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Wednesday, 5 May 1920

Mr HIGGS (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) -I wish to make a per sonal explanation regarding a statement . published in this morning's Age concerning an amendment that I moved yesterday, when the Senate's message about the RepatriationBill was under consideration. The Age states -

A suggestion by Mr. Considine that this move was instigated by the Government was resented by Mr. Higgs as being particularly offensive, and in accordance with parliamentary practice, Mr. Considine was required to withdraw the remark. Subsequently, however, several members pointedly commented on the fact that the proposal submitted by Mr. Higgs was similar in every respect to that outlined by the Minister for Repatriation when the Bill was before the Senate.

Attention is also drawn to the fact that when the division was taken I was absent. I assure honorable members that I did not hear Senator Milieu's speech, and had not read it until this morning. I find that he said -

If some of the gentlemen who have been so ardent in their desire to have industries started by the returned soldiers showed their faith in the proposition by agreeing to subsidize the proposals, or to advance £1 for every £1 advanced by the country for this purpose, I should have greater faith in the value of the proposals they make.

I was not aware until this morningthat Senator Millen had expressed those views. The way in which I came to move my amendment was this: The Government Whip (Mr. Burchell) asked me how I proposed to vote in regard to the Senate's amendments, and I told him that I had already said in the House that the clause inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) contained the germ of a great idea, which I did not feel disposed to reject altogether; and I suggested an amendment of it, asking him if he would see the Minister about it. I did not see the Minister at all in connexion with my amendment.

Mr Austin Chapman - What harm would it have done if the honorable member had seen him?

Mr HIGGS - I am objecting to an attempt to put me in a false position. The Government Whip returned, and said that the Minister had no objection to what I proposed, but would I see the parliamentary draftsman. I handed to him the words that I wished to insert in the clause, and they were embodied in an amendment exactly asI had written them,the parliamentary draftsman adding some words which the Minister thought should be added to provide for the making of regulations. It is true that I was absent when the division took place, but that was because I was ata meeting called by Professor Leeper for the formation of an association for the study of modern languages, and I had a pair from the Labour Whip (Mr. James Page), who kindly said that if he could get no one else he would pair with me himself. That is the whole story.

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