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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator SAYERS (Queensland) - -I thought at one time that the VicePresident of the Executive Council would have been willing to accept an amendment of the clause which would meet the views of many. honorable senators. I have said that it may be but a coincidence that the honorable gentleman at the head of the External Affairs Department is a representative of South Australia, but my objection is to this matter being taken out of the hands of the Department of Home Affairs. If I had not objected on that account I shorn1 d not have said .anything on the matter. It has been said that we have sought to cast some reflection upon the honorable gentleman at the head of the External Affairs Department, but I remind honorable senators that every time a representative of Queensland has risen to oppose the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth under the conditions of the agreement submitted, his opposition has been attributed to personal and State motives. It would seem that what is sauce for the goose is not to be sauce for the gander. I repeat what I have already said, that I was not requested by any one in Queensland or anywhere else to oppose the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. But I was elected to the Senate pledged against the taking over of the Territory on the conditions proposed.

Senator Story - The honorable senator was looking forward.

Senator SAYERS - There we have the same thing again. No matter what is said by a representative of Queensland, ulterior motives are immediately suggested. In my objection to this provision, I have not reflected personally upon the gentleman at the head of the External Affairs Department. Outside political matters I do not think there is a member of this Parliament for whom I have a greater respect than I have for Mr. Batchelor. My remarks were not intended to be personal to him in any way. I should "be very sorry if anything I have said could be taken to reflect upon the honorable gentleman in his private capacity.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator did not object when Senators Givens and Stewart reflected upon the honor.oble gentleman.

Senator SAYERS - I am speaking for myself, and both the honorable senators to whom the Vice-President of the Executive Council has referred, are well able to speak for themselves.

Senator McGregor - But the honorable senator is changing his attitude.

Senator SAYERS - I am not changing my attitude at all. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that he would have accepted the amendment only for what had been said by some honorable senators. I take it that he referred to me as well as to other members of the Senate, and I am now saying that I intended no personal reflection upon Mr. Batchelor. I do not believe that other honorable senators did either. Even if they did, it should not be forgotten that it has been constantly thrown in the teeth of representatives of Queensland that their opposition to the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill was due to some ulterior motive, because they had a purpose to serve in connexion with the proposed railway. That was said especially by representatives of South Australia.

Senator Lynch - Shocking !

Senator SAYERS - It did not trouble honorable senators representing Queensland, but I contend now that we have as much right as has any one else to expect to be protected against such insinuations. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will accept the suggestion which has been made by honorable senators on both sides for the amendment of this Bill, everything will go on smoothly.

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