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Wednesday, 7 December 1927

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator will be entitled to discuss the expense incurred by the commission, but not the details of the report. On the motion for the first reading of this bill the honorable senator had an opportunity to do so.

Senator OGDEN - I do not wish, sir, to take the extreme step of dissenting from your ruling. If you contend that I am not in order in discussing the report at this stage, I shall obey your ruling; but I still think that you are wrong.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I rise to a point of order. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that you reconsider your ruling. The Government has expended a certain sum of money in meeting the expenditure incurred by the Industrial Mission in visiting the United States of America, and the report from which the honorable senator was proceeding to quote is the result of that expenditure. I contend that Senator Ogden is entitled to quote the report, and to show whether, in his opinion, the expenditure was or was not warranted.

The CHAIRMAN - I do not feel justified in altering the decision I have already given by permitting a discussion in detail of the report of the commission at this stage, which I rule is out of order.

Senator OGDEN - Then I give notice of dissent from your ruling, because, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) . correctly stated, the Government has expended a certain sum of money in securing information which is embodied in the report of the commission. I am entitled to quote from the report to show whether, in my opinion, the expenditure is or is not justified. I move -

That the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Ogdenhas now notified me in writing as follows : -

That the Chairman's ruling be dissented from, on the ground that under Item 12, "Miscellaneous Services," it is perfectly permissible to discuss the report of the industrial delegation to America.

In accordance with the usual practice, I shall now report to Mr. President.

In the Senate:

The CHAIRMAN - Mr. President,I have to report that Senator Ogden has dissented from my ruling that he is not entitled to discuss the report of the Industrial Mission to the United States of America under an item to provide £1,000 to meet the expenses of the delegation, on the following ground : -

That under Item 12, "Miscellaneous Services," it is perfectly permissible to discuss the report of the industrial delegation to America.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to S p.m.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).When the sitting of the Senate was suspended for the dinner adjournment, I had reported to you. Mr. President, that Senator Ogden' had submitted in writing his dissent from my ruling during the debate in committee on the item of the Appropriation Bill dealing with expenditure in connexion with the visit of the industrial mission to America. I ruled that the honorable senator would be in order in discussing the expenses incurred by the mission, but that he was not entitled, on the item itself, to deal in detail with the report of the delegation, which covers a very wide field. I. pointed out to him that he had an opportunity on the first reading of the bill to do this. The honorable senator took exception to my ruling and contended that it was competent for him to deal in detail with the report of the mission. Earlier in the afternoon, I had ruled Senator Findley out of order when he attempted to discuss the report of the Development and Migration Commission, and I felt that I could not concede to one honorable senator a privilege which I had refused to another. I, therefore, ruled Senator Ogden out of order.

Senator Findley - I feel I must support the Chairman's ruling that Senator Ogden was not in order in discussing in detail the report of the industrial mission to America. While I do not object in any way to a free discussion of that report, I take the view that there is a time and place for all things. If Senator Ogden had been permitted to quote copious extracts from that fairly lengthy report and make comments on them, other honorable senators could not have been denied the same privilege. Senator Ogden really set out to make comparisons between unionism in America and unionism in Australia. The possibilities of a debate along those lines are limitless.

Senator Duncan - But the time available to each honorable senator is limited.

Senator Findley - If the ruling of the Chairman is not upheld, other honorable senators will have ample opportunity to deal in extenso with reports of other commissions.

Senator Ogden - The honorable senator quoted from the report of the Development and Migration Commission.

Senator Findley - I dealt with that report on the motion for the first reading of the bill.

Senator Duncan - Aud largely in committee, too.

Senator Findley - In committee I referred only to certain items. I did not attempt to discuss it in detail, because I believed that I would not be in order. If Senator Ogden is permitted to do what he desires to do, then naturally we shall have a lengthy discussion. Honorable senators will be entitled to make speeches which properly should have been made on the first reading of the bill. Such a precedent would have far-reaching consequences, and in future we should have a much wider field for discussion in the committee stages of a bill. I think the Chairman was right in ruling Senator Ogden out of order. This afternoon I was referring to a certain report when the Leader of the Senate (Sea tor Pearce), on a point of order directed the attention of the Chairman to remarks which I was making, with the result that I had to cease. Strangely enough the Leader of the Senate was responsible also for this point of order ; but now he takes the view that the report of the industrial mission should be fully considered. As a matter of fact, he invites discussion on it, possibly with the object of securing the indorsement of the committee for the Government's action in spending public money to send the. industrial mission to America. I submit, however, that, the time for a full discussion of the report is not in the committee stage of the bill.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Naturally, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I am anxious to expedite Government business. I direct your attention, however, to the. item No. 12 on page 263 - "Industrial mission to the United States of America, £1,000." On this item Senator Ogden proceeded to discuss the report of the mission, and quoted portions .of it. The Government is asking the Senate to approve of this vote of £1,000 towards the expenditure on the mission. It appears to me, therefore, that it is competent for any member of the committee to examine the expenditure. To do that, it is necessary to refer to the report of the mission. How can an honorable senator determine in his own mind whether the work of the mission justifies the expenditure unless he refers to, and deals with, the report, which gives the results of the mission's' investigations? The report is the result of the expenditure and Senator Ogden, in my judgment, is entitled to discuss it. Other honorable senators also have the same right. His position is not at all analogous to that of Senator Findley earlier in the afternoon. Senator Findley, on an item dealing with the expenditure of a subdepartment, attempted to discuss the contents of a. certain report, and was proceeding to quote from it when he. was called to order.

Senator Findley - I did not quote from that report.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The honorable senator was referring to certain items in the report when the Chairman ruled him out of order. It seems to be that if the Chairman's ruling in this instance is upheld it will unduly restrict th.e. right of honorable senators to discuss the report of the industrial mission.

Senator Needham.- I remind you, Mr. President, that your ruling on this point, of order will have an important bearing on future discussions in the committee stages of a bill. Let me, correct the right honorable Leader of the Senate in regard to the point of order in which Senator Findley was involved this afternoon. The honorable senator on the first reading of the bill had stated his views in regard to the Development and Migration Commission, and in committee was dealing with specific items mentioned in the report. He was ruled out of order when he attempted to discuss the, appointment of ex-Senator Drake-Brockman to the Arbitration Court bench. The Leader of the Senate objected that in the discussion on the items then before the committee it was not competent for the honorable senator to comment on that appointment. The Chairman upheld the point, and ruled Senator Findley out of order. We on this side of the committee contended that, as the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman was made by the AttorneyGeneral, whose department was under discussion, it was competent for the honorable senator to criticize that appointment. Senator Ogden wished to discuss the report of the industrial mission to America, and the Chairman, to be consistent with his ruling earlier in the debate, ruled that he was out of order though the right honorable the Leader of the Senate takes the contrary view. I have no desire to see the debates in committee restricted. I should prefer to see them extended so that all honorable senators would have more freedom of speech. If, however, the Chairman's ruling earlier in the afternoon in respect of Senator Findley was right, then his ruling in regard to Senator Ogden also was right.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - It seems to me that the Chairman's ruling was correct. The matter under consideration by the committee was whether certain expenditure was justified, and surely the debate should have been limited to that question. If honorable senators were allowed to indulge in a full-dress debate on the subject of the industrial mission to American, to which the item of expenditure related there would be no end to our debates on the Estimates, because there are many commissions in existence inquiring into various matters. If on similar items debates were allowed on the pros and cons of the matters relegated to these commissions for investigation and report, we should do little else in the course of a session. A discussion as to whether the expenditure incurred by the delegation was or was not justified, does not involve the question of whether honorable senators agree with the appointment of the commission or with its findings. With regard to the findings of every commission we should have some agreeing and others disagreeing; but the simple point at issue is whether the expenditure on the delegation to America was justified, and as I understand it the ruling of the Chairman was to limit the honorable senator to that particular point, and not to allow him to roam over the whole subject-matter inquired into and reported upon by the delegation. I cannot see how the Chairman could give any other ruling than he did.

Senator Ogden - It is difficult to show whether the item for the payment of the expenses of the delegation to America is justifiable or not unless we can take into consideration the work done by the delegation and its report. Often during the discussion of important items reports of various commissions have been quoted. For instance, on the item, for the Development and Migration Commission, Senator Pearce quoted extensively from the report of the commission. Personally, I am not very much concerned, because I can take another opportunity to discuss the report of the delegation to America, even if I have to submit a direct motion to enable me to do so. I should have discussed it at an earlier stage, but did not get an opportunity. We have on the Estimates an item of £1,000 to meet the expenses bf this industrial mission to the United States of America, but what is the use of spending that money unless the report of the mission can be discussed by Parliament?

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - "Unless I agree with the particular report," is what the honorable senator means to say.

Senator Ogden - No. I say that we ought to be able to find out and discuss what is in the delegation's report. Senator Needham has endeavoured to justify the ruling on the Chairman's refusal to hear Senator Findley on the Arbitration Court judges, but there is no money in these Estimates for the payment of the salaries of the judges of the Arbitration Court, whereas in this case there is an item of £1,000 on the Estimates for the payment of the expenses of the delegates who visited America. I submit that the Senate has a right to discuss the information obtained by those delegates.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator contends that if there is an item on the Estimates for the payment of all royal commissions he is entitled to quote voluminously from the reports of all commissions.

Senator Ogden - I have heard it done repeatedly.

Senator Millen - Apparently, the burden of Senator Barwell's plaint is that if honorable members were permitted, to discuss the reports of commissions for which provision is made in the schedules to this bill the debate would be endless. Surely it is open to the committee to spend all the time it thinks proper, sub- ject to the ruling of the Chair, in discussing any item in the schedule. In relation to this particular ruling, we have before us an expenditure of about £6,000, with an additional £1,000 this year for the expenses of the Industrial Mission to America. If Senator Ogden is not in order in discussing the report of that delegation, how can he show whether this expenditure was justified or otherwise? When a mission leaves Sydney for America, obviously cost is involved, and if it travels from New York to Detroit, again obviously cost is involved. Surely we have the right to say that upon its arrival in New York or in Detroit, the mission did certain work that justified the expenditure involved. I cannot see how it is possible for us to pass the expenditure provided for in these Estimates unless we can show in detail from the work done whether it is warranted or not. For instance, there is £70,000 provided for the GovernorGeneral's residence at Yarralumla. Honorable senators require to be shown in detail that that expenditure was warran-ted, and if that can be done in one case, it ought to be possible to do it in another I think Senator Ogden was in order.

Senator Kingsmill - It seems to me that unless we can discuss the report of the delegation to America, not from the point of view of its effect, but from the standpoint of showing the amount of work done and the scope of the mission, it is impossible to arrive at a just estimate as to whether the amount spent upon the mission was justified or not. As Senator Millen has pointed out, contrary to the expression of Senator Barwell, it is not a matter of opinion as to whether the report was right or wrong; but the report itself is a history of the work done, the distances travelled, and the various organizations consulted by the delegation during its visit to America. The only way to arrive at a just estimate on these points is the way taken by Senator Ogden in the few words he spoke on the subject. To draw a parallel between the honorable senator's remarks and a criticism of Judge DrakeBrockman, who is paid under a special act and not under these Estimates, is absolutely misleading.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - The chairman refused to allow a general discussion on unionism in America. Does the honorable senator think that that is a point which should be discussed?

Senator Kingsmill - The fact that the delegation considered the position of unionism in America should be quite quotable in a discussion on an item in these Estimates, but I do not remember that Senator Ogden was expressing any opinion on the matter. Those honorable senators who say that he was doing so, wore thinking more of what he might have said than of what he did say. To my mind there is no doubt that Senator Ogden was in order.

Senator Grant - To my mind the position taken up by Senator Ogden must be sustained. In committee we have a right. to discuss all matters for which provision is made on these Estimates, but not at length, because the time is limited by the Standing Orders. An honorable senator cannot discuss any matter for more than a quarter of an hour at a time, and to say that Senator Ogden could have quoted at length from the report »f the delegation to America is a little misleading. If no one else has risen to speak at the end of his quarter of an hour the Chairman would have put the question, and that would have been the end of it. If an honorable senator docs want to quote from a report for a quarter of an hour, why should he not do so? There are other items in the vote for Miscellaneous Services relating to national insurance, the film commission, and a variety of Other very interesting subjects, aud I take it they are included so that honorable senators may try to elicit information as to the way in which the public money is being spent. That is what Senator Ogden proposed to do, and if he was anxious to quote some remarks by the delegation to America about the labour conditions there, there were plenty of other people who, from their own experience, could speak of the conditions of labour here and in America also. So far as I can see, Senator Ogden was perfectly justified in asking to be heard, and, if he so desired, in quoting from the report in his possession.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Very extensive privileges are allowed to honorable senators on the first reading of an Appropriation Bill; and if any honorable senator was anxious to quote from the report of the industrial delegation to America, the proper time for him to do so was on the first reading of this bill. If Senator Ogden lost that opportunity it was his own fault. There is very little to guide the chairman as to what latitude should be allowed during the discussion of the schedule to an Appropriation Bill. It is largely a matter for the discretion of the Chair. If the Chairman thinks that an honorable senator is transgressing the rules, he is entitled to say he thinks so, and it is the usual practice for his ruling to be obeyed, unless dissent is taken, as on the present occasion. If the Chairman did not sometimes limit discussion on items in strict compliance with the Standing Orders, how long do honorable senators think it would take them to put through all the items embraced in the vote under discussion?

Senator Ogden - Surely that is not the question at issue.

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