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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - Before the amendment is decided upon, I wish to say a word or two with regard to some preliminary remarks made by Senator Sayers in opposing the clause. Knowing exactly what he was saying, the honorable senator made the statement that a proposal was made to a former Minister for the elimination of this schedule from the Act, and that a former Minister absolutely refused to accede to the wishes of the departmental officer. He said that to-day we have a more pliable Minister, and that that pliable Minister has acceded to the wishes of the departmental officers.

Senator Sayers - That is quite correct.

Senator FINDLEY - I challenge the honorable senatorto prove his statement that Senator Millen, who had charge of the Electoral Bill in the last Parliament-

Senator Sayers - I was not referring to Senator Millen at all. The honorable senator is barking up the wrong tree.

Senator FINDLEY - I challenge the honorable senator to prove that a departmental officer ever approached any Minister who has ever had charge of any Electoral Bill in this House, or in another place, with a view to having this schedule removed from the Act, and that such Minister refused the departmental official's desire.

Senator Sayers - The honorable senator should not try to frighten me.

Senator FINDLEY - It is not a question of frightening the honorable senator, but I hope he will be made toprove his words, and if he cannot prove what he has said in this chamber to-day I hope that, as a man, he will take the first opportunity of apologizing to the departmental officers against whom he has made a serious accusa- tion. I ask the honorable senator to give proof of his statement. The inference the honorable senator draws is that a former Minister would not do this, and that a Labour Minister is prepared to do it. In the first place, no departmental officer ever made such a request to a previous Minister, and no previous Minister was ever afforded an opportunity to turn down this proposal. The members of this Government have decided to eliminate the schedule from the Act, not because they are a pliable Government, but because, in their opinion, its elimination will be in the best interests of the Department and for the convenience of candidates. I said earlier in the day that so long as the main essentials are complied with, it will not matter on what* kind of paper a nomination is made. I have risen to offer these remarks, in reply to the charge made by Senator Sayers. I ask that on the first opportunity the honorable senator will prove his statement, and that if he cannot do so, he will apologize for having made it.

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