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Thursday, 16 August 1906

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - I move -

That all official matter and correspondence in connexion with the cases of Messrs. Hart and Gavegan, late of the Queensland Post and Telegraph Department, together wilh copies of the questions put to the jury in each case, with theanswers .thereto, be laid on the table of the Senate, and printed.

I do not know whether the Government intend to opposes the motion or not ; but as Senator Keating said " not formal " when it was called on yesterday, perhaps it will be better for me to give my reasons for asking that the papers be tabled. It will be remembered that the cases which Messrs. Hart and Gavegan ' raised against the Commonwealth had to be defended at a cost of ,£3,500. The two men are now out of the service, and are practically ruined. My object in asking for the production of the papers is to discover, if possible, whether some of the officers of the Department, who have not been inconvenienced in the slightest degree by anything which has taken place with regard to either of the cases, may not have been primarily to blame, not only for the expense which has been caused, but also for the practical ruin of two servants of the Commonwealth. I believe that some officers of the Department are to blame. I think that the documents, if tabled, will disclose that the fact. Probably the Government may oppose the motion on the score of expense.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - It is rather hard that the honorable senator should explore the documents in order to find a case for condemning somebody else.

Senator STEWART - What I want to do is to get at the root of this trouble. Here are two men, who claim that they hia ve been practically persecuted out of the Department, and ruined to all intents and purposes.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - But did they not take proceedings to vindicate themselves, and fail to do so?

Senator STEWART - They were defeated in those proceedings.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That shows that they were in the wrong. Are we to re-try in the Senate cases which have been dealt with in the law courts?

Senator STEWART - We do not propose to re-try cases which have ;been already tried, but to try to find out whether the Department is managed as it ought to "be. My claim is that in a well-managed Department such notorious cases as these would not occur. I think I shall be able to prove that from the documents if they are tabled. We are all interested in the good management of every Department, and therefore I hope that honorable senators will not be carried away by the fact that these men appealed to a court of justice, and have been defeated. We know that so-called courts of justice do not always administer justice.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is a verv nasty reflection.

Senator STEWART - It may be nasty ; but, unfortunately, it is true. I could call in question very strongly some of the remarks made by the Justice who sat in these two cases. His remarks showed that he had a very inaccurate knowledge of matters relating to the Public Service. In any case, I think that in its own interest, as one of the custodians of a large public Department, the Senate ought to welcome an opportunity of finding out how the trouble between the Department and these two men was caused. I, therefore, submit the motion which I have read.

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