7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Leader of the Senate any information to give with regard to the present strike?
– A meeting of the members of the Victorian branch of the Seamen’s Union was held this morning. I am not yet aware whether the deliberations of that body have terminated. A similar meeting is taking place in Syd ney this afternoon, and I am hopeful that by this time to-morrow I shall be able to announce that the way has been paved for a satisfactory settlement of the dispute.
-(By leave.)-I desire to make a short statement concerning a proposal which at a later stage will be submitted to the Senate, in order that honorable senators may be forewarned as to the intention of the Government. To allow time for consultation between the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and members of his Government, upon his return to Australia, it is proposed that Parliament shall not sit during the week after next. It is intended, therefore, to ask the Senate to rise on Friday, 29th August, and resume on Wednesday, the10th September.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if he has read this statement, which is reported as having been made in the Tasmanian Parliament recently by the Premier of that State (Mr. Lyons) -
The Commonwealth Government had purchased oil at ?6 per ton for the Navy, but had refused to buy the Tasmanian product at ?4 10s. per ton.
Mr. Whitsitt. ; What information have you? Was there any palm-greasing?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. ‘ T. Givens). - Order! I cannot allow the honorable senator to read a statement of that kind. The honorable senator knows that it is not permissible to make statements when asking questions, and it would be improper if I were to allow outsiders a privilege which is not accorded to honorable senators.
– Then I ask the Minister if he has noticed statements reported to have been made by the Premier of Tasmania to the effect that the Commonwealth Government had refused to purchase Tasmanian oil for naval purposes at ?4 10s. per ton, but had purchased oil from other sources at ?6 per ton, and that when asked if he could give any reason, said that no reason whatever could be given, but that to him it seemed a national disgrace.
– Order ! The honorable senator is again giving information when asking a question.
– The Premier of Tasmania, continuing, said that no reasons had been given except that the Commonwealth Government appeared to be concentrating on the development of the Papuan oil fields. It is difficult, Mr. President, , to ask a question of this nature without making a statement.
– The answer is “ No.”
– Has the Leader of the Senate any further information with regard to the question I asked last week, concerning skins, wool, and sugar?
– I have answers to some of the questions, but not on those particular points.
The following papers were presented : -
British Mission to South America, 1918. -
Correspondence. (Paper presented to
Defence Act 1003-1018. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1910, Nos. 188, 189.
Public Service Act 1902-1918-
Appointments and Promotions -
C. K. Johnston, Prime Minister’s Department.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 194,
– Has the Leader of the Senate any information* to furnish with regard to a question I submitted last’ week, relating to the1 Commission paid in New South Wales on the last war loan?
– The answer supplied is: -
The total commission paidin New South Wales: in connexion, with, the Seventh War Loan was £11,816 7s.6d. The records do not show how much of this ‘ amount was paid for subscriptions in the metropolitan area. This information could only be obtained by the detailed, analysis- of all- the subscriptions on which commission’ was’ paid.
asked the Minister representing, the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If it is a fact that the limitation of the Constitution, prevents the Government from dealing effectively with profiteering, is it the intention of the Government to submit amendments for the alterationof the Constitution to clothe the Federal Parliament with the necessary powers to do so?
– This is a matter of Government policy, and it is not usual to announce such policy in reply to questions in the House.
Sale of Government Stock : Protection of Producers
asked the Minister representing the. Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. As the honorable senator has already been informed in reply to a previous question, it is not considered fair or advisable to supply the information asked for, inasmuch as such a course would disclose the business operations of traders to their competitors.
asked the Minister representing: the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government, favorably- consider the advisability of using the war’ powers of the Government in order to prevent an abnormal profit being squeezed from the producers by the purchasers- of the one-time- Governmentowned cornsacks?
– It is not considered”’ that there is any practicable method whereby the Government can control the price of cornsacks, apart from the complete organization of the jute business by the Government, on similar lines to those previously followed. For a number of reasons this is not now- considered practicable. The Government has reason to believe that the majority of the bags changed hands almost immediately after the sale by the Government, and were largely bought by co-operative organizations of farmers at prices much below existing market rates.
asked the Minis- ‘ ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Arising out of that question, I find that the sum of £5,300,000 appears in Hansard in connexion with these ships.
– The honorable senator is not asking a question, but is giving information now.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether, in view of the answers which he has just given, he will have the statement in Hansard corrected ?
– No discourtesy is intended when I say that I do not think that questions, without notice, should be submitted, -except At the proper time for asking such questions. It is not my duty to- correct Ilansard.
asked the Leader of the Government in .the Senate, ..upon notice -
– The answers are - x
asked the Acting Minister .for Defence, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, but is npt yet complete. The honorable senator will be informed as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Should it be decided to purchase the Blythe’ River iron deposits, at present held under option, will the Government give Parliament an opportunity of discussing the matter before its completion?
– It has been decided not to exercise the option over the Blythe River iron deposits. The reports of the experts will be tabled at an early date.
asked ‘the Acting Minister for ‘Defence, upon notice -
– The Government are not disposed to afford information at this stage -as to the operations of its secret service during the war.
Royal Navy Officers : NAVAL Brigade and Leave Gratuity.
asked the Minister representing the “Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The following have been transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Australian Navy (Permanent Naval Forces) during the last twelve months: -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Returned naval ratings from theN aval and Military Expeditionary Force were granted fourteen days leave on full pay prior to discharge. It is understood that members of the Military Force receive seven and a half days’ leave for each six months’ service.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Considerationof second report of Standing Orders Committee, presented to the Senate on 7th August, 1919) :
Senator the Hon. T. GIVENS (Queensland) [3.18]. - I formally move -
That the proposed standing order, which is as follows : -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour at a time in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the second reading ofa Bill, he shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a-half. Any senator may move that the limit of one hour or of one hour and a-half may be extended for thirty minutes; such motion shall forthwith be put without debate.
In Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time, or more than twice on any” one question before the Committee : provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff, or to a Minister of the Crown, in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill, in regard to the number of his speeches in connexion with any departments which he represents be agreed to.
Honorable senators will remember that this matter was brought forward by the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator Millen) lastyear, and that subsequently it was referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration and report. There havebeen two meetings of the Committee this year, one of which was held to deal with a suggested new standing order to meet a difficulty raisedby Senator Pratten. That proposed new standing order was considered, and eventuallyadopted by the Senate. This present proposal, having to do with a time limit upon speeches, came before a subsequent meeting. I may say that the reason why it was not placed before the Standing Orders Committee at its first meeting was that there is great difficulty in securing a full attendance, because the only time available is during Thursday forenoon, and party meetings are generally being held then. The opportunities for the Standing Orders Committee to come together are thus limited. There has never been more than about half-an-hour for which its members have been free to attend; so it is not possible to properly discuss more than one s ubject at one meeting.
Honorable senators now have the subjectmatter of the report in, their own hands, either to adopt, to modify, or to reject.
. - I believe in curtailing speeches in this Chamber, because that means better speeches; but there is one standing order which should be removed before this is adopted. The standing order to which I object is that which allows a majority to close a debate on any matter directly a senator resumes his seat. If he stands up and speaks for an hour and a-half, or one hour, it is in the power of a majority, if it so desires, to close the mouth of every other speaker. I am not in favour of that, and I will support this new standing order only if the other is eliminated. We know it will be carried, and if it is, I intend to move to eliminate the standing order which gives power to a majority to close a debate if they so desire.
– I do not regard this suggestion in a sympathetic manner. I am a new member of the Senate, but during the two years I have had the honour of occupying a seat in this Chamber, I remember only one occasion on which there has been any necessity for a standing order to limit speeches. That occasion will be in the minds of honorable senators, and they will recall that it was when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) delivered a very lengthy speech on an Electoral Bill. Apart from that, I cannot see why the Government desire to curtail the privileges and rights of honorable senators for all time, or at least until the standing order is rescinded. This Senate is probably the smallest legislative Chamber in the world. There are only thirty-six members, and it is public property that we do not sit nearly so long as some other legislative assemblies. We get through our business as quickly, if not more quickly, than other Chambers. There may be special occasions when it may be necessary to give a close and critical analysis of measures, as this is really a House of review. Personally, I do not feel inclined to vote for a standing order which will restrict my rights and privileges, should I desire to exert them in what I consider the interests of ‘ the country.
– There is provision for an extension of time.
– Certainly there is a provision for an extension of halfanhour, but only by consent of the Senate, and if the Leader of the House will permit me to say so, the consent of the Senate is really the consent of the Leader of the Government. I would remind the Leader of the Government that last session Senator Bolton was refused an extension of time on the adjournment of the House, and last week another honorable senator was allowed that concession. That is making fish of one and flesh of another. I do not intend to vote away my rights and privileges, and thus place myself in the hands of the Senate for the time being. The restricting of honorable senators to speeches of a quarter of an hour on any one clause when Bills are in the Committee stage is an objectionable proposal, and I remind the Leader of the Government that even in another place they have greater privileges.
– They go further there; they have the guillotine.
– Their Standing Orders provide that in Committee an honorable member may make two speeches ofhalf-an-hour.
– Do you ignore the guillotine ?
– I remind the Leader of the Government that we have had, and are going to have, Bills brought before this Chamber, in connexion with which most of the work has been, and will be, done during the Committee stage. We may have one clause which is vital and pivotal, and we are asked to pass a standing order which confines honorable senators to two speeches of a quarter of an hour each on that particular clause.
– It would be better to give honorable senators the opportunity of speaking six times for five minutes.
– Exactly. We are such a small Chamber, and have had so much time in the past for our legislative duties, that we have not suffered specially. With the exception of the instance Ihave mentioned, I do not think there has been an occasion on which a speech has been unnecessarily long, and I do not think the Senate should be penalized for that one instance.
– Do you say “penalized?”
– I do. The honorable senator suggests that it is not penalizing members when their time is restricted; but we are all concerned in maintaining the rights and privileges at present enjoyed ‘by honorable senators in this Chamber. It has never been necessary to introduce such a standing order as this in the past.
– You speak with two years’ experience, and I speak with eighteen.
– At all events, such a standing order has never been suggested before. We do not want such a drastic standing order. I am prepared to support the prevention of speeches of unreasonable length, and will go so far as to support the limitation of second-reading speeches to one hour and a half, but no limitation in Committee. I would prefer to see a standing order introduced to prevent an honorable senator speaking at undue length, but only on a vote of the Senate. I believe the Senate, in its wisdom, is the best judge as to when a speaker should he stopped. There have been occasions when senators have spoken for two or three hours, and by giving a good deal of attention to the analytical side of the measure under discussion, ‘have added considerably to the value of the debate by continuing. I strongly object to honorable senators’ time being limited unless they go “ over the odds.” I ask honorable senators to very carefully consider what they are doing now ; otherwise, we are likely to be held up to obloquy and derision. Last week I heard one honorable senator say that thisChamber sat only eight hours during the last month.
– I am informed that Viscount Jellicoe is present, and propose, with the concurrence of the Senate, to invite him to take a seat beside me.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– Preferably I think a standing order should be brought into limit members’ speeches on the vote of the Senate; in other words, that the question be “now put,” if a member is going over the odds. If that is not satisfactory to a majority of honorable senators, I would strongly urge that the time limits included in the new standing order be very radically extended in view of the small number of senators, and the precedents of the past. Anything we do now may be a boomerang in the future, and we should be careful in restricting our rights and privileges, because we have responsibilities to our constituents, and I can quite conceive that standing orders such as this might prevent even a reasonableand fair review of business bef ore this Chamber. I regret that in its present form I must oppose the motion.
– Senator Pratten has spoken as if this were a proposal submitted in the interests of the Government. It is not so. Personally I am in favour of some limitation upon that freedom which senators have hitherto enjoyed, but this proposition, although submitted by myself, was submitted as the result of a somewhat general expression of opinion on the part of those sitting on this side of the Chamber that the Senate should follow the example set by most other Legislatures, and include in its Standing Orders some provision, not to secure an interference with the rights of senators, but to conserve the rights of those senators who to-day have their liberty interfered with by the extent to which others occupy the time of the Senate. It is obvious on the face of it that this is an innovation, but I do not know that because it is an innovation a Chamber of this character should necessarily turn and flee from it. The point is whether it is a good, or a bad innovation.
– A very bad one.
– There again, through my political luck, I find myself at variance with the honorable senator opposite. I want honorable senators to judge this question in this way: Will the adoption of this standing order lead to the more effective discharge of our individual duties? That ought to be the test. We may learn a little from the experience of other parliamentary Chambers. Let me remind honorable senators of the limits which many other Houses have imposed, upon the loquacity of their members. In Queensland the maximum time allowed is forty minutes.
– What is the number of members ?
– I cannot speak from experience, but my knowledge of that House leads, me to think it is very much larger than it ought to be. Victoria allows forty-five minutes; NewZealand, thirty’ minutes; the United’ States of America, sixty minutes, and- the. House of Representatives in this Parliament sixty-five minutes. Senator Pratten’s reference to the number of members suggests that we- should be judged by the length rather than the quality of our speeches-. A speech is of the same value whether it is delivered to thirty-six members or to a House of double that number… In Committee, the United States Legislature allows an honorable member only five minutes.
– How many times?
– Twice only.
– They have a system of referring to Committees, and the Committees have already made up their minds.
– We do very little here without referring to Committees.
– I mean Committees of the House outside the Chamber.
– I am sure that no question comes before this Chamber upon which Senator Pratten has not made up his mind beforehand, so that there is no difference in the two cases. In Victoria, two periods of thirty minutes each are allowed in Committee; in New Zealand, four periods of ten minutes ; and -in the House of Representatives of this Parliament, two periods of thirty minutes. In addition, our House of Representatives, the British House of Commons, and certain other Legislatures, have the guillotine, or its equivalent.
– What are the limitations in the House of Lords?
– So far as I know, physical weariness imposes the only limitation there. When honorable senators attempt to draw a comparison with the longer periods, allowed in Committee in other Houses, I would impress on them, that those Chambers have behind them all the time the shadow of the guillotine. It does not make any difference to the business of a House how long an individual member speaks, if the- House has determined beforehand that the whole debate shall, terminate at a- given hour of the clock. That is. the most drastic interference with the rights of individuals ever, adopted.. This proposal, does not interfere with the rights of- individuals; but it apportions the right and. opportunity of debate- amongst members generally. Under the present system,, it can happen, and has happened;, that because of the undue, measure of time which one member has taken, others have been denied the opportunity to- speak. That is a common experience.
– It is very rare. It. happened only once, and that was on tobacco.
– It is idle to say that it has happened only once, because a protest arose only on that one occasion. I appeal to the experience of honorable senators who, like myself, have enjoyed the privilege of membership . for many years, to say whether there have not been dozens of occasions.
– Senator Keating, as one of the original members of the Chamber, knows that on scores of occasions he, myself, and others have felt it impossible, owing to the length to which fi debate has been drawn out by an individual member, or two or three members, to get an opportunity to speak. It is idle to say that such a provision as this will interfere with our rights. It will secure us our rights by securing the opportunity now denied to us owing to the unfair consumption of time by certain individuals. We have in our Standing Orders a provision known as the “ gag.” I do not know anything which, in its present form, is so lacking in the elements of fail lie.*0 as that is. It is an undoubted interference with the rights of senators, because the moment one member sits down, and the “ gag “ is moved, it cuts out everybody else. Under it, one member may have spoken for eight or ten hours, and then the Senate, in a fit of irritation or weariness, adopts the “gag.”
– What would be the application of that standing order if this new one were adopted ?
– Unless the Senate took some action, it would still stand. Unfortunately, it is a “gag,” not on the man who has spoken, but on the men who have not spoken. The proposal now before us assumes, first of all, that it is possible, in modern debate and under normal conditions, for a member to express himself adequately within a period of sixty minutes, the Senate having the right to- extend that period if it likes, while on more important questions the period is fixed at ninety minutes. The limitation of individual speeches will undoubtedly multiply the opportunities for other honorable senators.
– If the “gag” provision were used.
– It’ has been used on only one or two occasions in eighteen years.
– It was used on several occasions.
– It ought to have been, but there is a disinclination on the part of honor-able senators, irrespective of the side on which they sit, to utilize that provision, because of its personal application. But I submit that it is entirely fair that there ‘should be some limitation upon speeches. If an honorable senator desires an extension of time, he may secure this privilege, but this does not impair the value of the principle that some period should be laid down beyond which an honorable senator may not have the opportunity of continuing without the express sanction of the Senate. This will insure to other honorable senators a reason able opportunity of doing their duty to their constituents. I am not at all wedded - at least, not beyond the limits of divorce - to the times set out in the motion ; but I stand firmly upon, the principle, and it seems to me that one hour, and on special occasions one hour ‘and a half, will enable an honorable senator to bring forward any matter which may be in his mind. An hour is ample time for any honorable senator, in a modern debating assembly, to speak upon . any subject.
– If every honorable senator is allowed that period of time.
– If the -honorable senator means that he can secure what he is suggesting by defeating the motion–
– The Minister may be misunderstanding me. I have not yet spoken on this subject.
– No ; but the honorable senator has a happy knack of projecting, like a shadow, what is in his mind. I do not like the “ gag “ provision of our Standing Orders, and I should like to see some amendment made. The proposal contained in the motion is reasonable, -and in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred it will be found that the time allowed is quite sufficient. Very few honorable senators, I am glad to say, require more than that time, and, as I have already pointed out, on special occasions the Senate may authorize a 50 per cent, increase upon that allowance, if the speech is of sufficient interest, or, what might be equally important, if the honorable senator speaking is addressing himself to a subject with such ‘ability as to make the Senate desire him to continue. The motion is ample for the ordinary purposes of debate. With regard to the debates in Committee, I sub- mit, with all deference to the Standing Orders Committee, that the provisions of the proposed new standing order might he liberalized a little, and I am quite willing to join’ with the other honorable senators in amending it in this direction. What I regard as a fair working compromise would be to allow an honorable senator, speaking in Committee, half-an-hour on the first occasion, and fifteen minutes on a subsequent occasion. It may be thought by some honorable senators that this will limit them to .three-quarters of an hour upon any one subject.
– In Committee.
– It would not so limit them in that way. It would mean that they could sneak for three-quarters of an hour upon a single question, and, as a Bill in Committee is put clause by clause, and as the various phases of a Bill are not contained in one clause, but are covered by many, honorable senators would have ample opportunities of speaking upon all the major principles of a measure.
– That would not apply in -a Tariff debate, because an honorable senator would be able to speak only twice.
– The Tariff is excluded.
– The proposal is brought forward to meet the convenience of honorable senators, and to- conserve their rights. Ministers have no interest in this matter apart from their positions as individual members of this Chamber. If it is a little wearying for me to sit here for what might be regarded an unduly long period, it is equally inconvenient for other honorable senators; but, if senators feel disposed to run the risks, the Government will somehow or other manage to do likewise. I submit that we should bring this Chamber more into conformity with the working principles that have ‘been adopted by Legislatures elsewhere, and in that spirit I commend the motion to the consideration of honorable senators.
– I have been waiting to hear some reasons for the introduc tion of this motion to amend the Standing Orders which have served so effectively for eighteen years, and I have not heard one. The motion suggests that some honorable senators imagine it to be a hardship to be obliged to listen to the expression, at length, of views with which they do not agree. What is the position in this Senate ? I venture to say that honorable senators have not been sitting an average of eight hours per week since the resumption after the long recess, and yet during that time we have passed five measures. The conduct of business in every Parliament depends upon the capacity of its members, and, as far as this Government are concerned, if they pass this motion, and endeavour to run the Senate to a time-table, then we shall hold them to it - no more and no less. Speaking for myself, I am not very much concerned whether we shall have an opportunity of speaking at all this session. We all know what is in the minds of honorable senators opposite. The feeling which has actuated them is the same as that .which is creating all this industrial unrest. They intend to achieve their purpose by direct action.
– Talking is not the test of ability.
– We were sent here to debate. That is the way in which our business is conducted.
– But not to read the whole of the electoral rolls.
– How many measures were passed through Parliament last session ? No serious attempt was made to prevent the Government from passing them, but when the Government jerrymandered a by-election by introducing an amending Electoral Bill after 10 o’clock at night - and by moving the suspension of the Standing Orders so that it might be the law of the land without the people knowing anything about it, because at that hour the newspaper reporters had closed their parliamentary reports - I used all the powers conferred upon me by the Standing Orders to prevent what I regarded as a grossly unfair use of power, and I did prevent the measure from passing that night.
– And you also prevented other honorable senators from moving amendments to the Bill.
– The Government prevented honorable senators from doing that.
– That was one incident of the tactics of this Government, and this proposed amendment of the Standing Orders arises from a desire on the part of honorable senators opposite to bring direct action to bear upon honorable senators on this side. They have become so irritable that they cannot tolerate adverse comments, and so have become lost to all sense of decency in debate. What few remarks I have to make in this Senateareso impairedby interjection’s that in one speech of seventy-three minutes’ duration I had a record of 138 interjections, thirty-eight of -which came from Senator Millen, while Senator de Largie ran him very closely with thirty-two. If there is a desire on the part of honorable senators supporting the Government to be fair - but I know there is not - they should make some pretence at fairness. It is proposed to allow an honorable senator sixty minutes for the expression of his views upon a Bill. How will this provision affect certain measures that areto be introduced ? I venture to say that in the Commonwealth Activities Bill about to be dealt with there are three subjects upon which any honorable senator could spend at least three hours, and then not exhaust all the material at his disposal.
– Quite true.
– The truth is, Government supporters do not want to hear any discussion by men who have prepared themselves to deal with any particular question. They simply want to come here, register their presence, have measures passed, and then go home again feeling satisfied that they have fully earned the money expended in keeping them in their places. The Bill which this motion anticipates will, under this new standing order, not be sufficiently debated. Honorable senators who care to do so should have an opportunity of analyzing the working of the various Pools, and this subject will open up a wide field for the discussion ofthe constitutional powers of this Parliament. I can quite understand that, to some honorable senators who do not take the trouble to go into these questions, sixty minutes will suffice, but, as far as I am concerned, if this time limit is imposed I shall not attempt to express my views on important subjects, as experience has shown that my speech is so much interfered with by unruly interjections, which Mr. President never calls to order, that I shall find it impossible to do so.
– That should be an argument for the Senate to pass the motion.
– I knew, when the Minister introduced the motion, that it was the “ end of the section “ for this measure. I say that the Bill, for which we have been waiting, should be fully discussed, because of its effects upon the collective bargaining of the Commonwealth in the produce of this country. Unfortunately, if this standing order be adopted, we shall be debarred from doing that. Take wheat as an illustration. We should know all the circumstances in the operation of the Wheat Pool. The same may be said of sugar. For those honorable senators who care to prepare for this debate, sixty minutes will not be sufficient to deal with questions of such magnitude. If some honorable senators find this time sufficient, all I can say is that I envy them their capacity for condensation. The whole of the business of the Senate for eighteen years past has been conducted without unreasonable delays. There may have been the occasional inconvenience of an all-night sitting; but such exigencies are not peculiar to any one Parliament. When feeling upon the floor of a chamber runs high, there are no standing orders in existence, orlikely to be framed, which will enforce the despatch of business. At some time in the near future, when honorable senators opposite are seated upon this side of the chamber - or, that is to say, the remnants of them - and I am seated on the other side, together with a following amounting to double the number beside me today, -I shallbe found just as staunch a champion of the rights of minorities as honorable senatorsopposite, in their tyrannical frame of mind, are eager to squelchthe rights of minorities. Asa matter of fact, the tactics disclosed today furnish merely another instance of the go-slow policy”. The Nationalist members in this Chamber either will not attend to the business of the country in regard to which they have been sent here, or they will not trouble to prepare speeches to enlighten the people; and they will not even listen to those honorable senators who have gone to the trouble of preparing remarks.
– We listened to you for ten or eleven hours one night.
– Yes, and I may remind honorable senators that I carried out my intentions upon thatoccasion. But I ask that this new standing order shall not be dealt with as though it had been framed solely to have regard to myself. I say it bluntly, that no measure of business hereafter will go through the Senate as formal if any objection that I may take can prevent such procedure. There will be no stage of a Bill which will not be discussed to the full extent which the Standing Orders may permit. I ask honorable senators to recall any one of the five measures which have been passed so far this session. If the threatened new standing order is introduced, what will happen? If the honorable senator whom the new standing order is designed to prevent from speaking for five hours upon any one subject should take it into his head to talk for an hour upon each of six other subjects, will that have the effect of expediting the business of the Senate? The truth is that the business of this Chamber does not require further expedition. The death-knell of the Senate was rung at the recent Inter-State Labour Conference, when the delegates came to the conclusion that this Chamber must be wiped out of existence. That was the end of the Senate, although its demise may be deferred some little time longer.
– There are enough honorable senators opposite to prevent that from taking place.
– Knowing as I do that the existence of the Senate is limited, I would like it to depart from the pages of history with some show of credit. If for eighteen years the Stand ing’ Orders have not prevented the business of the Government from being satisfactorily pushed forward, why must there be a change now? Senator Millen admitted that thisproposed new standing order is not a Government proposal. The Government are not dissatisfied with the manner in which their business has been expedited.
-.- They are dissatisfied with the way in which some honorable senators have conducted the business, though.
– I am quite sure they are. The Government desire to avoid that criticism which this new standing order will very largely assist them to dodge.
– We would like to avoid the infliction of the electoral rolls being read in this Chamber.
SenatorO’Keefe. - You admit, then, that this standing order is aimed at Senator Gardiner?
– No, not at one honorable senator, but at one practice.
– That is an admission that this is only a display of vindictiveness against Senator Gardiner.
– I object to Senator O’Keefe endeavouring to make out that the Government are prompted by vindictiveness against me.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister confirms that. I assure him - as he very well knows - that I have never been a stumbling block to the conduct of the real business of the Senate. But there is a difference between assisting the Government in the conduct of their legitimate business and permitting them to carry measures in an illegitimate manner. The whole test of this motion should be whether there is need for the proposed change. The Senate met on the 25th June, and for three weeks - I think I am right in saying - we did not sit three hours a week. I do not complain that that was due to the Government. In the earlier stages of a session, and in the initial development of business, there are always occasions when time is frittered away in a manner likely to irritate some honorable senators; but when we settle down to real business, and measures of public interest arebefore us, time is not frittered away. I challenge any honorable senator topoint to any occasion where discussions in. ‘Committee have been the means of deliberately wasting time - when Committee debates have ever been conducted for “stone-walling” purposes. What will happen now, however? Nationalist senators pay very little attention to amyhonorablesenator who may he speaking from this side of the chamber.
– That is not fair.
– It is not often, indeed, that honorable senators opposite are even in their places to listen to addresses from this side. I have attempted to address the Senate more than once this session when a sufficient number of Nationalist members could not be secured to form a quorum. Upon one occasion I was addressing the Senate in regard to a very important subject when sufficient members of the Senate could not be ‘brought together to keep a House. The bells were rung, and the Senate had tobe counted out because of the lack of attention on the part of honorable senators opposite to the business of the country.
– Rather, it was lack of attention to the honorable senator’s speech.
– That was not so. The hour to which I am referring was shortly before 10 p.m. Honorable senators had been worked in an arduous fashion from 2 o’clock in the afternoon !
– By Senator Gardiner.
– By the business of the country. However, ‘I see the light now. The seamen’s strike is on. The seamen . want to secure better conditions. Senators are on strike; they desire to secure pleasanter conditions of employment. If there is not a strike here, there is apreliminary go-slow policy. Honorable senators have’ their minds fixed upon the arduous nature of their duties. Instead of meeting at 3 o’clock and occasionally having to sit right up to 9.30 p.m., they (prefer , to finish their business before the dinner hour, so that they may have their nights to themselves. That is the reason for this new standing order. Honorable senatorsare irritated at having to come here at all. Having remained in the Senate on one day for five hours - during which they adjourned for one and a half hours in order to partake of dinner - they now complain of the severe strain of their public duties.
SenatorSenior - When you talk sense I usually listen to you.
– On reference to Ilansard, I am pretty certain that it will be discovered that Senator Senior has been in his place upon practically every occasion when I have felt it my duty to address the Senate. It stands to reason, therefore, that my remarks have always been sensible.
I know the purpose of this proposed new standing order. There is an important measure due for discussion this week. I am aware that Senator Pratten has given much consideration to it, and that, if he were allowed the necessary time, he would probably be able to make a speech worthy of the attention which he has devoted to the subject. That, however would not suit honorable senators. They are going to stop him; and if Senator Senior will not accept that as the reason for this proposed new standing order, I will provide him with the additional information that a fortnight ago I informed Senator Pratten of the intentions of honorable senators, and I added that he was welcome to speak before me if he. desired to get his speech “ in.” The Government desire to push the measure in question without that discussion which would make known their purposes to the public.
– I do not believe the Government, of their own volition, have taken amy action in this matter at all.
– Their votes will show what action they intend to take, and so will the votes of honorable senators generally.
– What is the use of making these charges when the honorable senator knows that they are not correct?
SenatorGARDINER. - I think subsequent proceedings will show whether they are or not. I would like the Standing Orders Committee to frame a new order, by which an honorable senator shall be given an additional five minutes for every interruption by an interjector. If that were included among our Standing Orders, I believe I would be able to keep on speaking for all time.
– On your eleven-hour “ break “ we were too tired to inter ject.
-The Government have much important business in preparation. They are proposing to do a good many things in the nature of window dressing, in order to catch the favour of the electors at the great bargain sale to be held in a few months.
– The Government are not the only people Who want votes.
– The Government know full well that their windowdressing tactics would be interfered with if honorable senators on this side were given full opportunity to tell the public exactly the value of the goods exhibited in the window. Although the Government’s prices may be marked attractively, we know the true value of the goods displayed; and, naturally, it is to the interest of the Government that we should be prevented from telling the people the exact nature of the articles in the bargain-sales window. I have now given the absolute reason for the introduction ofthe new standing order. Honorable senators are to be permitted to speak for sixty minutes.
– Are you going to occupy your full sixty minutes now? If you are, we shall lay our plans accordingly.
– The length of my speech depends upon the number of interjections. I assure Senator Bakhap that I would not be able to continue for another five minutes if he and other honorable senators opposite were to cease from interjecting.
I appeal to honorable senatorsnot to agree to the proposed limitation of discussion in Committee.
– Hear, hear! Grant us the general restriction and we will amend the motion with respect to work in Committee.
– So far as Committee debate is concerned, one honorable senator may have peculiar knowledge and particular information whereby his remarks upon a clause of a Bill may be considered of special value. If he exhausts his full time without being able to state all the facts within his knowledge, it may be unfortunate for the business of the country. The full value of our work in legislating cannot be obtained if our time is limited, and that should not be. When measures have been under discussion in Committee, I have known senators, who do not speak frequently, who, by perhaps saying, two or three words, have altered the whole tone of the debate, and have given a new trend of thought concerning the matter under review.
SenatorKeating. - And have completely altered the outlook.
– Yes, and com- . pletely changed the attitude of the Government. I am not in favour of altering systems that for years have proved themselves of value. The only change I would like in the Senate would be one that would leave the business of the Senate to the good sense of its members.
– You never object to the suspension of the Standing Orders?
– There would be no Standing Orders to suspend if the business of the Senate depended upon the good sense of the senators. Left to their own responsibility, and without a President endeavouring to thwart the speaker by saying the discussion was outside the Standing Orders, matters would proceed smoothly. When honorable senators rise to a , point of order, speakers are frequently thrown right away from the question. If we had a session in which the debates depended upon the good sense of senators, instead of being curtailed by regulations or Standing Orders, this Senate would reach the plane that the framers of the Constitution intended.
– Have you ever advocated or supported such a system at vour party conferences?
– No ; because our conferences are composed of men who give their services without fee or reward, and have only a week or so in whichin rush their business through.
– Let us be a law unto ourselves, like the House of Lords.
– Our conferences are composed of busy men who do parliamentary work. They arrange our party legislation, and after fulfilling their duties in the evening have to be at their work next morning in order to keep their families going.
– To what party are you referring ?
– I am referring to the Labour party, and our conferences are really the parliament of Labour.
– There are three of them in New South Wales. Which one do you mean?
– That has no bearing on the matter. The moment the Senate passes this restrictive measure, it will undoubtedly set a standard that is altogether unreasonable and undesirable. There is no excuse for saying that the business of Parliament in the past has been interfered with. I remember Senator Earle, when he had not been in the Senate very long, speaking for four and a-half hours.
– And for three hours he was reading matter.
– I do not want to comment on the manner in which he delivered his speech, but on the time he occupied. I thinkI am correct in saying that he spoke for four and a-half hours, but he did not irritate me in the slightest.
– How long were you in the chamber during that particular speech?
– I believe, during the whole of it.
– That shows, that it is not a party question.
– It. does not show anything of the kind. A moderateminded man, such as Senator Earle, who has not had many years experience in this Chamber, found it necessary to occupy over four hours in one effort. An honorable senator could not have made such an effort unless he had prepared for it. In dealing with the measures that are brought before us, we have to consider them under different headings, and have first to give consideration to their constitutional aspect. If only an hour is allowed for discussion on the secondreading stage we cannot deal with the various provisions of a Bill in the manner we should.. The time for lengthy speeches is rapidly passing away.
– Not as quickly as. it should.
– I can quite understand the interjection of the Government Whip, because about a month ago Senator de Largie’s interjections kept me speaking until 6.30 p.m. Some one said that he was interjecting to prevent Senator Fairbairn from speaking, as the Government were afraid of a drubbing. That was a move on the part of the Government Whip, and prevented criticism from the Government side of the Senate of the measure then under discussion.
– That is a pure invention.
– This standing order is brought before the Senate in order to prevent a full discussion on an. important Bill that has been introduced. . So far as saving time is concerned, it is like cutting a piece off one end of a blanket and. sewing it on to the other to make it longer. A full debate on the second reading of a Bill often saves hours when the measure is in Committee.
-Do you not think an honorable senator can explain himself in Committee in half-an-hour?
– It depends on the capacity of the speaker. One man, who may be like Senator Reid, whose views are narrow, can say what he wishes in five minutes, and another may take considerably longer. It is often necessary, in discussing the Bills that come before us, to refer to similar legislation in other parts of the world, and to show what its effect has been. By a full discussion and investigation we are often able to enlarge upon its provisions. These are points that a deliberative assembly should consider.
– Too much jaw will sometimes kill a Bill.
– I have no doubt that jaw and Democracy are playing an important part at the present time. One can measure the value and quality of a Democracy onlyby the way in which its membersare tolerant or intolerant of others. A man who considers himself a Democrat, hut is not sufficiently tolerant to hear the views of others, is not a Democrat. He thinks, when he talks, that he speaks for the people, and, therefore nothing further need he said. I can quite understand SenatorReid taking up that attitude.
– I do not take up that attitude.
– There are other senators who hold other views, and we should carefully consider what we are doing before we record a vote to curtail our rights. In this Seuate there are the first, second, third, Committee, and report stages on which we can speak. I suppose that the standing order will give an honorable senator the opportunity of speaking for an hour on the second-reading stage, and that he will also have the opportunity of speaking for an hour on the report stage. If the new standing order is adopted, it will mean that, instead of a full debate taking place on the second reading of a Rill, honorable senators will deliver their speeches during four of the stages I have mentioned. Will anything be gained if that course is adopted?
– Has that not been arranged to give an opportunity for discussion ?
– The practice in the past has been to provoke discussion, and prevent legislation being rushed through. The whole trend in our parliamentary procedure during the past ten years has been to break away from the sound system of legislation that obtained in the New South Wales Parliament when I was a member, and, I believe, still obtains. In that Parliament members were impressed with the desirableness of following the practice in the House of Commons; and novel ideas received little consideration. The practice to-day seems to be to take a short cut, irrespective of the rights of minorities or of individuals, and to prevent the discussion of important measures at any length. Are the efforts ofthe Government interfered with in any way if the House sits all night, or if it should sit for eight hours a day once in three months ? We could discuss the question of the Standing Orders at great length, but I will leave it at that, first pointing out that no speaker has yet shown any valid reason why a change should be made. I challenge any speaker to show when the whole business of a session has been materially interfered with in this or the other House. The disposition of the Opposition to meet the Government, and of the Government to meet the Opposition, and that genius for parliamentary institutions which we in Australia possess, have made our parliamentary institutions workable under conditions which, if the good-will between the two sides were wiped out, would make them impossible. I place a very high value on our parliamentary institutions, and, as one perhaps more closely in touch with advanced outside thought than some honorable senators are, I say that the struggle going on at present in our community is between those who believe in constitutional parliamentary precedure and those who imagine that some other means, such as direct action or force, is a more effective way of getting what they want. We here should not give a striking illustration of the uselessness of Parliament by making it impossible for honorable senators with large views on questions to prepare anything like an adequate speech to deal with them. It is quite impossible to deal in one hour with many of the big questions which come before us. It sometimes happens that a Bill containing 200 clauses comes before us, and in those clauses as many as twenty distinct principles may be involved. On the second-reading stage we cannot deal with the measure in detail, but we can foresha’dow the Committee stage, and the alterations that are necessary. If one started to do that, he might get through three or four of those principles in the sixty minutes allotted. I can quite understand that there are types of men who can put their points much more quickly than others; but compare the length of speeches here with the length of addresses by counsel in the Courts of law.
– And on threeandsixpenny cases at that.
– Exactly; on matters that affect only one or two individuals, and are not of a tithe of the importance of the questions with which we have to deal. A speech extending over hours, and even days, is quite common before a bench, of Judges, merely arguing the hard, dry facts of law. If on one particular reading of one particular clause which we have passed, the barristerial brains of this country can argue for hours without being tedious - although, perhaps, annoying’ to opposing counsel, and irksome to some Judge who has already made up his mind - on what grounds can the proposal now before us be justified ? What would honorable senators think if legislation were introduced to provide that no barrister shall discuss a point for more than one hour ? I venture to say that it would be opposed by all those who want to curtail speeches here to one hour on the ground that it is a waste of time to discuss any question at greater length. We ought to discuss the legislation that comes before us from the view-POint of its possible effect upon the community, and the more time we give to that task, providing we do our work conscientiously, the better for all concerned. This is an occasion on which I would say to honorable senators, “ Make haste slowly.” We are dealing with a revolutionary alteration of the procedure of this Parliament. Our procedure, I believe, follows closely that of the House of Commons. I am not a man who professes a large admiration for everything British, but I do admire British, parliamentary institutions, and the fact that for centuries they have placed the people’s welfare before all else. For centuries they have made it possible for the rights of the community to be preserved by the House of Commons. I suppose under our ‘ Constitution, in a country as near to Democracy as Australia is, the Senate can well call itself the counterpart of the House of Lords. It is a House of. review, where the work of the Commons - using that word in its proudest sense - can be reviewed by a select few. After all, we are very few here. When honorable senators talk about allowing an hour here because only an hour is allowed iri another place, they should remember that another place has more than twice as many members as we have. Therefore, the opportunities of discussing ordinary questions, all things being equal, are -not half as great per member there as they are here. These things are . all worth taking into consideration. There may be haste, and there . may be anxiety in dealing with questions of this kind, or there may be some irritating features that will make an honorable member say, as I have heard it said, “ I would vote to close the Senate altogether.” I hope to be a member of the Senate sufficiently long to be able to vote for the Ordinance that will close this Senate altogether, but that will be when a brighter day dawns, on which a more intellectual people will say, “ We will have only one House of Parliament to conduct the business of this country.” Then the Senate will go out of existence; but, while it is in existence as the representative of the States, let us preserve its rights and privileges. It is worth remembering that we are asked to curtail the powers, rights, privileges, and liberties of the legislative Chamber which was called into existence under the Constitution purely and solely . to represent the States. The other House may speak for constituencies; .we speak here as the protectors and . preservers of the rights of individual States. Our constituency is, therefore, much larger, and the interests we have to deal with much broader. I. earnestly desire to express my honest conviction that the Senate should not ruthlessly pull to pieces the Standing Orders which have worked so smoothly and well for eighteen years, and put in their place a barbed-wire entanglement which is so harassing and annoying to one side of the Chamber. Remember that if the other party are on that side to-day, we shall be there to-morrow. There can be no doubt of that,-‘ in a Democracy balanced as this is. The change will soon come, and Mr. President will not he in the Senate long to see the working of the very measure which he is introducing to-day. He may see it working during the brief period left of this session, but after that he will be able to watch it from outside, because the electors will intervene at the next election. He will then see that thi3 new standing order lasted only during the remainder of the term of his presidency, and no longer. Introduced by him, it will not survive him by a fortnight when the new Senate meets.
– Then, I understand that you will rescind it if you get into power?
– I should think so. Imagine this Senate limiting its ow.tt powers of discussion when, under the present Government, it has the re- putation of meeting so infrequently, rom the 21st December to 25th June we never met at all. ‘Six solid months went by, and the Senate was never called to- - gather. Then, in a frantic frenzy to pretend that they are working, and that they are hampered in their work by long speeches, and prevented from looking after the country’s interests, no sooner do the Government get ‘here than they set about passing a new standing order, not because they know it is wanted, but because they protend it is wanted, and wish to make the people outside think that something is happening here which is not happening. So far as the relief to myself is concerned, I shall probably rejoice in the curtailment of debate more than most honorable senators. My position here, with the present Government party in opposition to me, has been a most difficult one. Never on one occasion have I addressed myself to amy question in the Senate without a continuous fire of unruly interjections from honorable senators opposite. If a new standing order is introduced, making our time very precious and limited, we shall certainly insist on the President making a pretence of keeping order. Whether he does it or not will be another question. If the Senate intends to carry the proposal, it will be wise to strike out the Committee part of it altogether. Personally, I favour striking out the whole lot. If honorable senators are anxious to make amendments, let them wipe out the whole of tlie Standing Orders, if they like, leaving the conduct of the business of the Senate to the common sense of each honorable senator. Saddled with that responsibility, we should get on with the business quite as rapidly as any one de sires, and the Senate would lift itself to a position in the public life of this country that would add fresh honours to those which it has already won.
– As one who occupies very little of the time of the Senate, I shall protest against the new standing order by my voice and vote. Senator Millen, when speaking in connexion with the proposed limitation in the. Committee stages, referred with a certain amount of reservation . to the House of Commons and the curtailment of debate there. There is no comparison between the two deliberative Chambers - the House of Commons and this Senate. The House of Commons has about 700 members, and sits for a greater portion of the year than the Senate does. If there was any reason for. the curtailment of debate, it would be in a body such as that, dealing with -legislation of such an important nature as the House of Commons has to consider. During the thirteen years that I -have been a senator, I have seen no occasion on which it was necessary to introduce so stringent a ‘standing order as this. The Minister himself admitted that it has been introduced because on one occasion last year a lengthy debate took place on a certain measure. There was then a desperate attempt on the part of the Government to do something wrong. and a desperate remedy was required to prevent them carrying out their intention. It has been truly said in this debate that six months elapsed between the day the Senate rose in December last year and the resumption of our sittings on 25th June. From the 25th June till now, if all the time were added together, we should find that the Senate has sat for scarcely more than fifteen or sixteen hours. This was not because of any opposition from this side of the chamber, but because the Government had no business to put before the -Senate, in spite of the fact that they read out a long list of measures which they said they wanted to put before us. The Senate, ex- cept as to money Bills, has co-equal powers with another place, and, therefore, there was no reason why the Government, if they were sincere in the statement they made on 25th June, could not have kept the Senate going with many of the measures indicated in their programme, if those measures had been prepared by their draftsman. The Government, however, were not sincere. They kept us idle for six months, and have also informed us that there is to be another adjournment in order to give Ministers the opportunity of having a little conversation with the returning Prime Minister. This is another proof of their insincerity so> far as legislation is concerned. Now it is proposed to limit the time that a member may address himself to any matter that comes before the Senate. It is a most ridiculous and unnecessary innovation. Nothing that has happened in the Senate since I have been here justifies the motion. So far, I have been dealing with the proposal as affecting debate in the Senate : I now come to the proposal as related to the Committee stages of measures, and I intend to move for the deletion of that portion of the proposed standing order. Every honorable senator knows that a Bill is actually moulded in Committee.
– It ought to be.
– Invariably it is reconstructed, and, on some occasions, when it emerges from Committee, it is hardly recognisable by the Minister who introduced it. It will be impossible to seriously debate a Bill in Committee if the proposed limitation be adopted. Senator Gardiner has already pointed out that there are only thirty-six members of this Chamber as against seventyfive in another place, so why should we be placed in the same category as honorable members elsewhere, so far as the length of time allotted to honorable senators is concerned ? Important legislation that has been sent here from another place has been disposed of more quickly, and, I venture to say, just as intelligently. I realize, however, that it is not of much use speaking at length on this subject, because, no doubt, honorable senators have made up their minds.
– You do not know that. Make a practical suggestion, and you will see.
– I am going to vote against the motion as a whole, and I move -
That paragraph 2 of the proposed standing Order be left out.
– I am not at all enamoured of the proposals contained in the motion. It is quite, possible that I have occupied more time on a particular subject than will be allowed to me under this proposed new standing order, but I think I may be freed from any charge of unduly delaying the Senate. At all events, I have endeavoured not to weary honorable sena- tors. If we are to do our duty, we shall require more time than is provided for in the motion now before the Committee.
– Hear, hear !
Senior SENIOR. - No honorable senator should be under an obligation to ask for an extension of time. Our Standing Orders should provide every opportunity for the discussion of any matter, rather than means to limit debate. Senator Gardiner has referred to the stages already provided for the discussion of any particular measure. Apparently he forgot that the motion to introduce a Bill is another. That shows clearly that it was the intention of the framers of our Standing Orders to allow the fullest discussion of any measure that might come before this Chamber. They were not designed to foster loquacity on the part of any honorable senator. The Minister, when speaking to the motion, referred to what had been done in other Legislatures. Such action may have been necessary elsewhere, but there are not so’ many .members of this Chamber. It cannot be said, save for the House of Commons, that subjects dealt with in other Legislatures are of more importance than those which come before the Senate of the Commonwealth, and if we are seised of the fact that the Senate is the custodian of the rights of the States as States, time occupied in the discussion of measures before this Chamber cannot with advantage be limited. If. we examine the. argument that there has been an abuse of the privileges allowed under our Standing Orders, it may be said that, with one or two exceptions, it cannot be sustained.
– And if there has been an abuse, probably it has been for the benefit of the country.
– As my honorable friend has pointed out, even on those occasions when it might be said that there has been an abuse of our privileges, it is possible that the action taken has been of real benefit to the country. Honorable senators must consider the importance of measures that come up for consideration. We are not here as members of a corporation of a glorified district council, but as one branch of a National Legislature, and we should have ample time for deliberation. There should be no attempt to curtail our rights as individual senators.
– Nor the people’s rights.
– Nor thepeople’s rights either. But I am speaking of our individual rights. On more than one occasion we have had reason to complain that not sufficient time was allowed for the discussion of a particular measure, and now it is proposed to place a limit upon honorable senators for the whole of a session.
– Even when we may have time for debate.
– Yes. Under this proposed new standing order we shall not be allowed time for debate, even in the beginning of a session, when the pressure of business is invariably light. The introduction of the motion ill-becomes those who may be regarded as trustees of the suffrages of the people, because by their own action they confess that the exercise of this limiting power is not required. We should do ourutmost to strengthen the Senate as one branch of the Commonwealth Legislature, and I am more surprised - I deeply regret - that a motion of this kind should even have been suggested. I do not agree with Senator Gardiner that it has been introduced for the purpose of facilitating the passage of a particular measure which will shortly come before us.
– It is nothing new for a Legislature to curtail the privileges of its members.
– And there, is nothing original in imitating what some other Legislature ‘ has done. The suggestion contained in the motion is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and is certainly not in the best interests of measures which will be brought before us in the near future. We are facing a new era as a nation, and our legislation should be on a higher plane. It is essential, therefore, that we should have ample opportunity for debate. The motion, in my judgment, is a retrograde step, and I am entirely against it. Referring to Committee work, I have always held that a Bill isreally made during the Committee stages, and that if discussed at all, it should be minutely examined in Committee. It is absurd to say that any honorable senator shall not be allowed to speakmore than half-an-hour in Committee upon any subject. We might as well confess that we have lost our intelligence.
– Or that the Senate is a failure !
– Well, I am not prepared to agree to eitherproposition. I am ready at all times to listen to debate, to be silent when silence is the better course, and to speak when speech appears to be necessary. . I am prepared to speak as fully and exhaustively as my knowledge and intelligence may permit. There has been no proof of need for such a change in our Standing Orders as is now proposed. I know that some honorable senators have occupied more time than the periods set out in the new standing order, but that time has frequently been employed to the advantage of the Senate and the country. If I voted for the motion I would be stultifying my own general course of action. We are asked to agree to a new standing order which is without justification. Therefore, I shall strongly oppose it.
– I have listened with great interest to the discussion. There seems to have been very little, if any, argument offeredagainst the principle of the limitation of speeches. Senator Senior took the view that honorable senators were likely to be deprived individually and collectively of some rights which they should not only enjoy, but should always exercise. He spoke of the legislative exigencies which will arise in these days, and of the need for full and careful discussion of post-war legislation. He foreshadowed the nature of future enactments, and deprecated any limitation upon the consideration of such grave national measures as may shortly come before us. The new standing order is not intended, however, to abridge or prevent full consideration of any piece of legislation, but to more appropriately and more fairly allot the time expended upon it.
– If there is any strength in that argument, every honorable senator should speak to the full limit of his allowance.
– Certainly not! Experience has revealed that though the Senate may sit for only eight hours in a week, one honorable senator may occupy six of those eight hours.
– He has every light to do so.
– Under present circumstances he has every right.
– Other honorable senators may take six hours, too.
– That cannot be so, because six and six would exceed that full period of eight hours. If we were to sit for four days a week, instead of three as generally at present, we would still have no greater amount of time in which to give consideration to matters coming before the Senate.We are all limited by time. Seeing that we are collectively limited, are we to impose individual limitations? If we do not, we shall be in a position where an individual, or two or three honorable senators, may appropriate practically the whole of the time available for the deliberate purpose of obstructing and preventing on the part of other honorable senators full and proper consideration of a specific subject.
– How often has thatoccurred during your nineteen years’ experience here?
– Frequently ! Honorable senators have addressed the Senate at inordinate length upon matters of comparative unimportance in order that other honorable senators,who are waiting to address themselves to matters which actually are of importance, may have their patience so exhausted that at last they will be compelled to retire from the precincts of the Senate.
– The question arises, then, who is the judge of the importance of a subject.
– The whole of the Senate is the judge.
– No ; the honorable senator himself.
– Unfortunately, under present conditions the individual senator is the judge of the importance or otherwise of a subject; and, unfortunately again, it is left also to the individual, if he is disposed to be selfish or vindictive, to take advantage of his opportunities - to the complete shutting out of all expression of opinion by his fellow members.
– And this is a vindictive standing order.
– It is not. It will, at any rate, extend equality to all honorable senators.
– Can you mention one case where an honorable senator has been deprived of speaking because of the inordinate length of time occupied by another honorable senator?
– There are many instances, of course, but there is no need to indulge in personal illustrations. We all know of them, and need mention no names. We may not mention them on the floor of this chamber; but what is the use of saying that there are no such instances when; immediately we are on the other side of those folding doors, we do actually discuss cases of the kind among ourselves? Time has been wasted, and time is inevitably wasted in all deliberative assemblies, unless there is someregulation, some limitation of the timewhich may be occupied by individual members. The circumstance that there are rules for the limitation of the discussion of various subjects is no reflection upon the deliberative assembly concerned. Such rules and regulations are so common among legislative bodies throughout the world that the fact is taken in no sense- as a reflection upon individual members. Indeed, they are regarded in the light of machinery for the ordinary guidance of members and the due and reasonable despatch of business. The principle of the limitation of speeches is intended to insure the full and proper discussion, of all matters which may be introduced. If only a day, or two or three days, can be granted for the discussion of a specific measure, and there are two or three members who seek to block that measure, there is nothing to prevent them from doing so, as the Senate to-day is situated. At any rate, if those honorable senators do not absolutely block the matter under discussion they are free to occupy so much of the time as to exclude from consideration anything that may have been noted for remark by other honorable senators. That sort of thing has occurred in the Senate repeatedly.
The proposed new standing order states -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour at a time in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate on the AddressinReply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving. the second reading of a Bill, he shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a half.
I have nothing with which to quarrel so far as those terms are concerned. Other honorable senators may find fault with them. It is a matter for the exercise of individual judgment. The second portion of the first paragraph reads -
Any senator may move that the limit of one hour or of one hour and a half may be extended for thirty minutes.
What does that mean ? A motion for the adoption of the report of the Standing Orders Committee has been proposed. In discussing the motion, is it competent for any honorable senator to do more than indicate his agreement with, or objection to, the motion ? Can we enter into an analysis of the provisions of the new standing order, and may we move for its amendment in any manner?
-(Senator Newland). - The proposed new Standing order may be amended.
– Then, what exactly is meant by the following: -
Any senator may move that the limit of one hour or one hour and a half may be extended for thirty minutes. . . .
Does that, mean that an honorable senator who is speaking, and has exhausted the time allotted to him, may move that his time be extended ? Or is he dependent upon some other honorable senator moving thus on his behalf ?
– The usual procedure will be that, at his request, permission for an extension of time will be granted an- honorable senator who is speaking.
– When we are drawing up a new standing order of this character, it should be made abundantly clear what is -meant by the extension of time. If it were to read, “Any honorable senator may move that the limit of on? hour or of one hour and a half for any other honorable senator may be extended for thirty minutes,” I could at least understand it.
– The insertion of the word “other” between “any” and “ senator “ would get over that difficulty.
– That is so. It is obvious that the question would arise whether an honorable senator himself could say, “ I have some further remarks to make, and I move that I be allowed to make them.” It might well be argued that the honorable senator had no right so to move.
– Do you suggest that that paragraph be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee 1
– I shall come to that directly. In regard to the second part of the proposed new standing order, I strongly oppose limiting an honorable senator’s speeches in Committee to two, and confining such speeches to a quarter of an hour each. That allocation is very inappropriate. I have in mind a case when Senator Gardiner was a Minister, and there was only a small party in Opposition. The measure under discussion was a’ kind of standing dish for the Senate in times of legislative famine. It was called, I think, the Bankruptcy Bill. Consideration was being given to it in Committee, and it had been so discussed for considerable periods. At the stage to which I am now referring I had given notice of a series of amendments. The procedure was that I would move an amendment, and would perhaps occupy some three minutes in explaining my point. Senator Gardiner, as Minister in charge of the Bill, would occupy, say, two minutes. I would rejoin very briefly-
– Was that not a conversation rather than a debate ?
– It did amount almost to a conversation. Senator Senior may have taken part, and each of us may have spokensix or seven times without occupying an aggregate of a quarter of an hour. If we adopt this proposed standing order, however, that sort of procedure will not be permitted. As a matter of fact, when consideration is being given to a measure after the manner which I have just indicated, the Minister in charge is probably taking the opportunity to obtain a fair idea of the mind of the Senate generally. Different members may be discussing a particular item, and an honorable senator may speak four or five times without remaining on his feet in any instance more than about a minute. That method of debate is what may be described as real business. It is what the Americans call “getting down to tin tacks.” To limit honorable senators to two speeches, each to occupy not more than a quarter of an hour, would simply have the effect of throwing Committee debate back into the character of full Senate debate.
– That objection is emphasized in connexion with a Supply Bill, where a Minister can speak as often as he likes.
– Exactly . When on a Supply or an Appropriation Bill, an honorable senator may, in Committee, rise and ask for information about a particular item, and the Minister may furnish the information. The honorable senator may, perhaps, not have made himself quite clear, and may have to ask the Minister for further information.
– That position would be met by allowing honorable senators the opportunity of speaking as often as they desired,but limiting the time they spoke.
– In the aggregate?
– No. In Committee discussion they do not want the opportunity of making set speeches.
– No. I want to avoid set speeches.
– Your position would be met by allowing an honorable senator to speak as often as he desired, for a- certain, number of minutes at a. time.
– Exactly . I believe that in Committee, if there is to be a limitation, it should be as low as possible, so that the number of speeches may be as numerous, as necessary. The most effective Committee discussion is that of a conversational nature. If we are going to limit the two speeches in Committee to a quarter of an hour each, the Government will be encouraging the Committee to indulge in set speeches, and that is not the intention of the new standing order. An honorable senator will often rise and speak for a minute or a minute and a half; but if he sees other honorable senators speaking for ten, twelve, or fourteen minutes, he will not feel inclined to utter only two or three sentences. I do not think this aspect has been fully considered by the Standing Orders Committee. I intend to move later -
That the report be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee with a view to its further consideration generally in relation to Standing Order No. 431, and especially in relation to paragraph 2 of the report.
– Is standing order No. 431 the “ gag ”?
– Yes. Paragraph 2 proposes a limitation of the speeches in Committee. Standing order 431 reads -
The following motions are not open to debate, shall be moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be forthwith put by the President from the chair, and the vote taken : -
That the Senate do now divide;
That this debate be now adjourned.
– Paragraph a is very crude.
– As Senator Millen has pointed out, the putting of the question “ That the Senate do now divide “ is a very crude device, lt stops discussion, but it does not prevent loquacity or prolixity. It is only when some honorable senators may have irritated the patience of the Senate that somebody moves, “ That the Senate do now divide.” The honorable senator re- sponsible for the trouble is not penalized; but others who have not spoken are prevented from debating the question. It is a very crude system of restraining undue loquacity, because it does not punish those who do the injury, although it prevents others from speaking.
– Is it not the rule that honorable senators who have so spoken vote for a continuance of the discussion ?
– Possibly the members of the Standing Orders Committee have not considered this matter, and did not advert to standing order No. 431.
– To enable the amendment to be moved, it will be necessary for Senator Needham to withdraw his amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the report bc referred back to the Committee for re-consideration (a) generally in association with present standing order 431, and (b)specially as to paragraph 2 of the report.
– I have pleasurein seconding the amendment moved by Senator Keating. It should be the desire ofthe Senate to transact its work in a business-like manner.So far as second-reading speeches are concerned, they do not greatly affect the opinion of the Senate. Generally speaking, they deal more or less with generalities, and are addressed to Hansard.
– That is advertising, and advertising is business.
– It is very bad business from my point of view. Do we have to address ourselves to Hansard?.
– Advertising is the essence of business.
– I have no desire to interfere with the privileges of honorable senators, as most senators would not occupy an hour in discussing any particular measure. I would be quite willing toextend the time to an. hour and a half, and I think that would meet the majority of cases. A great deal has been said concerning the Senate giving away the libertiesof its members, and interfering with the rights of the public ; but my experience has been that the public expects business to be done in a prompt and proper manner. It has been said that the Senate has not proved its usefulness, and there is a growing feeling that there should be less talk and more work. As the proposed new standing order has been framed with the idea of facilitating the despatch of business, I amprepared to support it with the amendment moved by Senator Keating. In Committee, an honorable senator may rise half-a-dozen times; he may be pressing for an amendment, and may object to the Government opposing his suggestions, which may be useful to the Senate and to the country. If an honorable senator is allowed to speak only twice in Committee, the good work af the Senate may be interfered with. It is our desire to prevent the abuse of the StandingOrders by certain honorable senators occupying more time than is enjoyed by others. It has been said that we should be our own judges, and that would be all right if privileges were not abused. If honorable senators considered the rights of others instead of only their own, they would not occupy the time of the Senate at such length. On numerous occasions I have seen honorable senators abuse their privileges, and prevent others, who, in their endeavour to assist the Government, have refrained from speaking.
-Why should they obey the wishes of the Government ? I thought you were not under the whipon that side?
– It is not a question of’ being under the whip. This is not a party question, and we have to consider how we can best facilitate the business of the Senate. At times the Government wish to expedite the passage of a Bill in the interests of the country, or to enable it to reach another place, and it is on such occasions that honorable senators sometimes refrain from speaking. The proposed new standing order has been necessitated by the lack of common sense and common courtesyon the part of some honorable senators. I intended moving an amendment to delete the referenceto honorable senators speaking only twice in Committee, but I believe the amendment moved by Senator Keating will meet the position. The Standing Orders Committee should be asked to re-draft paragraph 2.
– I invite the attention of honorable senators to the fact that this Chamber is entirely different from any other Chamber in the world- An effort has been made by Senator Keating to buttress -up his argument in favour of the limitation of speeches by asking whether it is customary to limit the .time of speeches at Labour” Conferences. There is no similarity whatever between the two bodies. A Labour Conference, and even a National Conference, consists of a very great number of men and women who meet merely for a week, or a fortnight at the very outside. It is essential, if an expression of opinion is to be obtained from them, that a time limit should be set on their speeches, but, in practice, the time is as often as not ex? tended. It is very rare, in my experience, for the time limit to be strictly adhered to at conferences. If a speaker desires it, and the conference is agreeable, an extension of time is granted. For Senator Keating to suggest that, because a Labour or National or other conference finds it necessary to curtail speeches, we should follow their example, is, to my mind, no argument at all. We are asked, also, to look at the House of Commons. What have we to do with the House of Commons? In that Chamber, a member cannot get up and speak with the samefreedom as a member can in Australia. The matter of who is going to speak, and whom, is fixed up by the Whip, and a member gets up to speak, when his turn comes, merely as part of a machine. Therefore, a comparison between this ‘ Chamber and the House of Commons will not stand examination for a moment. The House of Commons has about 700 members, and some of them never speak, or even think about speaking. I believe, but I am not sure, that some of . them hardly ever attend. I am certain that the bulk of the speaking is done by a limited number of speakers, and- I am very much mistaken if they have not almost full liberty, so far a9 time is concerned, to express all the ideas they desire to place before their fellow members. Every Parliament in- Australia has far more members than has the Senate. In most cases the membership is about 100, and it may be necessary for . them to curtail the time of their speeches. That is their .business, but it is a matter of doubt whether it is a good thing. In the various Legislative Councils the members are much more numerous than in this Chamber. As a matter of fact, this Chamber is unique, not only in Australia, but in the world, and we should not pay the slightest attention to what other people do. It is our duty to transact the ‘business .brought before us in the most efficient’ maimer possible. I do - not know of any speeches delivered here that have seemed to me to be too long. It may be said that it has happened on one or two occasions, and I suppose one of those occasions would be when Senator Gardiner, as our Leader, took a few extra hours to discourse upon the proposed suspension of the Standing Orders in’ connexion with the Electoral Bill. Every one here knows full well that not one of them read’ that Bill through before they came into this Chamber. I question very much whether one of them has read it through to this day. Probably the only man who read the Bill through was the parliamentary drafts- . man who placed it before us. Senator Gardiner -was determined, in view of the innovations contained in the measure, to place the facts frankly, clearly, and fully before the whole of the members of this Chamber who were prepared to listen to him. He did’ so at considerable inconvenience to himself, and perhaps at some inconvenience to the members on the Ministerial benches, but he did it to the satisfaction of the members on this side amd to the advantage of the whole of the people of this country. A, large number of new -proposals were incorporated in that Bill. They had been rushed through another place, perhaps for ulterior purposes; and I am glad the rules of’ this Chamber permitted Senator Gardiner on that occasion to deliver what may fairly be called a lengthy speech, but a speech which it was his right ‘and duty to make. I believe that in length it was a record for this Chamber, and will probably not be equalled for some time- to come. That is the only occasion on which it may fairly .be said that a speech delivered here was of extraordinary length. Surely no ‘honorable senator would object to a senator speaking for two or three hours if he so desired. The occasions on which members may be said to have spoken at extraordinary length are so few and far between that we ought not to make the proposed alteration in the Standing Orders. Whatever people do, they should be very careful about curtailing any liberties that they possess. Members now have the right, if they so desire, to place their views at length before the Senate. That is a very great privilege, which. ought not lightly to be given away. It was handed down to us by the Convention which drew up the Constitution, and is confirmed by .our Standing Orders, which have worked very well for the past eighteen years. We should not agree to any curtailment of our privileges without the longest and most careful consideration. It is the easiest thing in the world for people to sell themselves into slavery. they can do that at a few hours’ or few weeks’ noticeBut when they try to regain .their liberty they find they have a most diffi- < cult operation on. hand. If we give away the rights which we now possess, we shall live to regret our action. Any liberty handed down to me by our predecessors shall not be curtailed with my consent. Some men possess the faculty of so condensing their ideas as to be able to place them before the Senate in such a concrete form that they can compress, what they have to say into an hour and a half. Other members, not so blessed, require a somewhat longer period. A man speaking here frequently travels at the rate of 140, and sometimes 160, words a minute. Speaking at that rate, he would, in the course of an hour and a half, produce three, or four, or perhaps five, columns of printed matter if his speech were reported at length in a daily paper. I admit that that would be a fairly lengthy speech, but such speeches are not nearly long enough .in certain cases, and do not give some honorable senators in this chamber the opportunity that they desire. I may wish, for instance, to show the urgent necessity and absolute justice of a radical alteration of our landtaxation enactments. I could not possibly do so in an hour and a half. I might require two or Three hours. There are many questions on which certain honorable senators are expert. Under this proposal, they will not be able to place their views fully and frankly before the Chamber. If senators are determined to do the business of the country, for which they are elected and paid, the proper course is for them to meet earlier in the day, and sit longer hours. They should not attempt to rush business through in an ill-considered, undigested manner, which will require amendments before the ink with which the Bill is printed is dry. I have an idea that there may be some measures coming forward which the Government are extremely anxious to rush through. With the aid of this standing order, and of the existing provision which it is not proposed to amend, giving them the right to move, “ That the Senate do now divide,” they will be’ able to get through any measure in which they are keenly interested, probably in the course of a few hours. That is not a condition of affairs that ought to appeal to members of this Chamber. It will not give them an opportunity to discuss fully the proposals placed before them. I favour the Standing Orders ‘remaining as they are. It is quite enough, and more than enough, to have a standing order which permits the Government to move, “ That the Senate do now divide,” as they moved and carried that question quite recently after only one honorable senator had spoken. I shall oppose Senator Keating’s amendment, and the suggested further amendment of Senator Needham, and vote against the new standing order as placed before us.
– I rise to make an explanation, and not to enter into a discussion of the matter before the’ Senate. As a member of the Standing Orders Committee, and, in fact, of all Committees of the Senate to which I have been appointed, I have tried to have placed before the Senate something like a unanimous expression of opinion on the part of the Committee. In this case, I was asked the week before last if I would attend a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee last week.. Unfortunately, through illness, I was not able to be present at the meeting : but in the message that I sent’ I made it clear that I was totally opposed to any regulation being brought before the Senate that would curtail the privileges of speech which honorable senators now possess. In the beginning of a session honorable senators are required- to attend only once or twice a week, but towards the end Bills are rushed- up from another place, and we are then expected to sit almost continuously. If the Government could only regulate their work in a better manner ‘by initiating more measures- in this Chamber-instead of rushing them throughat the end of the session, after they have been dealt with elsewhere, the position in the Senate- would be much better. At’ present some measures are often passed without full consideration here.
– Is not that because we cannot get them from the other House?.
– No. Billscould be initiated here just, as- well, as- in: another- place. There was nothing, to prevent the- Commercial Activities Bill, being dealt with here first, and then sent” on to the other -House;
– I do not think we should like that to be done as a general, practice.
– We who travel from the other States, and, in my case, journey a. distance of 1,000 miles-, to put in only four hours’ work in the early part of the session, feel that, with businesslike management, the position could be greatly improved. The motion will curtail speeches, not now. but towards the end of the session, when Bills are rushed up from another place. The large number of amending Bills introduced from time to time demonstrates the fact that measures are passed, at the end of a session, without full consideration. I intend to oppose Senator Heating’s amendment, and to vote against the motion also, because I feel that I am responsible, not to other honorable senators, but to my constituents, if I take a week to explain their views.
– Suppose our constituents hold directly opposite views!
– Then you have the same right.
– That is what we are doing, now in regard to this motion.
– You are notYou are supporting a proposal that may prevent you from expressing the views held by your constituents.
– In view of the statements made by Senator Guthrie, the Minister should seriously consider the proposal of Senator Keating’ to refer the report back to the Standing’ Orders Committee. It- is quite possible, ifr not probable, that we would not have- had it’ before us in itspresent form if Senator Guthrie had. been able to attend the meeting of the Committee. However, apart from that, the position is in the hands of the Government. Senator Keating’ s proposal is that it should be referred back to the Committee for- reconsideration of’ the second’ paragraph. I am absolutely opposed1 to the whole motion, for the reason, among many others, that’ I think it is’ quite unnecessary. I can carry my mind’ back- to the beginning- of this- Parliament, when the- Senate was composed” of many men who, rightly or wrongly, were credited with being the pick of the public men of Australia, and I remember, before we agreed to any Standing Orders, and were working under the Standing Orders of the South Australian Parliament, long speeches were made upon such vitally important questions as White Australia, arbitration, minimum wage, and other problems. The discussion with regard to these matters was keenly followed throughout Australia, and it was because of the long and able speeches then delivered by the ablest public men of the Commonwealth that a great deal of information was disseminated throughout the country, and the younger members of the Senate were enabled to arrive at wise decisions- on. these important subjects. Had the proposed new standing order then. been, in operation, the speeches- to which I refer could not have been delivered, and thus much information would have been withheld from the people. The proposal to limit a member’s speech to one hour, by the mercy of the majority for the time being, with an extra halfhour, is objectionable.
– And the majority may not grant an extension.
– That is the crux of the whole question. There is absolutely no necessity for the new standing order. It is a generally accepted maxim that hard cases make bad law. It is unwise to bring in a special provision like this to meet a special case, and that is what has been done with regard to this time limit on speeches. This standing order would never have been heard of had it not been that one member of the Senate, in the opinion of some other honorable senators, had transgressed the rules of decent debate.
– No; it is because one member is in opposition to the President.
– Nonsense ! Other honorable senators thought what Senator O’Keefe has said. I was one of them.
– The fact remains “that this proposal would never have seen the light of day had not one member thought it incumbent upon him to speak for ten or eleven hours on a question, which was, to him, important.
– But he wanted all the apples in the bag.
– This is not a question of apples in the bag at all; but of whether an honorable senator shall have the right to speak. Even if the honorable senator referred to had transgressed the rules of debate, or what the other members consideredto be the fair limits of debate, they would have had an opportunity of speaking, but for the fact that the Government wanted a particular measure through by a certain time. I have never been an advocate of promiscuous “ stone-walling,” but history shows that there have ‘been many occasions when it has proved of great public service. Even in the Senate within the last three years we had an illustration which shows that “ stone- walling “ might alter the whole trend of legislation in Australia. On that occasion a certain member was prevented by illness from attending, and honorable senators will remember what happened with regard to the proposal to prolong the life of this Parliament. Senator Guy was ill in Tasmania, and the Government, departing from the usual practice, thought fit to refuse him a pair in regard to a vote on what was, undoubtedly, a matter of vital importance. We thought, in the best interests of the country, to delay the taking of the vote, so that, instead of the resolution prolonging the life of the Parliament being carried-
– What has that to do with the question before the Senate?
– Everything. If Senator de Largie cannot see the relevancy, I am sure other honorable senators can. But I am not discussing the merits or the demerits of that issue. The fact remains that the opportunity then given to honorable senators allowed us to continue the debate in most unique circumstances, and on a unique resolution, with the object of endeavouring to secure the attendance of the honorable senator who was ill.
– Inthat particular case, could not the Government have employed the “ gag,” and moved, “ That the question be now put “ ?
– Yes ; but the . question under consideration was being so closely watched by the people that if the Government had acted as the honorable senator suggests, they would have stood convicted.
-(Senator Newland). - Order! I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue that matter any further.
– I am not going to dispute your ruling, sir, but I submit that my illustration was certainly relevant to the question before the Chair. I say that, while “ stone-walling “ in debate is tedious, and may be expensive “to the country, there may be occasions in the future, as there have been in the past, when the exercise of this right would be in the interests of the country.
If we were discussing a proposal as members of a House comprising .some 700 members - rafter the maimer of the House of Commons to-day - the circumstances would be altogether different. There are only thirty-six senators; the membership of the House of Representatives totals seventy-five. An. analysis of the time occupied by each Chamber would show that the Senate does not take anything like the time, relatively, compared with that devoted to matters in “ another place.” Why, then, the necessity for such a proposition as this? It is absolutely unfair, unwise, and unnecessary. It is .asking honorable senators to curtail their own rights and privileges, and without the semblance of need.
I object to the unfair discrimination between the rights to be granted to a Minister and those to be possessed by ordinary senators.
– So far as that is concerned-,- I shall be quite satisfied to have the same limitations placed upon Ministers as upon senators; but that would prevent a Minister from replying in Committee to questions put to him.
-That, at any rate, indicates some concession.
– It. is not a concession to the Minister for which we are asking.
– The .proposed new standing order states -
In Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time, or more than twice on any one question before tlie Committee; provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tarin*.
The Tariff is the only subject which the Senate may discuss under such conditions that all senators, whether private or Ministerial, are upon the same ground.
– They are all on the same ground in this regard, that any private member who may be in charge of a Bill has the same rights as a Minister.
– I think not. At all events, that is not how the proposed standing order reads. It clearly sets out that a Minister .in charge of an Appropriation or Supply Bill may speak as often as he desires.
– And rightly so.
– So long as senator’s generally have the same right.
– Any honorable senator .who may be in charge of a Bill has the same right as a Minister.
– That would apply only to one member of the Senate at a time. Only one senator is in charge of a Bill at the same time.
– All are on the same footing. If a private member is conducting a Bill, he is permitted to speak as often as he desires; and that is in the interests of other honorable senators, who may put questions to him in Committee.
– But there is only one Minister in charge of a measure at the one time, and that Minister is to be permitted to speak as often as he likes, while every other honorable senator is confined to speaking twice, and upon each occasion he may not occupy more than a quarter of an hour. Is that fair? Frequently, at the end of a session., the Chairman of Committees, when the Senate is dealing with a Supply Bill or an Appropriation measure, will permit discussion upon a Department only as a whole, and not item by item. There may be twenty matters or more requiring serious consideration, but honorable senators may not devote attention to those items seriatim. They may speak only twice altogether. Such procedure would altogether smother criticism. We shall get into a pretty tangle if we impose this limitation upon ourselves.
– That is a poor argument, because you may question! every item contained in the schedule, irrespective of everybody and anything.
– If ‘ this _ new standing order be agreed to, I invite Senator Henderson to try to do so. I hope, however, that he is right in his view. Although honorable senators may speak only twice upon a series of items, the Minister in charge may get up on his feet a hundred times during the discussion and refer to every line having to do with every Department. I absolutely oppose the motion.
– It is,- unfortunately, the abuse of a right or privilage which frequently .causes that right or privilege to -be attacked. The very fact that this standing order has been proposed illustrates that our Standing Orders dealing with the rights of debate have permitted too great a monopoly to be secured by one honorable senator. I do not intend to thrust the responsibility for the proposed new standing order upon the Government or the President, or upon any one individual. “ It is most unfair to impute improper motives to the President, and to assert that it is a matter of personal feeling presumed to exist between himself and an honorable senator. I was one of those who had already made our’ views quite patent, during a recent debate. I resented that certain honorable senators who desired to place important matters before this Chamber were compelled to continually postpone their remarks owing to the too voluminous utterances of one Particular senator.
– Give us his name. What you are saying is a reflection upon remaining honorable senators.
– There is no nonsense about me, and I will say unhesitatingly that it is yourself to whom I am referring.
– That is all right; but the records of this Chamber will not bear out your assertions.
– It is quite possible for our time to be monopolized by one individual in pressing upon the attention of some other, placed in a position similar to my own, the claims of a certain brand of hair restorer. Matters which possess about the same degree of public importance have been debated in the Senate.
– I should say that that subject would be of importance to you.
– It is not a matter of any importance whatever to-day. ‘ I am long past the age when that particular consideration could interest me.
We are discussing this motion, I trust, without party or personal feeling. I am reluctant to curtail the privileges of honorable senators in what is known as a chamber of review. There is something in the contention that the privileges of debate have not been generally abused by members of the .Senate; but I am in favour of some reasonable limitation of debate, not because I believe that “ stonewalling” may not occasionally have its merits, but because I am of the opinion that no one individual should be permitted to so misuse the privileges of de-, bate as to take away the opportunities of other honorable senators who may desire to participate in discussions. It follows, though - and logically - that if we once impose a limit upon the speech of an honorable senator, the very fact of that imposition gives him the right to speak. In a chamber of review, such as this, the adoption of a standing order of this character is inconsistent and incompatible with what is known as the application of the closure, . or the “ gag.” I am not in favour of having both. There are certain formal motions which should always be put and agreed to without debate; and there are certain questions which are mentioned in standing order No. ‘ 431, which are really of a machinery character. They provide for certain motions to be put to the Senate,- and, if necessary, to the vote, without debate. I am confident that no honorable -senator can be of opinion that Standing order No. 431, which involves the application of the “gag,” is wrong. But, in regard to general debate upon measures and motions, if we are going to have a time limit, then every honorable senator possesses the inherent right’ to say, “You shall hear me. You shall not apply the gag ‘.” While it is essentially necessary that there shall be a time limit to speeches, the time limit in this Chamber is incompatible with the use of the closure in regard to measures necessitating general debate. I am not one of those who subscribe to the cheap and rash assertion that a man should be able to say in an hour all that is necessary to be said upon ‘ any -particular subject. There are men who could discuss points of constitutional law and history, and to whom I would be pleased to listen for hours on end. There are proposals to amend the Constitution, and I believe speeches of more than an hour’s duration may be necessitated by the principles involved in the amendments foreshadowed. I subscribe to the belief that “ stone-walling,” in some instances, may ‘be necessary. We have heard of the speeches of ex-Senator Neild; we have also listened to long discourses by ex-Senator Story, and other lengthy deliverances, of which we have had occasion to complain. Let me inform honorable senators that the records disclose that the longest parliamentary speech was made in the “United States of Colombia, in South America, where a member spoke for thirty hours, and at the end was in a state of physical exhaustion. But why did he speak? Because the House was on the point of being dissolved. According to the practice in that country, the President would come down on a certain day, and at a certain hour dissolve the House. On that occasion, had a certain measure, which was .then before the Chamber, been passed, the whole of the people in the United States of Colombia who were closely associated with ‘the pastoral industry .would have been absolutely ruined. The debate was continued until the hour when the President was to dissolve the Parliament arrived, and a single member was triumphant. It is said that at the close of his speech .his tongue was glued to the roof of his mouth, his lips were black, and his face distorted. But the speaker was triumphant, and the people, at a succeeding election, held him to be completely ‘justified. On occasions “ stone-walling “ may be necessary, beneficial, and completely compatible with outside opinion. But Parliament must transact its business ; and I must admit that the case I have instanced was .an exceptional one. I do not believe that measures should be rushed through .Parliament. We are told that there is much waste of time, and that :a good many people claim that we do not pass measures quickly enough. .Parliament was not designed, nor was it intended to be, a particularly speedy institution. It has traditions, and has had to contend against Kings, Ministers, corrupt courtiers, and corrupt Judiciaries; -and, naturally, very reluctantly passes measures that give privileges to Governments. Some contend that a man should say everything he desires in a, few minutes. But who would say because Shakespeare could write a sonnet which will live for ever, that Hamlet could be compressed into one or two acts ? Would any one say because the argument preceding each book of Paradise Lost is stated in a few lines, that Milton’s great poem is redundant, and not worth reading ? Because one man may publish a compendium of useful knowledge, will it be said that the Encyclopædia Britannica is a ridiculous publication ? Honorable senators’ expressions often fall short of their desires, and it may be necessary to speak for hours to completely elucidate a’ point, or to bring an important phase of a question fully home to the Government. Admitting these exceptional instances, I think it is right that we should have a limitation to debates, so that one or two honorable senators cannot monopolize the time on which other honorable senators have a just claim. Some honorable senators are somewhat chary in expressing an opinion; but I am resolved to vote for some alteration in the present system. I put it honestly to the Minister in charge - who spoke, I think, on the whole, generously and in a considerate and impartial manner - that if there is to be a limitation of the time allowed an honorable senator in delivering a speech, that will .give every senator the right to claim to be heard. If honorable senators do not desire to hear a speaker, they should count him out.
– Unfortunately, they cannot count out a speaker without also counting out the business.
– Quite so. The Minister will see that if an honorablesenator may speak for only one hour, he should have the right to be heard for that hour. If a time limit is to be imposed, the Senate should not have the right to apply the closure. ‘ It may be said that this is not logical, but seeing that this is a Chamber of review, it would be unwise to embody in our Standing Orders both the limitation of .speeches and the application of the closure. There are certain formal motions which must be put without debate, and which we all recognise as not necessitating, debate. I have no desire to procrastinate in regard to this measure. I have given honorable senators an intimation of my intention to move an amendment to refer the proposed new standing order back to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration, particularly in relation to standing, order No. 431, which involves the application, of the closure. I believe, however, that Senator Keating has moved an amendment to the effect that this should be done.
– That is correct.
– That may unduly procrastinate the matter, and it may postpone the adoption of a standing order of this nature. If that is so, and the Minister particularly responsible for the proposed new standing order agrees to shoulder the responsibility, and will indicate how far it can be modified in the direction I desire, we shall be able to put the proposed new standing order and the proposed amendment alongside each other, and. see which fs the more practical. I shall not vote for the proposed’ new standing order if debates can still be “gagged.” If it is the intention to allow the closure to remain, I am not going to vote for the new standing order. But if. an amendment is made in regard to the standing order No. 431, which will prevent the closure being applied, the proposed new standing order to limit the time of speeches is not of greatimportance.
– All honorable senators should be placed in the same position as Ministers in regard to Supply and Appropriation Bills, and be allowed to apeak more than twice.
– I . understand there are certain senators, including the Minister, who favour the idea of having no limitation to speeches in Committee.
– In connexion with Supply and Appropriation Bills?
– I do not catch the point the honorable senator is endeavouring to make.
– I believe I heard the Minister favour an amendment of the proposed new standing order to delete any limitation to speeches in Committee.
– Delete the limitation as to the number of times, yes.
– That almost meets the case.
– If you spoke for half-an-hour on the schedule to the Appropriation Bill, you could not then under the proposed standing order draw attention to any item in the Bill.
– There are so many fine points involved that it might be best to refer the proposal back to the Standing. Orders Committee; but I want the honorable senator to be quite clear that. I desire some limitation upon debate. The adoption of. the course I suggest of referring the proposal back to the Standing Orders Committee might secure the honorable senator’s object, if that object was to defeat the proposal altogether, but I do not want to totally defeat the proposal.
Sena-tor Millen. - I am afraid that would be the effect.
– I want some reasonable limitation, imposed upon the length of speeches, taking into consideration the fact that this is a Chamber of review, but I’ do not want that limitation to be adopted if the closure standing order is retained. If it is retained one senator might sneak for an hour and a half, and then, in a time of high political excitement, the closure might be applied, and the principle of this being a Chamber of review would be brought into contempt. The adoption of a standing order of this kind will facilitate Government business more than anything else, and if the Minister can indicate to the Committee a way in which he thinks the different expressions of opinion may be met, I shall vote accordingly: I desire to act fairly in accordance with the principle I have advocated’; that is, that there shall be a time limit of speeches, but once that is adopted,’ that in practice and under the Standing Orders there shall not be any power to take away from any honorable senator his right to speak for the period ‘arranged.
– I hope the Committee will not send the proposal back to the Standing Orders Committee, for these reasons: This Committee has now spent over three hours in discussing it.
– It is time well spent.
– I am not complaining of that. It is almost impossible to get anything like the same . discussion in the Standing Orders Committee for the reasons that I indicated when I spoke previously. It is almost impossible to secure anything like a full meeting of the Standing Orders Committee at any time, no matter how one tries. I have tried in the case of various Committees. One can never get all the members of a Committee together at the one time. Moreover, the opportunity for discussion, when they do meet, is exceedingly limited.
– I cannot agree that you could not get a full meeting of the Standing Orders Committee to consider a very important matter like this. I guarantee you will get it next week.
– I tried for two or three weeks previously, and found I could not.’ If the honorable senator had tried he would have had a similar experience. When the Committee did meet, after we had endeavoured to get them together for two or three weeks, all that we could muster was seven out of a full membership of nine.
– The position will be different after this discussion.
– I was never consulted until a week before the meeting.
– Even if we had a full meeting, what would happen? The only possible day on which a full meeting can be obtained is Thursday. The InterState members go home at the week end, and do not return until Wednesday. The Sydney express comes in at lunch time, and there is no time on Wednesday for a Committee meeting between then and the hour at which the Senate meets. On Friday the Senate sits for practically all the working hours of the day, and members go home immediately after 4 o’clock.
It is a well known rule of the Senate that a Committee of the Senate cannot sit while the Senate is sitting. We must therefore take advantage of some time when the Senate is not sitting. Consequently, between 10 o’clock on Thursday morning and the luncheon hour is the only time available for the Committee to sit. It is found in practice that even then there is only one-half hour available in which to do any business, because the party meetings of both sides are generally held on that day, and members very much, dislike attending a Committee meeting when they have a party meeting to attend.
– Surely you, Mr. President, do not attend party meetings?
– The question is not whether I attend them or not. It is whether other members attend them.
– Surely you do not think that this matter is of such extreme urgency, after eighteen years, that we cannot take a week or two to get a full meeting?
– We have taken more than a week or two already, and the matter has been considered by the Committee. There were only seven members present, and there .was really little time to do more than arrive at a decision. There was very little time to discuss the matter, as every member wanted to get away, for reasons which seemed good to himself.
– Because the meeting was called for a Thursday morning, when -you know that party meetings are held.
– As I have just explained, Thursday is the only day on which a meeting can be held, because on other days Inter-State members are not here, ft has been stated that at the meeting of the Committee^ at which the seven members were present, the voting was equal, and that I gave my casting vote in a particular way. It is not usual to discuss in the Senate, or anywhere else, what has taken place in any Committee. The decision arrived at is always taken as the decision of the Committee, and not of certain members of it. But supposing that it is true that I voted in the way indicated, and that it was on my casting vote that the recommendation was carried, I did nothing more than was my exact duty. The duty of a presiding officer, in the event of a tie, was laid down as long ago as 1796 in the British House of Commons. May, at page 330 of the 12 th edition, says -
If the numbers in a division are equal, the Speaker, who otherwise does not vote, must give the casting voice. In the performance of this duty, he is at liberty to vote, like any other member, according to his conscience, without assigning a reason. But, in order to avoid the least imputation upon his impartiality, it is usual for him, when practicable, to vote in such a manner as not to make the decision of the House final, and to explain his reasons, which are entered on the Journal.
The principle which guides a Speaker in giving his casting vote was thus explained by Mr. Speaker Addington. On the 12th May, 1796, on the third reading of the Succession Duty on Real Estates Bill … the Speaker gave his casting vote . . . saying “ That upon all occasions when the question was for or against giving to any measure a further opportunity of discussion, he should always vote for the further discussion.”
As the Chairman of that Committee, if I had voted to reject the proposal altogether, that would have been an end of it, and this Committee and the Senate would have been deprived of any further chance of dealing with it. It was, therefore, my duty, apart from any other consideration, so to vote that this Committee and the Senate should have the further opportunity of discussing the matter.
– Besides, as a senator, you are supposed to exercise your vote.
– I am putting the case only from the impartial point of view of the Chairman. I hope, in view of the fact that the matter has already been considered by the Standing Orders Committee, in view of the extreme difficulty of obtaining any adequate discussion by the Committee, and the time already taken up in discussing the matter here, that this Committee will come to a decision, and not refer the report back to the Standing Orders Committee.
Silling suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– Before dinner, the advisability of sending the proposed standing order back to the ‘Standing Orders Com- mittee for further consideration was suggested. But I should like to submit that after the long and, on the whole, interesting debate we have had this afternoon, it ought to be possible for honorable senators to arrive at some conclusion as to the extent of the limit which should be placed upon speeches if they desire to adopt a standing order limiting them. It seemed to me, listening to the debate, that there is, at any rate on this side, some unanimity on. the main question, that there should be some limitation imposed. Some honorable senators have suggested that we might adopt the first portion of the standing order and refer back to the Standing Orders Committee only the second portion of it. But I urge that we should come to some finality upon the two main, points raised by the proposed standing order. In order to enable us to arrive at a determination, it would be necessary that the amendment should be withdrawn. I have no desire to cut out the amendment suggested by Senator Needham, but I point out that if he will re-present it in. the form he suggested, and it is adopted or rejected, that will prevent a discussion which might be considered desirable upon some other form of amendment. If the honorable senator would submit his amendment first of ali by proposing that the first two words of the paragraph should be left out, he could if that were successful, move to strike out1 ibo balance of the paragraph. ‘ If he moves that the paragraph be left out, and’, that amendment be carried, it will deny an opportunity to honorable senators who may wish to retain the paragraph in some modified form. After listening to the debate, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to adopt a course which will substantially meet the views which have been expressed by honorable senators. We might amend the second paragraph by providing that no honorable senator should speak for more than a limited time, and by then providing that any honorable senator should be free to speak in Committee as often as he desired to do so. That was the idea suggested by Senator Reid. If that idea commends itself to honorable senators generally, it can be given effect by making two alterations in the second paragraph of the proposed standing order.
– We should need a timekeeper.
– There might he a little extra obligation thrown upon the Chairman. I stress particularly the speech made by Senator Keating this afternoon, who pointed out that the real purpose of the Committee stage upon a Bill is, not a full-dress debate on the subject with which it deals, but a discussion more in the nature of a conversation between honorable senators to give expression to their views. Eor that purpose, it may be necessary for an honorable senator to speak, perhaps, frequently, but not necessarily at any great length on each occasion. That argument appeals to me, and I suggest that we might amend the second paragraph in such a way that, whilst leaving an honorable senator free to speak in Committee as often as he pleases, we should put a limit upon the time during which he may speak on any one occasion. The main principles of a Bill are discussed on a motion for the second reading, whilst in Committee attention is paid to a particular clause or amendment, and any honorable senator under the amendment I suggest would be free to speak as often as he pleased upon each question submitted from the Chair. He would thus have the fullest opportunity to express his views, but would be limited as to the time which he might occupy in each speech he made.
– The words “or more than twice on any one question before the Committee “ might be left out of the second paragraph.
– And, also, possibly there might be a modification of the time proposed. If an honorable senator had the right to speak as often as he pleased in Committee, it would, I think, be no hardship or restriction upon him if instead of permitting him on each occasion to speak for a quarter-of-an-hour, we made the time limit shorter. I suggest that we might make it ten minutes.
– Twenty seconds!
– That, in the case of my honorable friend, would be useless. It seems to me that the right to speak for ten minutes at a time, with the right to speak as often as an honorable senator pleases in Committee, would fairly meet the situation. I should have no objection if it were decided that an honorable senator might speak on. the first occasion to a question before the Committee for fifteen minutes and on each subsequent occasion for not more than ten minutes.
– Ten minutes on each occasion?
– I thought that the honorable senator was proposing ten minutes as the limit for all speeches on a question in Committee.
– Then I want to make it quite clear that what I propose is that an honorable senator should speak as often as he pleases to a question in Committtee, but that on each single occasion he should be limited to ten minutes.
– Suppose an honorable senator desired to speak for more than ten minutes, and after he had spoken for that time no other honorable senator wished to speak, would he then sit down, or could he go on with a second speech of ten minutes?
– He would have to be called again.From my experience of the Senate, it is a very rare occasion when no one else desires to speak. If no one else desired to speak, there would be no further debate, and it would not be necessary for an honorable senator to get up and answer himself.
– He might wish to answer the Minister.
– The Minister would not have spoken in the meantime.
– The honorable senator might be opposing some particular part of the Bill to which reference had been made by the Minister.
– I can only repeat that the main principles of a Bill are not supposed to be discussed in Committee.
– One clause might cover practically everything in a Bill.
– That would be an exceptional case; but, even if that were so, what I am suggesting would provide a reasonable compromise. It would meet the point raised by Senator O’Keefe, who objected that a Minister should be free to speak as often as he pleased in Committee. There are thirty-six members of the Senate, and under the proposal . I make thirty-five would each have the same individual opportunity as the Minister, and, together, they would have thir ty-five times the opportunity afforded the Minister.
– -What does the honorable senator suggest?
– A speech of ten minutes’ duration in Committee, with the opportunity to an honorable senator to speak as often as he pleases to a question-
– The Minister does not suggest that an extension of time might be given to an honorable senator.
– He would not need an extension of time in Committee, as he could speak as often as he pleased. In the case mentioned by Senator Thomas, when an honorable senator sat down, if no other senator rose, he could get up again, and would be called again. I submit that the proposal I make is in accordance with the views which have been expressed this afternoon. If Senator Keating would withdraw his amendment, or allow it to be negatived on the voices, that would leave me free to move the amendment I have outlined now.
– The Minister would secure considerable support for an amendment to leave out the words “ or more than twice on any one question before the Committee,” and leave the time as proposed at a quarter of an hour.
– I am quite pleased to note the altered tone of Senator Millen since’ the dinner adjournment; but I think it would be better to carry Senator Keating’s amendment, or that the proposed standing order should be withdrawn, in order that it might be redrafted. If honorable senators will read the second paragraph carefully, they will find that it does not carry out even what was the intention of the Standing Orders Committee. It could never have been the intention of that Committee to pre vent an honorable senator speaking upon any item of a Supply Bill. If honorable senators will read the paragraph carefully, they will find that it would prevent the free discussion of the various items of a Supply Bill. The maxim that there should be redress of grievances before Supply is so well known that every honorable senator is acquainted with it.
– That is provided for. There is no limitation of time for the senator in charge of a Bill, to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff, or to a Minister of the Crown, in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill.
– I can quite understand that the Minister thinks that is so; but I shall read that portion of the paragraph again, putting the emphasis, not at the wrong place, with a view to altering the meaning, but where I think it should be placed. The paragraph reads - or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff, or to a Minister of the Crown, in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill.
– The honorable senator will notice that there is a comma after the word “ Crown.”
– I see that there is. The fact that already, owing to the wording of the clause, there is a difference of opinion as to its meaning, justifies us in referring it back to the Standing Orders Committee for reconsideration. As I read the paragraph, a Minister of the Crown would have the right, under it, to speak more than once in Committee on a Supply Bill, but no private member of the Senate would have that right. We must have no distinction between Ministers and private members of the Senate as to their privileges in this Chamber.
– The honorable senator apparently thinks that the right of a Minister to speak is a privilege; but the Minister does not think so. He may not wish to speak, but he does speak because an honorable senator puts a question to him. Business would be impossible if the Minister did not have that right.
SenatorGARDINER. - It would be equally impossible if honorable senators generally did not have the right. I was delighted beyond measure with the candour of Senator Bakhap. He quite frankly stated that I am personally responsible for the proposed standing order.
– I honestly believe it.
– If other honorable senators on the opposite side are equally honest, there is a simple way out of their difficulty, and that is to suspend me for the rest of the session. There is on the other side a majority which has been proved brutal enough to impose a penalty on me, under the Standing Orders, before to-day. Why should they not do that kind of thing in a straightforward, honest way, and decide that, because an honorable senator has caused them annoyance by speaking at length, they will suspend him for the remainder of the session?
– Why should not the honorable senator absent himself for the remainder of the session?
– Honorable senators opposite do not get any business done when I do absent myself. I have done so on two occasions recently, and on each occasion they adjourned the Senate for a week, and did no business.
– If we did not do any business, we at least were not tortured here for two or three hours.
– I realize what an instrument of torture I must be to the honorable senator who leads the Government in the Senate. Why should honorable senators twist the whole of the Standing Orders in order to do something to me, when they might be as candid as Senator Bakhap has been, and say, “ We shall not bother about passing standing orders imposing hardships upon honorable senators generally, but will propose the suspension for the remainder of the session of the honorable senator who annoysus so much.” We hear a good deal of talk about going slow; but honorable senators opposite will not sit more than one day a week. They talk of the unreasonableness of men asking for a week of forty-four hours; but they do not care to work for forty-four minutes themselves. If we refer the proposed standing order back to the Standing Orders Committee, the members of that Committee will have the advantage, in reconsidering it, of having listened to this debate.
– It would be better to shelve it at once, if that is what the honorable senator means.
– There can be no doubt about my attitude. I want to knock it out.
– That is why you want to shelve it.
– I do not want to shelve it. I have pointed out that there is room for a genuine difference of opinion as to the interpretation to be placed on the portion of the standing order which I have read; that it is possible to interpret it as meaning that no honorable senator shall have the right to discuss every item of the Supply Bill.
– If there is any ambiguity, surely we can clear it up.
– I certainly think it desirable to recast that portion of the standing order.
– I think it is better to allow the Standing Orders Committee an opportunity of recasting it.
– I heard with astonishment the statement made by the President, that one reason why he wanted to get this matter settled was that he could not get the Committee together. If ever I heard something which ought not to have been said in this Senate as a reason why we should be forced to take certain action, it was the statement made by the President. If the Committee cannot be got together to deal properly with questions of this kind, which is really the business for which it is appointed, its members should make room for other honorable senators who will attend. And the meetings should be held in places where honorable senators on the Committee can attend. But, after all, what happened ? Seven members attended out of a Committee of nine. Senator Guthrie, unfortunately, was ill, and Senator Thomas could not attend.
– Did not attend.
– Yes, for reasons which the President knows. That is the position we are in. The standing order was then presented to the Senate, and the President made the statement to which I have just referred.
– Not as President, but as Senator Givens.
– And he is Chairman, not President, of the Standing Orders Committee.
– The honorable senator may call him Chairman if he wishes. I have no desire to split straws.
– He explained why it was impossible to get the Committee together.
– We know he did, in a speech which, in my opinion, was quite out of place, and should not have been made.
– He said some members of the Committee went home for the week-end, and that other meetings were held on the morning of the sitting days. Be fair, any way.
– The interjection shows the honorable senator’s bias. He is not sufficiently fair to allow me to be heard in silence, which is my right under the existing Standing Orders, and he does not want me to repeat what was said by the President.
– I want you to repeat all of it.
– The rules of debate do not allow me to repeat matters which I have already referred to, but I remind the Committee that the President said he gave his casting vote in order that the matter might be kept open for discussion. I say that the position was reversed, and that his casting vote should have gone the other way, because then it would have been the right of any honorable senator, as a member of the Standing Orders Committee, to bring the matter up for further consideration. If the President’s vote had gone in accordance with the authorities which he quoted, the report would have been sent back to the Committee, whereas his action had the effect of taking the matter out of the hands of the Standing Orders Committee altogether and bringing it here as business for the Senate.I recognise, of course, that the President has a right to create precedents as well as to follow them, and Mr. President has done so in this case. The provision, to my mind, is highly dangerous. We have been discussing the proposal for a few hours only, and already Senator Millen is ready to recast almost one-half of the report.
– We are in Committee at business now.
– Yes, but the Committee of the Senate is rather a large body to be intrusted with the framing of standing orders.
– Not at all.
– Then why did we appoint the Standing Orders Committee? In its wisdom, Parliament decided that small committees could be better intrusted with the drafting of standing orders.
– But we can amend them.
– I know that this Committee can do as it pleases, but I have already pointed out that we are in a most unfortunate position in regard to the interpretation of this particular standing order.
– We can alter it.
– There is no guarantee that that will be done, but if the report is referred back to the Committee the position may be safeguarded, andbetter draftsmanship may be looked for. In a Committee of the Senate, an honorable senator may, as I have done, point out the necessityfor an amendment, and he will receive the support of other honorable senators in proportion as his remarks meet with their approval, whereas at a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee days could, if necessary, be devoted to the draftsmanship of a standing order without in any way interfering with the business. of the Senate. If we are to have restrictive standing orders, I am anxious that they shall be drafted in such a way that the rights of minorities, which are intended to be preserved, shall be preserved. Not one honorable senator in ten will dispute what I have said as to the possible interpretation of the portion of the Standings Orders to which I have referred, and yet they will vote for it because it is the President’s and the Government’s proposal.
– It is the proposal of the Standing Orders Committee.
– The honorable senator may say that if he pleases. I favour referring the proposal back to the Committee, and if Senator Bakhap’s statement is true, I ask that Committee to take the drastic measures I have suggested, in order to relieve honorable senators of my presence for the remainder of the session. I understand the whole matter was hurried on because of a complaint made by Senator Fairbairn in the caucus of the Nationalist party - I am saying this that he may have an opportunity of replying - that I occupied so much time in the Senate.
– The honorable senator is dreaming in the day-time.
– That is my information anyhow. I understand that this standing order is the outcome of a complaint made by Senator Fair,bairn that I took up so much time that he was unable to deliver a speech which he had prepared. But if on complaints of this nature we are to amend our Standing Orders, then, we shall have to alter one standing order after another to meet the varying circumstances that arise from time to time.
– The honorable senator is assuming something that is not correct.
– I shall be glad to know if Senator Fairbairn did not make some charge against the Government because he did not get an opportunity of speaking at that particular time. I prefer to have this business settled instead of allowing it to hang between heaven and earth. I believe that the wording of the standing order will enable the Chairman of Committees to rule an honorable senator out of order if, in the discussion on a Supply Bill, he attempts to draw attention to item after item, and I believe the Government will be well advised to refer it back to the Standing Orders Committee for review. If this is done, then I believe the President will ;be well advised to hold the meetings of that Committee at such times and in such places as to insure a full attendance of members, so that we may look for a recommendation which will be more acceptable to honorable senators. This matter is so important that we would be justified in discussing it until we have the proposed new standing order so worded that there can be no doubt as to its meaning.
– Whatever virtue there may be about the principle of a time limit on. speeches in a numerically strong Chamber, I do not think it has much virtue in a Chamber like the Senate, with a limited personnel of thirty-six members, and with the comparatively small amount of legislation that is initiated here. The first part of the proposed new standing order will not affect me, as generally I exhaust my material in about an hour, or an hour and a half. But because that is so, there is no reason why I should vote for a rule to prevent amy other honorable senator, who may have more to say than I have, occupying a longer period of time. It appears to me that the trouble in the Senate since I have been here has been not to get an opportunity of speaking, but rather to get speakers. I have noticed important measures like the first reading of a Supply Bill, upon which the discussion is practically unlimited, pass after only one or two speakers have exercised their right to address the Senate. Therefore, I do not see why honorable senators who have no desire to air their eloquence should object to other honorable senators speaking. It appears to me, also, that the principle of extending the time limit may operate very invidiously. It is a wellknown fact I think that the proposed new standing order is aimed at the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). This was admitted this afternoon by Senator Bakhap. As this is so, what would be the position if Senator Gardiner were addressing himself at some length upon a certain subject, and giving utterance to views not acceptable to the Government supporters ? If we may judge by the reasons which actuated the introduction of this standing order, is itlikely that the Government, having a majority, would grant Senator Gardiner an extension of time? I do not think they would, in view of the fact that this proposed amendment of the Standing Orders is aimed directly at the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is not aimed directly at him.
– It is, and everybody knows it, and may as well admit it. Another honorable senator might reach his time limit, and seek an extension, whereupon it would be granted. That is a distinction that should –. be permitted. The introduction of a time limit upon speeches made in the Senate approaches perilously ‘ near to the jocular. The Senate hae met for so few days and hours as to have precluded any honorable senator from expressing full and frequent opinions. While the first portion of the new standing order will scarcely affect myself, the second paragraph certainly may do so, .and it is grossly unfair. No honorable senator, in addressing the Committee, could make out a case upon an important item within ten or fifteen minutes. When the Senate is considering a Supply Bill, and is dealing, say, with the Home and Territories Department, that prolific source of discussion, the Northern Territory, may be under consideration. The Territory itself involves probably a dozen subdepartments. Yet, under this standing order, an honorable senator would be prevented from speaking more than twice, and from remaining on his feet for more than fifteen minutes on each occasion. There is no doubt that Senator Gardiner’s interpretation of the latter part of the Standing Orders is correct. It will give the Minister a privilege over and above those possessed by other honorable senators. I have seen and heard very little in the way of obstruction in this Chamber. When party feeling was running high, and debates were rather keen, some eighteen months or two years ago, there was no great desire shown on the part of honorable senators opposite to voice their individual opinions; but the interjections hurled across the chamber, when honorable senators on this side were speaking, showed that had this standing order been in existence, and an Opposition senator desired an extension of his time, he would have had a very poor chance of obtaining it. During the very brief period when Senator Millen debated this standing order to-day, he was furnished with excellent reasons why it should be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. The Minister realized that he was upon dangerous ground. He was bombarded with interjections from both sides ; which indicated a diversity of opinion. That should be borne in mind if and when the Committee deals with the Standing Orders again. Following upon a discussion such as this, the further consideration of the subject by the Standing Orders Committee should be materially assisted. Members of the Committee, prior to to-day’s debate, may not have considered the subject very important; but the remarks of honorable senators on both sides have indicated that they seriously view the proposition to curtail their rights. I, for one, shall not be a party to such curtailment, notwithstanding that I would be among the least injured if the new standing order was agreed to.
Seeing that honorable senators opposite have no great desire to speak, they should not object to Senator Gardiner speaking at any length he may wish. And, even if they do object, there is no obligation upon them to remain and hear him. They have a remedy in their own hands. If they do not like it, they can leave it, but that is no reason why Senator Gardiner should be prevented from expressing his opinions. If the new standing order comes into operation, it will be hanging over our heads when we are asked to discuss very momentous questions in the near future. There is, for example, the subject of the ratification of the Peace Treaty. Upon such a matter, no honorable senator could be expected to state his views in a very, brief, space of time. If we are to set a time limit upon our remarks, it will be inconsistent and unfair to subsequently relax it in the case of certain honorable senators as against others. Most honorable senators have had some experience of limitation of debate in connexion with State Legislatures. In the Queensland Parliament the time limits allowed in Committee stage proved almost farcical. The limitation was introduced to do away with “stone-walling,” but that end was not accomplished. It is well understood that, in Committee, if honorable senators are bent upon obstruction, they can achieve their purposes. Honorable senators on this side have not been guilty of obstruction, to my knowledge, or while I have been in the chamber; and the new standing order is, in fact, a totally unwarranted proposition, aimed at something which may occur, and not at anything which has already taken place. When we realize the object for which the new standing order has been admittedly introduced, we are bound to regard it as unworthy of the Government, and of the Standing Orders Committee. It is small and petulant, and altogether unworthy of those responsible for it, as well as unworthy of discussion, let alone acceptance, by the Senate.
– In reply to the remarks of Senator Millen, in which he suggested that I should alter the terms of my amendment, I desire to intimate that I shall” do nothing of the kind. My object is to secure the deletion of the whole of the second paragraph. The proper way in which to deal with the subject is either to reject the motion or send the proposed standing order back to the Committee. I listened carefully to the remarks of Senator Givens, in which he sought to set out reasons why the proposed new standing order should not be referred back. He held that, in the first place, it was very hard to get the Committee together; and, secondly, that the Senate was the better place in which to determine a matter of this kind. I think those points constitute a very weak argument on the part of an honorable senator occupying such an eminent position in this Chamber. The Standing Orders Committee met, in a sense, in quite a casual manner. Its members, obviously, had no idea of the views entertained by honorable senators generally. As the result of this debate, however, they should be armed with the opinions of the Senate, and should be in a far better position to determine upon a new standing order having to do with the limitation of speeches. I quite agree that it is difficult to secure full attendances of
Senate Committees, and that Thursday mornings afford almost the only opportunities for such meetings. But the very fact that the Standing Orders Committee did meet, and that its members, after very brief consideration, determined upon so drastic a standing order - one which in its effect is so ridiculous and so entirely unnecessary - proves to me, at any rate, that there will be very much more material to go upon when the Committee meets again to deal with the subject. Senator Millen has stated that the latter portion of the second paragraph will afford the same length of time for an honorable senator to express himself as for a Minister to do so; that is, in dealing with a Supply Bill. That portion of the standing order will provide no such equal opportunities. The paragraph distinctly states - provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff, or to a Minister of the Crown in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill, in regard to the number of his speeches in connexion with any Departments which he represents.
The point is that the Minister is to be given an extraordinary privilege, to the exclusion of the remaining thirty-five members of the Senate. In view of that fact, I certainly intend to press my amendment.
SenatorLt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [8.42]. - I am of opinion, after considerable parliamentary experience, that if the length of speeches were curtailed by half, or even more, it would be for the benefit of all concerned; but, on the general principle that in a deliberative assembly the rights of senators to express their opinions should not be curtailed, I shall oppose the whole of the proposed new standing order. I desire to elaborate upon the reading which Senator Millen has given to the last paragraph. After a casual glance, I was of the same opinion as the Minister himself ; but the more closely I studied it, the more I became convinced that the latter part of that paragraph affords a privilege to the Minister only. Where the paragraph states, “ provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Com- mittee on the Tariff,” that is the only exception made, so far as honorable senators generally are concerned. If it were intended to apply the subsequent portion of the paragraph to honorable senators, there should be inserted after the word “ Tariff “ the words “or on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill.” If it is not intended to limit the privileges to a Minister, what is the use of inserting reference to a Minister at all 1 The Minister is a senator, just the same as other senators, and it would apply to him as a matter of course. If the Minister will study the proposed standing order more closely he will see ‘ that, with the exception of Appropriation or Supply Bills, the last part applies exclusively to the Minister and to matters connected with his Department,
– I should like to see a vote taken and a decision given, so that every honorable senator would have an opportunity of expressing his opinion in a definite manner. My suggestion is that the amendment of Senator Keating should first be put, because a number of us would prefer to see the proposed new standing order referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. If Senator Keating’s proposal be adopted, it will show that a majority of the senators favour the principle of a time limit to speeches. I would, then, like Senator Needham’s proposal to delete the second paragraph’ altogether, put to the vote of the Senate, as it is one which would have the effect of limiting the time of speeches on the second reading of a Bill. But there should be no limit to the number of times a senator speaks when a measure is in Committee. If Senator Needham’s proposal is defeated, I would favour Senator Bakhap’ s suggestion. That would mean that the whole of the first paragraph would be carried, and the second paragraph would then read -
No senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time on any question before the Committee.
– My proposal is that the second paragraph rest at that.
– Yes. If the question is submitted in that way it will allow every honorable senator to exercise his vote according to his opinion. In connexion with the construction placed upon the second paragraph by the Minister, I am quite certain that, after having read it more carefully, he will agree with the contention raised by most honorable senators, that the second paragraph should not stand as it is. If it is passed in its present form, only the Minister in charge of the Bill, or one at the head of the Department, will be allowed to speak more than twice on a Supply or Appropriation Bill. The limitation is very unfair to honorable senators as contrasted with the privilege of Ministers. A Minister in charge of a Bill would be allowed to speak as often as he wished.
– No; as often as honorable senators wish him to speak.
– He does not always speak when required, but only as often as he wishes.
– In Committee a Minister might be asked questions by half-a-dozen senators on half-a-dozen different items.
– Yes, but he might not wish to answer the questions put to him.
– It is his duty to answer.
– Yes, if he so desires. He may answer every query, and even every interjection, or he may answer every speaker, but there is no limit to the number of times he may speak on a Supply or Appropriation Bill. In addition to having an unfair advantage-
– The right to speak is not of advantage to the Minister so much as to the Committee.
– Under the terms of the new proposed standing order every honorable senator is limited to two speeches of a quarter of an hour on an Appropriation or Supply Bill. The Senate may decide that the whole of the schedule of a Bill, for instance, shall be taken as a whole, and may also decide that a whole Department be taken en bloc, and not item by item. The unfairness of the position is that Ministers may speak as often as they wish - and sometimes we have three Ministers in this Chamber - whilst other honorable senators are limited in the manner I have indicated. It is a preposterous and unfair proposition when honorable senators consider that on a Supply or Appropriation Bill we are asked to sanction expenditure which, frequently runs into millions of pounds sterling. The people who send us here as their representatives wish to see these items criticised, but criticism would be absolutely denied if the suggested proposal were carried.
– In most instances Ministers remain silent as long as they can.
– Senator Keating is probably speaking from experience. At one time he was in charge of a large spending Department.
– A Minister’s right to speak in Committee is not so much a privilege for him as a convenience to the Committee.
– It is the Minister’s duty to answer questions and complaints. The more we study the position the more we are convinced that there is no necessity for an alteration. If a majority of senators think there should be a time limit, the proposal of Senator Keating should be adopted, and the proposed new standing order should be referred back to the Committee, if only to be brought down in a more satisfactory form.
– I think the Minister is quite dispassionate, and I believe he is willing to accept the suggestion to eliminate all the words after “time” in the second paragraph, and to insert “ onany one question.” It would then mean that in Committee no senator would have the right to speak for more than a quarter of an hour on any one question. That is a reasonable arrangement in connexion with the length of any senator’s remarks in Committee. The whole thing seems to be an excellent compromise between the opinions of those who believe that a time limit should be imposed upon speeches, and the opinions of those who believe that we should have unmitigated freedom of debate. The time occupied by senators in debating the general principles of the Bill would then be freely and fairly apportioned between senators desiring to speak. In Committee there is no practical limitation at all.
– Only in regard to the particular section with which honorable senators are dealing. They may speak a dozen times, or not at all. But they will not be allowed to speak at any time on any one question for more than a quarter of an hour, and that is a fair distribution of the opportunities for speech in Committee. Senators have somewhat laboured the question of the limitation of speeches, and have preferred to ignore the fact that we have accepted the closure in our standing order.
SenatorO’Keefe. - That has been mentioned.
– After one senator has spoken it can be moved - and the question must be put without debate - that the question be now put. What greater fettering can there be than that?
– The closure has to be moved, but the proposed limitation comes into operation automatically.
– Yes, and it is a fair arrangement for the distribution of the privileges of debate amongst the whole of the members of the Committee. There is no limitation to the number of times a senator may speak in Committee, and, further, the privileges of debate are by no means curtailed. It is simply an arrangement to apportion the time.
– It gives every senator a turn.
– If no one follows on his making a speech that is the end of it.
– If nobody follows then the matter cannot be of sufficient importance to be further debated, and the question should be put. I do not desire to monopolize the time of other honorable senators. Seeing that we have adopted a time limit to speeches on general principles, I will never vote for the imposition of the gag, or closure, to prevent honorable senators exercising their rights. The closure is in our Standing Orders, and it has never been protested against since I have been in the Senate, and consequently we are not going to cavil at standing order No. 431 at this stage. I hope Senator Keating will withdraw his amendment to refer the matter back to the Standing Orders Committee, and that the Committee will adopt my suggestion.
– It is perfectly obvious that the debate this afternoon upon the proposed new standing order, although protracted, has been of considerable benefit in airing the opinions of honorable senators. I understand Senator Bakhap has moved an amendment.
– I cannot do that until a prior amendment is withdrawn.
– I would like to deal with paragraph 1, which proposes to limit second-reading speeches to onehour ; on the vote of the Senate, the time being capable of extension for an additional half-hour. I agree with the contention raised this afternoon that there should be some limitation upon unnecessarily long speeches. On many occasions in the near future the limitation of an hour, even on second-reading speeches of a Bill, will prevent honorable senators from dealing with measures in a way that we are expected to do. We shall have before us, at a very early date, the ratification of the Peace Treaty, and we know that the Treaty itself is an enormous volume, comprising from 80,000 to 100,000 words. We know very little of the details, but some day this Chamber will be called upon to ratify the treaty as signed by the Entente and Central Powers. In ratifying the Peace Treaty, we will be asked to deal with very important questions, requiring careful and analytical attention. We will also have to deal with the question of indemnities in all its ramifications, as well as that relating to our control of certain islands in the Pacific. Coming nearer home, there are already rumblings of a possible constitutional reform, and a second-Teading speech on such a subject would require that it should be viewed from every angle of the Constitution. To-morrow, we shall be called upon to discuss the second reading of, perhaps, the most important commercial Bill ever placed before Parliament. The Commercial Activities Bil comprises the whole scope of primary production throughout the Commonwealth - butter and cheese, wheat and wool, and sugar. I submit that, in the circumstances, it would be unreasonable to limit the speeches of honorable senators on second reading to one hour. In the spirit of compromise, which seems to be in the air, I suggest to Senator Millen that he should give honorable senators the right, not the privilege, of speaking for an hour and a half on the second readings of such measures as I have indicated.
– Make it two hours.
– We might give the Minister in charge of such a measure two hours; but, if, as a compromise, the Minister would propose that honorable senators should have the right to speak for an hour and a half on a second reading, that would satisfy some of the criticism which has been passed here this afternoon. Personally, I do not want any favours. They are often shown according to the whim of the Senate, the occasion, or the state of physical exhaustion of honorable senators.I wish to be able to stand up in my place, as representing the great State for which I have been returned, with the rights which the Senate gives me, and not to have to ask favours from Ministers or any one else.
For the reason that so many big questions are looming ahead, I think it would be very unwise to pass the proposed standing order in its present form. If we do, it willcome back upon us like a boomerang. Honorable members in another place have the privilege of speaking for an hour and five minutes on the motion for a second reading. If in a House of seventy-five members each member may address himself to a motion for a second reading for an hour and five minutes, surely in this Senate, with thirty-six members, we can afford to give eachSenator an hour and a half.
– That is not an argument, surely?
– It is an argument from the stand-point of time.
– The House of Commons, on that argument, should permit each member about three minutes in a second-reading debate.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has mentioned the House of Commons, because, although the limitation there is not more than the limitation proposed here, the number of members in the House of Commons is 690.
– And they have the guillotine.
– It is very rarely, as one honorable senator has already pointed out, that one-half of the members of the House of Commons speak during the whole of the Parliament for which they are elected.
– That disease of silence has not attacked us yet.
– It has not attacked honorable senators; but there is no one in this Chamber but will admit that we have had plenty of time in which to do all the business placed before us. Sometimes our business has been done more quickly than it should have been done in view of the interests we are here to represent. It is not likely that anything will crop up to prevent the Government from dealing with the business of the Senate within a reasonable time. It is only at the close of .a session that we sometimes do not have a reasonable time in which to deal with the business before us. But it has been pointed out in the course of this debate that we might initiate more legislation in this Chamber, and our time might be better adjusted for carrying out the work we are sent here to do.
Senator Senior has rightly pointed out that in the case of some Bills the Committee stage is the most important stage through which they pass. I can conceive of a Bill containing a pivotal clause, and we know that the quarter of an hour which is proposed would not nearly be sufficiently long to enable an honorable senator to deal with such a clause. I can give honorable senators an illustration from a Bill which is now before the Senate. The Commercial Activities Bill contains a clause referring to wool. That question must be dealt with from many angles - wool production, manufacturing, scouring, wool tops, squatters, shipping, profiteering, freights, and, finally, what the British Government are going to get out of the business. No one will pretend to say that a quarter of an hour would be long enough to deal with all those questions.
– All those matters are not covered by any one clause of the Bill.
– I do not think that it is reasonable of the honorable senator to expect members of the Senate to get up in this chamber like jacksinthe<box and speak for a quarter of an hour now, a quarter of an hour a little later, and another quarter of an hour still later.
– The Standing Orders require honorable senators to do that now.
– I agree with the Minister that speeches should be limited, but I wish him to be generous in the circumstances to the extent of making the proposed standing order more flexible, so that, should an occasion arise when it is necessary for us to do our duty by a proper discussion of a Bill, we may be able to do it. I give notice now that it is my intention later to move to extend the time for second-reading speeches to an hour and a half, and to eliminate the necessity for the consent of the Senate, so that every honorable senator may have the right to speak on the second reading of a Bill for an hour and a half, and may not require to ask permission to do so as a privilege.
– There should not be much, if any, objection to the proposals which have been made by Senator Millen. He proposes that there should be no limit to the number of times an honorable senator may speak in Committee, and, as. it is our experience that an honorable senator very seldom speaks for more than fifteen minutes ‘at a time in Committee, that would leave things practically as they are.
– I have known the honorable senator to speak for an hour.
– Not in Committee. I point out that the privileges of honorable senators will be increased rather than diminished by the acceptance of Senator Millen’s suggestion. Senator Gardiner smiles, but it has been suggested that if Senator Millen’s proposals are accepted the “gag” will be removed, and so the privileges of honorable senators will be increased. By the application of the “gag” on one particular occasion to Senator Gardiner, every other member of the Senate who desired to speak was robbed of the opportunity.
– Honorable senators opposite did not “gag” Senator Gardiner; they “gagged themselves. They applied the “gag” after Senator Gardiner had spoken.
– That is so. But the “ gag “ was applied because of the misuse of the time of the Senate by Senator Gardiner, and other honorable senators were robbed of their opportunity to speak. I admit that the proposed standing order would take away the privilege of “ stone-walling “ and tiring honorable senators unnecessarily, but there is no honorable senator on the other side who will say that that is not a right and proper thing to do. I am well aware that honorable senators opposite did not agree with Senator Gardiner on the occasion to which I have referred. If they assist us now to put an end to that kind of thing, they will be giving effect to ‘their own views, and will be extending, rather than curtailing, their privileges.
To propose that the standing order be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee is only a win, tie, or wrangle argument, which cuts no ice with me. If that proposal were adopted, it would mean that the whole of the time occupied in this debate would bewasted. It is far better that we should now make such alterations in the proposed standing order as we think desirable.
– The honorable senator says that this debate would be waste of time, but Senator Millen has agreed to make certain modifications of the proposed standing order.
– Then why not accept them now? Why put off their consideration for another period two or threeweeks bence upon a new report from the Standing Orders Committee, and go over the matter de novo? We should settle the question now, and get it out of hand.
.- If the proposed standing order is agreed to, it will enable the majority in the Senate to control its business.
– They do so now.
– At present the majority may not do so. Senator Gardiner, in his wonderful twelve-hour speech, occupied the time of the Senate to such an extent that honorable senators on this side, and some on his own side, who desired, to move constructive amendments in the Electoral Bill, were prevented from doing so.
– Who stopped honorable senators opposite from moving constructive amendments ? They stopped themselves by applying the “ gag.”
– The “gag” was applied because of the attitude taken up by Senator Gardiner. Many honorable senators who desired to move amendments on the Electoral Bill were in such an exhausted condition after listening to Senator Gardiner for twelve hours, that they were unable to submit their amendments. One point which seems to have been overlooked was that raised by Senator Pratten, who pointed out that in the event of a question like the Peace proposals being under discussion, it would be competent for the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders altogether.
– Is that a desirableprecedent ?
– I do not think it undesirable. It was done the other day when Senator Needham brought up a certain matter, and in adopting that course the Senate was quite within its rights. In a matter like that referred to by Senator Pratten the discussion would not be of a party nature, and it stands to reason that there would be no difficulty in carrying a motion to suspend the Standing Orders. I fail to see any necessity for Senator Keating’s amendment to refer the proposed new standing order back to the Committee. Senator Gardiner has pointed out that the wording of a certain portion is not quite satisfactory, but we have been placed in similar positions on other occasions when dealing with Bills in Committee, and it has not been necessary ha refer any particular clause to a sub-Committee of the Senate for revision. On this occasion, therefore, there is no reason why we should not gather our intellects together and so alter the wording of the standing order that it will meet with the approval of all honorable senators. I admit that when I first read the recommendation I was under the impression that all honorable senators were in the same position as regards the privilege of speaking in Committee, but I now agree that the Minister would have greater opportunities than private members. I am prepared, therefore, to support Senator Bakhap’s amendment. If the recommendation is referred back to the Standing Orders Committee the discussion, which has lasted since shortly after 3 o’clock this afternoon, will be repeated on another occasion. As we have debated the matter thoroughly, and have come to certain conclusions, we should be able to finalize the motion now before the Committee, arid in that way avoid any duplication of this debate.
– We all seem to be very much, concerned about the restriction of rights of honorable senators, but as a matter of fact nearly all our Standing Orders regulate our privileges and rights in some way.
– In some cases they give us privileges which otherwise we would not have.
– That is so. We would do well to remember a very old aphorism, “ Freedom is the daughter of restraint.” Because of the latitude taken by certain speakers we have at times had to curtail proper debate upon important matters. I have listened for hours to speeches deliberately intended to obstruct the passage of measures, and involving frequently all-night sittings. I do not like to be personal, and I do not mean to be offensive when I say that the Leader of the Opposition, believing no doubt that he was discharging his public duty, on the occasion of the first Supply Bill introduced this session, spoke so long that it was practically impossible for any other honorable senator to offer any criticism of that measure.
– There was nothing to prevent them.
– There was plenty of time, no doubt, if we cared to sit up all night. But honorable senators who travel some hundreds of miles to reach Melbourne on the day when Parliament resumes after the week-end adjournment do not feel equal to an all-night sitting. If on the second reading of a Bill an. hour and a half is allowed to honorable senators, no member’s speech will be lengthened, while some speeches will be curtailed with advantage. Honorable senators at present have an opportunity to discuss matters of gravity under our Standing Orders, but the mover of a motion for the adjournment of the Senate is limited, and likewise the reply of the Minister and speeches of other honorable senators are limited to a certain time. Is this not a restriction on our privileges deliberately imposed by ourselves ?
– If that is a restriction there is no reason why we should have more of it.
– It is a restriction to prevent honorable senators from occupying time unduly by moving the adjournment of the Senate whenever they chose to discuss certain matters. It is now proposed, after all this debate, that we shall offend members of the Standing Orders Committee who went to the trouble of framing this recommendation by sending it back.
– That would not offend them.
– Surely we can determine the matter ourselves.
– One member of that Committee has pointed out that he could not be present at the particular meeting which decided this matter.
– That is a rather rare occurrence, and it should not be an excuse for the adoption of the amendment. I am satisfied it is not the reason uppermost in the honorable senator’s mind. It is not fair to the particular member referred to; but I am not going to discuss or criticise his absence from the meeting.
– I think you are wrong. Two members were not present.
– It is within our right to limit our own debate, and this ought not to be considered as a party proposal. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) told us that we were all to be extinguished shortly, and that the seats on this side of the chamber would be peopled by a different brand of politician. Very well ! When the honorable senator and his friends come over to this side, they will be able to exercise the majority power and limit debate. There is no desire to impose any restraint upon a particular individual. Most men are able to say what they want to say in a couple of hours.
– But it is not proposed to give two hours to honorable senators.
– Asquith made allhis most important speeches in twenty minutes.
– And he has also spoken for four hours and a half.
– We have records in the Senate of speeches running from six to eight hours or longer, andwhile the time taken may have been justified in certain circumstances, usually these speeches have been delivered for the purpose of obstructing business, and it should be our duty to so conduct our debates as to get through our work with a fair amount of expedition. The Leader of the Opposition stated that we had not sat, on an average, eight hours per week this session. I suppose that is true, but I know that he has managed to get his fair share of that eight hours every time.
– I wish you would come over here and relieve me of my position. I am not in love with it.
– I have not the slightest aspiration for the position, even with its honour and emoluments. I hope as the result of this debate, that in future we shall not trespass too much upon the liberties of honorable senators, but that in second -reading debates a fair amount of latitude shall be allowed. I think a Minister introducing a Bill should take whatever time may be necessary, and that the Leader of the Opposi tion, in reply, should be able to speak at greater length than the rank and file of either side.
– I must perforce speak again, because Senator Foll repeated Senator Bakhap’s statement that this proposed new standing order is directly aimed at me. It is of no use for Senator Mulcahy to deny it. It is a fact, and I say that so far as my leadership of the Opposition is concerned, I wish some honorable senator opposite had the job.’ By virtue of my position I am compelled to know something of every Bill that is presented. Honorable senators opposite, on the contrary, are prepared to accept what is offered by the Government. I do not blame them. I would like a following like that myself. There has been much talk of time-wasting in the Senate, but here are a few facts from the records of the present session. Since the 25th June, including to-day, the Parliament has sat on. nineteen sitting days, and the Senate on twelve only. On the other seven days the Senate stood adjourned. Out of the” twelve sitting days of the Senate, this Chamber adjourned three times before the dinner hour. When Senators Bakhap, de Largie, and Foll accuse me of wasting time they know that they are misleading the country.
– Because we can adjourn on some day3 before the dinner hour, is it any reason why we should stop here all night listening to one man?
– Senator Foll in his speech referred to the fact that on the Electoral Bill I spoke for a certain number of hours. He was not correct. On that occasion I was speaking upon the motion to suspend the Standing Orders. I did not prevent other honorable senators from discussing that measure. The Government was responsible for that, because they wanted to rush it through in an exhausted Senate. The condition of affairs in this country to-day is so aggravating to honorable senators opposite that they cannot bear to hear a word about public matters for which they are responsible. Therefore, they are setting out upon a system of coercion and stifling of public comment, in the hope of smothering criticism. Their methodof procedure will necessitate amendments of the Standing Orders pretty well every week. So soon as they realize that this, their latest, proposition for squelching debate and criticism has failed, that the leak has not been stopped, but that there has been a break-out elsewhere, they will have to get to work again to seal the further leakage. And so it will continue. The good conduct of this Senate can only be secured by the will of all concerned. I do not take much exception to Senator Bakhap’s expressions of censure, for the reason that there is in his remarks a breadth of view which makes his criticism bearable. Senator de Largie, however, was the most persistent Oppositionist with whom I ever had dealings. As for Senator Givens, I am informed, with regard to the limitation of speeches imposed in the Queensland Parliament, that it was he who was responsible for such restrictions. He was so inveterate an Oppositionist that the Standing Orders had to be altered time after time to cope with his tactics. I have listened to Senator Givens speaking at very great length, and I have heard him with considerable pleasure, when he was in Opposition-.
The whole cause of the failure on the part of deliberative assemblies has been the complacent attitude of large majorities in accepting Government proposals without full and free discussion. To-day’s debate has been of no importance compared with a debate which may arise very shortly upon any one clause of the Commercial Activities Bill. If a mistake is made either in the acceptance or rejection of a new standing order, it is an error which can have little or no effect upon the country. But if mistakes are made, owing to the lack of opportunity for fully and freely discussing such a measure as the Commercial Activities Bill, the result upon the community maj’ be far-reaching.
– The first part of the new standing order commends itself generally to me. It is with regard to the second portion that I have been most seriously disturbed. I have already pointed out that it is eminently undesirable that honorable senators should be restricted in their participation in Committee discussions. It may well be that the more ‘frequent their speeches, and the briefer, the better. In view of the disposition of honorable senators generally to eliminate most of the provisions contained within the second paragraph, I shall accept the request of Senator Bakhap, and withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The proposed standing order, if amended as foreshadowed by Senator Bakhap, will read, “ In Committee no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour on any one question.” We have been enphasizing the necessity for speaking dur- ing Committee more often than once upon any one subject. Our very discussion of the proposed new standing order is providing proof of the necessity for leaving the Standing Orders as they exist.
Senator Mulcahy regards a great many of out Standing Orders as amounting to a limitation of our rights and privileges. His view was that since they were limitations, there could be no harm in making further limitations. That is to say, because we cut off the dog’s tail, there can be no harm in hacking off his hind legs. Throughout the debate no valid reason has been presented for our acceptance of the standing order. Suppose that an honorable senator were to transgress inordinately in the matter of lengthy speeches, that is no reason why other honorable senators should place further limitations upon their own rights. Some honorable senators appear to consider that we should accept the new proposition, for the reason that we have something still more serious within our Standing Orders, namely, provision of the application of the “gag.” The argument is not logical. Our sense of loathing in regard to the closure limits its usage. We know that it cannot be put into operation until its application has been moved. There must be volition. But the new standing order would provide automatic machinery.’ The Opposition of to-day may be the Government of another day. The boomerang which we hurl to-day may knock us down to-morrow. I have been glancing hastily through the Bills upon our files, and I have been seized of the fact that if we adopt the new standing order the Chair- man of Committees will be asked times without number to determine whether the samo question is being discussed as was being debated a few minutes earlier. We should, preserve our rights, and not merely for the sake of our own individuality ; indeed, I would be prepared to sink that. What we should see to is that such representations as we may have to make should be employed most effectively. Our acceptance of this standing order would be tantamount to panic legislation. I regret to say that in Committee there are rarely more than onethird of the honorable senators present throughout the whole period. Yet there is no phase of our legislative activities more important than work done in Committee. Let us suggest, as an example, that a Bill having to do with the liquor traffic is under consideration in Committee. Senator Thomas, I am sure,would experience great difficulty in confining himself, on his two occasions, to a quarter of an hour each time.
– It is in Committee that the “stone-walling” is done.
– Bills are made in Committee.
– What is your objection to the proposal of the Government when you can speak as often as you like in Committee?
– By interjection honorable senators can entirely divert the trend of a speaker’s thought, and cloud the mind of the Committee. It is necessary for one to concentrate, in dealing with important measures, and it is unwise of us to support any proposal to limit speeches in Committee to a quarter of an hour.
– It does not mean that.
– It means that if some one intervenes, the senator speaking may not deal with the point in the manner he desires. In answering interjections, we are very often taken off the trail. We have to- bear in mind that in framing new standing orders it should be our desire to improve our present practice, and not to hobble ourselves in any way. I am not prepared to accept the proposed new standing order .or the amendment.
– I have to propose that, in paragraph 1, the words “and a half “ be inserted after “ one hour “ iu the first line, and that in the fourth line the words “ one hour and a half “ be eliminated, and “ two hours “ be substituted; also, that all words after “any senator may move,” in the same paragraph, be struck out. It will then read -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour and a half at a time in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the second reading of a Bill, he shall be at liberty to speak for two hours.
It will be noticed that this practically makes the limitation to speeches what was originally proposed should the consent of the Senate be obtained. It gives senators the right to speak for the longer term mentioned in the proposed standing order, and does not force them to ask for it as a privilege. In the first instance, I move -
That after the word “hour” first occurring in the first paragraph of the proposed standing order, the words “ and a half “ be inserted.
– It appears that the discussion that has taken place has been such that the Government should, without wasting the time of the Committee, withdraw the proposal and say no more about it.
– Why not pass it and say no more about it ?
– I do not intend to say very much about it, but the suggestion made by Senator Pratten is a step in the right direction. The majority of senators do not desire to speak for two hours, but there are some who come prepared to speak at greater length, and who have taken the trouble to look thoroughly into the measure under discussion. They feel that they cannot do justice to themselves or to the people they represent, if the time at their disposal is to be unduly limited, even- as suggested under the amendment proposed by Senator Pratten. It is unthinkable that Senator Pratten, for instance, could deal with the Commercial Activities Bill in two hours.
– That is a strong argument in favour of the proposed new standing order.
– No, it is not. It must be remembered in connexion with the Commercial Activities Bill, that the Government are attempting to do something which may be quite unconstitutional. We could not expect a commercial man like Senator Pratten to deal with such a measure as the Commercial Activities Bill in two hours.
– Will you promise to listen to the whole of his speech when he delivers it?
– I am always in the chamber, and am at all times prepared to listen to the speeches of honorable senators opposite. Can any honorable senator imagine Senator Bolton dealing with the maladministration of the Department of Repatriation in such a limited period ? If the Government were to bring forward an amending Land Tax Bill, would any honorable senator suggest that I should be limited to two hours in discussing its various provisions ? In connexion with the Northern Territory,I have seen honorable senators come into this chamber, prepared to give us the benefit of their ideas and experience, but, for variousreasons, they have been prevented from fully expressing their views. Under the proposed arrangement, the Government will have the opportunity of preventing honorable senators from dealing at length with questions of such magnitude. There are many questions that come before this National Parliament that call for lengthy and analytical discussion, and there should not be an obnoxious standing order of this character to prevent us dealing fully with questions of great importance. We are limited in number, and it is only on rare occasions that we have had lengthy speeches during the past three or four years. I should be very sorry if the Senate were foolish enough to listen to the Government, or be misled in adopting a proposal of this character.
I disagree with the statements made by Senator Mulcahy in regard to speeches made in this chamber. The amendment moved by Senator Pratten, although a step inthe right direction, does not go far enough, and I do not think the business of the Senate has ever been delayed to any appreciable extent. The Chamber appears to b.e developing Industrial Workers of the World principles, and has adopted the “go-slow” policy. It is now the desire of the Government to pretend to the electors that the fault is on this side, and that they are endeavouring to facilitate the work by limiting the time of speeches. I have vivid recollections of Senators Bakhap, Millen, ex-Senator Gould, and Senator Keating, when on this side of the chamber, speaking at great length, and there was not the slightest objection.
– They gave you such good matter.
– It is an intellectual treat to listen to the speeches of Senator Bakhap. It has always been of benefit to listen to such speakers as Senators Bakhap, Pratten, and Millen; and I would be very sorry, indeed, if their speeches were curtailed. The speeches on this side compare favorably with those of honorable senators opposite, and I am not prepared to assist the Government in their desire to make inroads into our rights. I doubt if on any occasion in this Chamber an honorable senator has unnecessarily encroached upon the time of other honorable senators. I am of opinion that we will do the right thing if we reject, the proposed new standing order.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Pratten’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Seeing that the Committee has been unwilling to accept my amendment to extend the time to an hour and a half, I will not submit the amendment I intended to propose, extending the time on certain occasions to two hours.
– I desire to move -
That in the second paragraph of the proposed standingorderthe words “ or more than twice “ be left out.
If that amendment be carried, I shall move that the words “ before the Committee” be also left out.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that my amendment to delete the whole of the second paragraph should take precedence of that which Senator Bakhap wishes to move. If the Committee determines, in: its wisdom, that the paragraph should remain
– It cannot then be altered.
– If the Committee accepts the amendment I have suggested, there will be an end of the matter; but if, as indicated by the last division, the Committee decides to retain that paragraph, it can then be amended as Senator Bakhap proposes.
– (Senator Newland). - We could not go back upon the paragraph even though the amendment suggested by Senator Needham were defeated. It is, therefore, necessary for me to rule that proposed amendments of the paragraph must take precedence of an amendment to omit it as a whole.
– On a point of order, I have an amendment prior to that which Senator Bakhap has submitted. I wish to move the omission of certain words in the first paragraph, which I regard as redundant.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I have not yet put Senator Bakhap’s amendment to the Committee.
.- I move-
That the words “ at a time “ in the first paragraph of the proposed standing order be left out.
In my view, these words are redundant, and if permitted to remain they may be regarded as having some meaning. In debates in. the Senate, honorable senators are not allowed to speak more than once, and so the words “at a time” in this case are unnecessary.
– There is very much in what Senator Mulcahy says, but his amendment scarcely goes far enough. Now that honorable senators have decided upon the limitation of speeches, I think that if a thing is done it should be well done, and we should provide that no honorable senator shall speak for more than one hour during his term in the Senate. Senator Mulcahy has proposed that the words “at a time” be left out. I think he should add the words “ in any debate,” so that the standing order would read, “ No senator shall speak for more than one hour in the Senate.”
– That is a frivolous suggestion.
– I am anxious to get on with the business which honorable senators opposite have in hand. They are trying to bring the Senate into contempt and ridicule.
– That is not so.
– The honorable senator’s intentions are good enough; but we may as well do this in a thorough manner, and carry a standing order that no honorable senator shall speak for more than one hour during his six years’ term.
That will be only carrying to an absurdity what honorable senators opposite are now trying to do by restricting the liberties, rights, and privileges of the representatives of the people in this Chamber.
– I should like to know how the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) would interpret the second sentence in paragraph 1 of the proposed standing order, which reads -
Any senator may move that the limit of one hour and a half may be extended for thirty minutes.
Does that mean that the senator who is speaking at the time may submit a motion for the” extension of his time?
– That is the question I asked.
– That is so; and I repeat the question. Does it mean that an honorable senator addressing the Senate may move that his time be extended, or must some honorable senator other than the speaker submit that motion ?
– The honorable senator might allow my amendment, which is purely verbal, to be decided first.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the words “ in the debate “ in the first paragraph of the proposed standing order be left out.
If this amendment be agreed to, the first paragraph will read -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour in any debate in the Senate except that on the Address in Reply - and so on.
.- I think Senator Mulcahy is going too far, because the debate on the Address-in-Reply is singled out as one to be excepted.
– We could strike out the words “ that in the debate.”
– The position appears to be getting a little mixed. No honorable senator cam speak on the AddressinReply, which is an address to His Excellency the Governor-General. It is the debate on that address that comes before the Senate. If the word “that” be eliminated, the phraseology will not be improved.
– The difficulty would be overcome by the insertion of the word “ in “ before “ that.”
– If the honorable senator will read a little further on, he will see that the position would not be improved, because it would then be necessary to insert the word “ that “ after “ Bill “ lower down.
.- I should like to point out again that this standing order proposes to limit the rights of honorable senators in ‘Committee to two speeches on any subject; and Senator Mulcahy, on a trivial amendment such as is now before honorable senators, has already spoken three times. This shows how we are tying ourselves up by agreeing to a standing order which will .prove useless. I hope the suggestion I made at an earlier stage, that the matter be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee for draftsmanship, will be agreed to. I have no idea of shelving the proposal, and I remind honorable senators that, at the suggestion of ‘Senator Fairbairn, the Government recently withdrew a Bill from the Committee in order to consult with the draftsman, so that its provisions might he set out clearly. I hope, therefore, that the recommendation will be referred back to the Committee, in order that we may have a smooth expression of the crystallized intelligence of the Senate.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I have no desire to prolong the discussion, ‘but the further we proceed the more apparent it is that the report should be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. Senator Keating gave splendid reasons why this should be done, but, for some reason known to himself, he is now supporting the Government.
– I gave reasons for the course I took subsequently, and the Committee gave me leave to withdraw my amendment.
– If we refer the report back to the Committee, members ofthat body, after this debate, will be in a position to know exactly what the Senate wants. I move -
That the report be referred back to the Committee for reconsideration.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Bakhap) agreed to -
That in paragraph 2 of the proposed standing order the words “ “or more than twice,” be left out.
Amendment (by Senator Bakhap) proposed -
That all the words after the word “ question,” in paragraph 2 of the proposed standing order be left out.
– Before this amendment is put, I should like to have a distinct understanding as to what is intended by the use of the word “ question.” We have no power to amend certain Bills, but may “ request “ another place to amend them. We ought to make it clear that the word “ question “ would include such a re quest, as well as the original question stated by the Chair. Will a “request” be a “ question “ within the meaning of this new standing order?
– No doubt that is Senator Bakhap’s intention, but be may not be in the. chair when such a point is raised. If he will add to his amendment a definition of the word “ question,” showing that it includes a request, I shall be satisfied. We should set out in the standing order the precise intention of the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
. - I desire to move the following amendment, which I temporarily withdrew to enable prior amendments to be dealt with: -
That paragraph 2 of the proposed standing order, as amended, beleft out.
– I submit, sir, that the honorable senator’s amendment would hardly be in order. We have already decided that certain words in the paragraph shall stand, and that the remaining words shall be deleted. 1 submit that we cannot go back and strike out words to which we have already agreed.
– On the point of order, I would remind you, sir, that, at your own suggestion, I gave way to allow other honorable senators to move amendments providing for the omission of certain portions of the paragraph. Those amendments having been dealt with, part of the paragraph still remains, and I desire that it shall be omitted.
– Early in the debate I suggested a way by which Senator Needham could submit his amendment without interfering with the rights ofother honorable senators. The honorable senator, however, said that he did not intend to take my advice. As he failed to do so, I submit that he must now conform to the Standing Orders. I tried, in all good faith, to show him how he could submit his amendment without impairing the right of any other honorable senator to move an amendment to the paragraph, but he elected to disregard my advice, and somewhat gibed at me for offering it, so that he ought not now to complain.
– I am surprised that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) should have raised this point of order. It has been understood throughout this debate that Senator Needham intended to move the omission of the whole paragraph, and I am satisfied that you, sir, knew of that intention. This is not quite playing the game. I do not care whether the amendment is made or not, but I do not think it fair for Senator Millen to try to prevent Senator Needham from obtaining the decision of the Committee as to the making of an amendment which it was well known he desired to move. You, sir, led him to think that he would have an opportunity to obtain a vote on this question. I ask Senator Millen not to press his point of order, since, after all, we undoubtedly desire to ascertain the opinion of honorable senators on all these questions.
– As Senator Needham says, this was the first amendment moved, and throughout the discussions which have taken place it has been contemplated that whatever might happen in regard to paragraph 2, Senator Needham’s temporary withdrawal of his amendment should not prejudice his right to move it.
– If some such understanding was arrived at, then, although I had no knowledge of it, I want to withdraw all that I have said.
– I think that the Temporary Chairman took that view in the suggestion he made.
– (Senator Newland). - Senator Needham withdrew his amendment at the request of the Committee and on my advice. I was certainly under the impression that he would have an opportunity of again moving the omission of the paragraph. We are, however, in a difficulty, since the paragraph has now been amended, and, under the Standing Orders, it is not competent to move, for the deletion of words that have already been agreed to. When the resolution is reported to the Senate, however, it will be possible for Senator Needham to move the deletion of the paragraph.
– May I, sir, make a suggestion ? We know that the clause of a Bill may ,be amended in Committee, and that the fact that it has been amended does not debar honorable senators from negativing the whole clause as amended. I suggest that the same course might very reasonably be pursued in this case.
– I am glad to have the advice of the President, because his remarks meet entirely with my own views, and indicate, in effect, exactly what I had wished to do.
– I am glad that you, sir, intend to stick to the Standing Orders, and that you agree that the position now is that this Committee has struck out everything, including the words “and recommend that the same be adopted.”
– We have not struck out those words.
– The Committee has just agreed to leave out all the words to the end.
– To the end of the paragraph.
– All the words were struck out by the deliberate vote of this Committee. No doubt, it was not intended to delete them, but the Committee has actually done so. As a matter of fact, the Committee has been travelling so rapidly in its efforts to place this restriction of our rights upon the Standing Orders that it has overreached itself.
– Those words, “ and recommend that the same be adopted,” are not part of the proposed new standing order.
– The amendment with which we have just been dealing was to strike out the whole of the remaining words; and it is now suggested that we should go back over our tracks, notwithstanding that we cannot thus undo anything we have done.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The question was put from the Chair, “ That all the words to the end of the paragraph be left out.” All those words to the end of the paragraph have been struck out; but the words, “ and recom- mend that the same be adopted “ have not been left out. I rule that Senator Needham may move his amendment.
– I thank you, sir, andcan only express my surprise that the Minister should have attempted to “gag” me; that he should have sought to prevent me from moving my amendment. Senator Millen knew perfectly well that the opportunity would be afforded me to move in the direction I had already indicated. There is still a portion of the paragraph in question remaining. I move therefore -
That paragraph 2 of the proposed standing order be left out.
Question put. TheCommittee divided.
Ayes . . . . . . 12
Noes . . . . . . 16
Question so resolvedin the negative.
– I move-
That the following words be added to the proposed standing order : - “ Provided that each speaker be allowed two minutes for every occasion on which he is interrupted by senators on the opposite side of the chamber.”
I find that the chief difficulty in delivering even the briefest remarks arises from the habit of honorable senators opposite in continually interrupting. If honorable senators are to be limited to such an extent as to make it almost impossible to speak with anything like satisfactory results upon an important question, it is only fair that they should be given an extra two minutes for every interruption caused by the interjection of a senator on the other side of the chamber.
.- I should like to ask the President, through you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, what will be his definition of paragraph 1 with regard to extensions of time. Will it be necessary for the senator speaking, or for somebody else, to move for an extension, and will the motion require to be seconded?
– We have already dealt with that part of the proposed new standing order, and I do not think that we should go over the ground again. In any case, the proper time to raise the question will be when the standing order is in operation.
Question - That the proposed new standing order, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question soresolved in the affirmative.
Proposed standing order reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 August 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190813_senate_7_89/>.