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Thursday, 19 May 1904

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Whilst I quite admit that an inquiry of the sort suggested may not be as needful now as it was at an earlier stage, I have no objection whatever to such a Committee being appointed, for the purpose of giving what information can be gathered for our future guidance in the conduct of electoral matters. All I have to say on the motion may be expressed in very few words. The constitution of this Committee - which will have to deal with matters affecting all members of the House - if it had any party complexion previously, has no party complexion to-day. The Minister who might have been held responsible by such a Committee does not now occupy his seat on the Treasury benches; and under the circumstances, I think the representation on the Committee ought to be as equally as possible divided throughout the House. As we have three practically equal sections in the Chamber, the Committee ought to be divided into three parts. I am not now speaking from a personal point of view, because, although my name appears amongst those proposed as members of the Committee. I have requested the mover to remove it, as. I anticipate claims on my time which would interfere with my attendance.

Mr Watson - I raised no objection to the composition of the Committee, because I thought that the honorable member for Canobolas was anxious to give the different States representation,

Mr Brown - I selected the proposed members of the Committee in order to secure State representation, without any reference to party.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I certainly think that the honorable member was right, and that the different States ought to be represented on the Committee. But we have also to remember the fact that circumstances have changed since the. proposed Committee was first nominated; and I believe it will be in the interests of the House generally to have upon it an equal representation of all sections. I say that with the desire that some other honorable member should take my place, as I should prefer, for reasons which I have given, not to be on the Committee. There has been a list pre pared, which, fairly representing as it does the various sections of the House, may do away with the necessity for a ballot - a mode of selection which I do not recognise as the best possible in this case.

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