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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - I presume that the Honorary Minister is anxious to get the Bill through Committee as quickly as possible, and I assure him that I have no desire to hinder its progress. . In such circumstances, may I remind him of the speech which he delivered this morning, and to which I listened intently, besides taking short notes of his observations. He referred to the Department. But the arguments which have been adduced regarding the convenience of the Department do not appear to me to be material, and, therefore, I dismiss them. But the Minister went on to say, "I am also going to show how the proposed alteration will convenience the public." He did not, however, offer any argument whatever on that point. He did not attempt to show how the proposed alteration would convenience the public. If he had told us that the Government had been advised by the Electoral Office that this alteration would suit the public convenience, and had gone on to say that the reasons supplied to the Government were such as he would give to this Committee, we might have been free to agree or disagree with those reasons, but we should have known why this proposal was made. The debate would then have ended. Surely it is a common practice in this Chamber for the representative of a Government to give reasons for what they propose. It is quite within the ambit of ordinary courtesy for honorable senators to be told why a proposed alteration in an Act of Parliament should be brought about. I submit to Senator Findley with all respect that, at any rate,' he has not supplied such reasons this morning. He has merely met an argument of the Opposition with respect to this alteration being for the convenience of the public. I am' not an obstructionist. 1 am probably the last person in the Senate who could be accused of taking up time unnecessarily. But I do say that, on the present occasion; Senator Findley should get himself out of his difficulty by supplying us with the reasons that have been asked for. Surely that is a fair thing. If the honorable senator will frankly tell us, " These are the reasons supplied to us by the Electoral Office," I shall not cavil a't the action of the Government in accepting them.

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