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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Mr SALMON (Deputy Speaker) - I think, sir, that perhaps I had better say a word or two in regard to this matter. In doing so, I desire to reciprocate the very hearty expressions of good-will which have fallen from the lips of the mover of this motion. I recognise at once the inherent right of every honorable member - and I should' be the last to interfere with iti - to dissent from any ruling- which may be given. I. also feel that the decision of this House will be of a strictly impersonal and non-party character. In the first place, I should like briefly to relate the circumstances under which mv ruling was given. Those circumstances must be taken into consideration, and I do not think some of the instances given are apposite. The adjournment of the debate had been moved, " and several honorable members had addressed themselves to the motion. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra then rose to advance reasons in support of it. He spoke for some time, and then attempted to use the condition of the officers of the House as an argument in favour of the proposal to adjourn. I drew his attention to the fact that that argument had been previously used in the debate. I hive looked up Hansard, and I find that it was employed by two honorable members, namely, the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and the honorable member for Macquarie. I had a distinct recollection of it having been used, and I drew die attention of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra to that fact, but did not give an v ruling. He then asked whether the fact that an argument had been previously used by another honorable member would debar him from repeating it. I then gave my main ruling, which was not quoted by the honorable .and learned member for Wannon, but which was read by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It is as follows : -

Mr. Speakerhas already ruled, and it is in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons, that repetition may consist not only of a re-statement of a matter by the honorable member who is addressing the House, but also of .a re-statement of the arguments of those who have preceded him. As the statement which the honorable member was making has already been made by other honorable members, I ask him not to repeat it.

That ruling was at once questioned by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who handed me a dissent in writing, which I ruled out of order, because to my mind 5/t did not express the ruling which I had given, either fully, or even impartially. The honorable and learned member then withdrew his dissent, but in the meantime the honorable and learned member for Illawarra had prepared another. Between the period when I gave the ruling, and 'that at which the dissent was handed in, the matter had been referred to two or three times. There was a good deal of confusion prevailing, and directly the Hansard proofs were supplied to me, I noted that where I used -or intended t'o use - the plural, the singular had been employed by the reporter. _ Following the usual practice, had I considered it desirable. I would certainly have made my subsequent rulings agree with the original ruling, by altering the latter to the plural. That is the point to which the honorable and learned member for Corinella has alluded. When the honorable and learned member for Illawarra handed in his dissent, I felt that it did not express my ruling, and honorable members will recollect that I suggested at least one alteration in it. But 1 had .another alteration in my mind - an alteration to the use of the plural. As, however, the honorable and learned member was anxious that I should accept his dissent, I did so. At the same time, I feel that it does not express the original ruling which I gave. That ruling, I desire to say, was quite in accordance with the ruling of Mr. Speaker, and also with the practice of the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson - It involves a very dangerous restriction of liberty

Mr SALMON - I am not responsible for that. The occupant of the Chair is bound by precedent just as much as hon- orable members themselves are bound by the Standing Orders. I feel, however, that the honorable and learned member for Illawarra believed - though other honorable members did not - that in my ruling I had used the singular, and that I had stated that an honorable member would not be in order in repeating an argument which had been used by another honorable member.

Mr Fuller - The honorable member approved of the terms of my dissent.

Mr SALMON - I gave no ruling upon it. I said that it did not express my ruling. The honorable and learned member then asked in what respect it did not express it, and I told him that it did not contain the words "in the same debate."

Mr Fuller - I altered it accordingly.

Mr SALMON - That is so. But the honorable and learned member can understand that during a time of commotion it is not possible to take a note of everything. I did not feel satisfied with the form of his dissent then, and I certainly do not fee', satisfied with it now.

Mr McCay - Do I understand that the honorable member adheres to his first ruling?

Mr SALMON - Yes, to my original rul-ing. I think that it should stand. I will frankly admit that I was in some doubt as to whether I had the power to refuse to accept the dissent of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra in the form in which he had drafted it. But he very kindly agreed to alter it in one regard, and I feel sure that had the atmosphere been calm I would have requested him to amend it in another direction, and that probably he would have done so. '

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