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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - One would think from some of the speeches which have been delivered this morning that at no time was it contemplated that the Senate should be adjourned. To my mind that is a much overdrawn picture. We have only thirty-six members in this Chamber as against seventy-five in another place, and is it to be seriously contended that we ought to sit here day after day merely for the purpose of filling in time, and of making the people believe that we are doing some work? The practice which we have hitherto followed is to meet for the purpose of transacting business while there is business to be done. But at the present time we know that there is no business to be transacted. The incident that we have had an eight months' recess has been stressed unduly by some honorable members. In referring to that circumstance they forgot to mention that last year we passed through six or seven of the most strenuous months in the history of this Parliament. We sat upon four clays a week, and for about twelve hours each day. I daresay that those months were the most strenuous in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament, and at the close of the session we were entitled to a long recess in order to recuperate. To me it does not matter whether we adjourn now or at a later period. But if we have not work with which to proceed, it is idle to remain here to indulge in loquacity. I intend to support the motion, but I regret that the representatives from distant States are not to be afforded an opportunity of returning to their homes during the proposed adjournment. That adjournment will only extend over eighteen days, and if I am lucky enough to catch a steamer immediately, twelve days will be occupied in journeying to and from the State which I represent. I would suggest to the VicePresident of the Executive Council the wisdom of amending the motion so as to permit 'of an adjournment for three weeks. I recognise that honorable senators from Queensland occupy a similar position to my own.

Senator Givens - It takes some of us longer to reach our homes than it does the honorable senator.

Senator LYNCH - We are living in a state of isolation all the time, and it is unfair to the representatives of Western Australia to adjourn only for a fortnight, and to make us hang round Melbourne killing time. The Senate cannot continue to sit merely for the purpose of keeping time with the other Chamber. It is a physical impossibility to do so, and no sane person would ever dream of such a thing. Seeing that the Senate is only half as strong numerically as the other branch of the Legislature, the suggestion that we should do so is a reflection upon our intelligence. It may be said that this adjournment is proposed too early in the session, but it is not more than a week or two earlier than the usual time for proposing such an adjournment. We have no work to do now, and is it not as well that we should adjourn, so that when we come back we may have a lengthy programme of business before us which will occupy our attention till the close of the session ? If the period of the proposed adjournment is not extended, honorable senators from the Western State will be prevented from going to their homes, while we know that representatives of this and the neighbouring States can reach their homes within twenty-four hours. The Government might consider whether it would not be desirable to postpone the motion for another week, and then propose an adjournment over a more lengthy period.

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