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Wednesday, 15 November 1905

Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) - I do not identify myself with any of the personalities which have been used, because I detest them, no matter from which side they come. When an honorable senator holds the dignified position of leader of this Chamber with a loyal majority behind him-

Senator Pearce - A " loyal " majority !

Senator MULCAHY - Surely the word is not offensive to the honorable senator?

Senator Pearce - Not to me.

Senator MULCAHY - As I was saying, when a gentleman holding the dignified position of leader of the Senate makes a declaration as to the course of business, honorable senators on all sides consider iti binding on him and his party.

Senator Playford - Such 'a declaration is always conditional on certain progress being made.

Senator MULCAHY - There was no condition about the declaration.

Senator Playford - It is always understood. A Minister would soon find himself in a mess if he made unconditional promises.

Senator MULCAHY - The words of the leader of the Senate were construed by his own followers to mean that no business would be taken after clause 10. had been reached. That was the understanding on all sides. Then, when the Minister of Defences was reminded of the construction that had been placed upon his words, and informed that certain senators had in consequence left the Senate, there was a courtesy due to the Opposition, even if there had been obstruction, though, as an impartial man. I do not think that there was a single amendment moved yesterday which would not have improved the Bill. Senator Styles wished to leave, and I promised to pair with him; but I then understood that when clause 10 had been reached no further progress would be attempted. I would not have paired with any one with regard to certain amendments which I desired to see made in clause 15, because I wished the people who sent me here to see that I was present to look after their interests.. But when the proceedings reached the stage they did, there was no alternative. The Ministry seemed to make up their minds not to allow even, a comma to be altered in the Bill, and I was amongst the honorable senators who left the Chamber, feeling that there 'was no other dignified course open to me. I should now like to reply to something in the nature of a charge which has been made by Senator Pearce. I have occupied my present seat since I entered the Chamber, and during that time there have been, I think, four Ministries' in power. I am not a " Vicar of Bray,"' and I have always tried to dissociate myself from party ties, and to support all measures which I believe to be to the benefit of the country. To say that I ever professed to be a follower of the Government is not correct. I am a follower of no Government; I support any Government who do what I think is right, and oppose any Government who do what I think i is wrong, even though the latter may include friends of my own.

Indeed, some of the members of the present Government are my personal friends, and my sympathy is with them.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator's sympathy is with the Government, but his vote goes to the Opposition.

Senator MULCAHY - . My political conscience is my own, and my vote goes where I think proper.

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