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Friday, 28 May 1915

Senator PEARCE - I can assure the honorable senator that, as regards the Department over which I preside, they cannot be answered to-day.

Senator KEATING - If a similar practice prevails elsewhere to that which obtains in this Chamber, I think that past experience would have convinced honorable members there that questions of which notice was given only yesterday would not be answered to-day. I think that we ought to look into our Standing Orders with a view to facilitating the acquisition of information relating to public matters whenever it is required by honorable senators. I trust the Minister will recognise that my remarks are prompted only by a desire to assist both honorable senators and the Government to secure better results. In another place I think it is competent for honorable members to put questions upon the business-paper even without giving notice of them in the chamber itself. If a similar procedure were adopted here, honorable senators would be very greatly convenienced. I do not know the exact course that is followed in this connexion, but if it can be properly safeguarded against abuse and against unwarrantable surprise to a Minister, it is one which might with advantage' be imitated here.

Senator Needham - The questions would still come under the scrutiny of the presiding officer.

Senator KEATING - Exactly. During the long adjournment from Friday in each week till the following Thursday it often happens that honorable senators would like to put questions upon the businesspaper. If they were able to do so, the necessity for asking such a lot of questions without notice upon the reassembling of the Senate would be obviated. I trust that this matter will receive attention at the hands of Ministers and of our Standing Orders Committee.

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