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Thursday, 10 June 1915

Mr PIGOTT (Calare) . - I desire to say a few words by way of protest at the action of the Government in seeking to dispense with the services of Sir George Reid as High Commissioner. At the present time, when we are engaged in this great war, I think we should consider the advisability of following the example set by the Imperial Government, and drop all questions of party in order to deal most effectively 'with the great problems that have arisen. If the Imperial authorities have thought it necessary to take up an attitude of that description, I think it is equally desirable for us in Australia to continue Sir George Reid in his office, particularly as he is so closely in touch with all the interests of Australia as well as with matters affecting the Empire generally. This, of all times, is the worst to make a change in the most important office that we have in the Public Service. If a vote were taken throughout Australia as to whether Sir George Reid should continue in office for another period, I feel that the decision would be almost unanimously in favour of the retention of his services. I go further, and say that if this question were brought up in this House as a non-party question, there would be a similar degree of unanimity, and I would ask the Government to bear that fact in mind. Let the matter be brought forward as a non-party question; let us lay aside all party considerations, and deal with the matter fairly and justly, and I feel certain that the almost unanimous verdict of the House would be in favour of the retention of Sir George Reid in his office. Only a few moments ago we heard honorable members on that side vieing with honorable members on this side in their eulogies of Sir George Reid. The honorable member for Darwin could not have spoken more strongly, and the interjections made by the honorable member for Maranoa showed what his views of the matter are.

Mr Mahon - There is a kinship between them.

Mr PIGOTT - It is the kinship of justice, which is stronger than that of politics. The Government have not given one reason why a change should be made. Can they find for the position a man who is in- closer touch with public opinion in Australia, and who has done more for the Commonwealth, than Sir George Reid has done as High Commissioner? Can they find a man standing higher in the opinion of not only Australia but the whole of the British Empire? If his term of office be not extended, we shall lose the services of one of the most valuable officers who could be appointed to such a position. I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision, and that they will be fair to the House, as well as to the country, by putting to a- vote, on a non-party basis, the question of whether Sir George Reid should not continue, in office as High Commissioner.

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