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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator GARDINER - It was a swindle."

The PRESIDENT - Now that my attention has been called to the matter, 1 must ask the honorable senator to withdraw that expression. He must not speak disparagingly of an Act of Parliament, because that would be a reflection upon Parliament itself.

Senator Gardiner - Will you, sir, allow me to speak upon a matter of privilege?

The PRESIDENT - If it be a matter of privilege, certainly.

Senator Gardiner - Then, as a matter of privilege, I shall move a motion.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator cannot do that.

Senator Gardiner - I thought that, when speaking upon a matter of privilege, an honorable senator was bound to conclude with a motion.

The PRESIDENT - I shall decide whether the matter is one of privilege when I have heard it.

Senator Gardiner - An Act which swindled me out of colleagues in this Chamber is a swindle.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator must not proceed in that way. Our Standing Orders are very explicit upon the point. Standing order 415 reads -

No senator shall reflect upon any vote of the Senate, except for the purpose of moving that such vote be rescinded.

The same rule applies to an Act.

Senator Gardiner - Read the standing order which applies to an Act.

The PRESIDENT - It is not necessary to do so, because a Statute is the result of a vote of this Senate. For the honorable senator to say that any vote of this Chamber has resulted in a swindle is to speak disrespectfully of it. The question does not require argument, because there are scores of precedents to be found in the practice of the House of Commons, which quite bear that out. Unless he is moving for its repeal, an honorable senator is not entitled to speak disrespectfully of an Act of this Parliament. Therefore I must ask Senator Gardiner to obey our Standing Orders, and to withdraw the objectionable statement which he has made.

Senator Gardiner - If you, sir, will read any standing order showing that I am not at liberty to say that my colleagues are not here because a swindle was perpetrated, by means of which they were prevented from getting a fair deal and a fair count at the last elections, Ishall be prepared to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT - If my ruling is wrong, there is a proper way of disputing it. The honorable senator has been here quite long enough to know that it is not in accordance with parliamentary practice to reflect upon any vote of the Senate.

Senator Gardiner - The Act upon which I am reflecting was not passed by the members of this present Senate, or even by this Parliament.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator is not in order in disputing my ruling.

Senator Gardiner - I shall simply test the standing order, and see how far we can go.

The PRESIDENT - Very well. I rule that the honorable senator is out of order, and ask him to withdraw his statement.

Senator Gardiner - I decline to withdraw it, because I have merely spoken the truth.

The PRESIDENT - I again ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.

Senator Gardiner - Having spoken the truth, I cannot withdraw my statement.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator having refused to withdraw, I now name him to the Senate. But before asking the Leader of the Government to take, the necessary action, I wish to give him a further opportunity to make any explanation or apology which he may desire to make in accordance with the forms of the Senate.

Senator Gardiner - I am very much obliged to you, sir, for the opportunity which is now afforded me of making an explanation. My explanation is that I have conscientiously referred to an Act and the way in which I know it has worked. In my opinion, it is a swindle.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must not say that.

Senator Gardiner - The standing order under which the Senate may exclude an honorable senator from its deliberations affords mean opportunity to make an explanation. But before doing so, I ask you, sir, to read that portion of the standing order which permits me to make an explanation.

The PRESIDENT - I have given the honorable senator an opportunity to make an explanation, but that opportunity does not mean an opportunity for him to repeat his offence. Standing order 440 reads -

When any honorable .senator has been reported as having committed an offence he shall be called upon to stand up in his place and make any explanation or apology he may think fit, and afterwards a motion may be moved -

Senator Gardiner - Having been called upon to make any explanation or apology I think fit, I rise to explain that my statement, to which exception has been taken., is the truth, absolute and unquestioned.

The PRESIDENT - Even if it were the truth, it should be expressed in an orderly way.

Senator Gardiner - I have to repeat that, having looked perhaps more closely into the operation «of the Act to Which I have referred than other honorable senators, who may not have been so .concerned about its working, I found that it worked in such a way that certain candidates were excluded from the Senate because the votes recorded for them were never counted. Whereas the votes recorded for Senators. Cox, Duncan, and myself were counted up to the last 'preference, even the second preference votes recorded for Messrs. Grant and McDougall were not counted. I make the statement that the Act under which that was done was -a swindling Act, and that is merely good English to apply to it.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Will the honorable senator resume his seat? I have ruled that an honorable senator taking advantage of the opportunity to make an explanation or apology has no right, in doing so, to continually repeat his offence. If the honorable senator desires to make any explanation or apology without repeating his offence, I give him the opportunity to do so. I regret that his feelings should have been excited, but I appeal to him, for the sake of the camaraderie and good feeling which should exist amongst members of the Senate, to adopt the proper and manly course usually adopted of apologizing for the statement he has made. The honorable senator asked me which of the standing orders prevents an honorable senator from reflecting upon any Statute passed by Parliament. He will find that it is standing order 418, which provides that - -

No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper 'motives, and all personal reflection on members, shall, be considered highly disorderly.

Senator Gardinerknows that the remarks he made were not in accordance with that standing order, and I ask him to take the proper course, and the course most becoming to an honorable senator occupying the responsible position which he holds iri the Senate, and apologize for the statement he has made.

Senator Gardiner - Your reading of standing order 418 convinces me that I. was out of order. As I was not in order in using here language of the. kind which I did use, -I apologize for having used it;' but I shall go outside, where such niles' do not obtain, and will make the statement there. I apologize for my breach of the standing order, which has now been brought under my notice for the first time.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In the course of the debate Senator Earle referred to some matters which he has previously brought before the Senate with persistency and clarity. He referred to the Old-age and .Invalid Pensions Act, and ! should like to say that I think he will find that if section 22 of that Act, to which he referred, were repealed without qualification it would cover more than the case of the blind, in whom the honorable senator is specially interested.

Senator Earle - Any amendment to it that was proposed could be qualified.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - All that I can undertake to do, in the circumstances, is to see that the honorable senator's remarks on this subject are brought under the notice of my honorable colleague, who deals with such matters.

I should like to say, on the subject of oil explorations to which the honorable senator has referred, that he seems to be in some doubt as to the actual position. Some time ago, as honorable senators are aware, the Commonwealth Government despatched a certain party for the purpose of carrying out exploratory work. That undertaking has terminated. As a consequence of negotiations between the

British Government and the Commonwealth Government, both of whom are very keenly interested in obtaining supplies of oil for the Navy and for other purposes, it was agreed that each should pay half the cost of carrying out exploratory work.

Senator Earle - Not the Anglo-Persian Oil Company?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. The Anglo-Persian Company has supplied the experts to make the necessary investigations, and to that extent was an instrument in giving effect to the agreement which was signed by Mr. Long on behalf of the British Government and by Mr. Hughes on behalf of the Commonwealth. Under that agreement each party to it undertook to find up to £50,000 for the work of exploration. The question arose as to who should carry out the actual work, and, as it could not be carried out by the British Government or by the Commonwealth Government, an arrangement was made by which the expert scientists and geologists in the employ of the AngloPersian Company, in which the British Government holds a controlling share interest, should carry out the actual work of exploration, and that the company should be recouped the actual expenses incurred. There was to be no concession of privileges in regard to supplies of oil if any were found.

Senator EARLE (TASMANIA) - What benefit was to accrue to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company if oil were discovered ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - None at all. Paid officers of the company, in which the British Government holds the controlling share interest, wereto carry out the work, and the expenses they incurred were to be met.

Senator Earle - Is it a fact that they started exploration within 40 miles of the place where Dr. Wade had been working ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot tell the honorable senator about that, but Dr. Wade has passed from the scene.

Senator Earle - Did he protest against the action of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company people for the reason I have stated ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I could not say, but, human nature being what it is, I think it is very possible that he did protest.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Dr. Wade did not make a very brilliant success of his work while in Papua.

Senator Earle - There is no occasion to condemn him on that account.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not saying anything in condemnation of Dr. Wade. I think that something may be said in commendation of the new steps taken by the Commonwealth Government in inducing the Imperial Government to come to their assistance in the matter because of their interest in securing supplies of oil for the Admiralty. I think that there is room also for commendation because the Anglo-Persian Oil Company has been called upon to make available some of their best men for the purpose of exploration. .

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we could not secure honest work under those conditions, it is impossible to secure it.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think I may add that if we could not secure skill in that way, it is impossible to secure it in any other way. I do not assume that Senator Earle suggests that any malign or sinister influence hae been at work to frustrate our efforts in this direction.

Senator Earle - I do not think so as applied to efforts in Papua, but I am nol so sure about previous efforts.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should not be inclined to take that view with regard to the operations in New South Wales. I think that the reason for the failure there was the reason which has been accountable for failure in the case of hundreds of mines in Australia. Gold mine after gold mine, because of mismanagement, has resulted in failure. Yet no one will suggest that the failure was due to the exercise of some sinister influence against the production of gold. Mistakes are always made, and will continue to be made.

Senator Thomasreferred to the vote included in the amount set down for the Postmaster-General's Department. I have managed to secure a little further information in connexion with it.I understand that the Imperial Government were entitled to charge £321,000 under the terms and conditions of the Postal Union Convention. The Commonwealth Government pointed out that to some extent the Imperial Government were themselves responsible for the disruption of the mail service by commandeering the Orient Company's boats. In addition, there was some extra cost thrown upon the Australian Government in carrying out matters, if hot at the request of the Imperial Government, then in such a way as to assist and expedite undertakings in which the Imperial Government were concerned. They 'were entitled, as I said, to ask for £321,000, but, taking a broad view of the matter in their usual and characteristic spirit, they agreed to com1 promise upon a payment of £200,000. If any matters of detail are referred to in Committee, I think I can promise to furnish honorable senators with the information they desire. , ^

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.


Divisions 1-12 (Parliament), £5,866.

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