Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 19 March 1926

Senator NEEDHAM - I am not attempting to give an explanation. I am giving Mr. Collier's reply to the charge against him. In the course of his reply to the assertion of Mr. "Walter that his retirement from the position of police magistrate was due to victimization, Mr. Collier stated -

He (Mr. Walter) explained that it was optional whether his services were retained or not after passing the age of 60 years, and admits that his retirement is within legal right, but complains of the manner in which his services were terminated. I must confess that I know of no other proper manner of terminating an officer's services except the legal and constitutional method laid clown by the Public Service Act and the Superannuation Act, and this procedure is being followed in this case. The position is simply this: Mr. Walter is within two months of the age of 64 years. It is considered that efficient administration will be , best served by retiring Mr. Walter, and in exercising the option which Mr. Walter admits, and which the act has provided, a precedent is being followed which has been sanctified by the custom of all governments which have ever held power . within this State. At random I could name half a dozen senior officers, including one higher-salaried official and one resident magistrate, all younger than Mr. Walter, and I could name a dozen others, including another magistrate, who were a'lso younger than Mr. Walter, who were retired by previous governments for the same reason, or to effect some doubtful advantages. Into the reasons given it would' not be desirable to probe. It is strange that what has been a virtue in the past, or at least has not called for even a passing comment, should today be termed " political vindictiveness " by one who has been treated in exactly the same way as a considerable number of younger men who have gone before. I may remind him that what he characterizes as a conviction for an alleged " disloyal utterance " was nothing of the kind. His judicial training should make him more careful. There was a charge of a "statement likely to prejudice recruiting," which wa? dismissed. It was upon a charge of a " statement likely to cause disaffection " that a fine of £25 and costs was imposed, with the ultimate result of the remission of the fine and the' ordering of a refund of costs by the Commonwealth Government - a tacit admission of a stupid prosecution and an improper conviction. Mr. Walter's statement that a report was current of a threat of his retirement ten minutes after Labour came into power is barely worthy of notice.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.

Senator NEEDHAM - I have quoted Senator Drake-Brockman's statement in the Senate. I have read Mr. Collier's reply, as contained in the telegram forwarded to me, and I have also read an extract from a letter handed to the West Australian, dated 28th May, 1924. I venture to say that what I have read is a complete refutation of the assertion made by Senator Drake-Brockman, which was, in the first place, that Mr. Walter was dismissed by Mr. Collier, because Mr. Walter had imposed a fine on Mr. Collier. Secondly, it answers the charge that it was Mr. Collier's first act as a Minister.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator has not replied to that.

Senator NEEDHAM - The information I have given proves also that Mr.. Collier was wrongly fined, that the conviction was quashed by the High Court, and the fine remitted. In justice to Mr. Collier, who holds a high and responsible position in Western Australia, and who is .not here to defend himself, I have brought this matter before the Senate.

Suggest corrections