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Friday, 12 December 1913

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - With a view to assisting the Government to get on with business, I have refrained from speaking to-day. In return for that, the Government propose not to permit me to go back to my State if I wish to be present when business is resumed on Monday morning. I do not think that in the two hours between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock on Monday very much progress will be made. The obstinacy displayed by Ministers in refusing a concession of two hours to honorable senators who wish to go to their homes in New South Wales at the week-end will be a justification for treating Ministers as they are treating honorable senators, on this side. I do not think that the Government will expedite their business by holding fast to an arrangement which has been made, and of which I did not express disapproval because I knew nothing about

Senator Millen - Ministers do not desire the two hours for themselves, but to meet the convenience of others.

Senator GARDINER - The arrangement made is inconvenient to some honorable senators. What difference will it make if the Government agree to meet at 2.30 o'clock on Monday?

Senator Millen - The difference between closing on Wednesday and closing on Thursday.

Senator GARDINER - That is not a matter of great importance.

Senator Millen - It is to some honorable senators, but not to me. I frankly admit that, personally, I shall not mind if the Senate does not sit at all on Monday, but I have accepted an arrangement to meet the convenience of a number of the members of the Senate.

Senator GARDINER - I am never very anxious to keep the Senate sitting. We are having crowded upon us just now a number of measures of first-rate importance which will require careful attention and deliberate consideration. I do not know how many measures it is proposed to try to rush through in the next few days, but I cannot see how our meeting on Monday afternoon instead of on Monday morning would make the difference between getting away on Wednesday rather than on Thursday. Ministers should recognise the generous treatment which has been meted out to them, but they show no desire to meet honorable senators who have assisted them on many occasions by refraining from speaking. I have refrained from speaking upon measures I should like to have discussed, out of consideration for the Government. I did so only last night.

Senator Clemons - The honorable senator did.

Senator GARDINER - I say that we are entitled to ask for reasonable concessions in return for concessions to the Government. In view of the delightful climate of Melbourne at this time of the year, it is, perhaps, worth one's while to remain at the week-end. One might make a delightful trip to Ballarat tomorrow, and come back refreshed on Monday morning in a condition to discuss any matter for a couple of hours. I do not see why. the Government should desire to meet the wishes of some honorable senators, while they refuse the most modest request of others. The Minister of Defence must recognise that honorable senators from New South Wales wish to get back to their State occasionally, that they may keep in touch with public opinion over there. There is a different atmosphere, political and otherwise, in New South Wales at the present moment to that of Melbourne. In dealing with the Loan Bill, the Senate struck out two items of the schedule, one of which covered an amount for the purchase of land at Liverpool. I was anxious to assist the Government to restore that item, because I consider it necessary. The Government must conduct the business as they will, and I suppose that, so far as our party are concerned, they will continue as they have done from the beginning of the session to say, " Yes, Mr. Cook," to everything that is put before them. I do not include myself amongst those who would treat the Government in this generous fashion, because I have no desire to do so. I might be allowed to say that Ministers leading small minorities are well advised not to adopt autocratic methods.

Senator Clemons - Why not take the judgment of the Senate, and leave the matter to honorable senators on the other side?

Senator GARDINER - Will the Government accept an amendment?

Senator Clemons - Anything the honorable senator pleases. Let us take a division.

Senator GARDINER - Then I move -

That the words " eleven a.m." be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words "half-past two p.m."

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