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Wednesday, 7 March 1928

Adjournment while Censure Motion is Debated.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the

I feel that in justice to the Senate and to honorable senators individually I should make a statement with regard to the events of last week, in view of an attempt that has been made in a section of the press to convey the impression that those who were not then in attendance were neglectful of their public duties. Last Wednesday -week the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives gave notice of a motion of censure. The Prime Minister accepted it, immediately moved the adjournment of the House of Representatives, and notified me, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, of what had' taken place. When a government is challenged on a motion of censure, if the motion is bona fide and not merely put forward for the purpose of wasting time, the government under challenge does not proceed with legislation or with major acts of administration. That is the time honored custom in all countries where British parliamentary practice obtains, and in accordance , with it I moved the adjournment of the Senate. It was impossible for me to forecast what would be the probable length of the debate in another place; but as it was the desire of the Government that it should not occupy more than a week I moved that the Senate at its rising adjourn until the following Wednesday. The motion was carried and the Senate adjourned. In pursuance of their public duties honorable senators naturally watched proceedings in another place, and before the end of the week was reached it was obvious to them that the debate would extend over the following week, and in the performance of their public duties they took advantage of the opportunity to return to their own States. It must be remembered that all honorable senators do not reside in Canberra, nor do they all live in Melbourne. During the first week-end I received several telegrams from senators asking me if there was any necessity for them to return to Canberra by the following Wednesday. Irealized that if I replied in the affirmative I should be bringing them from their homes only to hoar the same adjournment motion moved - that there would have to be a further adjournment until the present week. That would have meant bringing them from their homes to Canberra although no business could be done. I, therefore, instructed the Government Whip to reply that there was no occasion for honorable senators to come to Canberra last week, and you, Mr. President, were good enough to say that you would not object to attending here each day and, if there was no quorum present, adjourning the Senate . until the following day. Those are the circumstances of last week. It seems to me that there is a desire on the part of some journals in Australia to use every opportunity, no matter how trivial, to belittle and cast aspersions on parliamentary institutions. There are two sections in this country very anxious to do this, and one of them is very anxious to do away with parliamentary government altogether. Journals that lend themselves to petty attacks on members of Parliament are thus doing their best to further the cause of those who believe in the abolition of parliamentary government and the setting up of some form of autocracy. In justice to the Senate and honorable senators individually and in order that the public might know the facts I felt that I should make this statement.

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