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Wednesday, 26 October 1904


Mr CHANTER (Riverina) - I certainly thought that the Prime Minister, as leader of the House, would have offered some observations on this motion, in view of the fact that the question raised involves the honour of the whole House. I am extremely sorry that the right honorable gentleman has not spoken to the motion, for the reason that I think that a few remarks which he inadvertently uttered last night led to the writing of the leading article in question. To the credit of the right honorable gentleman it must be said, however, that as soon as he had uttered the words to which I refer he appeared to recognise that he had made a mistake - that it was wrong to allude to the religion of any honorable member, or to the race to which he belonged - and he made it perfectly clear that he had no intention whatever to speak of the honorable and learned member in the sense which his remarks at first suggested.


Mr McCay - Having made that clear last night, why should the right honorable member make any explanation to-day ?


Mr CHANTER - I repeat that it is to the credit of the right honorable member that he made that point clear last night, tout it is not to his credit that he has not taken exception to the attack made by a public newspaper, on racial grounds, on the honour of a member of this House. I do not suppose that the Minister of Defence agrees with me.


Mr McCay - I ask whether the honorable member for Indi agrees with the honorable member.


Mr CHANTER - I am addressing my remarks to the whole House, and more particularly to the Prime Minister. An attack on the honour of any honorable member of this House must affect the honour of every member of it, and whenever any newspaper, no matter what journal it may be, seeks to introduce into the politics of Australia matters which should find no place in them, the Prime Minister, as leader of the House, should be ready to stand up and show the people of the Commonwealth that the public men of this country are prepared to act in such a way if necessary as to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The Prime Minister sat still under attacks made upon himself.


Mr CHANTER - That was his own fault. Had the right honorable gentleman* brought these attacks before the House when they were made, and shown that they were unfair, I venture to say that even those politically opposed to him would have stood by him, just as they would be prepared to defend the honour of any other honorable member. We have a right to expect the leader of the House to stand up in defence of any honorable member who is unduly attacked, and to show the country that, as custodian of the honour and the interests of the House, he will not allow such statements to pass unnoticed. I believe that the honorable and learned member for Indi has taken a proper action, and, indeed, the only course open to him. It will have a - good effect in the future, inasmuch as newspaper writers, when criticising public men, will be careful not to put into their mouths words which they did not utter, or to attach to their utterances meanings which thev were not intended to bear.







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