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Wednesday, 22 November 1905

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) - May I also make a personal explanation in connexion with the same matter?

The PRESIDENT - I do not think so. The Standing Orders say that a personal explanation cannot be debated ; and if the honorable senator can make an explanation arising out of the explanation of the previous speaker, other honorable senators might do the same.

Senator PEARCE - I will ask the indulgence of the Senate, because my name has been mentioned. .

The PRESIDENT - I do not think that the conduct of the business of the Senate is a matter for a personal explanation. I do not wish to stop Senator Symon. But, though I allowed him to make an explanation, I must say now that I do not think that what has occurred ought to be regarded as a precedent.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Will you allow me to quote from May's Parliamentary Practice, page 303 -

Explanation by a member of the circumstances which have caused his resignation of an office in the Government is usually made before the commencement of public business. ... In regard to the explanation of personal matters, the House is usually indulgent; and will permit a statement of that character to be made without any question being before the House ; but no debate should ensue thereon.

The PRESIDENT - But Senator Pearce wishes to make another explanation.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - So he can.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Pearce's explanation arises out of the explanation made by Senator Symon. If that is permitted, any other honorable senator can make an explanation.

Senator PEARCE - May I point out this fact. Senator Symon has observed that Senator Macfarlane, in concluding his remarks last Thursday, did so at my request. Unless I am permitted to make an explanation, obviously the blame for what has occurred rests on my shoulders. It is for the purpose of showing that that is not so that I ask the indulgence of the Senate.

The PRESIDENT - If the Senate wishes to hear the honorable senator's explanation, I am not going to prevent it; but it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Senator PEARCE - My explanation is this - that during the whole of Thursday afternoon we were expecting, at any time, to have a division on Senator Givens' motion.I was anxious to push through the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the Life Assurance Company's Bill. I naturally assumed that some one was in charge of Senator Symon's Bill, and that it would be called on and the debate adjourned. I asked Senator Macfarlane to request the Senate to grant leave for him to continue his speech on another day, in order to enable me to have the Life Assurance Companies Bill passed into law. But I had no intention whatever to bring about the termination of the debate on Senator Symon's Bill.

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