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Thursday, 25 June 1914

Senator McCOLL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I do not propose to give a silent vote on this matter. At the same time I do not propose to take up much of the time of the Senate. I have no wish to probe into the motives that have actuated the mover and his friends in bringing forward this matter - honorable senators are within their rights - and I have not a word to say against Irishmen who desire to see Home Rule for Ireland, but I feel that the submission of this motion is an unwise step, and, as my leader has stated, one that would be resented perhaps more bitterly by those who are supporting the motion to-night than by any other section of the community if interference with our affairs came from the Old Land, or any other part of the British Dominions. It is also an unwise step because it will not help affairs at Home, as the honorable senator thinks it will, because it will only tend to make the situation more embarrassing than it is at present. It is a question upon which the people of this country are very much divided. I admit that a very large portion of our people are strongly in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, but at the same time there is probably an equally large portion against it. Further, I say, this is not our business. The question was not put to the country when we were before the electors. We were not asked whether we favoured Home Rule for Ireland or not, and I do not think we are called upon here to give judgment in regard to this matter;

Senator de Largie - You preached Home Rule when you opposed the referenda.

Senator McCOLL - Yes; and the men who have been trying to destroy Home Rule in this country for the last few. years are crying out for Home Rule for another country. According to Senator Long, those who are opposing Home Rule are a number of " aristocratic rebels.'1 What has he to say about the 10,000 trade unionists of Belfast who protested very strongly against Home Rule and found fault with their Labour brothers in England who were supporting it?

Senator Long - Where did you get that information ?

Senator McCOLL - From the public press. The honorable senator knows that it is perfectly true. If the motion is intended to lead to some solution of the difficulties in the Old Country, it will utterly fail, but it is probably intended to put some honorable senators, who are very shortly to go to the country, in a hole, and work to their detriment. But I can assure honorable senators that they are dealing with a double-edged sword that will turn against themselves later on. It is throwing into Australian politics, where there are already quite enough difficult problems, and where there is quite enough strife, another bone that will cause contention. In conclusion, I have only to say that, if this motion is intended to be merely the expression of a pious hope, it will do no good, and that if anything more is intended it will be utterly useless. I therefore join with my leader in what he has said, and do not intend to support the motion.

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