11 November 1908

3rd Parliament · 3rd Session

The President took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Congratulations to The President and Sir Robert Best

Senator MILLEN:
New South Wales

– I offer to you, Mr. President, and to Senator Sir Robert Best, with,I am sure, the cordial concurrence of honor- able senators, hearty congratulations upon the honours conferred upon you by His Majesty the King. Those who have been associated with you, sir, in the work of this Chamber recognise that your honour is well merited, while Senator Sir Robert Best, as Chairman of Committees, and, subsequently, in the more responsible position of Vice-President of the Executive Council has discharged his public duties in a way which we are pleased to see recognised. I trust that I shall not be regarded as sounding a discordant note ifI express some measure of personal disappointment and surprise that the honour conferred on you, Mr. President, is not of that grade which your services had led us to expect.

Senator McGREGOR:
South Australia

– I desire to add my congratulations to those of the leader of the Opposition. You, sir, and Senator Sir Robert Best have always behaved towardsyour fellow-senators in such a manner that we are glad that these distinctions have been conferred upon you, and we hope that you will both live long to enjoy them.

ThePRESIDENT.- I thank honorablesenators for their congratulations, and for the kind wishes which they have expressed. The position of President of the Senate is one of great importance, in itself entitled to recognition, but whether the recognition just bestowed is or is not sufficient is now beside the question. I realize that the honour conferred has been given to me, not as Senator Gould, but as the President, and I am glad that the Chamber has thus received recognition in the person of its highest officer. I am indebted to honorable senators, first, for their kindness in having elected me to this high office, and, next, for having retained my services, and assisted me so greatly in the conduct of business. I trust that the harmonious relations which have hitherto existed between us will remain unbroken ; that there will never be any serious “ rift in the lute.” A President or Chairman of Committees must occasionally give rulings or take action which may appear to be harsh and strict, but a presiding officer can have but one object, to so conduct the deliberations of the Chamber as to assure to every honorable senator the full enjoyment of his rights, to permit of the transaction of business with despatch, and to facilitate the recording of the will of the Senate. I again thank honorable senators for their congratulations, and the kind manner in which they have always treated me since I have occupied the chair.

Senator Sir ROBERT BEST:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Victoria · Protectionist

[2.36]. - I thank Senator Millen and Senator McGregor for their kind references to the recognition of my services in the honour recently conferred upon me. What is still more gratifying is the knowledge which I am privileged to enjoy that the greatest goodwill exists between myself and honorable senators irrespective of the side of the Chamber on which they may sit. Nothing in my term of office has been more pleasing to me than that, and I tender honorable senators my sincere and grateful acknowledgment of their generous kindness and consideration.

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Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best) read a first time.

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Resignation of Ministers

Senator Sir ROBERT BEST:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Victoria · Protectionist

[2.38]. - I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Events elsewhere have made necessary a change of Government, and Ministers have tendered to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, the resignation of their portfolios, which, upon the formation of a new Administration, will, of course, be accepted. In the circumstances, it is my formal duty to move this motion. In leaving the Ministerial bench, and relinquishing what have been termed the “ sweets of office,” I tender to honorable senators my sincere and heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Government for the courtesy and attention which it has been their privilege to enjoy in this Chamber during their term of office. I am going to ask my colleague, Senator Keating, to speak for himself. I may be permitted to say personally that it is gratifying to me to feel that, although our discussions have often been heated - the questions dividing us involving matters of an exceedingly controversial character - as a reference to the statute-book will show - there is not the remotest trace of bitterness in the thoughts of any of us towards the other.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.

Senator Sir ROBERT BEST:

– It remains for me to say that I am grateful to you, sir, for the courtesy that has been extended to me from the Chair, and also to the Chairman of Committees; and to acknowledge the splendid services of the officers of the Senate, not forgetting those of the Hansard staff. We can only hope that the succeeding Government will be as anxious - and I am sure they will be - and as earnest to forward the best interests of Australia as the outgoing Government have been, however ineffectual may have been their efforts. The motion for the adjournment of the Senate will involve meeting tomorrow at the usual hour. I assume that the new Government will have been formed by then, and, of course, theirs’ will be the responsibility of leading the Senate. As to our subsequent procedure their convenience will, no doubt, be consulted. I must, however, before sitting down, mention that there is a rather urgent matter which I am sure will engage their early attention, and that is the ratification or otherwise by Parliament of the proposal to purchase a site for the High Commissioner’s offices in Trafalgar Square, London. I again offer my sincere thanks to honorable senators for the generous consideration which it has been my privilege to receive from them during my term of office.

Senator KEATING:
Minister of Home Affairs · Tasmania · Protectionist

– In seconding the motion which has been moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I wish to take the opportunity of addressing a few words to my colleagues in all parts of the Chamber. There would be no necessity, for me to add anything to what has been said by my leader were it not for a matter personal to myself. It is now a little less than three and a half years since I first had the honour and responsibility of accepting office. I think I am right in saying that I was the youngest member of the Chamber, and I was certainly the most inexperienced. I had then to face men who, in years and political experience, were very much my seniors.. But from the moment when I took my seat as a Minister on this bench I received from honorable senators on all sides - no matter how acrimonious may at times have been our debates - the fullest measure of courtesy and consideration, and, I would add, in many instances kindly assistance. I should therefore be lacking in my duty if I did not take this opportunity of tendering my thanks to honorable senators. That one, perhaps the most junior and inexperienced, may be called upon to take office and responsibility, and have extended to him the courtesy, the consideration, and the generosity that I have received, speaks very highly indeed for the character and quality of this Chamber. It is, sir. a branch of the Legislature of which I think any Australian may well be proud to be a member, whether official or non-official. With these few words I again offer my thanks to honorable senators for the kindness which I have, during my term of office, received at their hands.

Senator MILLEN:
New South Wales

– I rise to support the motion, and I do so for this reason : A few days ago a political crisis occurred, and this Senate decided, after a somewhat long debate, that in view of the challenge which had been issued to the Government, it was desirable to adjourn. We did adjourn, and thus enabled members of one party to manifest their confidence in the Government. It seems to me, therefore, that the precedent which we then established should be followed now, and that an opportunity should be given to thatparty to show that it lacks the confidence which a fortnight ago it expressed itself as possessing.I might perhaps go a little further and follow the lead of the two retiring Ministers. I admit that it is extremely difficult to dissociate the personal from the political element on an occasion of this kind, but I extricatemyself from that difficultyby saying that I extend my personal sympathy to them, while, at the same time, I offer them my political congratulations upon the events which have brought about the impending change. I canjoin with Ministers in saying that the relations between the members of parties in this Chamber have left but little to be desired ; and I only trust that whatever change is brought about the same good understanding will prevail, and the same courteous consideration be extended to honorable senators generally.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 2.46 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 November 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.