Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 21 November 1913

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in stating that any act of an honorable senator is an act of political lunacy.

Senator McGregor - Is it in order, sir, for Senator Bakhap to say that the action of any honorable senator on this side is childish ?

The PRESIDENT - If any honorable senator deems the expression offensive to him, I ask Senator Bakhap to withdraw it.

Senator BAKHAP - If honorable senators opposite consider that it is a reflection upon them to characterize any act of theirs as an act of political lunacy or as childish, and you, sir, deem it necessary on my part to withdraw the expression, I am sensible of what is owing to you, and I withdraw it. At the same time, I must' remark that an honorable senator's vocabulary will be very much limited in regard to the criticism of improper parliamentary actions. I will say now, in substitution of the remark I made, that I protest against the Chamber being made the arena for the indulgence in legislative sabotage, for that is exactly what has been done. The Chamber is being brought into contempt, and simply because honorable senators on the other side think that they have the right of interference in the affairs of another place. We, as a Chamber, are actually arrogating to ourselves the right, whether it is conceded to us or not, of dictating to another place how they shall arrange their notice-paper. If the affection of honorable members for the Chambers which they respectively represent was not altogether subordinated to the spirit of party, I would expect honorable members in another place, irrespective of the political opinions they hold, to protest in a body against the actions of the Senate.

Senator Rae - They are interfering with us.

Senator BAKHAP - Because, undoubtedly, we are placing ourselves in antagonistic association with the proceedings of another place. I want the public to understand that honorable senators opposite are absolutely abrogating their functions. It may be denied, but it is notorious that this action is being dictated to them by members of the same party in another place.

Senator de Largie - That is not true.

Senator Needham - That is wrong.

Senator Rae - You have no right to say it, even if it is true.

Senator Clemons - That is a sensible objection.

Senator BAKHAP - Senator Rae says that, even if the statement is true, I have no right to make it.

Senator Needham - It is an incorrect statement, anyhow.

Senator BAKHAP - Unless our legislative proceedings are to be reduced to the level of the prattle of children, the honorable senator will not deny that it is true-

Senator Rae - Oh, yes, I would.

Senator BAKHAP - The honorable senator will not deny that the proceedings of his party here are, to a very large extent, governed by the opinions of members of the same party in another place.

Senator Millen - You underrate the capacity of the honorable senator if you say that he will not deny it.

Senator BAKHAP - With admirable generosity, I will pretend not to recognise the honorable senator's efficiency in that respect.

Senator Rae - I highly appreciate it.

Senator BAKHAP - This is the situation : The Senate is altogether abrogating its powers as a Chamber of review by placing itself in such association with members of another place. We are also dictating to them, by our action, what they shall do with the business on their notice-paper.

Senator Rae - No; what we do with our own.

Senator BAKHAP - All the time we are holding up the business of the coun try. What particularly concerns me at this juncture - and I appeal to my colleagues in the representation of Tasmania - is that, by adopting this action, we are* holding up measures for an indefinite period. We are holding up one measure in particular for which the people of Tasmania long. They are waiting for money, which they are already mortgaging, so to speak, to assist them in prosecuting a policy of internal development which is dear to both parties in the State. I ask my colleagues, if they retain any legislative independence at all, to come over here, or to assist the members of the Liberal party in protesting against an action that may indefinitely prolong the passage of a measure which is absolutely essential to the development of the resources of the little State. It is quite patent that the prolongation of this action will absolutely defeat the intention of the Administration to give to the State what is its due.

Senator Ready - We are here.

Senator Rae - I will come over and give you a hand.

Senator BAKHAP - I hope that our association may be a permanent one, in respect to this matter. I certainly call upon the honorable senators who have crossed to this side to dissociate themselves from the action of the Labour party in dragging the proceedings of the Senate, so to speak, in the political mire.

Senator Gardiner - Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in saying that the action taken by any honorable senators is dragging the Senate in the mire?

The PRESIDENT - No. I ask the honorable senator to refrain from the use of such terms.

Senator BAKHAP - Again, in deference to you, sir, I must limit my already somewhat limited vocabulary. It is apparent that if action of this kind is continued - and I suppose honorable senators opposite find themselves in a cul de sac, and must continue it or b© humiliated in the eyes of their own party - matters of material import to the people of Australia will be relegated to quite a secondary position, and the effort of the Government to place legislative enactments affecting them on the statutebook of this National Parliament will be defeated. I do earnestly and sincerely protest against action by this Chamber which, I feel sure, will materially impair its usefulness in the future.

Suggest corrections