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Wednesday, 22 November 1905

The PRESIDENT - Does the honorable and learned senator think that is a question for personal explanation?

Senator Sir JOSI AH SYMON - Certainly, sir.

The PRESIDENT - Personal explanations are confined to matters in respect to which an honorable senator has been misrepresented.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I think not, sir, under standing order 394. There are two standing orders on the subject, one being as to matters in respect of which a senator is personally misrepresented, and the other in relation to matters in which a senator is concerned.

The PRESIDENT - It has always been my practice, and that of the Senate, to confine matters of personal explanation to questions in which a senator has been misrepresented, in respect of what he did or said in the Senate.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The standing order to which" I refer is No. 396, which reads as follows : -

A senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech whichhas been misquoted or misunderstood.

The. other standing order is No. 394.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable and learned senator is claiming the indulgence of the Senate?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I said so, sir.

By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature.

The PRESIDENT - I do not know exactly what the honorable and learned senator is going to say. Therefore, perhaps, he may continue. But I - and I think the Senate - have always understood1 that a personal explanation must be confined to a matter in respect of which a senator has been misrepresented. I understand now -perhaps I may be wrong - that the honorable and learned senator wishes to explain something which occurred in reference to an order ofthe day.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Personal to myself, sir.

The PRESIDENT - Is that personal?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Certainly.

The PRESIDENT - I cannot see that it is.

Senator Higgs - May not the honorable and learned senator, under standing order 394, ask for leave of the Senate to make a personal explanation ?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I have done so.

The PRESIDENT - If that standing order be extended to personal explanations concerning any matter under the sun it certainly will not be in accordance with the practice of the Senate.

Senator Higgs - Does it not embrace any matter under the sun, sir?

The PRESIDENT - It says-

By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature.

Senator Higgs - Although there be no question before the Senate?

The PRESIDENT - The honorable and learned senator is right, as far as that aspect is concerned, but is the application of the standing order to be extended to matters of a personal nature which have no reference to any debate in the Senate, or any matter which took place in the Senate. I do not think it ought to be so extended. Of course, the Senate is the ultimate judge in these matters. Perhaps I have not yet heard the honorable and learned senator sufficiently to give an opinion..

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not wish to enter into a discussion as to the intention of this standing order, which is safeguarded by the phrase, " By the 'indulgence of the Senate." I think that the Senate would be slow to withhold that indulgence from any honorable senator who in relation to any matter of business personal to himself feels it to . be due to the Chamber and to himself that there should be an explanation in so far as it concerns public business. The subject-matter of my personal explanation is the Judiciary Bill, and the circumstances of my absence at the period when the incident to which I shall allude occured. I am quite sure that the Senate will feel that it is due to me and to the Senate itself that there should be an explanation from any honorable senator who brings forward business, and whose duty it is to take care to see that it is dealt with in the ordinary way. A fortnight previous to last Thursday the debate on the second reading of the Judiciary Bill was adjourned on the motion of the Honorary Minister, who, of course, was entitled to resume the debate. On Thursday last I was very unexpectedly, and, apparently, unfortunately called away. I was called away literally in the middle of the debate in relation to the proceedings of the previous evening, and a debate which was occupying the very animated attention of many honorable senators. That being the position, I, as is not unusual, I think, had recourse to the good offices of Senator Matheson with reference to my Bill, on which I know that, as to some points, there may be controversy, and in which I take a- deep personal interest, because it proposed to make changes in our judiciary system, which I, although others might differ from me, believe ought to be made. I availed myself of the good offices of my honorable friend to arrange for the postponement of the Order of the Day. I knew that the Ministry, through the Honorary Minister, were desirous and entitled to lay before the Senate their views on these important matters which- I had opened. I had' been informed that several honorable senators on this side intended to debate the second reading of the Bill. I also knew that there stood before the measure Senator Givens' very important motion in regard to the sugar monopoly, and I was under the impression, rightly, as the facts have shown, that the debate on that subject would occupy a very considerable time.

Senator Givens - It was only for a certain purpose that it was adjourned before the usual time.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I was just going very briefly to mention the fact, so as to exculpate myself in relation to any suggestion that I was not anxious to proceed with the Judiciary Bill. Feeling that it would be impossible to conclude the debate, on the Judiciary Bill that afternoon, however long or short Senator Givens' motion might be under discussion, I suggested to Senator Matheson that it might be wise to postpone the Order of the Day on the rearrangement of the business on the noticepaper. He tells me he communicated with the Honorary Minister, who refused to assent. I do not take exception to that refusal, because he was entitled to continue the debate if he thought that an opportunity would be available for that purpose during that afternoon,

The position was that the debate upon Senator Givens' motion occupied until 20 minutes past 6 o'clock, and would have continued until the usual adjournment hour in the ordinary course of things. Senator Macfarlane was -in the middle of a speech. By request, as I understand, he discontinued his speech, and asked leave to resume it on another occasion. To that course I take no exception. It was done im order to enable the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the Life Assurance Companies Bill to be taken into consideration. But what I venture to say is, that any honorable senator was entitled to expect that in the rearrangement of business-

The PRESIDENT - I think that the honorable and learned senator is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I submit not.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable and learned senator should confine himself to matters personal to him. and not make statements as to what other people should have done.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I asked the indulgence of the Senate, and surely I am entitled to say-

The PRESIDENT - No reply can be made, and therefore it would be unfair and not in accordance with the Standing Orders if Senator Symon were to take other honorable senators to task for not doing what he thinks thev should have done.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I have not taken any one to task, and, of course, I submit at once to your ruling, if you say that I ought not to make the statement I have done. But I say again, that I have taken no one to task. Surely, however, with the indulgence of the Senate upon a matter of this kind, affecting the second-reading debate of a measure introduced by me, I am entitled to say what I think I had a right to expect, and how the circumstances affecting the measure arose. My honorable friend, Senator Pearce - and I cannot say this too strongly-

The PRESIDENT -Does not the Senate know, of these facts ?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Surely I have a. right to state them. The Senate knows many facts that an honorable senator may mention in the course of a debate. What I desire to say is, that in the rearrangement of business it might have been expected, in accordance with the usual practice of the Senate, that care would be taken not to disarrange other business. In saying that, I am merely making a statement to which every other honorable senator will assent, and am not reflecting upon any one in particular. I am entitled, I think, to say how it is that the Bill to which I referred! was discharged from the noticepaper in the absence of any one being in charge of it. Senator Matheson was out of the chamber at the time. Senator Pulsford, who was prepared to move the adjournment of the debate, was, unfortunately, not in the chamber at the moment.

Senator Keating - I was not here either.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I dare say if Senator Keating had been here, in all probability he would have moved the adjournment of the debate, because I take it that he was anxious to address the Senate on the subject.

Senator Keating - Hear, hear.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It is not for me to make any inferences. The Senate can make its own. I am not suggesting that what occurred was done by accident or by design. But if it was by accident I am extremely sorry, and express m\ regret to my honorable friends who, whether agreeing with me or not, intended to address themselves, to the debate. The effect has been that my speech only has been left on record in, Hansard in relation, to the Bill, and no other honorable senator has had an opportunity to address himself l:o the subject. I also, think that I am entitled to say \vhat I intend to do.

Senator Mulcahy - We all wondered why the honorable senator had nol: made arrangements to proceed with the measure.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - My honorable friend naturally wondered. I am sure that no body of gentlemen anywhere could" be more desirous of securing fair play to any one than this Senate is. I can always expect that treatment from the Senate. Therefore it is due that I should say that I have considered whether I should, as I am entitled to do, move that the second reading, of the Bill be taken at a later date. But having regard to the period of the session, I feel that it would not be treating honorable senators as I should expect them to treat me if I were to bring on the Bill again in a fortnight or three weeks in its initial second -reading stage. Therefore, I can only offer this consolation to my honorable friends. - whether they are with or against me is a matter of indifference - that I propose to take the earliest opportunity next session to re-introduce the Bill, so that honorable senators will be able to debate it to the fullest possible extent. I assure honorable senators that the delay occasioned by the unfortunate events which I have described was unexpected so far as I was concerned. It surprised me exceedingly when I saw it in the newspapers on Friday morning. But it is not likely to affect the full consideration of the measure which, as I have said, will be re-introduced next session. The delay itself is not in any way vital, but I regret the circumstances under which it was brought about, which may or may nol - I express no opinion on the subject - inflict an injury upon the ordinary courtesies of the Senate which may be irreparable.

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