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Wednesday, 19 September 1906

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I have no desire to see the Bill passed through its final stage this evening. If I thought that there was tobe no attempt at trickery, and to take a snatch vote, I should not care if the division were not taken this week, provided that it was taken before the end of the session. What has been the course of the debate so far? Has there been any attemptto get an honest vote of the Senate, or to get an honest pairingof absent senators who wished to vote in a certain direction? If, as I have said, there is to be no attempt at such trickery as taking advantage of honorable senators who may be absent, I am quite prepared to allow the final stage of the Bill to stand over to any day in this week, or, for that matter, in next week. But I want to have an understanding that there is to be no trickery - that the thing is to be done fa irly and squarely.

The PRESIDENT - I do not think that the honorable senator should, by implication, accuse other honorable senators of trickery.

Senator DE LARGIE - I am not charging any one with trickery, but I want an honest understanding. I am expressing my conviction when I say that there has been every attempt made to prevent pairs from being given in order to prevent an honest reflex of the opinion of the Senate being given.

The PRESIDENT - I have already told the honorable senator that he ought not to imply that he is honest and the other senators are not honest. That is not a proper implication to be made.

Senator DE LARGIE - I recognise, sir, that a number of implications have been made which should not have been made.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator is not in order.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I ask, sir, that the implication to which you have alluded should be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT - Undoubtedly, the honorable senator ought to withdraw the implication that other honorable senators have acted dishonestly and with trickery.

Senator DE LARGIE - I desire to know what I am asked to withdraw?

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator stated, so far as I could hear him, that other honorable senators had acted dishonestly and with trickery.

Senator Playford - No ; he did not say that.

The PRESIDENT - That is what I heard.

Senator DE LARGIE - What I said was that there was no honest attempt made to get an honest vote of the Senate, and that every effort was made to prevent pairs from being given.

The PRESIDENT - There is no obligation upon honorable senators to give pairs, therefore there is no dishonesty or trickery. Pairs are not recognised by the Senate. The honorable senator really ought to moderate his language.

Senator Playford - Perhaps Senator de Largie will allow me to say a word or two.

Senator Millen - You, sir, called upon Senator de Largie to withdraw an implication. Is the incident going to be passed over in this way?

The PRESIDENT - Perhaps I did not hear the honorable senator correctly. It has been stated by several honorable senators, by interjection, that he did not say what I thought he said. I understand from his explanation that he said that there was no honest attempt made to obtain an honest vote, and that honorable senators had been guilty of trickery. Is that what he said?

Senator DE LARGIE - What I said was that I do not care whether a vote be taken to-night or to-morrow, or any day next week, provided that when it is taken, an honest attempt is made to get an honest vote of the Senate, and that no trickery is practised in the matter of pairs, or anything of that kind.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator was only expressing a pious hope as to the future.

Senator Col. NEILD(New South Wales) [6.14]. - I desire to make a suggestion for the consideration of the Minister. Undoubtedly there is a certain amount of tired feeling amongst honorable senators, and that I know from long experience often leads to some degree of hysteria in the small hours. I ask the Minister to consider whether, if the Bill is forced through the third-reading stage to-night, we may not run the risk of having something which will be described as " a scene in the Senate?" I hope that the Standing Orders will be suspended only for the purpose of adopting the report, which ought to be done without any debate, and that the third reading will be postponed until to-morrow, so that we can proceed with other business without any detriment to our tempers.

SenatorPLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence) [6.15]. - I do not think that there is the slightest fear of a scene arising. During its existence, such a thing has been practically unknown in the Senate.

Senator Dobson - If I could tell the Minister what I thought of him, there would be a scene here.

Senator PLAYFORD - No doubt if the honorable senator got nasty, and said unpleasant things, he might find himself sprawling upon the floor, and then there would be a scene, I suppose.

Senator Col Neild - We had a scene over this Bill two or three years ago.

Senator Millen - I wish the Minister to understand that, in view of what has been said, I withdraw from the arrangement I made just now.

Senator PLAYFORD - Then I suppose we shall have to go on. I am sorry, because I am quite willing to agree to what my honorable friends on the other side have suggested. I am quite willing to run the risk of the discussion being prolonged beyond even one o'clock, but if Senator Millen saysthat he withdraws, then, of course, we must go on all night.

Senator Trenwith - Does the Minister's reply debar other honorable senators from speaking?

The PRESIDENT - Yes, the Minister's reply finishes the debate.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Would it not be better to divide the motion into two parts - that is, to suspend the Standing Orders so far as regards the adoption of the report, and then leave it open to the Minister to move the suspension of the Standing Orders in regard to the third reading? That would give a little time for consideration.

Senator Playford - What we are going to do-

The PRESIDENT - This is altogether irregular.

Senator Clemons - This is very irregular, and we are only getting into confusion. I appeal to you, Mr. President, to say that we ought to obey the Standing Orders.

The PRESIDENT - By leave of the Senate, Senator Playford could amend his motion, but if no request to that effect is made, I must put the question.

Senator Playford - I must go on, Senator Millen having refused to abide by the understanding.

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