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Friday, 9 July 1915

Senator PEARCE ("Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I trust that Senator Newland, having put his view, and put it very forcibly, before the Committee, will not press his amendment It is practically certain that the view which he has expressed will eventually have to be adopted. The Government, however, should be in the best position to determine whether the proposal embodied in this Bill is sufficient to meet the present crisis. They say, after consideration and deliberation, that it will enable them to cope with the existing difficulty. That being so, we feel that we should not make any radical changes while faced with this crisis. The changes we make should be as few and inexpensive as possible. I know that the view which Senator Newland has put is indorsed by a great number of honorable members of both Houses of the Parliament, and some of us would be placed in an awkward position if we had to vote against it. Our vote, indeed, would be misinterpreted, and would not give a true reflex of the opinion of the Senate. If the position were different I should be prepared to support the view put forward by Senator Newland, but, as it is, I feel that I could not. I appeal to him, therefore, not to press his proposal, and so, perhaps, to compel honorable senators to vote against something which, in other circumstances, they would support. I am sure we can all foresee that, with the carrying of our referenda proposals, the powers of the Commonwealth will be so extended as to make it certain that more Ministers will be required. The Commonwealth Parliament will then be given the power to deal with labour questions and large questions of commerce, which it cannot touch at the present time. These two proposed extensions alone open up a vista of administration that will require a far more powerful Government numerically than we have at present. In these circumstances, and seeing that in the opinion of the Government the arrangement for which this Bill provides will enable us to carry through, I trust that Senator Newland will not press his proposal.

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