be printed, which sets out the number of fatal accidents that have occurred, and the amount of compensation that has been paid. To that suggestion, he replied that the printing of the summary would be useless if the other portion of the return were not printed. “ Very well,” I said in answer to him, “ let us have the other portion printed, too.” I think I have shown that his objection to the printing of the return upon the ground that the cost thus involved would be out of all proportion to the utility of the document goes by the board. If a document is useful in facilitating the conduct of public business, I do not think that the question of expense should be considered at all. A return was called for some time ago as to the number of officers in the Commonwealth Public Service who were in receipt of more than £300 per annum. That is information which any honorable senator could secure for himself by becoming the possessor of the Public Service list, without putting the Commonwealth to any expense whatever. Yet the Printing Committee thought it desirable to have that document printed. Surely if information of that description is to be printed, we ought to have the information for which I ask printed? What does it matter how many officers in our Public Service are in receipt of more than .£300 a year ? They are probably worth the money, and are being paid for services duly rendered. I repeat that there ought to be some information in the records of the Senate that a document showing the number of accidents which have happened to members of the Commonwealth Public Service is in existence, and how access to. it can be obtained.
. -On looking through the list of papers which the Printing Committee has recommended to be printed, I find that they largely consist of Statutory Rules. This is nol. the first occasion on which I have mentioned this matter, and I wish to ask you, sir, whether it is within the competence of that Committee in ordering those rules to be printed, to also order that they should be bound and indexed?
– I do not think that the Committee have power to make such a recommendation.
– Then, if it be desirable that these Statutory Rules should be bound and indexed, must honorable senators rely absolutely on the Ministry?
– I think so. Some time ago attention was directed to the fact that, owing to these Statutory Rules being loose, they got astray. It was then decided. so far as the copies placed in the rooms about the parliamentary buildings are ‘concerned, that they should be bound together. No arrangement, however, was made that they should be bound together and sent out to the private addresses of honorable senators.
– I am obliged to you, sir, for your answer. I wish to sayjust a few words upon one other matter - that of whether we should print the petition in reference to which Senator Pearce has taken action? It appears to me that it was quite unnecessary for that honorable senator to have moved his amendment, seeing that the petitions in question have been ordered to be printed in another place.
– But on division the other House refused to order them to be printed.
– I think that the documents have been ordered to be printed elsewhere. That seems to me a much more desirable course than that the Senate should order them, to be printed. While I agree with Senator Pearce as to the extreme undesirability of unification, I say that it is not wise that we should take a purely party view of proposals contained in documents presented to this Parliament. Whilst we may strongly dissent from the contents of many papers, the circumstances ought not to be regarded as the one factor in determining whether they should be printed or not. But, inasmuch as these petitions were never presented to the Senate, and that they have already been ordered to be printed elsewhere, I think it is extremely undesirable that we should take action in the matter. . Why should we order the printing of documents of which we know nothing? Either the petitions were not deemed of sufficient importance, or this Senate was not deemed of sufficient importance to warrant the petitions being fathered here. For that reason I object to the Senate ordering them to be printed.
– The observations of Senators Stewart and Pearce point to the desirableness of dissolving the Printing Committee. I am not willing to remain a member of that body if, after we have done our work carefully, we are, for purely party purposes, to be subjected to criticism in the Senate.
– That is scarcely fair. The honorable senator has made an unworthy remark.
– The work of the Printing Committee has always been carried out, having regard to the one object for which it was appointed, namely, economy. There are four members of the Labour party on the Committee - Messrs. Givens, Croft, Findley, and Henderson. The three other honorable senators who belong to it are Messrs. Cameron, Macfarlane, and myself. I have never seen the shadow of an effort on the part of any member to deal with any proposal other than from the point of view of the purpose for which the Committee was appointed. Its work is well, carefully, and properly done, and I object to work being revised in the Senate in the way now proposed. If Senator Stewart’s proposal be carried I shall forthwith resign my position on the Committee.
– It may shorten the debate if I inform the Senate, as I am in a position to do, that it has been decided to have the petitions that have been referred to printed by order of the other branch of the Legislature. Probably, therefore, Senator Pearce will withdraw his proposal.
– Decided by whom?
– The procedure, I understand, was that a specific motion was submitted by leave, and it was carried unanimously. Perhaps I may, in reply to Senator demons, refer to the question of binding and indexing statutory rules. I am rather pleasedto notice this extreme anxiety for an index, seeing that an index to the rules has already been placed in the hands of honorable senators.
– In a bound form?
– Bound up with the last addition of the Acts, copies of which have been distributed to every honorable senator.
– I can assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council that I have received no bound copy.
– The bound Acts are issued, and with the volume is an index to the statutory rules.
– That index would be much more valuable if accompanied by a bound volume of the rules.
– Owing to the voluminous and constantly changing nature of these rules, it would involve an enormous expenditure if, every time a fresh rule was issued, a new bound volume was published. Even if the rules were reissued in a bound form quarterly or halfyearly, the undertaking could not be entered upon lightly. But while I draw attention to this disability, I should like to inform the Senate that the matter is now being carefully inquired into in order to determine if it is possible to devise some means whereby the convenience of honorable senators may be served, whilst not involving the Commonwealth in great expense. It is not a matter to be disposed of by simply saying that we can have the statutory rules bound, indexed, and distributed, for the reasons that I have given. If. however, it is possible to devise means by which the statutory rules can be issued in a handy and convenient form, at reasonable expense, an effort will be made to do it.
– I do not doubt that.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment (Senator Pearce’s), by leave, withdrawn.
– I sympathize heartily with Senator Stewart’s desire that information on the point that he has indicated should be made available. But I think all the information that he seeks may be obtained from other public documents. It may be difficult to pick out the facts, but they are published in the reports of the Shops and Factories Inspectors, and there is a table in the Commonwealth Year- Book dealing with the subject.
– This return refers to the Commonwealth employes only.
– We do not desire to have a duplication. Parliamentary printing is necessarily very expensive. Whilst much of the information published is valuable largely as an historical record, and also in rare instances for the information of honorable senators on special points, a great deal of it is not useful.
– The trouble is that papers are sometimes printed three and four times over.
– The Printing Committee has an arduous and extremely useful function to perform. As far as my observation has gone, its work is done thoroughly and conscientiously. I am disposed, both for that reason and for the other, which I have indicated, to vote against Senator Stewart’s amendment.
– There is no information in the Year-Book about this matter.
– I know that there is a table about accidents on the railways, which concerns one branch of the Public Service. I do not ‘desire to discuss the matter at length, but I shall vote against the amendment.
– I do not exactly understand the extent of the return which Senator Stewart desires to have printed, nor do I know what new information it contains. But I am of opinion that it ought to be available to honorable senators. I wish to point out to members of the Printing Committee that any member of the Senate or of another place can defeat anything which they may do in the direction of economy by simply obtaining a document which is not printed and, on a motion for the adjournment, or at the first reading stage of a Supply Bill, reading it, and thus putting it into Hansard. The question is which ‘method is the more advisable and1 economical. I should be sorry if the Printing Committee carried economy to too great an extent. I should also be sorry if amendments for the printing of . documents in opposition to the recommendation of the Printing Committee were carried too often. But there is ‘no reflection upon the Committee if at different times certain honorable senators may deem it necessary to dissent from their recommendations. I do not think that Senator Stewart meant to reflect upon either the ability or good intentions of the Committee. I am certain that they honestly endeavour to carry out their work in the best interests of the Commonwealth. But when an honorable senator attaches much importance to a document, which he thinks may be required in the near future when serious questions may arise, I am not going to turn my back upon him and oppose, the printing of it. Therefore I feel bound to support Senator Stewart, although always ready to admit that the Printing Committee does its duty exceedingly well.
– The attitude assumed by the members of the Printing Committee towards their report is simply that they express the opinion that certain papers are worth printing. We also put on record our view that other papers are not so valuable, and we place the word “ No recommendation” against them. If, however, the Senate desires to make a recommendation with regard to any of those papers, it has a right to do so. The Printing Committee has no complaint whatever to make against that course. It is just as well that the Senate should know that the paper which Senator Stewart is anxious to have printed was very carefully considered by the Committee. I take up the same ground as Senator Trenwith did. The information contained in the paper is already available. I take it for granted that these accidents are recorded and tabulated elsewhere. Luckily the accidents have not been numerous, and they affect only one Commonwealth Department, that of Trade and Customs, in which there have been ten minor accidents and one fatal accident, on account of which the sum of ^148 was paid in compensation. This accident took place in Victoria, and I venture to say that there is an official record of it.
– Suppose these accidents occurred in Tasmania ; would there be a record?
– I do not think that Tasmania is so far behind the age as to have no care whatever for humanity. In face of the fact that Senator Clemons is a resident of Tasmania, I am satisfied that that State has arrived at the stage when its citizens have some regard for their responsibilities towards each other. In South Australia there were ho accidents, and in Tasmania there were ten. No compensation was paid in that State, because none of the accidents were fatal. If we looked up the records in Tasmania I suppose we should find among the accidents, such cases as that a civil servant sprained his finger whilst sharpening a pencil, and that another, whose boots were somewhat worn, managed to run a nail into his foot, and’, in all probability, was given one day’s leave of absence on full pay. The return would make a volume of considerable size. In Western Australia there were four accidents; but I know where I can find a record of the particulars of every one of them. In New South Wales 261 accidents were recorded, and I know where I could find a record of each of them.
– I am not going to Sydney for information. This is all Commonwealth information, which ought to be available here, and if I cannot get it printed in one way, I shall in another.
– Did the 261 accidents reported from New South Wales occur to Commonwealth employes?
– Yes, there have been 261 accidents to Commonwealth employes in New South Wales, since the beginning of the Federation. The records show that four were fatal, for which the Commonwealth has paid, in compensation, the sum of £451 16s. 6d. I find that in one case a man fell from a horse, and got leave of absence on full pay for one day. In many other cases the accidents were equally trivial. I have gone carefully into the return, and, as I believe it would be a waste of money to print it, I shall vote against the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Senator Stewart’s amendment) be added - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Trenwith) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution so that the Parliament may be empowered to legislate for the adjustment of industrial conditions in the various States.
Senator MILLENlaid upon the table the following papers -
Prickly Pear, - report on the plant by Senator McColl.
Report of Commissioner of Lands, Papua.
Debate on Ministerial Statement : Count Out.
– I move -
That the Senatedo now adjourn.
In submitting the motion, I need hardly do more than remind honorable senators that the Government regard it as an obligation to suspend further Government business in the Senate until the motion of want of confidence, which is being debated in the House of Representatives, be disposed of. When that will be, probably my honorable friends on the other side can form as just an estimate as I can. Itdoes seem inadvisable that the Senate should adjourn until later than the next ordinary day of sitting, Wednesday next. The Government cannot be held responsible for continuing the debate upon the Ministerial statement in the Senate any longer than was necessary. As honorable members opposite appeared to be ready to go out on strike, perhaps they will be a little surprised at being locked out. I do not wish to say anything further.
– With reference to the remarks which have just fallen from the VicePresident of the Executive Council, I should like to remind the honorable senator that no less than eleven speakers on the Government side took part in the debate on the Ministerial statement.
– Does the honorable senator include Senator Symon in. the eleven on the Government side?
-Does Senator Millen wish to repudiate him?
– Does the honorable senator wish to do so?
– I do not think that this is very nice, in the absence of Senator Symon.I very much object to such interjections, no matter from which side they come.
– I point out that whilst there were eleven speakers on the Government side in the debate on the Ministerial statement, there were only eight on the Opposition side. We can, therefore, say that the Government were responsible for taking up most of the time in the debate.
– Will the honorable senator give the time occupied by the speakers on each side, or will he leave me to do that?
– I think the Government might have been a little fairer to Senator St. Ledger than they were yesterday afternoon. After the other ten speakers on the Government side had said what they had to say, they evidently considered themselves free to go where they liked, with the result that honorable senators opposite were unable to keep a quorum to conduct the business of the Senate. It was very unfair to Senator St. Ledger that such a fine anti-Socialistic oration as that which he attempted to deliver, should have been nipped in the bud. The honorable senator is a well-known anti-Socialist orator. He delivers what the press call lecturettes to the fine society ladies who are putting in their spare time, in a political sense, by organizing lectures, and the honorable senator is the principal entertainer.
– Has he cut out Senator Dobson?
– Senator Dobson seems to be entirely out in the cold. I donot know why he has not looked better to his laurels than to allow Senator St. Ledger to cut him out, because he was undoubtedly first in the field, and ought to have the first call on the ladies. I think that Senator St. Ledger has every right to complain of the treatment meted out to him by the Government last evening. That any member of the Senate should be treated so badly that on seven occasions in his speech the bells should have to be rung-
– No, nine.
– That is worse than I thought. During the course of the honorable senator’s splendid oration on anti-Socialism, the bells of the Senate had to be rung no less than nine times.
– The honorable senator’s colleagues were afraid to stay here and listen to him.
– Had the Leader of the Government been present when the Senate was counted outlast night, he would have afforded to Senator St. Ledger the opportunity to continue his oration; but, owing to his absence, that splendid deliverance is stillborn.
SenatorMillen. - And owing to the honorable senator’s absence, too.
– The Government failed to ask the Opposition to lend them a hand to keep a quorum. Had they, asked the assistance of the Opposition in keeping a quorum last night, more especially, when Senator St. Ledger was speaking, it would have been the dearest privilege which we could have had extended to us. But no such request was made. The Government have been wanting in their duty to the Senate in allowing it to be counted out in such circumstances. When speaking the other night to the motion which has been disposed of by the count-out, Senator Symon made a remark to which I desire to refer.
– Order. There is a standing order, which says that -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion.
It will not be in order for the honorable senator to allude generally to a matter of that character.
– I did not intend to allude generally to the matter, but merely to make a very brief reference. The other night, Senator Symon made a quotation
– Order. I cannot allow any reference of that kind to be made. The honorable senator is alluding to a statement which was made in another debate, and he will see that is contrary to the standing order.
– I certainly do not wish, sir, to run counter to your ruling, but I thought that a very brief reference to the matter would be permitted to pass without question. On a certain occasion, the speaker was very careful to point out that the quotation he was making was placed between inverted commas, because he did not wish, I suppose, to use the remark in its very bald form. Perhaps I may be permitted to apply to Senator St. Ledger a similar remark between in-, verted commas, and it is - “ Senator St. Ledger was damned badly treated.” Of course, sir, I wish the remark to appear between inverted commas. The honorable senator has been badly treated by Senator Millen and the other ten speakers on his side of the chamber, who were absent when he was speaking last night.
– And when only one Labour senator was here.
– That Labour man had such a splendid treat last night that the rest on this side are all green with envy this morning. When he informed us of what we missed last night, I can assure the Senate that every member of the Opposition was very sorry that he was absent. Had Senator St. Ledger let the Opposition whip know that there was likely to be a scant attendance, and that the Leader of the Senate would be absent, and could not maintain a quorum to keep business going, I would have done my best to secure for him an opportunity to speak.
– Why did the honorable senator tell them all to keep out while the bells were ringing?
– I am surprised that Senator Millen should* ask the question. I am sure that he has no authority for making that remark. Honorable senators on this side all know their duty too well to allow themselves to be dictated to by any honorable senator as to when they shall be present or absent. But there is another aspect of the question to which I wish to drawattention. Senator St. Ledger comes from Queensland. What will the people of that State say when they learn that one of their brilliant representatives here could not get a hearing in the Senate?
– Not even from his own side.
– They may reasonably ask this question, “ How can we expect the voice of Queensland to Be heard when even the colleagues whom we sent with Senator St. Ledger to Melbourne will not attend to keep a quorum?”
– That is rough on Senators Givens and Stewart.
– It is very rough on Senator Sayers, who was absent, and who is a colleague of Senator St. Ledger. I had no intention of mentioning the names of individual senators, but seeing that Senator Millen introduced the names of Senators Givens and Stewart, I was obliged, in justice to them, to mention the name of Senator Sayers.
– He was absent in consequence of the illness of his mother.
– I am very sorry, indeed, to hear that that was the cause of his absence. I would not have mentioned his name at all had not the names of Senators Givens and Stewart been introduced by Senator Millen.
– But are not these tears for Senator St. Ledger very much of the crocodile order?
– I dare say that if tears were shed by the honorable senator they would be falling from something very like a crocodile. They are shed bv the opposition in sorrow for our genial friend from Queensland. In fairness to that State, its representatives here should not be treated in the manner in which he was treated last night. There is an election coming on.
– And that is the reason for these speeches.
– And no doubt the Employers’ Federation party will expect to get some support from Queensland. It is scarcely fair to that party that the Government should treat one of its brilliant lights as they did last night. What support can that party expect to receive from Queensland when it is recalled that its leading representative on the anti-Socialist ticket was unable to get a hearing here for his oration?
– Is it a fact that he is a junior teacher at Wal pole’s anti-sosh school ?
– There is some literature attached to my name.
– The Government are now asking the Senate for an adjournment. After last night’s exhibition, is it not fair that they should be asked to consider their position?
– We considered it yesterday afternoon.
– Can the Government reasonably hope to go on in the future any better than they did last night?
– Yes, when there is business to be done.
– There was business to be done last night, but the Government were unable to keep a quorum. What hope have they of being able to keep a quorum in the future? I believe that last night’s incident is an honest indication of how people in the country regard the position. The Senate is disgusted with the attitude of the Government, and the country is, I hold, equally disgusted. Instead of asking for an adjournment now they ought to be asking for a dissolution, in order to ascertain public opinion. I intend to “ assist “ them until they do decide to appeal to the country.
– May I suggest that the honorable senator should “assist” us as he did last evening - by keeping out of the Chamber?
– So did the Minister.
– I do not wish to discuss my position or my attitude to the Government. I intend to take advantage of every opportunity to drag them before their masters. Last night we got an opportunity of that kind. On next sitting day we may get another opportunity, but whenever it may arise it will be availed of by members of the Opposition. We recognise that the Government have no right to be occupying their present position. We hold that they reached the Ministerial benches by a piece of political hypocrisy ; by the adoption of tactics which, so far as I am aware, have never before been practised against a Government.
– The honorable senator wants three parties.
– Yes, the honorable senator does.
– Thank goodness we have now all our opponents in one bag. The position which other States have got into recently by the formation of an Employers’ Federation Government is nothing new to Western Australia, because it has obtained there for a number of years. The employers in our State have always been in opposition to Labour. For years there has never been more that one party opposing Labour, and, notwithstanding the excuse put forward by the pseudoLiterals, it was because Labour was raiding the seats of such Liberals that a member of the present Protectionist Government, Sir John Forrest, has been opposed to Labour at every Federal election. He has been contesting their seats with Liberals even when they have been supporting the Government of which he was a member.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that any one has had the audacity to attack a Labour seat? That is a monstrous thing to do.
– I do not consider it audacity at all. I have never com plained of it. I am simplyrecounting what has happened at every Federal election in Western Australia. Members of this Government have complained that we were attacking their seats. That complaint has been made over and over again in Western Australia by no less a light than the present Treasurer. We made no complaint, but the so-called Liberals complained of our action. They put forward as their only excuse for joining the Employers’ Federation Government that Labour men were attacking their seats. It is the most miserable and paltry excuse which any man could possibly advance for deserting his so-called Liberal principles. I think that I have now made my attitude quite plain. I do not wish to disguise it. Nothing is to be gained by the practice of political hypocrisy. I have recognised the position that has obtained from a Western Australian stand-point for a considerable time. In that State we have never asked for quarter from our political opponents, and certainly we should receive none. In the same way, I do not intend to offer any quarter to the present Government, or to those with whom we have been fighting strenuously for years. When I find a Government practising political hypocrisy, I say that it is our duty to expose it. Only by so doing can the public learn the true position. Had the present occupants of the Treasury benches tabled an amendment upon the Address-in-Reply, to the effect that the Fisher Government were deserving of censure for their failure to offer a Dreadnought to Great Britain - which was the one reason why Mr. Deakin urged that this Parliament should be convened earlier than usual - I might have had some more regard for them than I have. But instead of doing so, a. supporter of the present Government in another place was put up to prevent the discussion of that very matter. I have every reason to complain that no proposal has been submitted in favour of the presentation of a Dreadnought by the present Government, seeing that it was the one reason which they urged why Parliament should be called together much earlier than May. The only way in which such a proposal could be adequately discussed would be by permitting of an appeal being made to the electors. I am satisfied that the people of Western Australia are almost unanimously opposed to any such proposal. It is true that the Government have made a sort of left-handed offer of a Dreadnought to the Old Country. Having sand-bagged the late Administration, and having obtained a three weeks’ adjournment of Parliament, they offered a Dreadnought to Great Britain. Such tactics can be properly rewarded only by allowing the electors to express their opinions of those who practice them. The Government are now in office, and are consequently in a position to control the elections, but despite this manifest advantage, we invite them even now to face the country. We are so satisfied that it is against them that even under the most adverse circumstances the Labour party could not fail to improve their position in this Parliament. If they are so secure in their seats, why do they not accept our invitation, especially in view of the fact that the daily press is behind them? If the Ministry lacked the powerful influence of that daily press they would be the most hopeless politicians imaginable. It requires a good cause to withstand the attacks and misrepresentations of the daily newspapers. That good cause is represented by the platform of the Labour party. We have to fight the entire press of Australia.
– The Opposition has the Brisbane Worker.
– And the Government have the Sporting and Dramatic News.
– We are all proud of that splendidly written newspaper, the Worker. Despite the fact that the Government have the united power of the press at their back, they experience the utmost difficulty in maintaining their position. If if were only possible for the Labour party to secure that press support at a single election they would sweep the country from end to end.
– We should have to be a pretty corrupt party to secure its support.
– The time may come, however, when the Labour party will have its own daily newspapers. When I criticise the press I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not include in my indictment the gentlemen who are associated with the staffs of the various daily newspapers. They are simply workers, and are obliged to write according to instructions, quite independently of their own private views. I say this, because some members of the press appear to think that I have a particular “ set “ upon them. There is no ground whatever for that opinion.
– The honorable senator attacked them just now.
– I have made no attack upon them.
– The honorable senator said that they are obliged to write to order.
– I believe that the time will come when the Labour partywill be able to give the.se men an opportunity to write from the Labour standpoint, and r am satisfied that they will then be expressing their own convictions in a much larger measure than they do now.
– The honorable senator is indulging in the pleasures of hope.
– It is a fond hope. I know many gentlemen of the press who entertain similar views to my. own. I believe that the time is not far distant when the Labour party will be rich enough to provide those men with an opportunity to write according to their honest convictions. It is idle to deny that they have not now to write to suit their employers. If Senator Gray were a newspaper proprietor would he give a! Labour journalist liberty to write for his newspaper according to Labour ideals? The idea is too absurd. If a Labour daily newspaper were established to-morrow it would certainly instruct its employes how they should write. I ask Senator St. Ledger who, I am sorry to say, is somewhat of a briefless lawyer, whether he has ever declined a brief, no matter from what side the offer may have emanated?
– Has he not used his pen for every political party that has been in existence, and has he not been paid for it?
– I have made it abundantly clear that I have no grudge against individual members of the press. I hope that I shall soon be in a position to congratulate many of them upon writing their convictions from the Labour side of political questions. We intend to prevent this Government from occupying the Ministerial benches one day longer than we can possibly prevent them. They have gagged Parliament so far by preventing the discussion of the very business that we were called together to transact.
– You are degrading Parliament now.
– Order !
– Is Senator McColl in order in saying that Senator- de Largie is degrading Parliament ?
– I took notice of the remark before Senator Findley rose to order.
– Is that to be the end of it, sir ? ‘ Is Senator McColl simply to be called to order?
– That ends the matter.
– If Senator McColl had been in the chamber during the earlier part of my speech, I should not have minded even his ill-mannered remark, but the moment he came in and took his seat he hurled across the floor an insulting reference to me.
– I was here as long as I could stand the honorable senator.
– I ask Senator McColl not to allude further to the subject. I have already pointed out to him that he should not have made the remark.
– He should have been made to withdraw and apologize.
– I ask for a withdrawal of Senator McColl’s remark concerning me.
– I ask Senator McColl to withdraw the remark to which attention is called.
– And apologize.
– Is Senator Guthrie going to take charge of the Senate, or am I ?
– I withdraw what T ha.ve said.
– I am not so thin skinned as to mind an interjection, but, all the same, I think that there should be something like decency in debate, and that an honorable senator should not make such an observation the moment he comes into the chamber. I only hope that Senator McColl will talk in that way to me outside. We have all been very much disappointed that the Dreadnought question and the defence question generally have not received that amount of attention that should have been devoted to them. It is evidently a very important question, and it should have been fully dealt with apart from all party feeling.
– The honorable senator’s colleagues have discussed it for a week.
– I think not. AVhile we may have discussed the Government policy generally, the Dreadnought offer has not received sufficient attention.
– Why did not the honorable senator discuss it when he had a chance ?
– So many supporters of the Government have spoken in this debate, that, as a matter of fact, I had no chance. There have been eleven Ministerial speakers against eight Opposition speakers.
– The honorable senator had an opportunity if he had been in his place and doing his work yesterday.
– I have been here every day. It was due to Senator St. Ledger’s oration that the Senate was counted out yesterday. Had I known that there was a danger of a count-out, I should have been only too happy to keep a quorum for him. There is no denying the fact, however, that we have not yet had an opportunity of expressing the opinion of the Senate on the whole question of defence. It ought not to be a party question, but it has been made a party question by the present Government. They threw the late Government out on their defence policy. If, when they met Parliament, they had introduced the Dreadnought question straight away, and dealt with it on its. merits, the business of the country would have proceeded in a much more satisfactory manner. We are now in a state of confusion - not fusion - because that course was not taken.
– Obviously the honorable senator is.
– I hold that Senator Millen, more than any other honorable senator, is responsible for the position, because it was his duty as Leader of the Senate, to introduce the question. The late Government laid their elaborate defence proposals before the country, and I believe that the country will indorse their policy. Indeed, some honorable senators on the Government side indorse it. Why, then, was the late Government dispossessed? The country will not lose sight of the circumstances when it is afforded an opportunity of expressing its opinion. I shall not prolong my remarks, because by doing so I should simply play into the hands of the Government. I desire that other senators should have an opportunity to speak to-day, and shall content myself at this stage with observing that the Government, instead of opposing a short adjournment, should have consulted the interests, of the country by soliciting a full discussion of the defence problem.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania.) conclusion, after the speech which we have just heard, that the Opposition, by this time, regret very much the action which they took yesterday. It is now evident that they really wanted to discuss matters ad nauseam. As I have just returned from the Old Country, I take this opportunity of saying a few words on the situation, with the object of explaining the position in which I find myself. For many years I have been an active opponent of the present Prime Minister. I now sit as a supporter of the Government of which he is the head, because I feel that it is necessary to have proper responsible government in Australia, and to have in office a Ministry supported by one party. There should be only two parties in this Parliament. The time has come when the Labour party should go to the country distinct from all other parties. I quite recognise that.
– That is what we have always done.
– They ought not to complain if they now have the opportunity of going to the country on their own basis, and without support from other quarters. I cannot, however, ignore the history of the Prime Minister, and can only say that his past justifies me in watching his future very closely. I shall sit on this side as a supporter of the Ministry as far as my late leader, Mr. Joseph Cook, and others associated with him are prepared to follow out its policy. I shall occupy an independent position on many questions, and especially if the opinions and the policy of the old Deakin Government should be emphatically forced on the country .
– Then there is no hope for Liberalism on that side.
– I shall not do anything to assist the Opposition party into office, at present, at all events. As I am now endeavouring to explain clearly what I am going to do, I should like to ask the Government the meaning of the vague circular or manifesto which has been placed in my hands. It is not signed. I should like to know what it really means. It seems to me to be very vague. It contains one or two statements in which I cannot acquiesce. It says, for instance, after alluding to a series of complex measures, that -
The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an InterState Commission, which, in addition to exer cising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized to undertake many of the valuable functions discharged in the United Kingdom by the Board of Trade.
Are we, then, to have the country asked to alter the Constitution in order that the Commonwealth may assume functions in addition to those which an Inter-State Commission is empowered to discharge under the Constitution as it stands? That is the natural corollary of the statement which I have quoted. It seems that the Government desire to ask the States to give them certain powersto do things which at present the Commonwealth has no power to do. That is a position which Ido not feel called upon to support.
– I do not think that the honorable senator will be called upon to support it. It is mere kite flying.
– There is a great deal in this memorandum which seems to me to be mere padding. I do not think that it can be given effect to.
– It does not differ in that respect from a Governor-General’s speech.
– But this is something more than a Governor-General’s speech. However, I rose simply to explain, for the information of my constituents and the country, that, while I support the Government as a matter of fusion, and in order to get the two party system in force in this country, I shall still exercise an independent judgment in regard to proposals that may be introduced.
Senator St. LEDGER (Queensland) [12.14]. - Whatever doubts I may have had during the course of my speech yesterday afternoon as to the tactical manoeuvre that was being carried out, I have no doubt now that I did my duty both to myself and to the Senate in enabling another manoeuvre to be perfectly accomplished. Senator de Largie has expressed his sympathy for me. I view his sympathy in the proper light. He expressed some amount of curiosity as to how the people of Queensland would view what occurred. I believe that the people of Queensland know me very well. They will be able to draw their own conclusions as to what I did, and as to the objects of honorable senators opposite. I have not the slightest doubt that I shall be able to meet my electors and make them clearly understand the position.
– I think we might as well have a quorum present. [Quorum
– I wish only to say, in answer to the suggestion made by Senator de Largie, that the people of Queensland will, I think, regret that I could not extend the sphere of the operation to which he referred.
– I think that our friends in Opposition “ fell into the soup “ yesterday. A quorum was called for no less than eight times and was forthcoming, but the ninth time it was called for the Government were given an excellent opportunity-
– To meet the wishes of honorable senators opposite.
– Yes; to meet their wishes. After the great delay which has taken place in proceeding with business, I hope that when we meet again, I presume on Wednesday next, the motion of want of confidence will have been disposed of in another place. It will be a great pity if, after coming hundreds of miles to do the business of the country, and after everything has been said that can possibly be said against poor Mr. Deakin, we should still have to listen to a repetition of the same old story.- I credit honorable senators opposite with a desire, according to their own views, to do the business of the country : but I hope they will change their tactics. They appear at present to regard it as their duty to prevent business being done. I hope that if this kind of thing is much longer continued, the Government will avail themselves of the powers they have, and will enforce what, by some persons, is called “the gag.” The countryexpects us to do our duty, and it is felt that we are at present wasting time, and time is something which cannot be recalled.
– Then the honorable senator should sit down.
– I hope that we shall rise to the occasion. The Senate should be a dignified Chamber, and our conduct recently has scarcely been what many people outside believe they have a right to expect.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland) [12.19I. - I do not understand this kind of talk from honorable senators opposite.
– This is the gentleman who held the fort.
– I was present all the time yesterday ; but I believe the honorable senator was cheerfully spending some of his time elsewhere.
– I left the chamber deliberatelv the last time a quorum was called for, to assist the honorable senator in the achievement of his purpose.
– 1 suppose that when the honorable senator went out, he did so because he did not feel inclined to allow the business of the country to go on ?
– No business was being done.
– It is peculiar that we should be threatened by Senator Walker, that the Government will not permit decent discussion of public business. That is the most extraordinary position for any one to take up, and especially such a mild-mannered man as Senator Walker. The honorable senator is a Christian Socialist who sympathizes with the members of the Labour party, believing that they are animated by the best intentions, and desire to improve the position of those who have to do the hard work of the world. The honorable senator now advises the Government not to give such fellows an opportunity to discuss public business.
– Senator Walker did not say anything of the kind.
– That was the threat uttered by Senator Walker? The honorable senator said that if this sort of thing was to be allowed to go on, he sincerely hoped the Government would exercise the power which they have, and which is generally called “the gag.”
– There will be no need to do that, if honorable members opposite remain out of the chamber.
– And especially if the Government cannot drag in a sufficient number of their own supporters to form a quorum. What would happen then, would merely be that honorable senators opposite would be gagged, as well as honorable senators on this side. I have had some experience of “ the gag,” and I have never regretted it. In nearly every Parliament in which it has been applied,’ it has been proved that its application has worked in. the interests of the minority. We are in the minority now, and we shall not be intimidated, even by Senator Walker, or if the Government take the honorable senator’s advice, and apply “the gag,”’ to us on every possible occasion.
– I did not say that it should be applied on every possible occasion. I suppose it is intended to be used.
– I have not the slightest idea whether honorable senators opposite intend to use it or not. That is something which they must decide for themselves. I was very glad to listen to Senator Macfarlane’s brief, straightforward, and honest, pronouncement. The honorable senator said that the Prime Minister has behind him a past which does not commend him in respect to the future. I do not propose to say anything about the Prime Minister. All that needs to be said has been said in this chamber more ably than I should ever be able to say it. When a piece of work is well done, it is of no use for an amateur to come along and dab a piece on here and a piece on there. Senator Symon has, for the edification of the people of the Commonwealth, constructed a beautiful mosaic of the brilliant record of the Prime Minister, which, I think, it would be just as well to leave as it is. I was glad to hear Senator Macfarlane say that he regarded most of the nebulous statement put before the Senate by the Government as padding. The honorable senator mentioned a portion of it of which he does not approve. Senator Macfarlane has always been opposed to Labour ; but we have no quarrel with him, or with any man who has been consistently and honestly opposed to the policy we advocate. Our trouble has been, not with such men, but with men who have endeavoured to use the Labour party for their own ends. Some men have succeeded in doing so. Many have attained positions which, but for the assistance of the Labour party, they never would have attained, because they were despised and distrusted by the party with whom they associated themselves after they had got into Parliament on the shoulders of Labour. These are the men to whom the Labour party are opposed, because they believe that such men are not politically honest; that many of them have attained their positions by false pretences, misrepresentation, and, in many cases, by something worse. They decline to have anything to do with people of that character. We have heard of the failure of the Government yesterday to keep a quorum.
– Is the honorable senator in earnest?
– I occasionally men’tioned to the President the fact-
– That the honorable senator’s colleagues were absent.
– They may have been engaged upon public business, elsewhere. When Senator St. Ledger gets up to speak, honorable senators know very well that, in all probability, they are in for four or five hours’’ talk, and if there is any public business which they wish to discuss, they usually take advantage of such an opportunity to discuss it outside. I remember that, on many occasions, honorable senators opposite, when in Opposition, wished to have their little caucus meetings outside the chamber, and Labour members of the Senate used to keep a quorum. It was probable that honorable .senators on this side yesterday desired to do the same thing, but I preferred to make a martyr of myself for what 1 considered a public duty.
– The honorable senator’s colleagues were scattered about the lobbies; they were not holding any meeting.
– I do not know, as I remained here. Senator Pulsford would not be able to chasten others in this way if he had not been dodging about the lobbies himself. Honorable senators on the other side had occupied most of the time in the debate, and honorable senators on this side might very well have been allowed to hold a little meeting on public business. By calling the attention of the President to the fact that there was not a quorum present, I did what I could to secure an audience for the honorable senator who was addressing the Senate. Neither the President nor I could have been expected to do anymore. We have no right to wander through the lobbies, catch hold of honorable senators, and bring them in here, if they do not desire to come. Evidently a number of Ministerial supporters did not think it worth their while to pay any attention to the speech which Senator St. Ledger was trying to deliver I do not think that the reason has yet been given why the Government did not think it worth while to maintain a quorum for honorable senators on their own side. I believe that the real reason appeared in last evening’s Herald. It said that Senator Best had decided to reply to the speech delivered by Senator Symon, but that the Prime Minister had instructed him not to do so. That, to my mind, is why Senator St. Ledger was made the scapegoat of his own party last night.
– Not a scapegoat. The honorable senator did not see the game.
– Honorable senators on the other side knew perfectly well that that instruction had been issued.
– He was goat enough, anyhow.
– Senator Turley cannot help laughing at his own remarks.
– I was laughing, not at anything I had said, but at an interjection made by Senator Givens; and if he and I can induce the honorable senator to laugh, we shall have conferred a public and private benefit.
– The honorable senator certainly succeeded on this occasion.
– There had been statements made here regarding the policy of the Government by an honorable senator who, without exception, is the most competent member of this Chamber at the present time to deliver an address of that description. I think that may be said without derogating from the abilities of other honorable senators. Those statements had reference to the reasons and methods adopted, and the manner of bringing about the fusion of parties. Some of them hit very hard quite a number of the present Ministers.
– They hit even Senator Walker.
– I do not know that they hit Senator Walker very hard, except when he was told that he was prepared to defend his own country at per cent. That, I think, was the hardest thing said of him. It seemed to me that any wellconstituted Government would have replied to an indictment of that kind, especially when it came from their own side of the Chamber. One could easily have understood that any Government who had a shred of respect for themselves, for those who were supporting them, and for the alleged policy they had submitted, would have seen that some Minister did reply to the indictment, both in their own interest and in the interest of ‘their supporters.
– They are not permitted.
– No. I was saying that any Government who had a shred of respect for themselves, or their followers, would have seen that Senator Symon’s indictment was replied to.
– It can easily be replied to.
– I could easily understand the anxiety of Senator Best to reply to Senator Symon’s statements, but I think the task was altogether beyond his capacity. No discredit is due to any man who makes the best of a bad job. We can not all speak like Senator Symon did. But if any honorable senators had risen to refute the charges he had made, whatever ability they displayed, they would have got credit for at least trying to defend their own honour and character. We had a right to expect an answer from a Minister. But what do we find? While they have a champion who says, “Yes, I am prepared to get up and meet the man who has traduced our public characters, who’ described us as hollow hypocrites and public frauds,” a note comes along from the Prime Minister to this effect, “ Kindly take no notice of it. It is a thing which does not matter in public life.”
– There is plenty of time to answer the speech.
– Have we come to this stage in the public life of Australia that the characters of public men when traduced are not worth being defended? Is that a position which has ever been taken up in a State Parliament? No speech of such importance as the one delivered here by Senator Symon the other night has ever been made in a State Parliament without having been replied to in nearly every case by the most prominent Minister present. That is the course which naturally people expect to be taken, because in their opinion the Parliament and the Government owe a duty to the country. I believe that the public will say that some effort should have been made by the Government to refute the charges made against them. Yet we had the spectacle of a Minister who was anxious to take on the job being set down by his chief, who did not reckon it worth while that his own character or the character of his Government,or the character of his supporters, shouldbe defended. Perhaps he did not think that there was any one capable of effectively defending the Government. He may have thought that they were so bad that it was an impossible task to undertake. Whether that was so or not I do not know ; but the action of the Prime Minister speaks for itself. I believe that the Government were anxious to obtain a countout last night because they did not wish to reply to statements made here by an honorable senator with whom many of them were associated for a long time, whose marked ability is recognised throughout the Commonwealth, and who, at any rate, carried the respect of members of the Labour party when he led the Reid-McLean Government here by reason of the ability he displayed, the courtesy he showed, and the consideration he evinced for all members of the Senate. That was the principal reason why, in my opinion, the debate was allowed to fall through. If the speech of Senator Symon had not been delivered I feel quite satisfiedthat the Government would have kept a quorum last night, to any hour, so that we could listen to the splendid material which had been collected from all quarters of the globe, and was being poured out here for the edification of honorable senators. What the public should know is that the count-out was due, not to honorable senators holding meetings or to anything of that description, but to the fact that there was no possible defence to be offered to the statements, the charges, and the allegations made by Senator Symon, that the Government wanted to get a count-out and succeeded in their desire.
– Before the motion is put I desire to say a few words with regard to yesterday’s incident. I wish to speak with absolute frankness to the members of the Senate and to those beyond its walls. There need be no misunderstanding as to what took place here yesterday, or as to the reason which induced the action taken by honorable senators, both on the other side and on this side. When we saw the spectacle of one member of the Opposition, Senator Turley, manfully holding the fort, occasionally receiving the light horseman who came in from the outskirts of the campaign like a telegraph messenger, with reports as to how to deport himself and what to do while a council of war was beingheld immediately beyond the doors of the chamber ; and when we found that another member of the Opposition, who had not been made acquainted with the scheme of operations, was hysterically warned to leave when he ventured innocently to stray into the chamber, it was obvious toany one what tactics were being adopted.
– The honorable senator can draw upon his imagination.
– I have no need to do that. I can draw upon the facts which were manifestedhere yesterday. No one can denythis, and no one does deny it, that theonly member of the Opposition who remained, or was allowed to remain for any length oftime, was Senator Turley.
– Washe not enough ?
– Unfortunately, he was too much; he did his work too well. We have to consider what was the matter before the Senate. Had it been Government business which called for consideration in Government time, I venture to say that those who honour us with their confidence would have seen that a quorum was maintained to attend to that business. My honorable friends on the other side will, I believe, find that whenever any Government business is sought to be carried on, there are enough honorable senators on this side who will conceive it to be their duty to maintain a quorum.
-They did not yesterday.
– No; for this simple reason : that so far as the Government and the country were concerned, sufficient time had alreadv been occupied with the consideration of the motion. The real trouble with my honorable friends opposite is that, although, as Senator de Largie stated, some six of them had spoken, eight more were waiting with speeches bulging out of their pockets, and ready to be delivered next week.
– Waiting for the Minister to make some reply.
– We recognised that unless a termination was put to the debate yesterday, the whole of next week would be consumed by the delivery of speeches such as those which have caused the midnight oil bill of this city to go up to enormous figures. We knew that there was not one page of a volume of Hansard in the Parliamentary Library which had not been turned down and dog-eared -the result of the investigations which have been going on for the last week or two ; and that the delivery of. all this collected matter was to be spread over the whole of next week. As it appeared yesterday that the Labour party were inclined to go on strike; that, although it was their duty to be here, only one out of fourteen could venture , to be present for any length of time, I wish that fact to go forth. One of our Standing Orders requires that when a count-out takes place the names of honorable senators who are present must be recorded. Now, in the official record of those present when the count-out occurred last night, the only member of the Opposition whose name appears is that of Senator Turley. But there were ten Ministerialists in attendance. I purposely abstained frombeing present, becauseif political warfare in this Chamber is to resolve itself into manoeuvring tactics, the Government are not going to be left behind. There was no reason why the debate upon the Ministerial statement of policy should have been continued for a single moment longer than it was.
– Then why complain?
– I am not complaining. Having fallen into the pit which they themselves digged, the Labour Opposition wished to show that there was an obligation on the part of the Government to keep that debate going. _ Theywill have some difficulty, I fear, in establishing their claim. I wish now to deal with a statement which has been made by Senator de Largie, and which fairly illustrates the frankness that characterizes honorable, senators opposite. He declared that eleven supporters of the Government had spoken upon the Ministerial statement of policy as against eight members of the Opposition. I say at once that in his calculation he has included Senator Symon jas ‘a Ministerial supporter, and there is not one single word in that honor-, able senator’s speech which justifies his inclusion in any party. The Government would be undoubtedly glad of Senator Symon’s support. I wish again to draw attention to the deliberate attempt which is being made by the Opposition to count out the’“Senate> and to throw the onus on the Government. If they wish to intimate to the constituencies that whilst- they are prepared to sit here-
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate.
– There is a quorum present. Before an honorable senator calls attention to the state of the Senate he should satisfy himself that there is not a quorum present.
– No doubt, as Senator de Largie has since quitted the Chamber, Senator Stewart will now repeat his tactics.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.’]
– This violent party in Opposition can launch charges, against individuals, but it is not game to stand up when there is a prospect of replying to those charges. It will make villainous attacks upon its opponents, but it will afterwards slink away like a whipped hound. If I were not in this Chamber I should be tempted to describe the statement made by Senator de Largie, by the use of language which you, sir, would deem to be unparliamentary. The honorable senator affirmed that eleven Government supporters had addressed themselves to the Ministerial statement, as against only eight~members of the Labour party. He forgot to point out that in his calculation he had included as Ministerialists, Senator Symon and Senator Clemons. ‘ He also omitted to mention that the time occupied by the members of the Labour party who spoke upon that question was as two hours to one compared with that occupied by Ministerialists. And surely in this instance time is the very essence of the comparison. Honorable senators opposite must be fudged by their transparently laboured efforts to consume time. When Senator Turley spoke this morning he occupied more than three or four times the time that was taken up by Senators Walker and Macfarlane. I wish the country clearly to understand the tactics which are being resorted to by the Opposition, and to intimate that if such tactics are continued it may be necessary for the Government to adequately meet and defeat them. Although, before this Parliament met there were ‘ thunderings and threats that Government business would ‘ be stopped - threats which have been repeated here - the official head of that party has since expressed a desire to proceed with business. I ask the country to contrast that expressed desire with the tactics of the Opposition, which is not present on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 13.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090709_senate_3_49/>.