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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . -As one of those who deliberately walked out of the Chamber on Friday as the only way to enter a protest against what I considered to be the unfair action of the leader of the Senate, I candidly admit that .that was my reason for taking that course. I am more in accord with, Senator Symon than with Senator Higgs. It is not, perhaps, the best way for the Senate to enter a protest, but on that occasion there was no other course open to us.

Senator Higgs - There is such a thing as masterly inactivity !

Senator O'KEEFE - Several honorable senators, including myself, asked, perhaps in rather a heated way, that certain information should be given to the Senate on a vital question of policy. I was one of those who objected to certain action which the Government had taken. Without going into the merits or demerits of that action to-day, I think it would have been only courteous on the part of the Minister of Defence if, when replying to the debate on the first reading of the Supply Bill, he had given the Senate some reasons for what had been done. Instead of doing that, however, the leader of the Government, as it seemed to me. deliberately and intentionally ignored the complaint of those honorable senators who had taken objection. It was this fact that caused me to feel that the leader of the Government had not done a fair thing, especially as the honorable senators to whom I refer are amongst those who have been consistent supporters of the Government. But whether they are supporters or opponents, the leader of the Government owed it to the Senate to give some explanation, at least, of the action to which exception was taken. But when he deliberately ignored those honorable senators, and further said that he did not think it necessary to reply - he may not have meant all his words implied to me, at least - it seems to me that any course of action that suggested itself, even on the spur of the moment, was justifiable. My reason for walking out of the Chamber on Friday last, and thereby assisting to block business, was my dissatisfaction with what I considered the unfair treatment and want of courtesy displayed by the leader of the Government.

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