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Thursday, 23 November 1905

Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL (Victoria) - For about twenty years, as a member of the Victorian Legislative Council, I frequented this chamber, and! never heard a word of complaint about the ventilation. Indeed it was generally considered to be too cold. I think it would be impossible to improve the ventilation through the roof, as Senator Pearce is aware that carbonic acid gas sinks to the ground. I may point out, however, that so long as the curtains are kept hanging around the chamber, the ventilation is bound to be defective. They are the source of all the trouble. As to the lighting, it would be the easiest thing in the world to have coloured globes instead of the white ones, which are used at present.

Senator HENDERSON - (Western Australia). - I do not know whether the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat is absolutely correct in his views with regard to the ventilation of the Senate chamber. Whether the curtains a-re the cause of the difficulty I do not know, but I have been here for two years, and my experience has been exactly as Senator Pearce has described. I have sat in the chamber when the curtains have been down, and still suffered from violent headaches almost every day. I have come to the conclusion that something ought to be done, and I am pi ad that the question has been brought up. Certainly the lights ought to be altered. I do not think that the use of coloured globes would make them much better. One might as well go blind under a red light as under a white one. I hope that both matters will receive attention. I do not know much about the scientific ventilation of buildings, but I understand the ventilation of goldmines and coal-mines, and I know perfectly well' when I get good ventilation, and when it is bad. I think we ought to have had a system of electric ventilation of an up-to-date kind for the money that has been spent.

Senator Sir RICHARDBAKER (South Australia). - The Government has spent a very large amount of money on the electric lighting of this building, and I am sorry that it is not satisfactory. I agree that it is time the curtains around the chamber were taken down, and I will see that they are removed to-morrow. As to the permanent ventilation, I may remark that I have never seen a chamber anywhere concerning which half the people who sat in it were not dissatisfied. Personally, I am fond of draughts, but other people will complain that draughts are blowing their heads off. It is difficult to ventilate a large chamber properly, and still more difficult to satisfy all those who sit in it that it is properly ventilated. I am very much afraid that to adopt a perfect system of ventilation for this chamber would cost a very great amount of money, which would not be borne by the State Government.

Senator STEWART(Queensland^ - I wish to know how it is that £300 is to be voted for postage and telegrams for the current year, seeing that only £95 was spent last year?

Senator Sir RICHARDBAKER (South Australia). - The reason is that during a portion of last year the stamps were kept in the Library. During the year a change was made. The vote was split into two items, one for the Senate, and one for the House of Representatives. The sum of ;£95 represents the expenditure for a small portion of the year. The stamps used during the balance of the year were paid for from the vote £700, under the heading of "Library." I may mention in relation to the postage and telegrams, (hat though the amount seems to be verv large, I believe that the vote will not be sufficient. Some honorable senators seem to use an enormous quantity of postage stamps and telegrams. Of course, regulations have been made to check it as much as possible, but it is impossible to keep down the expenditure.

Senator STEWART(Queensland).Senator Baker has just remarked that this seems to be a very large sum to be expended on postage and telegrams for honorable senators. It amounts to nearly £8 per senator per annum. I have never reckoned up the value of the stamps that I use in a year. But I do not suppose that the money is wasted. Honorable senators cannot be accused of wilfully abusing the privilege. Indeed, it is not a privilege; it is a right that when members have to communicate with people on public business the postage should be paid by the public. If the President sees that there is any abuse of the system, he ought to bring it before the Senate.

Senator Sir Richard Baker - I simply say that some use very few stamps, whilst others use a very great quantity.

Senator STEWART - I wish to allude to the writing-paper and envelopes used in the Senate rooms. A very heavy paper is supplied. Probably this affects the Bill for postage. It is also a bad paper. I think the House Committee might give some attention to this matter. I know that when I send a letter consisting of, say, two sheets, I am sometimes alarmed at the postage I Rave to pay.

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH (Western Australia). - The galley proofs of the Hansard reports, with which honorable senators are daily supplied, in order that they may correct their speeches, are printed on paper of the same high quality as that used* for the permanent volumes. The quantity of paper used for proofs must be quite equal to at least one number of Hansard, and must entail considerable expense. Surely it is not necessary to use the best printing paper for this purpose.

Senator GIVENS(Queensland).- I hope there will be no change in the direction suggested by Senator Smith. Inferior paper for such a purpose might prove very false economy ; and, in any case, it is highly probable that the proofs are printed on waste-paper, left when the volumes are printed. Then, again, it is very difficult and disagreeable to make corrections on paper of poor quality.

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH (Western Australia). - I do not) suggest that there should be used paper of quality so inferior as to render the making of corrections difficult or disagreeable. We have such a good Hansard staff that it is necessary to make corrections only to a very small extent. What I point out is that, these galley ships are for ephemeral use, and, as a large quantity of paper is necessary, I think economy would be observed by using material of not quite such high quality.

Senator O'Keefe - It is quite possible that the proofs are printed on slips of paper which would otherwise be wasted.

Senator STEWART(Queensland). - I have been wondering whether it is possible to effect some reduction in the cost and size of Hansard. I do not suggest that the speeches of honorable senators should be curtailed, but I think the report on the proceedings in Committee might be very much shortened.

Senator Clemons - Speeches in Committee are more important than secondreading speeches.

Senator Keating - The reports of the proceedings in Committee are condensed now.

Senator STEWART - Then I think it ought to be more condensed. Perhaps it is too much to hope for sympathy from honorable senators in this matter; they are always fond of seeing themselves in print - at least, I am. If expense is of no object, I do not see why I should restrain myself, but if economy is desired I shall endeavour to condense my remarks, in the hope that others may follow my example.

Senator GIVENS(Queensland).- I do not agree with Senator Stewart. It is exceedingly important to have a correct report of all that takes place in this Chamber. I remind the honorable senator that for a long time a section of members in all the Australian Parliaments have suffered exceedingly from misrepresentation in the outside press, and to curtail Hansard would deprive us of correct reports. I have no complaint to make, of the way in which the reporting work has been done so far. In my opinion, it is wonderfully well done, and is a credit to everybody concerned in the production.

Honorable Senators.- Hear, hear.

Senator GIVENS - If I have a complaint to make it is that sometimes words are put into my mouth which I have not uttered. For instance, I always speak of an honorable senator simply as " Senator," but in the reports I am made to speak of "the honorable and learned senator," or of " Senator Lt.-Col. Neild," or " Senator Lt. -Col. Gould." These appear to me unnecessary and invidious distinctions.

Senator Clemons - Which are disliked by honorable senators. There is no reason for such distinctions.

Senator GIVENS - If a head stevedore became a senator, and he would have a perfect right to seek that position, I might as well speak of him as the " honorable senator head stevedore So-and-so." I suppose that all honorable senators are more or less " learned," and I desire to make jio distinction, either in regard to legal senators or senators who happen to hold military rank.

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