Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 23 November 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN ("West ern Australia) . - I do not know how I voted on this or on the other items which are to be reconsidered. I shall not be a party at this stage to any change of opinion by the Senate. Whatever may have been the decisions to which we came on these items, and however I may have voted upon them. I intend at this stage to associate myself with the. decision of the majority of the Committee.

SenatorE. D. Millen. - Right or wrong ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - We are asked as a Chamber to stultify ourselves and to accept the position of tame pet poodle to another place. We are asked to give up all our rights and to turn ourselves into a . debating club that accomplishes nothing. Are we going to do that at the behest of the representatives of the Government in this Chamber, or of any one else, or are we going to stand up for our rights ?

Senator Reid - On barbed wire !

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I do not care a continental damn whether it is on barbed wire or on anything else! Whatever the decision was, it was. the decision of the Senate, and the dignityof this Chamber demands that we should not change our deliberately expressed opinion at the dictation of anybody We solemnly debated this particular item. We spent a lot of time in considering it, and came to a deliberate decision upon it. Several members of the Committee who supported its previous decision are not present to-day, and I say that if advantage is now taken of their absence, it will be treachery to them on the part of every member of the Committee concerned. I do not intend to speak at length on the item, as I might use language even stronger than that which I have already used. I say it will be a disgrace to this Chamber if, at this stage, we reverse the decision to which the Committee deliberately came When the item was previously under consideration. I have purposely avoided looking up the previous debates on the items proposed for reconsideration to see how my votes were recorded upon them, because I am averse, at this stage, to any alteration of the decision of the Committee, whereby we should stultify ourselves and, in the eyes of the public, turn ourselves into a ridiculous debating society. '

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN. - I was protesting against the procedure adopted on this occasion, and urging honorable senators, in "view of the circumstances, to adhere to the considered determination of the Committee a few days ago. I do not propose to carry the matter much further ;. but if the Government honestly think that they have arguments which will convince honorable senators that they were wrong they should be submitted, when all honorable senators who took part in the last division have an opportunity of voting. This matter was considered and decided, and knowing that vital items returned from another place had been settled certain honorable senators are absent to-day. In view of these circumstances the Government should consider the adjournment of this discussion until such time as those honorable senators who: have an interest in these items are present, so that they will have an opportunity of taking part in the division. The Minister will probably say that it is the duty of all honorable senators to be present, but the same argument would apply to the last occasion when the matter was determined. Honorable senators knew that these items were to be considered, and those who thought it necessary to be present were here, when a decision was reached. It was only by accident that I returned to the Chamber when I did, because I thought the discussion on the Tariff had been completed. I had left the Chamber, and when I inquired as to what business was being transacted I was informed, to my amazement, that certain items had been recommitted. After giving full consideration to the whole question we have said that we are not prepared to accept the proposal of another Chamber. If there is to be a compromise it must be between their proposal and our request, and must not be in any way one-sided. The Minister must not expect us to be tame followers, either of the Government or of the other Chamber. We have certain constitutional rights and the dignity of this Chamber must be maintained. We would be failing in our duty if we did not uphold that dignity, and the Leader of the Government in this Chamber ought to provide every facility in that direction.

Suggest corrections