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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) - I conceive it to be my duty to support the clause which I supported before. I am not concerned with the fact that certain honorable members in another place have criticised our action as an impertinence, and I agree with Senator Keating that they will probably regret having expressed such an opinion. I am not in any way influenced by the statement that we are dictating to another place, nor shall I put the matter on the low ground on which Senator de Largie has put it. We have not to consider the rights and privileges of honorable members in another place, but our duty to the electors of the Commonwealth. A vital principle is involved in the clause to which we agreed!, and I am not prepared to abrogate myduty in dealing with the matter. There is no dictation to the other place in what we did, and Senator de Largie has misstated the issue. We might mention one or two instances to show the danger of the course upon which honorable members in another place are asking us to enter. The ReidMcLean Government was kept in office for some months by two votes - that is, by the support of one honorable member. I would ask honorable senators what would take place in that Chamber, or in any other composed of human beings, if the fate of the Government depended upon whether a certain Commissioner drew lines in one direction or in another, and the persons interested had to decide the matter. It is monstrous to suggest that we should in this connexion depart from the principle that men are not good judges in their own cause. We should remit the settlement of this matter, as we have done in many other cases to a judicial and disinterested tribunal. In Tasmania, when it was found necessary to alter the boundaries of two or three electorates, the Premier of the day, Sir Elliott Lewis, gave his consent to a redistribution of seats, which' absolutely wiped out his own constituency, and included most of it in the constituency of Brighton, which I used to represent. He decided not to oppose the gentleman who represented Brighton, and that gentleman was re-elected, whilst Sir Elliott Lewis was defeated in contesting one of the Hobart constituencies. Although he was the ablest man in the Parliament, he was defeated, in consequence of the redistribution which had been made. If he had been a professional or party politician, with a following behind him, he could have found many reasons, honorable on the face of them, to prevent his old constituency of Richmond being wiped out.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - What does the honorable senator mean by a professional politician ?

Senator DOBSON - Senator Dawson can put his own interpretation on the term, but I think that a professional politician is one who lives by politics;, and, consciously or unconsciously, always looks to himself first.

Senator GRAY(NewSouth Wales).I intend to support Senator Millen in this matter. If is most unfortunate that it should be brought up for discussion on the last day of the session. If sufficient time were given for its consideration, I believe that the Committee would recognise the wisdom of the course taken in the first instance, and would adhere to it. Possibly the indirect threat that if we adhere to our amendment we may lose the measure, will have its effect, but! the principle involved is of so much importance that I hope such a threat will be treated as it deserves. Theobjectof the amendment we made was to remove the settlement of this important question from the decision of interested parties. There can be no doubt that honorable members in another place would be influenced by their personal interests in dealing with such a matter and the same bias would no doubt affect the decision of members of the Senate if they were placed in a similar position.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator believes that we shall' get a better decision from those outside of Parliament?

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