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Wednesday, 15 November 1905

Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) - Notwithstanding the answer which the Minister of Defence gave to Senator Gould, it is my duty, on behalf of the State I represent, to move -

That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 13 and 15.

My reasons for taking this course are, first, because I had no proper opportunity to submit the amendment of which I gave notice weeks ago; and, secondly, because on its merits that amendment is worthy of consideration by every honorable senator.

Senator Playford - It is not likely that I shall agree to recommit the clauses after the treatment I have received.

Senator DOBSON - The Minister cannot accuse me of " stone- walling " yesterday, because I was almost silent during the whole of the sitting. There was full, perhaps too full, discussion, but in the ordinary sense of the word I do not thi'nk there was any " stone-walling." But whether there was or not, he is responsible for the misunderstanding which took place, to say nothing about the breach of faith. I agree with Senator Turley, that every one understood that when clause 10 was reached we should adjourn.

Senator Playford - So we should have done if the clause had been reached before half -past 11 o'clock.

Senator DOBSON - Owing to what they regarded as a bond fide misunderstanding, six senators, including three supporters of my amendment, left the chamber before the crisis arrived, and when it did arrive, the rest of my supporters left. In those circumstances, it would have been futile for me to' remain and move the amendment. I ask Senator Playford to give me an opportunity to do my duty to my constituents. There are one or two phases of his conduct in connexion with this Bill which I think are fraught with very great danger. This is not a question between the Government and the Opposition, but a question between the Senate and the citizens of the Commonwealth. If the Minister intends to deny me an opportunity of discussing, my amendment on its merits, I shall have to tell my constituents that the representatives of the great apple trade of Tasmania were not allowed to have expression given to their opinions on account of his inexcusable misunderstanding. If he makes a promise with a condition, he has no right to keep back the condition and hurl it at our heads after the mischief has been done. It is now in his power to undo the mischief which has been done. We do not want to reconsider every clause of the Bill. To show the frame of mind the Minister is in, let me mention that when Senator Pulsford pointed out that in clause 13 the expense of doing certain things is placed upon the importer, when it is perfectly plain that the exporter is meant, he laughed, and said that the Clerk could alter the word. I should like to see the Clerk alter a Bill which has come from the other House, even if it be to correct a mistake. Are we to allow the clause to leave the Senate in its present disgraceful state? Is Senator Playford to be influenced only by the consideration that he does not want the other House to get an opportunity of discussing a single provision of the Bill. If he were to take up this attitude in regard to every Bill, what would become of the rights of the Senate? Because the Ministry want to close .the session as quickly as possible, and do not wish tosend down to the other House any amendment which would require a minute's discussion, is the honorable senator to belittle the Senate by sitting there like a stone and. declining to ask the Senate to correct a palpable mistake ? Is that a reason why he should rob us of our rights and privileges?

Senator Trenwith - How can he possibly rob us of our rights?

Senator DOBSON - His whole demeanour goes to show that, no matter what amendment may be suggested, it must be opposed simply because he does not wish the Bill to be altered.

Senator Trenwith - When the majority agree with the honorable and learned senator, the Bill will be altered.

Senator DOBSON - The honorable senator forgets that the party who sit on the other side will follow the Minister's wrong lead. I blame every member of the party who adopts his attitude.

Senator Best - Will the honorable and learned senator give an undertaking that if the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of these two clauses it will be put through before 11 o'clock to-night?

Senator DOBSON - It will not take me more than ten minutes to state my reasons for striking the word " fruit " out of clause *5-

Senator Playford - The honorable and learned senator cannot answer for anybody else.

Senator DOBSON - In view of what took place just before the adjournment for tea, I understand that Senator Playford is prepared to consent to the recommittal of the Bill. Possibly the honorable senator will make a definite statement as to what his intentions are, and we may then get on with the business.

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