Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - I am more than astonished at a motion of this kind being moved by the leader of the Senate thus early in the session. It is the most extraordinary proposal I have ever heard put forward in this or any other legislative assembly. After a recess of nine months, and after sitting for a fortnight, we are asked to adjourn for a fortnight because there is no business to be done. That seems to me to be the most extraordinary position in which a legislative body could place itself, especially if it consented, without a protest, to an adjournment. Of course, we know that all Governments are prone to love recesses because there is less bother and trouble when Parliament is not in session.

Senator Walker - Surely you except a Labour Government.

Senator GIVENS - I find that human nature is pretty well the same amongst all parties. What I want to emphasize is that, after a recess of nine months, apparently there is no business to engage the attention of the Senate for another fortnight. That can be the only possible reason why a motion of this kind is proposed thus early in the session. The GovernorGeneral's Speech outlines a very considerable programme. I notice that it enumerates several measures which may be initiated in the Senate. If that is the case, then we have a right to complain if the Government will not provide us with the necessary work to occupy our time. What will be the position if this sort of thing is allowed to continue? The opinion will be formed by the public, and will be amply justified, that the Senate is entirely unnecessary. If that be so, then honorable senators are only committing political suicide. I do not know whether the Senate is unnecessary or not, and I am not going to debate that subject. My opinion is that some better system should be adopted whereby all the work could be done in one Chamber.

Senator Lynch - Abolish the other House, then.

Senator GIVENS - At any rate, while the Senate is in existence, I emphatically object to its members being kept in Melbourne cooling their heels all the time instead of doing the work of the country, which they are paid to do. It does not matter whether it is a Labour Ministry or another Ministry, a Ministry which will not provide proper work for Parliament to do, especially after a long recess such as we have had, is worthy of condemnation in that particular regard. The Navigation Bill has been before the Senate for about seven years, and it is still on the business-paper.

Senator Pearce - It is going off to-day.

Senator GIVENS - It will not go off the business-paper to-day if I know anything about the matter. The honorable senator is aware that there are postponed clauses to be considered which are exceedingly contentious. No doubt he would be very pleased if he could sneak them through without discussion, but I can assure him that as long as I am here they will not pass without debate. I am here to see a fair deal to every part of Australia, and no favours or concessions given to any one part above another. The' Navigation Bill has been before the Senate for seven years, and it is not passed yet.

Senator Pearce - Why do you not allow it to pass?

Senator GIVENS - The honorable senator wants us, in order that Ministers may have a further holiday, to do our work in a slovenly fashion.

Senator Millen - As you have had the Bill before you for seven years, how many more years do you need before you will pass it?

Senator GIVENS - I do not want any more years to pass it, but I desire an opportunity to consider it. I am anxious to see the measure passed, but in a form in which it will be not only acceptable to the people, but thoroughly equitable and justifiable. If it is proposed to rush the Bill through simply for the sake of getting a holiday, as the Minister indicates by his interjection, that is not what we are here for, nor is it a proper way in which to treat legislation. I wonder why with an immense programme of legislation outlined in the GovernorGeneral's Speech, a large portion of which could be initiated in the Senate, no measure is ready to engage our attention. We have only a few short months at our disposal before the usual time for closing the session will arrive.

Senator O'Keefe - We will not necessarily close the session at the end of the year.

Senator GIVENS - I generally find that my honorable friend, in common with most other honorable senators, wants to close the session at the earliest possible period.

Senator O'Keefe - I deny that statement.

Senator GIVENS - I accept the denial.

Senator O'Keefe -I have always maintained that the session should not be closed until the work is completed.

Senator GIVENS - Honorable senators have their portmanteaux packed two days before the proposed date of prorogation, and they look with anger at any one who dares to rise to discuss any measure, for fear that he may delay their departure by an hour.

Senator O'Keefe - I shall come back at the beginning of next year if that is necessary.

Senator GIVENS - I am opposed to legislation being rushed through in that way. The proper method is for the Government to keep us fully occupied. For that reason, as well as on general principles, I object to the Senate being asked to adjourn at this early period of the session.

Suggest corrections