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Wednesday, 18 July 1906


Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - I feel that in this matter some honorable senators are taking a wrong view in assuming that in expressing an opinion on a principle, we are in any way reflecting on the Government. As to Sir William McGregor, I should like to know to what extent the Government are pledged.


Senator Playford - I do not know that the Government are pledged at all. Honorable senators would not give me an opportunity to explain.


Senator TRENWITH - If the Government are not pledged, I think we are justified in expressing an opinion.


Senator Dobson - The Government are pledged.


Senator TRENWITH - I understand the leader of the Senate to assure me that the Government are not pledged.


Senator Playford - I do not know whether the Government are pledged or not; and honorable senators would not give me an opportunity to ascertain.


Senator TRENWITH - We are discussing a matter of very considerable importance. For instance, the Government have gone the length of asking Sir William McGregor whether, if appointed, he would accept the post.


Senator Millen - That appears to be the position.


Senator TRENWITH - I do not think that that inquiry pledges the Government sufficiently to prevent us from expressing an opinion on an important question. I shall resist, as far as I am able, any interference by this or another Chamber with the actual appointment - that is the selection of the man. That must be an Executive act, for which the Government must be responsible.


Senator Dobson - Would the honorable senator not respect an offer?


Senator TRENWITH - I think it is hardly an offer, though, of course, I do not know.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator admits the difficulty of discussing this matter in the absence of information as to the exact stage of the negotiations?


Senator Playford - I wished to have an adjournment of the debate, in order to ascertain whether or not the Government are committed.


Senator TRENWITH - Is it not possible to have an adjournment of the debate now in order to ascertain?


Senator Playford - An adjournment of the debate has been twice refused.


Senator TRENWITH - The principle embodied in the motion is one that I indorse most heartily. But if, before the motion was presented, the Government had reached such a stage in the negotiations that the honour of the Commonwealth was pledged, I should vote against the proposal. Therefore, for the purpose of ascertaining definitely what is the position, I desire to move that the debate be adjourned.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator cannot submit that motion, as he has spoken to the original question, but some other honorable senator may move the adjournment of the debate.


Senator TRENWITH -Iurgethose who agree with me as to the principle involved, to consent to an adjournment. We ought not to be forced to a vote without the fullest information on so important an issue. The spirit of the motion is in accordance with the policy of Australia in connexion with other matters ; and those who say that we cannot be sure of getting the best man in Australia, do not, to my mind, present a sufficient argument. The time has arrived when we should say that, for all purposes, Australians are good enough.


Senator Playford - As a general principle, yes; but we may have exceptions.







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