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Thursday, 10 June 1915

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I was somewhat surprised to hear the statement made by Senator Stewart, because in 1909 I had occasion to introduce a Bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Senator Keating was at the time Minister of Home Affairs,' and Sir Robert Best Vice-President of the Executive Council. Mr. Brown was then Secretary to Ministers in the Senate. I was informed, I think by Senator Pearce, that if I desired assistance in the drafting of my Bill, Mr. Brown would render it. I went to Mr. Brown without the permission of Ministers at the time, and he drafted the measure in accordance with the ideas I had in mind, and further advised me as to the procedure to be adopted in getting the Bill through the Senate. It did not reach finality prior to the combination of parties, and Senator Millen's assumption of the office of VicePresident of the Executive Council, with Sir Robert Best as Minister of Trade and Customs. I still continued to receive assistance from Mr. Brown in getting my Bill through the Senate, and, with some amendments by the House of Representatives, it eventually became, law. I remember that I also received assistance from Mr. Knowles in the drafting of amendments. Whether they did right or wrong, those officers did not refuse to assist me, and I did not ask the permission of Ministers to appeal to them.

Senator Keating - That, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council says, . has been the custom, but we have not established the practice formally.

Senator NEEDHAM - It was Senator Pearce who told me that if I went to Mr. Brown he would give me the assistance I required. I was under the impression that any honorable senator who desires assistance in the drafting of an amendment to a Bill might avail himself of the services of the Secretary to the Ministers in this Chamber. That courtesy was extended to me, and I thought that it was a right to which honorable senators were entitled.

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