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Friday, 9 August 1912

Senator SAYERS (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator pretends that he does not know.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator Sayers has a right to be heard in silence, without all these interjections being made. When an interjection is made, the honorable senator replies, and then another honorable senator complains of the reply. I think it is- better to .allow the speaker to proceed without interruption.

Senator SAYERS - The public have no confidence in Royal Commissions as they have been constituted. It is well known that Royal Commissions have been given to men who have never had anything to do with the industry on which they were asked to report. They could not tell one how to do the simplest thing in connexion with the industry, though they might have seen the article growing. Naturally ,the public comment, and ask " What does this man know about the industry?" The public want to know, when a man is appointed to a Royal Commission, that he understands the subject-matter of the inquiry. That is one of my objections to the present system of making these appointments. Of what use would it be to ask a man who has been mining, or bullock-driving, or following some other occupation all his life, to report on the sugar, or arrowroot, or other highly technical industry, which a farmer has to learn by experience how to carry on. Of what use, for instance, would it be to put me on a Royal Commission to go out west and to report on cattle-breeding or sheepbreeding, and what is the best system to adopt for that country?

Senator McGregor - You might sit on a Commission, but you could not give evidence.

Senator SAYERS - I would be part and parcel of the Commission which was appointed to bring in a report, and that is what I complain of. I would possess no knowledge of the subject.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - You are too modest.

Senator SAYERS - No ; I am a little more modest than is my honorable friend. I do not profess to know anything about this industry, because I have never had anything to do with it in my life. If the party to which I belong were in power, I might be appointed as a member of a Royal Commission, and receive so much a day to go to Western Australia to iiispect land there, and see whether it was suitable, - in my opinion, for this or that breed of sheep.

Senator O'Keefe - T - The honorable senator would not be put on a Commission to give evidence, but to listen to evidence.

Senator SAYERS - Have I any knowledge which would enable me to say whether the evidence was right or wrong?

Senator O'Keefe - T - The honorable senator has ordinary common sense.

Senator SAYERS - If we all had ordinary common sense we should never have a Bill like this before us. It is because of the lack of ordinary common sense that this Bill is introduced.

Senator Needham - Has the honorable senator any sense at all?

Senator McGregor - Common or otherwise ?

Senator SAYERS - The position is that when honorable senators on this side get up to express their views they are met with nothing but abuse from the moment they stand up. They are met with nothing but insulting remarks.

The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator hears any remark which he considers insulting, the Chair will endeavour to protect him, and will see that insulting remarks are withdrawn.

Senator SAYERS - It is too late for me, sir, to call your attention to them when you allow honorable senators opposite to make them. They appear in the press and in Hansard.

The PRESIDENT - Order !

Senator SAYERS - You heard the remarks as well as I did.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! I did not hear any remark made which I thought out of order. If there was such a remark made, it was the honorable senator's duty to mention the fact, and I would see that the remark to which he objected was withdrawn.

Senator SAYERS - I say that it is your duty to protect me when I am standing on the floor of this chamber.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! I have asked honorable senators on my right not to interject. I cannot prevent honorable senators interjecting. The only thing I can do is, when an honorable senator complains of interjections, to see that the honorable senator who has made interjections which are regarded .as insults shall withdraw them.

Senator Vardon - "Have you any sense at all?" was the interjection.

Senator SAYERS - Is that an insult or is it not? You heard it, sir, and so did every honorable senator present hear it.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! I did not hear it.

Senator SAYERS - I shall not be insulted in this way.

The PRESIDENT - I did not hear an interjection to that effect, and the honorable senator never mentioned it. If I had. heard it I should have asked the honorable senator who made it to withdraw it.

Senator SAYERS - I ask Senator Needham to say whether he did not call it out across the floor of the chamber so that every honorable senator could hear it. His remark was supported by the VicePresident of the Executive Council immediately afterwards. Am I to put up with that kind of thing?

The PRESIDENT - I asked honorable senators not to interject. I did not hear either Senator Needham or Senator McGregor make the interjections complained of, and Senator Sayers made no complaint about those interjections being made.

Senator Needham - As my name has been mentioned, I may be allowed to say that I did interject. I asked had the honorable senator common sense or otherwise.

Senator SAYERS - Those were not the honorable senator's words. But I shall get my proof of what occurred from Hansard, and shall show it to you, sir.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must not make imputations against the Chair.

Senator SAYERS - It seems that remarks may be made to me and to other honorable senators on this side, and we must make no reflections.

Senator Needham - The honorable senator has often made interjections himself.

Senator SAYERS - I will leave the matter now, and to-morrow, when I get my Hansard proof-

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator will have it put in.

Senator SAYERS - No, I never try to have anything put in, though the VicePresident of the Executive Council may try to have something taken out.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! I ask honorable senators on my right to refrain from interjections. They lead to all this recrimination. Senator Sayers wishes to be heard in silence, and he has a right to be so heard.

Senator SAYERS - I shall draw my remarks to a close by saying that such a Bill as this is not called for. If the public had a voice in the matter I am sure that they would repudiate it. I know as well as that I am standing here that the Bill will be carried, 'but I hope that when the people hear what has been said about it, and see, as they probably will, extracts from the Bill published in the press, they will be wise enough to say that any Government that could introduce a Bill of this nature is not worthy to occupy the Treasury benches. Next year the people will have a chance to say that. All that we can do on this side is to do our best to prevent the measure finding a place on the statute-book. When it does reach the statute-book, I hope that before very long the people will say that it must be removed, because it is a disgrace to the fair name of Australia.

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