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Thursday, 7 April 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Could not tb government also consider a Commonwealth Companies Law.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall look around to see if it is possible > find some work to meet the keen desire amongst honorable senators to do business which has evidently been created by Senator Lynch's speech.

Referring to Senator Lynch's remarks, I want to say how heartily I agree with him, as I believe every member of the Senate does, that something more than mere material prosperity is required, and that the permanent safety of this country rests upon a great developmental and immigration policy.

Senator Keating - Not the immigration of Bolsheviks.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, immigration of the kind referred to by Senator Lynch.

Senator Bakhapin a moat thoughtful speech referred to the coming Imperial Conference in June. There will be a debate on that subject very shortly, and the honorable senator will therefore pardon me if at present I make no further comment upon his remarks except to say how much, in common with other honorable senators, I appreciated them. ,

Senator Drake-Brockmanmade some observations about the non-publication of documents. If the honorable- senator will allow me to say so, I think' he somewhat exaggerated the bogie of secrecy. On examining the list of documents, which at a glance m,ay appear to be a tremendously formidable one, it will he found that nine-tenths of them are not of great moment. One, for instance, is an, inquiry as to the channel through which an Executive minute reaches His Majesty the King

Senator Drake-Brockman - I did not exhaust the list, by any means.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator did not, or he would have strengthened my argument. The publication of many of these dcuments would not add to the general knowledge of the matters with which they deal. They may be of interest to men like Professor Harrison Moore and others concerned as historians with constitutional history and methods, hut their publication would he no great help to the people generally What "does it matter to the general public that a document in reaching the King is carried through a particular" door by messenger A, or through some other door by messenger B ? The Government have no desire to withhold information which may be properly published : but with the present Government, as with others, there has always been a restraining influence due to the fact that many of these documents deal with matters which are not solely tho concern of the Commonwealth

Government. They have had a natural hesitancy to publish papers dealing with matters in which other Governments aro concerned, It may be in this case that some inquiry should have been made as to whether other Governments were willing to consent -to publication, lt may bo that the Canadian and other Governments published the papers without asking that question, but I feel confident that the Government of the Commonwealth have no desire to withhold from members of this Parliament information which might be safely and properly put' before it.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Am I to understand that we shall get the papers I referred to ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That I cannot say. All I can say is that I will represent to the Government what has been said here. Although I am not master of the situation, I venture to say that these documents will bo forthcoming now that attention has been drawn to the matter.

Senator Drake-Brockmansuggested the establishment of a Committee corresponding to the American Foreign Relations Committee. He suggested that such a Committee established here should have full access to, and control over, these papers. There may be something in the idea, but I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that there is one very fundamental difference between this Senate and the American Senate. We have responsible government here, and it does not exist in America. There may bo persons who do not appreciate what responsible government means, or its great value, and the way in which it is interwoven into our system of government; but I do say that so long as responsible government is maintained here we cannot with safety adopt some of the institutions that are part of the American Constitution. Further, when the honorable senator contends that tho Senate should take, control over international affairs, I venture to remind him that such a proposal will not square with the views held by our Democracy outside. The view the honorable senator has expressed would receive no countenance from the Australian' public, nor would the idea receive a very long shrift if whispered within the walls of an adjoining chamber. Senator Drake-Brockman will, I think, find upon further consideration that whilst his idea might possibly embody some advantage, it is almost impossible of attainment. I wish to join with the honorable senator in expressing my appreciation of the most interesting debate with which the proceedings of the Senate this afternoon have furnished us.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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