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Thursday, 20 September 1906


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - I should like to correct a slight mistake I made when speaking yesterday. I stated that I had not previously said anything upon this question, but I find that last year I had a few words to say with reference to the amendment moved by Senator Givens. The Minister, in moving the third reading of the Bill, asked us to permit it to be cleared out of the way. I do not complain of his anxiety, because he must realize that the Bill is an apple of discord that has been thrown amongst honorable members, and that it may very well be left in abeyance until matters of far. more urgent importance have been dealt with. So far, I have not spoken on the main question at all, and I may be asked why I did not speak upon the motion for the second reading. Like- Senator Mulcahy, 1 was under the impression, and reasonably so, that the majority of senators were opposed to the principle contained in the Bill, and I thought that I would be serving the best interests of the country by refraining from speaking, and thus facilitating the progress of the business, The opponents of the Bill understood that Senator Keating was on their side, and were astonished to see him voting for it. Last year the honorable senator expressed his feeling very strongly against the Bill, but did not record his vote upon the division that took place shortly afterwards. I am not finding fault with the honorable senator, because I take it that he knows his own business. He can pledge Tasmania to the expenditure of £1,000 or £100,000 if he chooses. That has nothing to do with me as the representative of another State. I am merely concerned to account for the impression in the minds of a number of the opponents of the Bill. We know the reception which the Bill met with when it was first brought before us. The representatives of Western Australia did not suppose for a moment that they had any chance of carrying it. Only one or two honorable senators spoke, and the mea sure was talked out by Senator Dobson. Last year the Bill was replaced on the business-paper by resolution, and was very fully debated. Honorable members who advocated the proposed survey quoted long extracts from reports that had been submitted years ago, and from the opinions of persons who had been sent out at the cost of the Western Australian Government to explore the country, and collect information for the enlightenment of the Federal Parliament. After all this information had been cited, the Senate deliberately, by nineteen votes to ten, decided that they would not further consider the question unless the South Australian Parliament gave its consent to the construction of the line. I now ask why we should stultify ourselves and make the Senate look ridiculous in the eyes of the people by coming to a contrary decision? I, for one, decline to be a party to the Senate's stultifying itself in this way. There is another reason for voting against the Bill on the present occasion. When we considered it last year, there was no immediate chance of eliciting the opinions of the people upon it. There is such a chance now. When I was travelling through Queensland, prior to the last election, the Western Australian railway was never mentioned. There was a sort of general idea that Western Australia and South Australia desired to be connected by railway, but it was never considered that the Commonwealth would be asked to construct that line. The subject was first brought prominently before the people of Queensland at a meeting in Brisbane, which was addressed bv the Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin. I happened to be present, and heard what he said. When he explained the project, a laugh went up. No one thought that the honorable gentleman was in earnest in advocating the line as a Federal project. It was considered that, while the people of Western Australia and South Australia might desire to be connected by railway, the Commonwealth was not called upon to incur the expenditure. The matter was referred to at some length in the newspapers at the time. I have not extracts from them to quote to the Senate, but I am quite sure that the proposal was ridiculed. Not that I lay much stress upon articles published in newspapers, because I am well aware that they are frequently written by men who have not sufficient information, and whose writings are coloured by the views of the proprietors of the journals for which they write. I do not attach as much value as Senator Walker does to newspaper extracts. He has, to-day, quoted ;i long screed from the Sydney Morning Herald, to the effect that there is reason for making further inquiry into the proposal. But we are all aware that leadingnewspapers have frequently upheld propositions which would have been most disastrous if they had been adopted by the Parliaments of the States concerned. I remember that a few years ago, the Sydney Daily Telegraph supported a projected tramway steal. I am satisfied that if what was then contemplated had been accomplished, the people of New South Wales would have regretted it from the moment when they parted with their tramways until they were compelled to buy them back again. Foi yi-ars, in Queensland, we were cursed with black labour, not because there was not an agitation against it, but because newspapers which pretended to represent public opinion had sufficient influence to induce the Parliament of the State to maintain a policy that was in direct opposition to the opinions of the majority of the people. "Very frequently, newspapers manufacture public opinion rather than represent it. Long screeds from journals like the Sydney Morning Herald ought to have very little influence upon our minds, though such an extract as Senator Walker quoted may be verv soothing to him. It must be very comforting to know that his attitude on this question commends itself to the Sydney Morning Herald, and to see his own speeches, to a large extent, reproduced in the form of articles in its columns. The States which we represent will be very seriously affected if the proposed undertaking be. carried out. Senator Mulcahy has already put before us the position that is occupied by Tasmania. I desire to view the matter from a Queensland .standpoint. I am aware that supporters of the line will exclaim. " Let us think continentally in matters of this kind. Let us view it as if we were entirely independent of State influences." Personally, I am not prepared to pledge the State of Queensland to an expenditure of probably £650,000 upon the construction of the proposed railway. I contend that the question of its construction cannot be dissociated from that of the survey of the route which it will traverse. In the course of his speech, Senator Pearce quoted, a. number of ex- tracts from the utterances of members of the' Western Australian Parliament, who advocate secession because they consider that this Parliament has failed to carry out. an alleged promise that the transcontinental railway should be constructed. I propose, by way of reply, to put before him the view which is entertained - not by irresponsible members of the Queensland Parliament - but bv the Treasurer of that State. That gentleman, in speaking of the financial results of Federation, to Queensland, said-

Two years ago, in referring to this matter, I said - "A sud'den drop of £70,000 in our revenue is, of course, a serious matter in itself, and quite sufficient to disorganize our finances for the year."


Senator Millen - From what is the honorable senator quoting?


Senator TURLEY - From the last financial statement delivered by the Queensland Treasurer. The tables relating to it were ordered to be printed upon the 28th August, 1906. ' He continued -

But the worst aspect of the situation is that another Government has first call upon about one-fourth of our whole revenue, and that it is impossible for us even to forecast what we shall receive until the Federal Treasurer has told us how much he means to retain.


Senator Col Neild - I call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. \Quorum formed.]


Senator TURLEY - The Queensland Treasurer said -

The following table shows the falling off that has taken place in the Customs and Excise revenue of this State since Federation : -

 

If there is one occasion .more . than another when honorable senators should seek to protect the interests of their States, it is when revenue, which could be used for the purposes of development, gradually decreases, until necessary work cannot be undertaken. That is the fair and legitimate argument advanced this morning by Senator Mulcahy, who told us that at the present time Tasmania is about £100,000 to the bad each year. While Victoria and New South Wales may have surpluses, and there may be a little to the good in Queensland this year, there are the accumulated deficits; and it is necessary that those deficits should be wiped out, even if extra taxation has to be imposed. But if extra taxation is necessary for this purpose, that is one of the strongest reasons why we should oppose the expenditure of money on even a survey, putting aside the pledging of the credit of the States to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds for the construction of the proposed line. Queensland senators are always taunted by Western Australian senators with the fact that the northern State has the benefit of the sugar bounties. However, I shall not deal with that question at the present moment, but simply give the opinion of the Queensland Treasurer as follows: -

Despite the compensation of the sugar bounty, Queensland has paid a heavier price for Federation than any State in the Commonwealth, and it would be unreasonable to expect her to continue to pay as dearly as she is now doing foi the privilege of remaining n member of the Union.

There is no threat in those words,-


Senator Millen - They are very weighty words.


Senator TURLEY - The words are those of a man who knows the financial position of the State the affairs of which he has been guiding for some time. We are admonished to " think continentally," and to spread out our arms and embrace the whole interest of the Commonwealth; but we owe a duty to those people who sent us here to guard their interests. I believe as strongly in Federation to-day as I did when the Commonwealth was inaugurated. I was not one who said that he did not believe in the Bill, but believed in Federation, and that he would endeavour to get returned to the Parliament in order to carry out objects of which he did not approve. I believed then, as now, that Federation is the best means to insure that the destinies of Australia will be guided in a direction leading to the benefit of, at any rate, all the white people of the country. But representatives of Tasmania and Western Australia tell us that Federation has not done those States any particular good. We are told that the people of Western Australia received specious promises that have not been fulfilled - that they were so much influenced by the promises of three or four men who had no power to carry them out, but neglected to say so, that Western Australia entered into a Union from which it has received no benefit whatever. On this point I have read the words of the Treasurer of Queensland, and while I do not indorse them iri their entirety, I know that, although in some directions that State Kas benefited by Federation, the Union has been detrimental, especially to some of the industries established before the inauguration of the Commonwealth. But because there is a credit and a debit. I am not prepared to say that it is time Queensland left Federation. I am prepared, however, to vote against any Commonwealth Government, of whomsoever it may be composed, who squander money on projects which have never been remitted to the electors, even if my vote should have the effect of turning that Government out of power. We are all here to protect the interests of the Commonwealth, and in that regard- I am just as sincere as can be' any honorable senator. But if some one outside says to me, "I am hard up, give me a shilling to get a feed," that is no reason why T should say, " Here, old chap, put your hand in my pocket, and help yourself." That, however, is the position which honorable senators seem to think Queensland ought to take. Some gifts, instead of a blessing, sometimes turn out to be a great curse, and then the recipient turns round and uses language, which, to say the least, is not very complimentary. It is my opinion that if this Bill were passed, and the survey carried out satisfactorily, and if South Australian representatives, who do not believe in the construction of the railway, but only in a survey being made, could be induced to change their opinion, the railway, when built, would make the people of Western Australia the most disappointed on the face of the Continent. For a long time, at any rate, the people of Western Australia would have to find a certain amount of money for interest on cost of construction and working expenses ; and they would find the benefitsfrom the railway not nearly what they had been induced to anticipate. The Treasurer of Queensland, in the remarks from which I have already quoted, dealt extensively with the financial position of the State as affected by Federation, and his final words are -

Later on I propose to take the judgment of the House by a motion dealing with this matter, and I trust honorable members- will discuss it as Australians and as Queenslanders, and without party feeling ; for whatever our political bias may be, we have all a common interest in the well-being and financial stability of the State.

These are the words of a man who does not" become hysterical, and talk about " thinking continentally," but is familiar with his subject, and urges that it is our dutv to conserve the rights of the States, as well as those of the Commonwealth. I wish to deal with this matter from the point of view of Queensland, which has expended a very large sum in the construction of railways. The representatives of Western Australia have told us again and again that its condition is so prosperous that it has been able to absorb the unemployed of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, and to offer employment at fairly good wages to all who go there. We are glad to hear that in some part of Australia. - we care not whether it be in the north, south, east, or west of the Continent - the mining developments have 'been such as to enable people scattered all over Australia to find employment on going there.


Senator Millen - It is mutually advantageous. Western Australia found work for the men of the eastern States, and the eastern States found men for their work.


Senator TURLEY - Undoubtedly. I think that Senator Pearce paid the men who went there from the eastern States a great compliment when he said that the population of Western Australia consisted chiefly of men who were more enterprising and energetic, and possessed a more adventurous spirit than those of the other States. I think there is something in that argument.


The PRESIDENT - Does the honorable senator think that has anything to do with this question ?


Senator TURLEY - I think it has, sir. Queensland and Tasmania complain that their financial position is such that thev cannot bear the expense of makins a survey of or constructing this line, and its representatives point to the fact that, according to statements made by the representatives of Western Australia, that State is so wealthy that it ought to carry out this work for itself.


Senator Sir Josiah Symon - In other words, the representatives of Queensland and Tasmania ask why the wealthy man should request the poor man to make a road to his gate.


Senator TURLEY - Exactly. We base our objection to this Bill on the statements made by the representatives of Western Australia.' I would point out that Queensland has a very large railway mileage, and a heavy interest debt in respect of it. Allowing for depreciation, the amount expended by her on the construction of lines is £25>765>457- We have a public debt of over £30,000,000, equal to something like £76 per head of the population.


Senator Stewart - Queensland's funded and unfunded debt is about £42,000,000, or £80 per head of the population.


Senator TURLEY - I think that the honorable senator is mistaken. Our indebtedness is large, but I do not believe that if is as great as he suggests. I would remind the Senate that Queensland has never called upon any of the other States to assist her in building her railways, or to share with her the losses incurred in respect of them. According to quotations read by Senator Dobson, the leader of the delegates from Western Australia at the Federal Convention distinctly stated that that State was financially so sound that if necessary she could construct at her own expense a transcontinental railway to the South' Australian border. None of us would have any objection to Western Australia constructing lines all over that State, and offering South Australia, substantial compensation for the right to extend this line over the border ; but when she demands that the other States, which have borrowed largely in order to construct at their own expense railways from which, in some cases, they have received no return, should bear the cost of this survey, she makes a request that is unjustifiable. I hope that the Senate will reject it. Let us look a little further into the results of railway construction in the different States. If honorable senators will refer to page 575 of Coghlan's Australian and New Zealand Statistics for 1903-4, the last- edition published, they will find that in every State of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia, losses on the operation of the railway systems have had to be made up from the Consolidated Revenue. In Queensland in 1899-1900 the loss amounted to 1.35 per cent. ; in 1900-1 to 2.67 per cent. ; 1901-2, 2.01 per cent.; 1902-3, 2.44 per cent.; 1903-4, 1.56 per cent. The only State that showed a surplus on the management of the railways was Western Australia, and Coghlan states, that in 1899-1900, Western Australia not only succeeded in paying working expenses and interest on the cost of the construction of her railways, but made a net profit on their working of 2.29 per cent. I do not think that there is another State in the Commonwealth which has ever shown a profit of 2 per cent, on the working of her railways. The profit made in Western Australia in 1 900-1 was .83 per cent.; in 1901-2, .07 per cent.; in 1902-3, .27 per cent. ; and in 1903-4, 1.07 per cent. During the period referred to the New South Wales railways in one year only, 1900-1, showed a profit over working expenses and interest on cost of construction to the extent of .19 per cent.

Sitting suspended from 12.5J to 2.30 p.m.


Senator TURLEY - The figures which I have been able to quote from Coghlan show the results from the working of the railways in Queensland and Western Australia. I propose to submit a case for the consideration of the representatives of the latter State. Suppose that two persons had engaged in the same kind of business, but in different places, that one of them was receiving a fair income from his enterprise and investment, and that the other, although he had displayed as much energy, and invested as much if not more capital, was not earning the interest on his investment. If the successful man wanted to develop his own piece of country, would it be regarded in commercial circles as fair for him to go down to the other man who also had started from scratch, and exerted like energy, and POSsibly enterprise, and say, " I want to develop a little more of the country I own. I do not (know that I am very well able to do so. I certainly am doing a great deal' better than you are; but nevertheless I think you ought to chip in with me, and provide the means whereby I can further develop the country out of which I am doing so well." We are all very well acquainted with the person who is not doing well, and who meets us in Bourkestreet or Collins-street, and says, " Look here, old chap, I knew you in the west, I am very glad to see that you have got on. I was one of those who assisted you to get into your present position, and if you have a shilling or two to spare it will come in very handy." Senator Henderson is smiling. I suppose, because he has been in that position on many occasions. But how would it be if he and Senator Smith went down the street, and met a poor unfortunate nian who they knew had gone down in the west, and said, " We are in a pretty fair position, and we think that it is about up to you to lend us half-a-crown. " Of course, they would not think of doing that. Yet that is the very position which they take up regarding this railway project. I have not been able to ascertain the actual sum which the railways of their State have returned to the Treasury. I have only been able to give from Coghlan the percentage of interest which they have returned over and above the amount of working expenses, and interest on capital. But I am able to state the amount which we in Queensland have been called upon to contribute out of the general revenue for a number of years.


Senator Henderson - Can the honorable senator state the amount which Queensland has obtained in the way of sugar bounties ?


Senator TURLEY - I have not the table handy, but if I had I should certainly quote the amount for the information of my honorable friends from Western Australia.


Senator de Largie - I can tell the honorable senator that Western Australia has already paid twice as much as would cover the cost of the proposed survey.


Senator TURLEY - I do not dispute the statement which, if I recollect aright, was also made by Senator Smith in a speech to which, I shall refer by-and-by. I am now in possession of the tables which the Treasurer circulated in the Budget papers, and I propose to give the figures relating to the sugar bounties.


Senator Guthrie - How can we rely upon estimates?


Senator TURLEY - I am referring to figures that have been actually published by the Treasurer of Queensland for the information of Parliament and the public. The honorable senator, with his long parliamentary experience, should be aware that a Treasurer's estimates' are 'usually to be re lied upon. Of course, I do not blame honorable senators for not being fully acquainted with the local politics of Queensland. They do not expect me to be well posted in the details of the politics of their States. But when a senator from Tasmania or South Australia tells us what is the practically unanimous opinion of the people of his State upon a certain proposal, I accept his word.


Senator Guthrie - Why does not the honorable senator accept the opinion of the

Western Australian senators that it is absolutely necessary to have the railway built?


Senator TURLEY - So I do. I am not denying that Western Australia thinks that she requires the survey to be made, and the railway to be constructed. I am not quarrelling with the Western Australian senators who impress that view upon us. I was in Western Australia some time ago, at the invitation of the Western Australian Government, who treated me remarkably well ; and although not pretending to have an extended knowledge of the affair's! of that State politically, commercially, or industrially, I have no doubt that the Western Australian senators honestly and straightforwardly represent the opinions of the majority of their people. I believe they are doing their best in the interests of their State; and why should I be denied the right to do exactly the same in the interests of the State I represent? Up to the present the public debt of Queensland amounts to £41,545,000. We have .spent on our railways about £25,000,000, and in the year 1901-2 there was a charge on the Consolidated Revenue in respect of those railways of £513,128 over and above the interest earned.


Senator Clemons - What is the interest bill?


Senator TURLEY - I think it is between £3 75. 6d. and £3 10s. per head.


Senator Col Neild - I rise to order. I submit that the business now being discussed is not in accordance with the sessional order passed on the 14th June, which reads -

That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present session^ Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday up to the tea adjournment, and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of 'private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.


The PRESIDENT - Has there not been another sessional order passed since?


Senator Col Neild - No, and that is the very point I am stating. I know what the Government attempted to do, but they did not do it. The position is absolutely analogous to one which arose in the New South Wales Parliament some time ago, when I took identically the same point of order, and it was confirmed. In the sessional order to which I have referred there is absolutely no provision for "otherwise ordered," so far as private business is concerned. Private business is by the sessional order absolutely fixed, and stated for Thursday afternoons. What the Government did on the nth September was this: They did not repeal the sessional order to which I have referred, or move to suspend it, but they invited the Senate to pass, and the Senate in all good faith, and, I submit, also in ignorance, passed a motion to do something which under the sessional order could not be done. Before the motion passed on the nth. September could be validly passed it was necessary to have rescinded the sessional order. It is patent to any lawyer that you cannot destroy a superior instrument by an inferior instrument. You cannot destroy an Act of Parliament by a regulation, a standing order bv a sessional order, or a sessional order by a mere motion or resolution, unless the sessional order contains a proviso to enable you to vary it at any time. The sessional order to which I refer contains no such proviso.


Senator Givens - Would not the words " until otherwise ordered " permit of a variation ?


Senator Col Neild - If the words " until otherwise ordered " appeared in the sessional order, I should not have raised the point of order, which affords me an opportunity of calling the attention of the President and the Senate to the serious inroad made upon parliamentary practice by the attempt made to destroy a sessional order by a mere motion. On the nth September a motion was passed under which, instead of private senators' business taking precedence before the tea hour, it was to have precedence after the tea hour, the Government assuming the power to transact public business up to the tea hour. In pursuance of that motion the Government are now proceeding to perpetrate an outrage on our sessional orders.


The PRESIDENT - I see the honorable senator's point.


Senator Col Neild - I have not quite finished my statement. If you, sir, are prepared to rule in mv favour, so far 'as I have gone, I shall take up no more time, but if otherwise, I should like to be permitted to finish my statement of the case. It is a serious thing that the Senate in a disorderly manner should set aside its sessional orders. If it is competent to pass a motion altering the transaction of business in a certain way that conflicts with ai> existing sessional order it is quite possible to do the same with our Standing Orders, which are arrived at and confirmed by a process similar to that adopted in the passing of our sessional orders. Our Standing Orders are not passed in the way in which Standing Orders in some of the State Parliaments are passed. In New South Wales the Standing Orders require the confirmation of the Governor in Council ; ours require nothing of the kind. They are simply the acts of the Senate; our process of creating a sessional order and a standing order is exactly the same, and the authority of each is equal, with this one difference, that the Standing Orders are for all time, whilst the sessional orders are for the session only. I am dealing with a sessional order, but I submit that its validity and authority is exactlv equal to that of a standing order. We know that a standing order cannot be wiped out by a motion unless by suspending the Standing Orders first. No attempt was made on the11th September to suspend the sessional order to which I have referred. If the Government made a mistake in the method adopted for the conduct of business, it is not right that the repute of the Senate should be blemished in consequence of a Ministerial blunder. We are the custodians of our own honour, which is involved in the proper conduct of our business in accordance with law. I have ref erred to the sessional order of the 14th June.


The PRESIDENT - They are both sessional orders.


Senator Playford - And both passed by resolution.


The PRESIDENT - That is so.


Senator Col Neild - I see nothing in the Journals of the nth September to show that the motion passed on that day is a sessional order at all.


Senator Playford - It is just as much a sessional order as the first one referred to.


The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator will look up the records he will find that the resolution of the 14th June and the resolution of the nth September are exactly the same. Both are resolutions, and resolutions only. I have not, of course, said anything as to the point of order raised.


Senator Col Neild - I beg, with great respect to you, sir, to point out that on the 14th June the Senate passed a sessional order.


The PRESIDENT - The records of the Senate do not show that.


Senator Col Neild - I say, without fear of contradiction, that it was moved as a sessional order.


The PRESIDENT - So was the other resolution. I do not think that that derogates in any way from the point of order; but I am pointing out that the honorable senator must treat the two resolutions as exactly the same. I see his point, but the honorable senator is trying to draw a distinction between the resolution of the 14th June and that of the11th September, and really there is no such distinction between them as the honorable senator suggests. Neither of them are standing orders.


Senator Col Neild - They are not standing orders, but one is a sessional order and the other a motion.


The PRESIDENT - They are both sessional orders.


Senator Col Neild - I think that if the records of the Senate are looked up, my contention will be borne out, and if it is not, then the entries in the Journals do not agree with the entries in Hansard.


The PRESIDENT - We have nothing to do with Hansard.


Senator Col Neild - I am aware of that, and perhaps I have been misled to that extent, as I have not looked up the Journals or the notice-paper of the Senate.


Senator Clemons - The honorable senator is still on perfectly sound ground as to his point of order.


Senator Col Neild - I am absolutely sure that the resolutions the Senate passed on the 14th June were submitted as sessional orders.


The PRESIDENT - It does not make the slightest difference to the point of order whether they were or not. Both are resolutions. The honorable senator is merely elaborating a point which he cannot substantiate by the records.


Senator Col Neild - Then I say that the records are faulty. At that rate, we have no sessional orders. We have deliberately adopted certain motions, believing them to be sessional orders, and we are now told that they are not sessional orders. In the circumstances, I must look up the notice-paper.


The PRESIDENT - A "sessional order " is only another name for a. resolution, the effects of which last during the session.


Senator Col Neild - Then in the Senate we do not recognise sessional orders.

If we have come to that pass when we have to depend upon mere resolutions, then God help the Senate in regard to the orderly conduct of its business. It means that, instead of having sessional orders, as in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, we have a disorderly array of contradictory resolutions, with no credit to the Senate, or to the representatives of the Government.


The PRESIDENT - According to standing order 127 the Senate cannot rescind a resolution unless it follows a certain procedure. The point is that such procedure has never been adopted.


Senator Col Neild - I th'ank you, sir, for drawing my attention to the standing order, which says -

An order, resolution, or other vote of the Senate, may be rescinded ; but no such order, resolution, or other vote may be rescinded during the same session, unless seven days' notice be given, and at least one half of the whole number of senators vote in favour of its rescission : Provided that, to correct irregularities or mistakes, one day's notice only shall be sufficient.

I now submit, sir, that that standing order has not been complied with, and that, therefore, the sessional order of the 14th June stands, and the resolution of the 1 Itr September is a nullity as concerns the procedure of the Senate in relation to private business on Thursday afternoon.


Senator Playford - As regards the resolution which was passed at the beginning of the session, and which is called a sessional order, it is plain' that there has been a mistake made. Sessional orders are simply resolutions which may be altered or varied at the will of the Senate.


Senator Millen - In accordance with standing order 127.


Senator Playford - Possibly, but that standing order has never been obeyed here. With al short interval I have been a member of Parliament since 1.868, and I know that it has never been obeyed in any Parliament in which I have sat. Why we did not obey the standing order I do not know.


The PRESIDENT - In South Australia we always obeyed that standing order.


Senator Playford - It has not been obeyed as regards the resolution to alter the days of meeting.


The PRESIDENT - Because that resolution contains the words " unless otherwise ordered " which were left out of the \ former one.


Senator Playford - The unfortunate part of it is that we did not have the words put in, but the will of the Senate was that it should meet on the days and hours mentioned in the second sessional order, and that private business should take precedence at a' certain time other than that mentioned in the first sessional order. I can do no more, sir, than bow to your ruling.


Senator Clemons - No more complete admission that the contention of Senator Neild is right could possibly be made than has just been made by the Minister of Defence. The resolution of nth September reads as follows: -

That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the time of meeting of the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday in each week be half-past ten a.m., and that Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions, and except that private members' Bills already on the notice-paper take precedence of all other business on Thursday after the tea adjournment.

Undoubtedly the resolution of nth September would have been effective if, in the resolution of 14th June, the words " unless otherwise ordered " had been i'nserted. lt is quite clear that standing order 127 has not been complied with, and that therefore the resolution of nth September is not binding. I think that you, sir, will see with me that the point of order is absolutely good, and that* there is now nothing left for Senator Playford to do except to throw himself on the mercy of the Senate in some ordinary way.


The PRESIDENT - I am very much afraid the point raised by Senator Neild is right. I make that statement, because I have to bear a certain portion of the blame as well as the officers of the Senate, because we ought not to have permitted the motion of the nth September to be carried without calling attention to the fact that the first part of the resolution of the 14th June could not be altered or amended unless it was rescinded. There is no val;d difference between the two resolutions. One cannot be called a sessional order and the other not a sessional order. What is a sessional order? It is an order of the Senate which will continue during the session. Both, of these sessional orders will continue during the session, so' that they are both on a par. The resolution of 14th June says -

That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present session Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday up to the tea adjournment, and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.

It will be seen that that is a positive resolution of the Senate which does not con- tain the limitation " unless otherwise ordered," except in reference to private orders of the day taking precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays. It is not competent for the Senate to annul that resolution unless it takes the procedure prescribed by standing order 127. That procedure has not been taken, and therefore I have to rule that the point of order is. correct. It is with, the greatest reluctance that I give this ruling, because to a certain extent it reflects upon the President, and upon the officers of the Senate.

Honorable Senators. - No.







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