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Monday, 1 October 1906

The PRESIDENT - Order ! There can be no debate on a personal explanation.

Senator FRASER - I wish to state the exact facts as I know them, because I am concerned in this matter.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator is concerned, very much indeed.

Senator FRASER - Yes, and I shall defend myself against any man.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator needs, to do so.

Senator FRASER - Or against any insinuation.

Senator Pearce - There is no insinuation, but a straight out charge.

Senator FRASER - That is not complimentary to the man who utters it.

Senator Pearce - Nor to the honorable senator, either.

The PRESIDENT - I must ask Senator Pearce not to interject. Senator Fraser is making a personal explanation, and there can be no debate.

Senator Dobson - Senator Pearce has had his turn.

Senator FRASER - Yes, he has.

Senator Pearce - I shall have my turn again.

Senator FRASER - When I was not present, I was accused by the interjector, when I had no opportunity of replying.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to his own personal explanation, and not make allegations against anybody.

Senator FRASER (VICTORIA) - I am merely replying to what Senator Pearce has said. I shall state the facts, which cannot be altered by any kind of representation. On Thursday, the 21st September, I was paired up to 1 o'clock with Senator Guthrie, and after that hour with Senator Symon. After that day I was absolutely free. I had any amount of business in my office waiting to be dealt with. Had I been paired on Friday, the 21st September, should I have remained in an ante-room all day waiting for a division to take place ? When 1 spoke on the Thursday, I fully expected - and I think that everybody else did, too, though I am not " in the know " with some persons - that the division would take place within an hour or so. I. appealed to honorable senators whether that was not the expectation when I spoke on that day. Had the division taken place on that day, of course I could not have voted ; but when it was delayed over that day, then I was free to do what I liked. I made up my mind that if there was to be a late sitting on Friday night, either to sleep on one of the sofas, or to try to get a pair, which, no doubt, I would have been able to get, because every one of my honorable friends on the opposite side, including even Senator Pearce, has always been willing to oblige me with a pair.

Senator Pearce - I shall never pair with the honorable senator again, after the deliberate breach of honour which he committed.

The PRESIDENT - I ask Senator Fraser to confine himself to his own explanation.

Senator FRASER - My intention, sir, was not to refer to the matter, but, on reading Hansard in my own home, I found that a reflection had been cast upon me, and I do not choose to allow it to pass without a contradiction. After Thursday night. I repeat, I was absolutely free. I remained on the premises, as honorable senators know, all that day. I did not come into the chamber, because I was suffering from a slight cold, and did not wish to expose myself to a change of atmosphere. I remained in an ante-room all the day, and, of course, I was free to do as I liked. Had the vote been delayed until Friday evening, my intention was to try to get a pair, and go away.

But, as it was taken late in the afternoon, I had to vote, because I was not paired. That is the whole explanation of the matter, so far as I am concerned. I know nothing about any complications, good, bad, or indifferent.

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