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Wednesday, 6 May 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) . - If no other honorable senator wishes to speak, I - shall take advantage of the opportunity to make one or two brief references to semepoints which have been raised on the motion I have submitted. First of all I should like to say with regard to Senator McGregor's suggestion that if an explanation on my part is necessary, it arises from this fact: I point out that the honcrable senator as I should have expeoted of him did not impute any want of sympathy on my part in connexion with this matter.

Senator McGregor -Certainly not.

Senator MILLEN - When the Prime Minister speaking for the Government expressed the sympathy of the Government as a whole, I did not feel it incumbent uppn me to make any further reference to the matter.

Senator Russell - The Government is not the Parliament.

Senator MILLEN - The Prime Minister expressed on behalf of the Government and the Parliament sympathy with those ' who have unfortunately been bereaved as a result of the disaster, and I considered that the requirements of the case had been met. That is the reason why I did not specifically refer to the matter here. A great deal has been said on the motion in connexion with which I may make the observation that I am not asking the Senate to sanction any innovation. Whether the practice be good or bad, it is the practice which has been continuously followed in the Senate.

Senator Rae - Any innovation upon it would be delightful.

Senator MILLEN - It probably would to Senator Rae and other iconoclastic spirits. The practice is one which has been adopted and supported by both parties from time to time.

Senator Rae - Then I am against them both.

Senator MILLEN - I should be surprised to hear that Senator Rae was ever with any party, but I am stating a simple fact. Honorable senators may be disposed to disagree with the practice, but in fairness to myself I may direct attention to the fact thatit is the accepted practice of both parties. When it last met, the Senate indorsed that practice by agreeing to an adjournment until the vote of censure was disposed of. My motion to-day asks honorable senators to consistently follow the practice adopted by both parties and indorsed by the Senate only three weeks ago. As to the suggestion put forward, first I think by Senator Keating, that I might have deferred submitting . the motion until questions had been answered, that would be a violation of the practice to which I have referred. I quite recognise' the burning desire on the part of a very large section of honorable senators for information, and I should like to say that theirdesire for information is not half so pronounced as is my desire to impart it. I say that because some sadly need it. But this is not the proper time to give it. I ask my honorable friends to be a little patient. I have made a note of the matters referred to hero to-day, and when the Senate is in a position' to resume business, I shall . endeavour as far as possible to have the information required available without putting honorable senators to the necessity of formally submitting their questions. As time does not appear to be very urgent, judging by the speeches we have listened to, I might make a reference to something which Senator Keating did this afternoon. He said that he wished to ask a question, but as he was not allowed to do so, he would not ask it, and would only say what his question would be if he were in a position to ask it. The honorable senator's action recalled to my mind a story in David Harum of an extremely religious deacon who had a horse which he wished to sell. A buyer came along on a' Sunday and the deacon said that it being Sunday he could not possibly think of making a deal then. The buyer then said, " Supposing it were Monday, what price would you ask?" and the deacon, ever careful, said that if it were Monday he would ask so much. That seems tome to be very much the position which Senator Keating took up, ' and he managed, in spite of his professed desire to conform to the practice of the Senate, to get in just what he wanted. I can only say that on that and other matters referred to I shall endeavour to have the information sought for available when the Senate meets for the resumption of business.

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