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Tuesday, 10 June 1902

Mr SALMON (Laanecoorie) - I. wish to correct one or two trifling inaccuracies of the honorable member for West Sydney. The first is, that the whole of the members for Victoria voted with the Government. As a matter of fact, two Victorian representatives voted the other way. Instead of only eight members for this State being present, there were ten members for Victoria present and two Ministers, making a total of twelve, while, at the same time, there were present only fourteen representatives of New South Wales. The honorable member for West Sydney was also wrong in his opinion that if the bells were rung no more representatives of Victoria than are now in the Chamber would be found in their places.

Mi-. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I admit with those who have opposed the Government, and with some of those who have supported them, that the situation which has been created is. a difficult one. Some of those who voted with the Government did not mean thereby to indicate that in their opinion the Government have not done wrong. They stated with their voices that they considered the action of the Government in this matter a series of mistakes from beginning to end ; but they felt that they should not add another wrong to that done by the Government by refusing to support an undertaking made with a third party, however undesirable that undertaking may be. It has been said that if the proposed allowance had been for some one in a lower position than that of the Governor-General it would not have received so much support, but I should like to remind honorable gentlemen that the same consideration has been extended by them from time to time towardsallowances to other public servants. The House objected, on principle, to the allowances, and the Government were constrained to discontinue them ; but it was felt that in regard to certain allowances which the Government had promised, the undertaking entered into should be carried out. I have acted in regard to the Governor - General's allowances as I should have acted if my votes had been given in regard to the humblest servant of the Commonwealth. It is quite natural, however, that honorable gentlemen should seek to mark in some definite way their disapproval of the actions of the Government. But, while the motion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is intended to do that, I think it would be a mistake to push it to a division, because, if that were done we should get, not a clear-cut vote upon the question really at issue, but a vote upon the question of the desirability of allowing a private member to take the business out of the hands of the Government. I trust, therefore, that the honorable and learned member will withdraw his motion.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- The honorable member for North Sydney has very correctly expressed the intention of my motion. I moved it to mark my disapproval of the way in which the Government have managed' this business throughout. When the Executive enters into an arrangement on behalf of the Commonwealth, that arrangement must, as a rule, be carried out by Parliament, though that does not prevent Parliament from afterwards expressing disapproval of it. A merchant or any one else who deputes an agent to act for him may feel himself obliged to carry out a contract entered into by that agent, but that will not prevent him from dismissing him immediately afterwards. That is the position of some of us on this side of the Chamber.We blame the Government for having cast an unnecessary slur upon the Governor-General, and also for having made it appear that the money which we have been asked to vote goes into his own pockets, when as a matter of fact he has practically nothing to do with its expenditure. I think, however, that the discussion which we have had has been sufficient to convince the Government that, if they act in this way again, direct means will be taken to bring them to book, and therefore, having in some degree obtained my object, I wish to withdraw my motion.

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