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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia, Minister of Defence) - In the first place I wish to say that I have not seen the article in this morning's Argus. I saw the Age, but not the Argus. Therefore I did not know that the name of any senator had been mentioned. If the names were mentioned in the Auditor-General's report, which waslaid on the table of another place on Saturday, of course the newspapers were perfectly justified in mentioning them. With regard to Senator Smith's trip "to New Guinea, I may say at once that I am sure that he gave us full value in return for any expenses which he received, and was fully entitled to them.

Senator Givens - The information was worth twenty times more than he got.

Senator PLAYFORD - I quite agree with the position taken up bv the late Ministry in bearing part of the cost so far as concerned the portion of his journey within that Territory. Of course, when he was travelling outside the Commonwealth Territory he was quite right in paying his own expenses. The charge that he made was exceedingly reasonable, and the information we received from him was of great value. With regard to ordinary travelling. Members o'f Parliament, of course, have their railway passes, which take them over all the railway lines of the Commonwealth ; inasmuch as nearly all the railways are in the hands of the various States. It is only when a Member of Parliament requires . to travel between Commonwealth ports, that there is any need to apply to the Government. If I wished to go to Brisbane, I should travel on my pass, and* should not need to ask the Government for any consideration. But if I wanted to go to New Guinea, which is a Possession of the Commonwealth, I should have to go by boat. If I wanted to go to Western Australia or Tasmania), it would also be necessary for me to apply for a steamer ticket.

Senator O'Keefe - Members of Parliament should not be required to ask for steamer tickets ; they are as necessary as are railway passes.

Senator PLAYFORD - I think it must be admitted that if a Member of Parliament wishes to travel by rail, he ought to make an application for a ticket. If he is travelling for pleasure, or on private business, he ought to pay his own fare. If he is travelling for educational purposes, or to get information which will be useful to him, and enable him the better to discharge his duties as a Member of Parliament, I consider that his steamer fare should unmistakably be paid by the Commonwealth.

The distinction requires that a statement should be made as to why the Member of Parliament is going to travel. It will be better for every member who wishes to travel under such circumstances to make an application, when he will receive his ticket, just as when we wish our wives to come to Melbourne occasionally - as I do - we go to the office and make a requisition. The system we have adopted in the past is a right and proper one, and there is no necessity for laying down any hard-and-fast rule.

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