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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I very much regret the personal element that has been introduced into the debate. It rather seems to me that if a South Australian happened to be Minister of External Affairs, instead of being biased in his administration in favour of his own State, he would be so careful in his conduct as to insist on things being strained against his State, so as to make sure that he was not' exercising undue influence in its favour. Suppose that the Minister of External Affairs were a Queenslander. Is it to be supposed that any man occupying his position would unduly strain matters so as to take the railway through his own State? I should hope that he would not. But according to some honorable senators who have spoken, that is just the position that such a Minister would take up. It is altogether wrong to impute conduct of this kind to a Minister, no matter who he is. The Minister is responsible to Parliament, and if he commits any maladministration, or uses any undue influence, his conduct may be reviewed in Parliament. No matter what Government may be in power, the conduct of a Minister should not be impugned without specific reason being given. Nothwithstanding, however, what has been said by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I think that he would be welladvised to amend the definition by striking out the first part of it. I do not see that by making this amendment we should be expressing any lack of confidence in the Minister of External Affairs, or that we should be casting any suspicions upon him. In every way, it would be better if the first part of the definition were eliminated. It might be desirable to place certain matters affecting the Territory in the hands of the Minister of Trade and Customs or in the hands of the Treasurer. It might be desirable for many reasons to make alterations in the methods of administration. In that event if this provision were retained it would be necessary to introduce an amending Bill. By leaving out the words to which I have referred, however, the Territory would pass under the control of the Minister of External Affairs for the time being, and it would be possible to make any administrative alteration later on which might be deemed desirable. I therefore suggest that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should accept a modification of the definition in the direction indicated.

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