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Friday, 9 February 1917

The PRESIDENT - Order! That matter is not open to ^debate on the motion.

Senator KEATING - If that be so, I regret it exceedingly. I do strongly feel that those who have served the Senate in the past loyally and sincerely are entitled at least to have their position in this connexion made abundantly clear.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - The honorable senator can raise the question on the Supply Bill.

Senator KEATING - I do not wish to raise any question which might appear to sound a note of discord, but I do think that it might very well be publicly stated that it is due to no want of capacity, and no lack of efficient service in the .past, that other officers of the Senate, who, in ordinary circumstances, might have been expected to have improved their positions upon the retirement of Mr. Boydell, have apparently been passed over.

The PRESIDENT - Before putting the motion I wish to say a word or two upon it. I have very little to add to what I have already said on two previous occasions when my duty demanded that I should refer to the matter in the Senate. First of all, I wish to :indorse everything that was said by the Minister for Defence, the Leader of the Opposition, and other honorable senators as to the great capacity and unfailing courtesy with which Mr. Boydell discharged hia duties. Every member of the 'Senate had 'in Mr. Boydell a friend -who made the path of parliamentary procedure easy for him. His services -were especially -valuable to men -who, like myself, .attained a high, .official position without previous experience. His -services 'were invaluable to me :as a private member, and in my .present position .as presiding officer of the Senate. Nothing "was 'a trouble to Mr. Boydell, and I am sure that honorable senators were not only impressed by his ripe knowledge and unfailing courtesy, but have a high regard for him because of his personal qualities. He has left the service of the Senate with the esteem and- goodwill of every member of it. I believe that every -member of the Senate most sincerely regrets that the cause of his retirement is in any way connected with the failure of his health. I should like to refer to a matter mentioned by the Minister for De- fence in submitting the motion. There seems to be an impression, which has been very sedulously cultivated by members of the press, who on all occasions desire to magnify their own importance at the expense of Parliament, that such positions as that which Mr. Boydell occupied are largely ornamental. I am sure that if any of the editors, leader writers, or members of the staffs of the great newspapers were suddenly called upon to perform the duties of these offices, they would find themselves in a very considerable fog. To efficiently fill the position of Clerk of Parliaments -requires a large experience, and very special ability.

Senator O'Keefe - And a vast amount of study.

The PRESIDENT - And, as Senator O'Keefe reminds me, a very considerable amount of study. The forms of Parliament with which the Clerk of Parliaments must necessarily- be acquainted in order to insure the proper conduct of business, and to give adequate assistance to honorable senators in the discharge of their duties, do not represent, as some of the newspapers invite the public to believe, mere surplusage and excrescences upon the public life of .the country. Every one of these forms and methods of procedure has been adopted as the result of long experience, and almost entirely with the object of safeguarding the rights and interests -of the people. Any -one who has given attention to the procedure of Parliament must be aware of this. There is also an impression -that when the Senate is not sitting there is very little to do. T-hat is not correct, as in addition to the ordinary office work, there is a- large amount of very special work in connexion with the arranging and indexing of records, papers, Asc, and it must be remembered that the work -during the session is often of a very strenuous and wearying character. Mr. Boydell was intimately acquainted with all the forms and methods of parliamentary procedure, and the' reasons which led to their adoption. Whilst he was punctilious in ^urging the observance of those forms, he never allowed them to become a bar to the discharge ' of their duties by members of the Senate. He did all that he could to facilitate the discharge of their duties as representatives of the people, and members of this Chamber recognised and appreciated his .services accordingly. No -one regrets more than I do on official and personal grounds that Mr. Boydell has been compelled to retire at this stage. I again express the hope that the rest which he will now be able to take will have the effect of restoring him again to robust health, and that for many years to come we shall have the privilege of enjoying the friendship with him which we have valued so much in the past. With regard to the matter raised by Senator Keating, I wish to say that it will be competent for any member of the Senate to raise that question on future occasions, and if it is raised, I shall be happy to -give all the reasons which guided me in making the decision I have made.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-

That the President of the Senate be requested to convey officially to Mr. Boydell the resolution agreed to by the Senate.

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