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Tuesday, 8 November 1904

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) - I join in this discussion with the greatest regret, because it reflects upon the Committee and every honorable member who takes part in it. Although I have been present in the Chamber for a great part of the time during which the matter has been under discussion, I desired to have nothing to say in connexion with it. When the GovernorGeneral's allowances were under discussion some time ago, I made a statement as to the limit at which they would then be kept, and the undertaking was strictly adhered to. At the same time, as I then pointed out, I could not and did not pretend to undertake, that the same amount would be found to be sufficient for all time. On the contrary, I said that although I would undertake that for the twelve months the expenditure would be kept within the amount, or practically within it, I specially guarded myself - because we had not enough experience - by saying that only time could tell us what sum would hereafter be required for the Governor-General's establishment. The questions debated to-night have not been as to the allowances made to the GovernorGeneral - the Governor-General does not receive a farthing of this money, and will not be a penny the worse or a penny the better because of the vote - and yet his name has been dragged into the discussion in order - at all events, I fear that that will be the effect - to convey to the general public an utterly false impression, that we are discussing the question of giving or refusing to give money to the GovernorGeneral. That has nothing whatever to do with this question. Therefore, the honorable member for Kennedy, and those who have supported him, would have acted more in consonance with the traditions of this House, and in the interest of their own credit in it, if they had made this perfectly clear, and had refrained from introducing the name of the GovernorGeneral. Whether or not we spend money on the care of Government buildings, and on one of the residences used by the GovernorGeneral, does not affect His Excellency. So far as he is concerned, we can leave the buildings to fall into decay.

Mr Watson - He would probably save money if that were done, because he would not have to entertain.

Mr DEAKIN - Exactly. It is no concern whatever of the Governor-General. I regret that I interjected with some heat, but did so because of the continuous introduction of the Governor-General's name, though he can neither be benefited nor injured by the vote. I conclude that the action taken can only have been intended for some purpose other than considerations of economy, or the public weal. I do not wish to be disorderly in suggesting whatthe motives influencing honorable members are. I suggested some of them by interjection, as perhaps I should not have done ; but maintain that the Governor-General's name need not have been introduced, and the discussion ought not to have been given this turn, either in the interests of the public, the electors, or the public purse. It can only have been done in some other interest, and as to what that is, I leave each honorable member to form his own opinion.

Mr. TUDOR(Yarra). - I voted for what I considered to be the promise made to the House by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat two or three years ago, after the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne had taken the business out of the hands of the Barton Government. So far as I know, no honorable member has specially used the name of the GovernorGeneral to-night.

Mr Deakin - Yes.

Mr TUDOR - Not while I was in the Chamber.

Mr Deakin - I have heard it used a score of times.

Mr TUDOR - I have not, and I think I have been present this evening as continuously as the honorable and learned member.

Mr Deakin - If the honorable member had been listening to the debate he would have heard the name used.

Mr TUDOR - I have heard every speech. On every occasion I shall vote to keep the expenditure of the GovernorGeneral's establishment down to the amount which was promised by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that is, to about £5,500. We have had some lectures about upholding the dignity of the House, and as to what we should do on this or any other occasion. It would be far better if honorable members were to adhere to the promises which they have made in this chamber and also to the electors than to go back upon them on the first possible occasion.

Mr. MALONEY(Melbourne)- If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had voted in accordance with the pledge he made in the early days of this Parliament, he would have been with us to-night in favour of economy. The school of politicians which he represents tries to hide as much as possible from the people. We, on the contrary, would give the people the right of voting for the salary of the GovernorGeneral. I, as a citizen of Australia, hold that the people who pay the money should have the right of saying how much should be paid.

Mr Reid - We are discussing not the salary of the Governor-General, but the salaries of the caretakers.

Mr MALONEY - The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has said that the name of the Governor-General has been repeatedly introduced Here. What is there particularly sacred about his name? He is only a human being, like ourselves. I reverence the name of Northcote. For many reasons I reverence the name of the late lamented father of the Governor-General. But I maintain that the people who pay the money should have the clearest information put before them, and should not be put off with talk about dignity. The honorable and learned member who spoke of dignity represents a conservative school, which is dying out of existence. The Labour Party is the party of the future. Why? Because it trusts the people, and allows them to know everything. In a matter of dignity, I should never compare myself with the honorable and learned member for Parkes, because he is a wide reader, with leisure and a splendid library. But I would ask him to be more lenient with those who have not had so many good opportunities as he has had.

Proposed vote agreed to.

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