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Friday, 13 October 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I wish to say a few words in explanation, which perhaps may avoid a debate on this subject. Senator Millen has attempted to show that the Senate has been placed in a worse position than the other House. That is not so. The other House had exactly the same time to deal with the measure as the Senate will have.

Senator Millen - You are wrong there, because if the other House had not passed the Bill yesterday it would have continued its consideration to-day.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator's statement that the Senate is placed at a disadvantage as compared with the other House is not correct, because both have exactly the same rights in debating the measure. The honorable senator attempted to make out that some injustice was done to the other House by delaying the introduction ot a Supply Bill until . the end of the month. As he has held Ministerial office, I was rather surprised at him making the statement.

Senator Millen - It was because of that that I made the statement.

Senator PEARCE - The fact that the time is approaching when the Budget statement must be delivered makes it uncertain as to when the Supply Bill can be introduced, because the Government are always called upon to determine whether they will withhold certain items from Ihe Budget, or include them in the Treasurer's Advance. There is a disposition on the part of this Govern ment to avoid including items in a Supply Bill which ought properly to appear in the Budget- statement. ' In such circumstances, the introduction of a Supply Bill is left as late as possible, so as to avoid the inclusion of contentious matters, which ought properly, to be submitted with the Budget. The introduction of the present Bill was left to a late date, in order to avoid the very thing which Senator Millen has been talking about, and that is the hurrying through of debatable items which ought to receive proper discussion in connexion with the Budget. With regard to the statement that the Senate has only today in which to deal with the measure, I desire to point out that there again the Government are, to a very large extent, the victims of circumstances. Had it not been for the unfortunate occurrence of Mr. Batchelor's death-

Senator Millen - It is cowardly to bring that in - absolutely scandalous.

Senator PEARCE - It is only right to state the facts.

Senator Millen - Is that the reason why this contingent notice of motion is on the business-paper?

Senator PEARCE - The facts have to be stated in justice to the Government. We were not aware last week that a sitting of the other House would be lost this week.

Senator Millen - Why did not the Government bring this Bill forward in the other House a day earlier?

Senator PEARCE - Will the honorable senator allow me to make an explanation? He can believe me or not as he thinks fit.

Senator Millen - You are ignoring the facts.

Senator PEARCE - Had the Government known that a sitting of the other House might be lost this week, they undoubtedly would have brought in this Bill last week if they could have done so. The Government are not to blame for the loss of a day's sitting in the other House. It was only a right and proper thing for the House to adjourn, and but for that fact this Bill would have reached the Senate yesterday instead of to-day.

Senator Millen - Why was not the Bill introduced into the other House a day earlier? Had that been done we could have had the Bill yesterday.

Senator PEARCE - The Bill was introduced into the other House as soon as possible. If the business of the other House had been advanced by an additional sitting it could have been introduced a day earlier. Under the circumstances, honorable senators will see that the Government have studied parliamentary control over public expenditure by deferring the introduction of the Bill as late as possible in the month, and that it is owing to the loss of a day in another place that this measure reaches the Senate a day later than it would otherwise have done. Consequently the contention of the Leader of the Opposition is entirely groundless. Further, the Bill is based upon the ordinary Estimates except so far as it relates to certain items which will be fully explained to the Senate.

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