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Wednesday, 29 June 1921


Senator PEARCE - Our weapon - is the black rod.


Senator GARDINER - If the black rod will do the business as well, I do hot see why the officer. in charge of it should not carry it round the chamber in opening the sittings of the Senate. Since we last discussed the wig, I have been looking up history for information about it. I spoke of it as originating away back, in the very early days, but quite a number of people have since assured me that- 1 was absolutely wrong, and that the wig came into use in the middle of the seventeenth century. One gentleman quoted to me what that great diarist Pepys said when wigs were coming into general use in England. He stated that the wig came to England from the French Court. The then King of France, Louis the "umpteenth" - I am not sure which one it was - was a very vain man, and very proud of his hair. When it began to 'fall out -he adopted the wig to cover up what he considered a deformity. The aristocrats of England after chat time all wore wigs. I am speaking of a period ' just following the real Revolution, when, for the first time, England had a republican form of government, which, I venture to say, proved itself the most effective form of government it ever had. Pepys spoke of wigs coming into general use in that country in .the middle of the seventeenth century, and added that he had just had his wig baked. I understand that the aristocrats in these days all wore their hair long, and were fairly "lousy." When wigs came into general use, it was an easy way to get rid of the vermin to have them baked, and there were public places where that was done. Another place might accept a suggestion from me to provide an amount on the Estimates for the establishment of an oven in connexion with this Parliament. The presiding officer of -another place has worn the wig for some time, and now that it has been adopted in the Senate, I do not think we should have it by itself. If another place has the mace, we should at least have the black rod, and introduce more form and ceremony into the opening of the Seriate to give the proceedings the proper amount of dignity. There might be a parade twice round the chamber before the President took the chair in his wig, so that we might see him" to full advantage in his flowing robes, and admire him in the costume he has now adopted. I shall not quote again the statements he made in the earlier days to show how strongly he was opposed to- the wearing of the wig when he had not the job himself, or dilate on how strongly he hankered after the fleshpots of Egypt when he had not got them. The thing that was to him an abomination in the costume of the gentleman who presided over the Senate at that time took on quite a different aspect after he was elected to the position. He then found it necessary to adorn himself as his earlier predecessors had done. '


Senator Payne - What is the amount we propose to vote for the wig this year ?


Senator GARDINER - I do not know. That was the point which troubled the President when he was a private member.

In those days he reckoned that one of the expenses which Parliament would have to meet would be the varnishing of the black rod occasionally, and I take it that his wig will have to be brushed, or powdered, oi combed, or even baked now and then. Now that we have begun to dignify the proceedings of Parliament by the wearing of a wig, we ought seriously to lay ourselves out to see whether we cannot go further. Imagine the President, preceded by the black rod and followed by the other officials, majestically parading round the chamber, and honorable senators standing bareheaded, and with heads bowed, as they passed ! What a splendid commencement that would be for the session ! Having taken one step, the President should take a few more.


Senator Wilson - What do you suggest for the Leader of the Opposition?


Senator GARDINER - It would be quite in keeping with the views of his opponents if the Leader of the Opposition were to lie down, and permit the President to walk over him. That, I presume, is one of those matters that will be left to honorable senators to decide. Probably it can be arranged to their satisfaction, if not to mine. I do not know that the President would desire to wipe his feet on me. I think he is satisfied with the authority he exercises in the Chamber. I know that I am more than satisfied. I thought it right to express . these few thoughts regarding Parliament on an occasion when Mr. President, being present on the floor of the chamber, has the opportunity to reply to them.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Divisions 13 to 19 (Prime Minister's Department), £18,877.







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