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Friday, 28 May 1915

Mr J H CATTS - Will the Assistant Minister of Defence state whether it is not a fact that Mr. Albert Borchard is the leading public accountant in New South Wales, that he has been for many years a naturalized British subject, that he has repudiated the action of Germany, and has held a great demonstration at his private residence to raise funds for the Belgians?

Mr JENSEN - I believe that Mr. Borchard is employed by the Government of New South Wales in a very prominent position.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - He is one of the most prominent accountants in Sydney; there is no doubt of that. Is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware that it is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Sydney City Council is considering whether it should not relieve Mr. Borchard of his appointment under that municipality?

Mr JENSEN - That is a matter in

Which the Sydney Municipal Council is free to exercise ite own judgment. It has nothing to do with me or with the Government.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - By way of personal explanation, I should like to say that I asked the question of the Minister in terms as impersonal and free of bias as I could make them. I do not know Mr. Borchard. I have no interest in asking the question except the public interest; and, if it is a fact that Mr. Borchard is, as he is represented to be, a man unimpeachable in character and in every way fit to be employed by the Government, I shall be glad to hear it.

Mr Jensen - Mr. Borchard is not employed by the Government.

Mr JOSEPH COOK - I may inform the Minister that quite a number of things are said in this communication which has been seen by me, and I have altogether ignored them, but I claim that it is my right to ask a question when I consider that public interest requires matters to be cleared up without any innuendoes from Ministers or anybody else.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Parramatta rose to make a personal explanation because of interjections across the chamber. From time to time I have allowed many questions to be asked which I considered to be irregular, but when it becomes necessary for an honorable member to make a personal explanation as a sequel to an irregular question, I feel that it is my duty to take action. A question is asked, and answered, whether rightly or not is not for me to Bay. Then five or six further questions are founded on the original one. My predecessor in this Chair refused to allow this procedure, but I refrained from taking that course, desiring to give honorable members the fullest opportunity of obtaining information; but, if this form of question is to continue in the irregular way in which it is developing, I shall feel obliged to take some action to protect the House from itself, unless the House orders me to do otherwise.

Mr FISHER - I desire to say that-

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member may speak only by leave of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to make a statement ?

Mr Joseph Cook - Before the honorable member is given leave, I desire to know what the statement is about.

Mr FISHER - I have no wish to speak.

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