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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) - I agree with the view that two Government Houses are undesirable, and I hold that there is much to be said for reconsidering this item under the circumstances. Much has been made of the fact that we are asked to reverse a vote given last night, and that that seems like changing our minds. It is nothing of the sort. Last night we said that, in our opinion, it is unnecessary to maintain two Government Houses, and in order to emphasize that fact we adopted a somewhat rule of thumb method, by requesting the other House to reduce an item by £1,000. That was a clumsy means of signifying our desire. Now, however, we have an assurance from the Government which I venture to say is bound to be given effect to whether this Government remains in office or not.

Senator Clemons - Does the honorable senator think that any succeeding Government would feel bound by a promise given in this way ?

Senator TRENWITH - Decidedly. Sometimes Ministries leave office on account of their policy, and that policy is reversed by an incoming Government. But we are now deciding that, in the opinion Of the Senate, it is undesirable that the present method of maintaining two Government Houses should be continued. We have technically decided that the vote for that purpose shall be reduced in the future. We have achieved our object by what we did last night. The question now is whether we can proceed in a way that will prevent friction. I think the way now proposed will have that result. Senator Givens has said that there is bad feeling between Melbourne and Sydney. I have always felt that there has been no bad feeling on the part of Melbourne in this matter. Perhaps I am wrong in that, but. at any rate, there is too much of an un-Federal spirit somewhere. If we can achieve our end without causing undue friction, surely it cannot be said that by doing so we have changed our opinion. It is merely a change of method for the achievement of the same object. I earnestly hope that the second schedule will be reconsidered for thepurpose of proceeding in that way. We shall have the assurance that what we desire will be attained, but at the same time the undertaking in regard to Sydney Government House will not be terminated in the middle of the arrangement. That is the feature of it that is objectionable. If we terminate the existing agreement at the end of the year, and simply discontinue it for the future,, there will be. less cause of complaint on the part of New South Wales. I have always felt that there has been a great deal too much un-F'ederal spirit since Federation was effected. I am not astonished at that. Such has been the history of all Federations. We have not been unusual in that respect. The great American Federation, which is now so smoothly, had to contend with a great deal of un-Federal spirit, and with much more severe friction than we have had, in its early years. All true Americans, however, wished1 that that friction should be removed, and I am sure that all true Australians are anxious that such means as are possible shall be taken to remove every cause of ill-feeling in this country. For the mere dread of seeming to change our minds, or being labelled as fickle and unstable, we ought not to be afraid of reversing our decision, or rather of driving home our position in a less objectionable way.

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