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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) (Postmaster-General) [2.59}. - As my name has been brought into this matter, and it lias been stated in the press that I was mainly responsible for what happened on Friday last, I wish to say a few words in explanation. I was attending to some business in the Ministerial room when the honorable member for Bourke came to me and stated that he desired to leave the House until 2 o'clock. I asked him before doing so to see the Opposition Whip .and to put him on his honour as regards the business of the House. That is the usual practice, and it is the one which was followed during the whole time that I occupied the position of Government Whip. It was the only arrangement which it was necessary to make. For example, when I was about to visit England, I merely informed the honorable member for Macquarie of the fact, and his reply was, " I will see that everything is all right." There was never any occasion to bind him down to an agreement of that sort. That is why I said to the honorable member for Bourke, " Put the honorable member for Wentworth upon his honour." Of course, I do not know what the honorable member for Bourke said to the honorable member. I was not aware whether there was a quorum within the precincts of the building at the time of which I am speaking, but I was informed in the Ministerial room that the honorable member for Wentworth was arranging for a count-out.

Mr Kelly - Who informed the PostmasterGeneral ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I do not go " blabbing " around information which is imparted to me confidentially, and, therefore, I do not intend to reveal the name of my informant. If the honorable member for Wentworth is sincere in his statement that the charge levelled against him .is absolutely false, I should like him to definitely say. that he did not arrange in any way to secure a count-out. Let him say that. When I entered the Chamber the honorable member was in close consultation with honorable members of the Opposition. It was about fourteen or fifteen minutes to 1 o'clock, and, as we have often risen before the ordinary hour for luncheon, in order to allow of amendments to Bills being framed, I suggested to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that hie should consent to an adjournment. I did so, believing that my information was good, and that it was the intention of the honorable member for Wentworth, if possible, to count-out the House. It transpired that my anticipation was correct, because immediately the Vice-President of the Executive Council rose, the honorable member - who had not had time to arrange with some other honorable member to act for him - himself called attention to the State of the Committee. Let the honorable member deny - if he can - the statement that he took steps to arrange for a count - out.

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