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Thursday, 30 November 1905

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - I have no fault to find with the speech of Senator Clemons, but I have very considerable fault to find with the way in which this matter was brought forward by Senator Gould. After he had indulged in a ferocious party tirade - after he had said that one party in the Senate, because it possessed certain power, was acting in a tyrannical fashion - he had the cool cheek to ask the Senate to consider it in a calm constitutional way, without reference to party feeling or the exigencies of party government. He referred to the Government and their supporters as being weak, without backbone, and ready to obey the behests of a small dominant party in order to retain office.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Is it not a fact?

Senator GIVENS - I ask the honorable senator to state in what way it is a fact. The Government are absolutely independent of the Labour Party. The members of the Labour Party do not belong to the Government Party.

Senator Lt Col Gould .- I know that they do not.

Senator de Largie - And the Government do not belong to them.

Senator GIVENS - And the Government do not belong to the Labour Party. The majority in Parliament, no matter what party they may belong to, have the right to support any Government which they think will be best .for the country. This is the first occasion on which I have heard a Government accused of the enormous crime of proceeding to do the necessary work of the country, because they have got the Appropriation Bill passed, and Senator Gould cited authorities which, in my opinion, have no bearing on the point at all. The history of the House of Commons shows that frequently after the Appropriation Bill has been passed, its members have adjourned for the shooting season, and come back for an autumn session.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Yes, for another session, because the Parliament had been prorogued.

Senator GIVENS - Has the House of Commons any more control over the Imperial Government in that case than if it were to sit right on? Not a particle.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Can the honorable senator tell me when the autumn session commences and the financial year ends?

Senator GIVENS - The reason why the House of Commons does not finish its work, but prefers to have an autumn session, is because it is a time-honoured tradition to allow the gilded aristocrats amongst its members to go and shoot partridges on a particular day. Senator Gould has said that now that the Appropriation Bill has been passed the Government will be able to laugh at the Parliament. If it were prorogued, the Government would be able to do exactly the same thing. In what way has the Government the power of dragooning the Parliament now? It has no power to tell the Parliament what it shall or shall not do.

Senator Lt Col Gould - There is a great difference in the position after the Appropriation Bill is passed.

Senator GIVENS - The Government cannot compel the Parliament to pass any measures which it, in its wisdom, does not see fit to pass. As Senator Playford justly pointed out, the Government, in order to induce another place to pass the Appropriation Bill, and thus give the Senate an opportunity of considering the Estimates, made a distinct promise before it was passed that the Parliament would be given an opportunity to deal finally with certain legislation, and now, because Ministers propose to redeem their pledge, they are hauled over the coals by a party whose chief desire, from the beginning of the session, has been to prevent anything from being done. That party was in power when the session began, and advised His Excellency to tell the Parliament that it was incompetent and incapable, of doing any useful business. But it went on doing business -under the leadership of another Government. Ever since the Deakin Government took office, the free-trade party, led by Mr. G. H. Reid, has tried by every means in its power to prevent the Parliament from performing any useful work. Senator Gould has said that it would be better for the Parliament to do no work at all than, to do such work as the present Government would submit.

Senator Lt Col Gould - As would be injurious to the country.

Senator GIVENS - It is injurious to that little insignificant minority who have never been able to get a party sufficiently strong to carry on the Government, either here or in the other House, since the Parliament was first opened. The Government are not proceeding to do anything which thev were not pledged to do before the Appropriation Bill was passed, and which it was necessary for them to pledge themselves to do before the other House would give up its control over that Bill. If the Government does something of which the Parliament does not approve, it has the power to express its opinion.

Senator Lt Col Gould - And the Government has the power to ignore that expression of opinion.

Senator GIVENS - Will any one sr.y that Ministers would so far forget what was clue to the dignity of their position as to continue to carry on the work if the Parliament, even though the Appropriation Bill had been passed, were to say that they were not fit to carry on the Government. We have been told by Senator Gould that the Government are introducing very objectionable legislation. That is really the whole secret of his opposition to their course of procedure. It is not for the minority to say to what legislation shall, or shall not be passed. They have the right to criticise, but not to dictate. It is for the majority in the Parliament, representing the majority of the people, to say what legislation shall be passed. The legislation to which Senator Gould has referred has been before the Parliament for two sessions.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Not the union label.

Senator GIVENS - Undoubtedly, it has been before the Parliament for two sessions.

Senator Lt Col Gould - But it has not been before the country.

Senator GIVENS - It could not be before the Parliament without being before the country.

Senator Lt Col Gould - At any rate, there is no mandate from the country.

Senator GIVENS - Has the honorable senator always had a mandate for every piece of legislation which he has supported? We have always been prepared to give the fullest measure of justice to the wealthiest manufacturer or merchant in the way of giving him a trade mark ; but the party sitting opposite are not prepared to make a similar concession to the worker.

The PRESIDENT - I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss the Trade Marks Bill.

Senator GIVENS - I was only replying to something which Senator Gould had said. The legislation which is on the notice-paper of the Senate, and another place, is important, and ought to be considered. The Parliament should not be prorogued while there is useful work to be done. I do not see any particular necessity for proroguing now, nor do I see anything unconstitutional in the course which the Government are pursuing. We have as good a right to proceed with work now, as the House of Commons has to hold a separate session after the Appropriation Bill has been passed. There is no essential difference between a continuous session and a separate session after a short adjournment. I am surprised that such a cheeky request should be made to the Government, as that they should abandon all the remaining important business on the notice-paper. I hope the Government will proceed with the work which we were sent here to do.

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