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Thursday, 13 May 1915


Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . There is a matter to which I wish to invite the attention of not only Ministers, but of members of the Senate. On Thursday of last week I asked, without notice, a question of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I was then requested to give notice of the question. I gave notice for the next day of sitting, and the question appeared on the business-paper for last Friday, on which date the Senate as usual met at 11 o'clock. In accordance with the notice given, I asked the question some little time after that hour. I was again asked by the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to postpone the asking of the question, and I accordingly postponed it to the next day of sitting, which was today, and to-day the question appeared on the notice-paper in these terms -

1.   Should letters, newspapers, and other postal articles intended for members of the Australian Expeditionary Forces be addressed to England, Egypt, or elsewhere?

2.   Do the postal rates on such matter vary -according to the address?

3.   If so, cannot arrangements bc made ti) at the rates applicable to transmission to the United Kingdom apply in all cases of postal matter to our Forces?

When I was going home on Friday after - .noon I was astonished to read in the Herald that the Postmaster-General had intimated in another place on that day that he was taking steps to communicate with the authorities in Grea't Britain in order to have the rates of postage on mail matter for the troops addressed to Egypt -assimilated to the rates applicable to mail matter transmitted to Great Britain. At the outset, I resented that conduct, not because it seemed that I made a suggestion which the Postmaster-General had taken up, but as a member of the Senate. If the Postmaster-General before 11 o'clock on Friday morning was able, gratuitously as it seemed to me, to volunteer information of that character to another Chamber, it surely should have been competent for his representative here to answer my question after 11 o'clock on that day. He should have been able to furnish, not myself alone, but the Senate, with the information which was vouchsafed to the members of another place. I think that an explanation is due to the members of the Senate. "We are surely entitled to receive this information contemporaneously with an other place. If it is volunteered in another place, as a matter of public importance, the Senate is entitled at the same time, or as near thereto as possible, to receive the information. And if, in ordinary circumstance, the Senate is so entitled, how much more is it entitled when the question was asked here not only on that day, but on the previous day? I venture to say that, before 11 o'clock on Friday morning, the information had been vouchsafed in another place. I think the Senate should insist that its status in the parliamentary machine, and the rights and prerogatives of its members, should receive the same amount of respect and attention as is the case with another body and its members.







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