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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

The PRESIDENT - I do not think it is a very nice expression to use.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I surely have a right to say that an excuse is paltry, if, in my opinion, it is paltry.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator ought to be courteous.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- It is possible to be courteous, and still describe an excuse as paltry. I should have no objection to tell Senator Keating, in discus- sing the matter with him, that I consider his excuse paltry.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - But the honorable senator further said that the excuse was " miserable."

Senator Lt Col GOULD - If the honorable senator prefers, I shall simply use the word "excuse" without any adjective. On that occasion, Senator Keating said that if honorable senators were absent when the matter was debated, they ought not to attempt to put the 'Senate to the difficulty and trouble of reconsidering the subject in the Chamber as then constituted. The Senate, as then constituted, showed twentyfour votes - fifteen for, and nine against, Senator Pearce's amendment.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Is the honorable senator not quoting from a discussion in this session?

The PRESIDENT - It is the same discussion.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- What did Senator Keating say when dealing with the amendment submitted by Senator Pearce? He pointed out that he had opposed an amendment of the character, and had shown that it would not carry out the intentions of those responsible for it. That may be a good reason ; but Senator Keating went on to say that he had not, on the first occasion, confined his argument entirely to the draftsmanship, but had opposed the amendment because it seemed to depart altogether from theprinciples of the Bill. Senator Keating also said, in reference to Senator Pearce's amendment - . . . we are now asked to assert a principle to which, as we have shown by our votes, we are opposed. . . . The amendment proposes that a man, who may have calmly stood by, and, allowing others to take the risks, waited until the enterprise was successful and the rate was low. shall be able to claim to be allowed to participate on exactly the same terms.

The reason given by Senator Keating then is just as good now as on that occasion. Nothing whatever has occurred to enable him to depart from the opinion he then formed.

Senator Turley - The Minister has had more information since then.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- If so, the Minister has not given it to us. Indeed, the facts go to show that the Senate was misled by want of information.

Senator Keating - I gave the information, but the honorable senator and others were not present on that occasion, although the notice of motion had been in their hands for weeks.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I was not present; but the Minister might also have added that it was impossible for honorable senators on this side to obtain " pairs " when the matter was under consideration.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator was " paired."

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I was not aware of that fact, which, however, only shows that my offence is not so heinous as seemed at first Senator Keating, on that occasion, proceeded to say that the amendment went beyond the necessities of the case, and, as he had already pointed out, left it open to a man to wait until the enterprise was an assured success, and then claim to share the benefits of it at a reduced cost. The Minister continued -

No matter how improved the present amendment is in the matter of drafting, I still ask the. Committee to reject the principle involved.

Again, he said -

I do not think we should attempt in this Bill to give the Minister such a power as this amendment would give him.

A speech like that affords an additional reason why the amendment introduced into the Bill by Senator Pearce should not be allowed to remain. The Senate, in sending the Bill to another place, with this provision in it, will be sending on a measure which does not represent the honest opinions of a majority of its members. Ministers contend that because certain honorable senators were not present when the matter was previously under consideration we should not now attempt to recommit the measure. Possibly, if I had seen the Minister before taking action in the first instance the honorable and learned senator might have been willing to agree to the recommittal. I did not do so, because I thought that after the statement he had deliberately made there would be no chance of his turning his back on the principles in which he had asserted his belief, in order to gain a victory for the benefit of the Labour Party.

Senator Turley - For the benefit of the country.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We know that the Prime Minister said the Labour Party simply pulled the strings and made the Government go where they thought fit. That was said at the time when Mr. Deakin was in coalition with Mr. Reid. Since the coalition came to an end, we have learnt how true the statement was, and how well it may be applied to the attitude of the present Ministry on this occasion. If this is the attitude to be taken, up in connexion with our measures, it will be a very bad thing for the Commonwealth. I desire the public to realize the fact that we have now at the head of affairs a Ministry 'who are prepared within a week to turn their backs upon principles they have enunciated in order to retain the favour of the members of the party by whose breath they remain in office. We know that the present Government are retained in power by the backing so generously given to them by the Labour Party.

Senator Higgs - Was not that Mr. Reid's position in New South Wales at one time ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am not dis- _ cussing Mr. Reid's position now. The right honorable gentleman was in an absolutely independent position. The policy which he advocated was believed in also by the Labour Party, who supported him at the time to which the honorable senator refers. At all events, it cannot be shown that the Reid Ministry of that day .in New South Wales turned their backs on principles which they believed in and advocated. It is right that the public should realize the position which the present Ministry, are taking up, and I have no doubt that if they do realize it there will be a very rude awakening by-and-by for Ministers and their supporters. If this kind of thing is to go on, honorable senators on this side will take care that it is known to the public. It is proposed now to send this Bill to another place embodying principles in which the majority of the Senate do not believe. We sometimes talk here about the independent position of the Senate, but it is being dragged in the dust on this occasion as it has been on previous occasions.

Senator de Largie - Is the honorable senator an independent member of the Senate on this question?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am, and on* every other measure which comes before the Senate.

Senator de Largie - That is news.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I can assure honorable senators opposite that many of the proprietors of newspapers in New South Wales do not approve of protection being afforded in the way proposed at all. It is a novelty to them. But if we do propose to give protection for twenty-four hours, we ought not to make a farce of it. and say that newspaper proprietors may spend money as they see fit: to secure ex clusive information, but we shall not permit them to derive any benefit from it.

Senator Keating - Will the honorable senator vote to strike out the clause altogether ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I challenge honorable senators opposite to permit the recommittal of the Bill for the further consideration of the clause.

Senator Givens - Will the honorable senator vote to take away the protection given to newspaper proprietors?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am prepared to vote for the recommittal of the Bill for the purpose stated, and if Senator Givens can satisfy me that the clause ought to be struck out, I shall be prepared to assist him. I told honorable senators that I should ask for a recommittal of the Bill at the third-reading stage, but I admit that I do not expect Ministers to go back on the second position which they took up in connexion with it. Realizing that, I have not asked honorable senators to recommit the Bill for the further consideration of the clause to which I take exception. However, if Senator Givens desires that it should be recommitted, I shall be very happy to support a motion to that end, moved by the honorable senator, because I should know then that there would be a very good chance of it being carried.

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