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Thursday, 13 October 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I am surprised that Senator Ogden has brought forward this amendment. If he wants the Senate to be the strong, virile, independent body to which he has referred, he can assist to make it so by tendering his resignation as a member of it. The honorable senator is out of touch with public sentiment throughout Australia. I remind him that he would not now be a member of the Senate if ha had not at one time been a member of a party organization. For many years Senator Ogden was a prominent member of the Labour party. His presence in this chamber is directly due to his former activity as a member of that party.

Senator Ogden - I entered this Senate to attempt to reform it.

Senator NEEDHAM - Senator Ogdennow desires to destroy the foundation of a democratic edifice. Subject to certain, limitations it is the right of every adult to aspire to membership of the Senate. The honorable senator proposes, by his amendment, to abolish that well -won right.

Senator Findley - There is nothing to prevent a person from seeking election as an -independent candidate.

Senator NEEDHAM - If the Senate is a party chamber, it is the fault of honorable senators supporting the Government.

Senator Ogden - Does not the honorable senator advocate the abolition of the Senate ?

Senator NEEDHAM - The first man to announce in the Senate that he had been elected Leader of the Opposition was the late Senator E. D. Millen. That was about the year 1913, when the Opposition consisted of five members of the party that now sits opposite. That practice has since prevailed, and I do not think it has done any harm. Senator Ogden argued that the Senate is useless. I point out that, except in relation to the initiation of legislation dealing -with finance, its powers are co-equal with those of the other branch of the legislature. Where I say it has acted wrongly is in having fallen into the habit of waiting for .legislation to be initiated by another place. That, however, is' not a reason for our acceptance of the amendment. We hear a great deal about interference with the liberty of the subject. This would certainly interfere with the right of citizens to attempt to win a seat in this chamber. I do not think that a parliament will ever be elected without the aid of party organizations; human nature will first have to be radically altered.

The principle underlying the amendment is a wrong one. I hope that the committee will reject it.

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