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Friday, 12 December 1913


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) . - Before the Orders of the Day are called on, I ask permission to make a short statement in reply to a question which the Leader of the Opposition was unable to submit last night, as to the business it is desired to complete before the close of this session.

Leave granted.


Senator MILLEN - It will be remembered that last night, through an inadvertence - I had spoken in reply to the motion for adjournment - Senator McGregor was prevented from putting a question which he communicated to me privately afterwards. It had reference to the desire on his part, and I suppose on the part of the Senate generally, to be informed as to the business which the Government are anxious to have completed before this session closes, that information being sought with a view to enable an estimate to be formed as to when we can close the labours of the session. It is the desire, and one which I believe is approved by both parties in the other House, that the session should terminate on Wednesday next. I understand, though I have not seen the Prime Minister this morning, that that represents the result of an arrangement made between the two parties in the other House, whose members desire to close the labours of the session on the day I have mentioned. The list of business on the notice-paper seems rather long, but it is not so formidable as it appears. The majority of the measures are not likely to demand much of the time of honorable senators. Many of them, such as the Defence Bill, can be disposed of in a few minutes. The Bills that are to come from another Chamber are limited in number, and with, perhaps, two exceptions, do not represent subject-matter which need occupy attention for a long period. Looking at the measures to be dealt with, I am of opinion that if we adjourn at the usual time to-day, and meet on Monday morning, we can clear up everything, and be ready to pass the Estimates when they reach us. I have every reason to believe they will be here on Monday, and we can then proceed to discuss them.


Senator de Largie - Where does private business come in ?


Senator MILLEN - We have abolished private business for this session.


Senator de Largie - Do not leave that out of the reckoning. There are matters which will have to be discussed.


Senator MILLEN - The Senate can, if it chooses, depart from its Standing Orders. If there be one or two matters, such as the one which Senator de Largie evidently has in his mind, no doubt we shall be able to give time to them; but if we wish to rise on Wednesday there certainly will not be opportunities to dispose of all the private business on the paper.


Senator RAE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator need not look at me.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Bae certainly has the habit of monopolizing the business-paper, if nothing else.


Senator Russell - If we finish on Wednesday, when does the honorable senator think that Parliament will meet again?


Senator MILLEN - " Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.". Senator Russell's curiosity will be satisfied when the proper time comes.


Senator Findley - Let us have a summer session.


Senator MILLEN - Some would like Parliament to be perpetually in session. I have put before the Senate a business proposition, which will commend itself to honorable senators, if there be a general desire to bring the session to a termination, so that honorable senators may be enabled to return home in time for Christmas.


Senator Rae - How are we to go to Sydney to-night if the Senate is to meet on Monday morning?


Senator MILLEN - It is one of tha easiest things in the world for a New South Welshman to do that. I have often left Melbourne for Sydney on Friday and been back on Monday. As far. as the South Australians are concerned, I recognise that they are under a disability. There are two alternatives open to them. Perhaps the better course for them would be to allow the business to proceed in their absence on Monday morning.


Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel O'loghlin. - We cannot get back by Monday afternoon.:


Senator MILLEN - The other alternative is that they should not go to Adelaide to-day. Otherwise, we shall be compelled to sit on Thursday or tomorrow.


Senator Rae - The New South Welshmen cannot be back before Monday after- noon.


Senator Lynch - Some honorable senators are like a lot of children in their talk about going home for the week-end.


Senator MILLEN - ll is the proper place for a large number of them. W.e have to recognise, as practical men, that ib is impossible to meet the convenience of everybody.


Senator Russell - Why not grant seven pairs to the Ministerial party, and so get over the difficulty?


Senator MILLEN - Why not dispense with the seven from this side altogether? I make this proposition so as to meet the convenience of the majority. Everything depends upon whether there is a desire to terminate the business on Wednesday next. I am satisfied that if honorable senators apply themselves to business we can close our labours on the day I have mentioned.







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