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Wednesday, 10 June 1914

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question before the Senate adjourns. In connexion with the statement made by the Federal Treasurer that taxation is pretty severe on the people of Australia, I asked the Munster what steps the Treasurer proposes to take to relieve the pressure of that taxation. The Minister's reply was that he would forward the question to the Treasurer, but lie did not say when he would forward it. If he has done so already, I hope he will be able to give a reply to the question at the next sitting. The Treasurer was very straightforward in his statement that the public of Australia are suffering from severe taxation, and, connecting that with the number of people who are availing themselves of the Maternity Allowance Act, he stated that, on account of the severe taxation, it was right that they should seek the benefits of the maternity allowance. I am glad to know that the mothers of Australia are availing themselves of the humane provisions of that legislation, but I want to know when and how the Treasurer of the Commonwealth is going to relieve the people of Australia from the severe taxation which, he says, they are enduring. I hope that the Minister, with his usual courtesy, will, on the next day of sitting, furnish the Senate with an answer to that question. One other matter I wish to mention. You, sir, have just met the representative of the King, His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, in the Library, where you presented to him the Address-in-Reply from this

Senate. I have been a member of the Senate for something like sevenyears, and on all occasions when the Address-in-Reply was presented to the representative of His Majesty I always found present at least one representative of the Government in this chamber. That has been the usual custom during my connexion with the Senate, and I was surprised to-day that, when you, as President of the Senate, walked into the Library to present to His Excellency the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of his predecessor, there was not present one of the representatives of the Government in this Chamber.

Senator Rae - Do you think that the Crown will fall to pieces now?

Senator NEEDHAM - I do not think that the Crown will suffer much from their absence. I am not what might be termed an extreme loyalist, but nevertheless I pay the respect to the representative of His Majesty that I owe, as a representative of the people of Australia, in this Chamber, and I think that at least one Minister should have been present on the occasion to which I refer. I Know that Senator Milieu and Senator McColl are busy men.

Senator Ferricks - Busy "faking" the rolls.

Senator NEEDHAM - But I think at least one of them should have paid the usual courtesy to the representative of His Majesty that has hitherto been paid to him on the occasionof an AddressinReply being presented from the Senate. A departure has been made by these two gentlemen.

Senator Millen - By the Senate.

Senator NEEDHAM - By the Ministers who absolutely refused to be present when the Address-in-Reply was presented.

Senator Mullan - They refused to have it presented.

Senator NEEDHAM - Senator Millen refused to move the usual motion that Mr. President should present the AddressinReply, and to-day he has proceeded further than that. I regret to say he practically insulted the representative of the King by refusing to be present when Mr. President presented the AddressinReply. Where does loyalty come in? Evidently it is lip loyalty. Even if Senator Millen and Senator McColl. were a little perturbed because the Senate in the exercise of its constitutional rights amended the Address-in-Reply, at least the Ministers might have acted as men, and gone as men to the presentation of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral. They have set an example which is not worthy of emulation, and I think that some explanation is due to honorable senators, which I trust will be given when the Minister of Defence is replying.

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