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Thursday, 10 June 1915

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I have listened with some surprise to the statement by the Minister on this subject. I think I am as old a member of this Chamber as anybody else, and this is the first time that I ever knew that an official was here at the service of honorable senators. There is art officer here; his position, I think, figures on the Estimates as Secretary to the representatives of the Government in the Senate. He is, therefore, the servant of Ministers, and I have never known him in any other capacity than that.. I think that honorable senators desiring to move amendments to measures before the Senate have been able to confer with the officer with the sanction of Ministers; but it is news to me that they have this privilege as a matter of right.

Senator Gardiner - It is a matter of custom.

Senator MILLEN - Then, if that is the position, I think it is a wrong one. It seems to me that it would be an anomaly for the Secretary to the representatives of the Government to be available to honorable senators who might wish to draft amendments to defeat .a Government Bill, and it would place him in a false position. Suppose this officer were to do his best to draft an amendment to defeat a Ministerial proposal, and suppose afterwards it was discovered, as we frequently do, that there was a fault in the draftsmanship; the thought that would at once flash through the minds of honorable senators would be that, because of some preconceived notion, the official had been unconsciously prevented from drafting an effective amendment. What is wanted here is a position such as that occupied by an officer of the New South Wales Parliament - a parliamentary draftsman, and not a secretary to Ministers, or under the direction of Ministers. We should have a parliamentary officer who should be responsible to Parliament, and whose services should be available to members without the sanction of Ministers.

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