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Thursday, 3 July 1941

Senator ARTHUR (New South Wales) .- The Standing Orders of the Senate provide for secret ballots but we are told by honorable senators opposite and the two newspapers mentioned how the three Labour senators from Tasmania voted. Therefore, we should carry this motion, if only for the purpose of protecting the officers of the Senate. When a senator receives a ballotpaper he writes on it the name of the candidate for whom he desires to vote, and the officers of the Senate are the only persons who see the names on the ballotpaper. The press statements to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has referred show an attempt to intimidate Labour senators, but, even supposing the three honorable senators did vote in the way suggested, this Senate is supposed to be a non-party chamber and to look after the interests of the respective States. That is provided for in the Constitution.

Senator McBride - That is a new interpretation of the Constitution.

Senator ARTHUR - We should bc guided by the Constitution, and, if the Labour senators representing Tasmania voted as has been suggested, they probably took into consideration the position of honorable senators who have occupied high positions in this Parliament for a considerable time. The people of Tasmania have mad;e many complaints regarding the treatment that they have received from the Menzies Government, and the three Labour senators from that State may have thought that a change was desirable.

Senator Leckie - Which, way did they vote?

Senator ARTHUR - I cannot tell the Minister that. The Minister reflects on the officers of this Senate, who are the only persons who saw the handwriting on the ballot-papers. The three Labour senators representing Tasmania may have thought, that the present Government had exerted little effort to prevent Tasmania from being robbed of its manhood by reason of the attractions of the mainland States to persons desirous of obtaining employment as munition workers; or was the Government anxious that there should be no change in the occupancy of the positions of President of the Senate and Chairman of Committees, so that plums might be provided to induce certain honorable senators to remain silent about the treatment received by the people of

Tasmania? This Senate should declare that the newspapers concerned have been guilty of contempt. It is questionable how far the Government should accept voluntary censorship of the press, but the statement to which reference has been made is very likely to create a considerable degree of disunity among the working classes of Tasmania who are engaged in the manufacture of munitions and arc helping to provide large profits for the supporters of the Menzies Government. As the Labour party is doing its best to bring about an all-in national war effort the Department of Information should take action with respect to certain newspaper reports which are published from time to time. For the protection of the officers of this chamber, I hope that honorable senators opposite will discontinue saying that they know how the three Tasmanian Labour senators voted.

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