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Friday, 24 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I felt some little surprise that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should have resumed his seat without giving us some indication as to the future intentions of theGovernment. But we have been let into the confidence of the Ministry by the good grace of Senator de Largie. I take it that his statement was fully authorized, and that in future he is to be accepted as the spokesman of the Government.

Senator de Largie - I did not speak for anybody save myself.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator said that the Government were going to do this, that, and the other. The arrangement may be an excellent one, but at least we were entitled to an official intimation from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he had abdicated his position, and that henceforth Senator de Largie was to be the authorized spokesman of the Ministry in this Chamber.

Senator Lynch - The Whip is always privileged.

Senator MILLEN - He is always entitled to every privilege that he may choose to take to himself. This motion is one which we had a right to expect, in view of the condition of the business-paper. But the reason it is put forward now is not owing to the position in which we find ourselves to-day. but owing to what happened when the Senate first met at the beginning of the present session. We had only just assembled after the longest recess on record, when the Government had to tell us that they were unprepared to proceed with business. That is the only reason why it is necessary to adopt these heroic measures at this stage. Had they devoted the recess to the preparation of the Electoral Bill it would not have been now necessary to take from private members the opportunities which ought to be theirs. After glancing at the private members' motions .which appear upon the business-paper, one can understand the grim satisfaction which the Ministry must experience in being able to side track at least two of those proposals. Whilst I deem it right to make this statement as to the view which I take of the action of the Government, I say that, having met Parliament unprepared to proceed with business, there is no other course open to them now but to make this inroad upon private members', business. For that reason I do not oppose the motion.

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