Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 27 April 1921


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens (QUEENSLAND) - I have received from Senator Elliott an intimation that he intends to-day to move the adjournment of the Senate until 10 a.m. to-morrow in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the statement of the Minister for Defence that on the appointment of General Birdwood to command the Australian Imperial Force he committed to him uncontrolled power over the troops under his command, requiring from him only success to justify anything he did."

Four honorable senators having risen in their places in support of the motion -


Senator Pearce - I riseto a point of order. I wish to ask your ruling as to whether it is competent for an honorable senator to move the adjournment of the Senate to call attention to an alleged statement of mine. The words read out by you, sir, in the notice given by Senator Elliott were not the words I used, and convey an altogether different meaning from that conveyed by what I did say. I raise that as one of my points of order. A further point I take is that the words which I did use were used in the course of a debate on a Bill which is still before the Senate. Following my speech, debate ensued, and as the Bill has still to be read a third time, and the whole question may be raised again, I contend that it is possible in further debating a Bill now before the Senate to discuss the statement I made. I ask whether it is in order for an honorable senator to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a statement alleged to have been made in the course of a debate which may be still further continued in this Chamber. It seems to me that if that is possible the standing order providing for formal motions of adjournment opens up unlimited opportunities for extending debates in the Senate. I do not understand the standing order providing for the moving of motions for the adjournment of the Senate to be open to such an interpretation, and, in order that honorable senators may know what privileges are conferred by the standing order. I should like a ruling on the point I have raised.


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - On the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), I desire to say that there are only three limitations placed upon honorable senators who wish to move the adjournment of the Senate. The first is that the question to be discussed must be one of urgency, and it has been laid down by my predecessors that the matter of urgency is not one for the Presiding Officer to settle, as' that is decided by four honorable senators rising in their places in support of the motion, . which is regarded as sufficient proof of urgency. Another limitation is that it must not be a matter that has been previously discussed in a similar manner during the same session, and, although that point is somewhat cognate to tha.t raised by the Minister for Defence, it does not arise here, because I have looked up the records and I find that no motion of a similar nature has been moved during the present session. The third limitation is as to whether the matter has already been discussed or is still open to discussion in the Senate, and if such were the case, it would be fatal to the motion, because it is provided in our Standing Orders that a question already decided in one session cannot again be dealt with during the same session. The statement alleged to have been made by the Minister for Defence may or may not have been made, but I cannot recall it. In regard to the other point- mentioned by the Minister for Defence regarding the accuracy of the words used in. the motion, it is very fortunate for me that I am not the judge of the correctness or otherwise of the statements made by honorable senators in this Chamber. I must decline to decide whether the statement which Senator Elliott alleges was made by Senator Pearce is correct or not. On these grounds the point raised by the Minister for Defence fails. As a matter of fact, there has been no specific discussion on this particular subject, although it may have arisen casually in ordinary debate, but I cannot remember. I am quite cer tain that no specific discussion has ensued, and I therefore rule that Senator Elliott'6 motion is in order.







Suggest corrections