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Thursday, 7 December 1911


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - For very many reasons I do not propose to detain the Senate very long upon this Bill. Amongst the reasons which induce me to promise brevity in my remarks is the statement made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council the other clay, and which has been amply borne out by the attitude of those who extend to him such loyal support, that he paid absolutely no regard to the opinions of the Opposition.


Senator McGregor - Oh. certainly we do.


Senator O'keefe - That was only a joke.


Senator MILLEN - No, it was not a joke, because, not only did the VicePresident of the Executive Council say that, but he has been acting upon what he said.


Senator McGregor - -The remark applied only with regard to the particular measure as to which it was made. It did not apply to everything.


Senator MILLEN - This afternoon we have had the same statement with regard to another measure, as to which we were told that the Government supporters insisted upon the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Senator McGregor has great respect for the Leader of the Opposition. I know that.


Senator Pearce - The last Bill but one was amended as the result of the Leader of the Opposition's criticism.


Senator MILLEN - That measure, of course, was in charge of the Minister of Defence, and we may assume that he, as the result of his recent travels, has learnt that wisdom may come even from an opponent.


Senator McGregor - The Seamen's Compensation Bill was also amended as the result of a suggestion from the Opposition.


Senator MILLEN - It is perfectly true that, when blundering draftsmanship is pointed out, Ministers may be inclined to adopt remedies suggested by the Opposition ; but, speaking generally, we cannot fail to recognise that, because of their large majority in the Senate, they are much less careful to pay heed to criticism from the Opposition ranks than would be the case if parties were more evenly divided. The preponderance of their majority makes them careless. If I wanted further confirmation of that statement, I have only to look at the Ministerial benches at this moment. In view of our experience, which is not intermittent, but continuous, it is evident that there is but little inducement to discuss a measure of this kind.


Senator Gardiner - I rise to order. I wish to take your ruling as to whether, in purporting to be criticising the points of this Bill, the Leader of the Opposition is in order in lecturing the Senate as he is doing ?







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