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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) - I very much regret that information of the kind! to which Senator Smith has called attention -should go before the public in anirregular way. I do not for a moment blame the Auditor-General for the infor-marion being given to the press, but it musthave been given by some person in a Department.

Senator Guthrie - The AuditorGeneral's report was presented to the otherHouse on Saturday.

Senator HIGGS - What has the AuditorGeneral's report to do with the question, which Senator Smith has submitted? Hehas brought out. the fact that his namehas been published. It should not haveappeared at all.

Senator Staniforth Smith - I have noobjection to that.

Senator HIGGS - Information of thiskind ought to come before the. Senate in a' regular way, so that its members may havean opportunity of putting the matter fairly before the country. The manner in which this information has come out has rendered it necessary for Senator Smith tointervene with a motton for adjournment. To publish information in this fashion, and' to single out individual senators, is calculated to give the general public an erroneous idea about the doings of members: of Parliament. Similar information withregard to postages and telegrams has been published lately. It has given the publican idea that trie members of this Parliament are getting concessions which they should not get, and which are unusual inthe States-, and it has a tendency to lower' its prestige. It ought to be well known that for years in the States it has beers- 4he custom for the correspondence of memiters of Parliament on public business to be franked through the post-office. A great outcry has been made that this cost a large sum to the public. But the fact is that it is merely a book entry, and the Post and Telegraph Department would not cost a penny less if such correspondence were not carried in that way. Inasmuch as it is on public business, I d'o not see any objection to it. In this particular case, it seems to me that the Argus newspaper, which is .responsible for the statements this morning-

Senator Fraser - It appeared in both newspapers.

Senator HIGGS - The names of the senators concerned did not appear in both newspapers. The Argus is particularly anxious to belittle the Federal Parliament. That newspaper was a kind of little god before the Federal Parliament came into existence. To a large extent, it had its own way. But now it is rather to the advantage of those of us who represent other States that the Melbourne newspapers should adversely criticise us. Personally, I think that the Commonwealth is very much indebted to Senator Smith, whose name has been, singled out, for the trouble he took and the expense he incurred in visiting New Guinea and obtaining information which was exceedingly useful to the Commonwealth. When he returned from New Guinea, in consequence of the ravages of malarial fever, he was a positive wreck compared with what he was be"fore he went away. As the question of members' passes over railways and for journeys on steam-ships has been mentioned, let me say that if I was not compelled to travel on my public duties, I should never enter a railway train. It is no pleasure to me to travel in, trains, and I am quite sure that the train travelling that the members of this Parliament have had to do will take a few years off some of their Jives. When invitations were given to members of this Parliament to visit the Federal Capital sites, many declined to go. They refused to undertake the ordeal of travelling. The journalists who complain so much upon this subject are quite wei come to all my travelling privileges if they can in any way relieve me from them.

Senator Givens - They are the greatest cadgers of all. They are always cadging -for free passes.

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