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Friday, 22 May 1914

The PRESIDENT - Order!

Senator MILLEN - The question was asked of me, and not of Senator Needham.

Senator Needham - You are replying to it wrongly.

Senator MILLEN - This Government cancelled the contract because of the inability or the disinclination of the State Government to carry it out.

Senator Needham - You are making a false charge against the State Government.

The PRESIDENT - Order !

Senator MILLEN - I will not answer any further question if, whenI am making a statement of this kind, I am met with such an interjection.

Senator Findley - That is a very good way to get out of the business.

Senator de Largie - I ask you, sir, if it is in accordance with practice that, simply because of an interjection by another honorable senator, I should be refused information to which I am entitled by the procedure and the rules of the Senate?.

The PRESIDENT - While it is within the right of an honorable senator to ask a question, there is no obligation upon a Minister to answer it. It is entirely discretionary with Ministers as to whether they answer a question or not.

Senator Story - The Minister ought not to be discourteous.

Senator Millen - It was discourteous to me to be met with an interjection of that kind.

The PRESIDENT - Immediately Senator Needham. made the interjection, I called for order.

Senator Millen - He took no notice of the call, and repeated the statement.

The PRESIDENT - There are no rules or standing orders which compel a Minister to reply to a question.

Senator Needham - If my interjection prevents the Minister from replying, I will withdraw the statement I made.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is too late now.

Senator Needham - That will give him a chance to reply.

Senator Long - If the questions are embarrassing, Senator de Largie should not press them.

Senator DE LARGIE - I accept the advice of my honorable colleague, because it is quite evident that this series of questions is exceedingly embarrassing.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to argue the matter.

Senator DE LARGIE - I will give notice of the questions for a later date.

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