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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Senator Lt Col GOULD (New South Wales) - I am very glad that honorable senators consider that the Bill should be recommitted for the reconsideration of the subdivision relating to Sydney Government House. I recognise that a number of them are opposed to the maintenance of two houses for the Governor-General, and, as a representative of New South Wales, I shall be glad to have the whole matter settled clearly and definitely by means of a Bill. Such an arrangement would put an end to the long and acrimonious discussions which arise when this matter comes before us in the Appropriation Bill each year.

Senator Givens - The New South Wales Premier has told us that he will give us notice to quit.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I regret that there has been friction between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in regard to the settlement of the Federal Capital Site. I do not defend the New South Wales Parliament or the New South Wales Premier, because they have made serious mistakes, nor do I exonerate the Commonwealth; but we should realize the friction which exists, and should do all we can to remove it. If the New South Wales Parliament says that it wishes to terminate the arrangement in regard to Sydney Government House, well and good ; but do not let us be accused of adding fuel to the flames by interfering with the understanding already existing. The people of New South Wales have felt that the Governor-General should reside in that' State for a portion of the year, and if a Bill is introduced, I shall be prepared te explain mv reasons for desiring the continuance of the present arrangement; but I shall not debate the subject further now. With regard to the request affecting Senator Baker, I think that, a protest having been made, we have done all that is necessary. The chief officer of the Senate will, no doubt, feel bound in honour to regard the opinions which have been axpressed, so that the matter can be settled without further heat or unpleasantness.

Senator GIVENS(Queensland). - It seems to me absurd to ask the Committee to reverse the vote which it has given in regard to the travelling expenses of the President.

Senator Playford - I should not ask the Committee to reverse its vote, but for the fact that I do not wish to further delay the passing of the Appropriation Bill.

Senator GIVENS - I am tired of hearing that excuse. If the Government had forwarded the requests of the Committee, the measure could have been dealt with very rapidly. The delay has been caused by the refusal of the Government to act on the express wishes of honorable senators. If we now vote the money it will be equivalent to saying that we desire that it shall be spent. The Government should have accepted the decision of the Senate, and sent the request on to the House of Representati ves .

Senator Playford - If a majority of honorable senators are willing to do what I ask them to do, why should I not try to get the vote of the Committee reversed?

Senator GIVENS - The majority is, of course, entitled to rule, but I have the right to show, if I can, that the course which it is proposed to 'take is not the best.

Senator Playford - Quite so, within reason.

Senator GIVENS - I ask the honorable senator if I have been unreasonable. Senator Baker would be the greatest " mug " in the world - if I may apply such an expression to a gentleman occupying so high and dignified a position - if he did not spend the money, supposing that we were fools enough to vote it for him. Would honorable senators deal in that manner with their own money? Would they say to a man : " You are not entitled to this ten guineas, and I shall not give it to you." and immediately afterwards hand it over to ham.

Senator Playford - We are not proposing to do anything of the kind.

Senator GIVENS - Certainly we, are.

Senator Dobson - No, we are not. The President has pledged himself to be bound by the decision arrived at a few evenings ago.

Senator GIVENS - But we are, in effect, declining to accept that pledge, and are handing over the money in question. I am prepared to proceed to a vote forthwith, but I protest agains.t our being asked to stultify ourselves by deliberately undoing that which we did yesterday.

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