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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) - I objected to the motion being taken as formal, because I desired to refer to one or two matters, and to give Senator Playford an opportunity to speak. It is the custom for a Government not only to state the particular reasons why additional time is required, but to indicate what business it wishes to complete before the Parliament is prorogued. But, following what appears to be a growing habit on his part, the Minister seems to take all things for granted, and to think that merely because a certain thing is desired by the Government the Senate will give its consent. That is hardly treating the Senate with the consideration to which it is entitled. Senator Symon has mentioned certain measures conperning which he thinks that it is entitled to some information. What I wish to know is is the intention of the Government this session to bring in the immigration proposals concerning which the Prime Minister has been eloquent at times.

Senator Higgs - What can we do in that matter ?

Senator MILLEN - That is a question to be answered by the Prime Minister, who said that he would attempt to do something in that direction. I am not saying whether anything ought to be done, or what ought to be done; but since the Prime Minister has said that he intended to take some action, surely it is not unreasonable for the Senate to expect some information from Senator Playford. We might also ask what is the intention of the Government with regard to the Bill which has been promised for granting aids and bounties to the agricultural industries. Are we to be asked to consider these matters this session? There are among the matters to which I might refer- some of them included in the thirty -six measures which were mentioned in the speech of the Minister on the occasion of the formation of the present Ministry - several as to which we should like to know the intentions of the Government. It is obvious that it will be impossible to deal with them all, and we are entitled to know which it is proposed to proceed with, and which to abandon. Although I have no objection to the Senate sitting on Tuesdays, or any other days when it is necessary to attend to public business, I shall object, if the motion is carried, to an\ adjournment over next Tuesday, or the following Tuesday, for any reason. I state that now, because I wish it to be understood that, if I object to an adjournment over Tuesday, I shall not do so from any lack of courtesy towards honorable senators. I can quite understand the desire of the Government to have extra time, but I shall protest to the utmost of my powers against any exception being made in respect of any particular Tuesday.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD (New South Wales) - I join, with honorable senators on this side of the- Chamber in regretting that ordinary courtesy has not been shown to us in respect to this motion. It is perfectly true that Ministers are in charge of the business of the Senate. But it is equally true that it is the duty of Ministers to inform us courteously, when they desire to make any change in the sitting days, of their reasons for doing so. I do not, however, suppose that the Minister of Defence intended, by his summary action, to act discourteously, but I trust he will bear in mind that conduct of this kind is very apt to be so interpreted. Therefore, I hope that when he is replying he will entirely disabuse our minds of any possible suspicion that discourtesy was intended. I would ask honorable senators to look at the list of matters to be brought before us,, and especially at the agenda of private business, and say whether it would not be possible, in the first instance, for the Government to make use of the time usually devoted to private business.

Senator Givens - -Why should we be deprived of our time?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD.- What is the private business that stands in the way of the Government' taking the first part of Thursday afternoons? What private busi-ness is there that has the most remote pros pect of being dealt with or of having any effect on the affairs of the Commonwealth?

Senator Higgs - Is the honorable senator referring to Senator Pulsford' s motion?

Senator Pearce - Or to Senator Symon's Judiciary Bill?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD.- The probability is that the Judiciary Bill will have to be postponed. Its discussion would take a considerable time. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Senator Symon is enabled to move the second reading, and even that the Bill passes the Senate, there will be no prospect of its being carried in another place. I do not say that the Judiciary Bill is not a measure of great importance, but it is of very little use to go on with it when there is no prospect of carrying it into law. I am aware that Senator Symon has made several attempts to bring forward this measure, but on each occasion the amount of private business on the paper standing in advance of his Bill has prevented him. He did not even secure the opportunity to move the second reading. What else is there upon the business-paper? There are several motions. What would be the effect of carrying them? What immediate effect could they have upon the policy of the Government or of the Commonwealth ? Senator Pulsford has a very important motion on the paper, but I believe that he would be willing to give way if there was a general desire to proceed with Government business.

Senator Pulsford - Indeed, I should not.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- With all due respect to Senator Pulsford, I should be perfectly prepared to assist the Government in securing the time usually allotted to private motions, if it would assist in pushing forward the business of the country. Then there are two motions with regard to the classification of the Public Service. The adjourned debate on one motion is to be resumed by Senator Croft.

Senator Croft - I would not give way.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - What would be the effect of that motion, if carried? The law, as it stands, -gives the Public Service Commissioner certain powers and duties. I am very glad to know that the ]*aw is of such a character that it cannot be affected by a motion carried in either branch of the Legislature. The 'only way to amend it would be. by fresh legislation. Those two motions might very well stand on one side.

Senator Guthrie - What about the motion with regard to the Western Australian railway.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- There is a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee, but a Select Committee of the Senate has no pow#.r to proceed with business in recess.

Senator Guthrie - The Committee might be turned into a Royal Commission.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We are doing everything by Royal Commission nowadays. We arp almost governed by Select Committees and Royal Commissions. There is also on the paper Senator Dobson's motion respecting compulsory military training. It is a most important subject, I admit. Indeed, every on.e of the motions on the paper is important. But I maintain that at this late period of the session, there is very little prospect of dealing with any of them effectively. I should like to hear from the Government, not only how it is proposed to deal with the question of immigration, but also what is the policy of the Government respecting the Capital Site question. There has been a conference between the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and the Attorney-General of New South Wales. Some scheme is to be evolved by means of which the matter in dispute may be settled. Is it to be settled this session or in "the sweet by-and-by?" A statement has been made from the public platform in Sydney by a member of the Cabinet as to a new scheme for the defence of the Commonwealth, of such a character that it will satisfy every individual in the community that the Government are awake to the position of affairs. We have in the Senate the Commander-in-Chief of the Military Forces, " General " Playford. Why should he not tell us what the proposals of the Government are? A prominent supporter of the Ministry is very much' enamoured of the Swiss system, and is in favour of turning every individual in the community into a soldier.

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