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Thursday, 30 November 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I must confess that I was greatly surprised to hear Senator Gould submit this motion. Perhaps my surprise was largely due to the fact that I thought it was generally understood, both here and in another place, that further business was to be dealt with after the Appropriation Bill had been disposed of. The proceedings in another place do not disclose that the course proposed excited any surprise on the part of honorable members who belong to the same party as does Senator Gould. There have been repeated complaints in this Chamber that successive Governments,' in' regard to the Estimates, have not treated honorable senators as they have a right to expect. Again and again, it has been complained that the various Governments have not introduced the Estimates until the tail end of the session, and that consequently, honorable senators have been prevented from bestowing upon them that attention and exhaustive criticism which their importance demands. If there is any justification for the complaints, or any consistency in the attitude of those who complained, we have to assume, according to Senator Gould, that if the Government introduced the Estimates, and had them disposed of early in the session, all further legislative work should at once cease. In short, Senator Gould's contention practically means thai the Estimates must be introduced at the end of the session.

Senator Lt Col Gould - My contention is that the Appropriation Bill should be the last measure passed.

Senator Playford - We cannot have an Appropriation Bill without the Estimates.

Senator KEATING - Although Senator Gould has to-day, in almost a dogmatic tone, affirmed that there are no precedents for the course the Government are taking, he, when a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, took no exception to a similar course which was followed there.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Such a course has not been taken in the State of New South Wales, so far as my memory serves me.

Senator KEATING - I direct attention to the Votes and Proceedings of the New South Wales Parliament for the vear 1894-5, when Senator Gould was a member of the Government, which consisted of Mr. Reid, Mr. Brunker. Mr. Carruthers, Mr. J. H. Young, Mr. Garrard, Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Joseph Cook, and himself. The session to which these Votes and Proceedings refer, commenced on the 29th August, 1894 ; and on the 26th February, 1895, a message was received from the State Governor, giving the Royal Assent to the Appropriation Bill. From the wording of that message, it is clear that the Appropriation Bill must have been passed before the 27th December, 1894; and yet that session continued until the 4th July, 1895 - that is for seven months after the Appropriation Bill had been passed. I do not venture to presume that the New South Wales Parliament, during that session, simply sat and did no legislative work; and Senator Gould was a member of the Government in office at the time.

Senator O'Keefe - Was there an Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, fighting that Government in any way ?

Senator KEATING - I am not in a position to go into details. Senator Gould does not appear to have then raised his voice in protest against the proceedings of the Government of which he was a member, and it may be taken, I think, that the views he has expressed to-day have been very recently adopted. When the honorable senator declared that there are absolutely no precedents for proceeding with business after the passing of the Appropriation Bill, and disputed Mr. Gladstone's statement to the contrary-, he must have been very unmindful' of his own comparatively recent experiences as a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales.

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