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Tuesday, 20 October 1903

Mr AUSTI N CHAPMAN (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) -What I wish to show is that, although only sixteen members out of forty-six to-night recorded their votes in favour of Bombala - the remaining thirty voting, not for any other particular site, but against that selection - it is well known that five honorable members who were prepared to vote for Bombala stood out in deference to the wishes of others.

Mr Watson - What about the previous vote?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Surely the honorable member will allow me to proceed ? Had those six voted, twenty-one votes would have been cast in favour of Bombala. I am told that the reason they stood out was that they were requested to pair with other honorable members who were absent. They were not advised that there were many other honorable members absent who were well known to be in favour of Bombala, and with whom the absentees on the other side might have been paired. Consequently, I say that the vote given to-night is not a true index of the opinion of the House.

Mr Watson - What about the vote given some days ago ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - We know that at the first ballot on that occasion Bombala headed the list, and that it was only by a combination of members against the selection of that site, and the sudden conversion of quite a number of honorable members who had previously voted for Lyndhurst, that the supporters of the Tumut site were enabled to secure a victory by the narrowest of majorities. As the ballot proceeded, Bombala was fora long time either at the head of the list or tied with some of the other sites. Quite a number of honorable members who are in favour of Bombala were absent from the House on that occasion, and we are all aware of the feverish haste with which even the honorable member for Bland urged that the House should go to a division. I do not blame him for doing so. Perhaps it was good tactics for him to urge honorable members to rush to a division when he knew that some of the supporters of the site which he opposed were absent ; but the most serious feature Associated with the pairing which took place in connexion with to-night's division relates to the vote of the leader of the Opposition. I wish to know on whose authority an honorable member, who was in attendance this evening left the Chamber in order to pair with the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to a point of order. I would ask you to say, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable gentleman is in order in discussing the question of pairs on the motion for the adoption of the report ?

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