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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) .- I approach the consideration of this matter without any feeling, because I do not know Mr. Chinn. I only know what I have heard about him here and in another place. We have heard that he has done a great amount of engineering work in various parts of Australia; that he is a noted engineer; but no evidence has been brought forward in support of that, statement from any person who has employed him. We have merely had a list of names read - AttorneysGeneral and all sorts of men - but not one of them is an engineer. What effect would a recommendation coming from either of the Ministers opposite have upon a person who intended to employ an engineer ?

Senator Blakey - Was not Sir William Zeal an engineer?

Senator SAYERS - I should like to know what the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows about engineering?

Senator McGregor - I know very nearly as much as you do, and that is very little.

Senator SAYERS - It is very little, indeed. I do not suppose that the Minister of Defence or the Honorary Minister knows much about engineering. Recommendations can always be brought forward to show that some man is a great engineer. That is all we have got to-day in the case of Mr. Chinn. Senator Lynch has just arrived from Western Australia, and has read statements which have been read before and published in the press. I think that if a man were applying for the position of engineer, the first question he would be asked by any reasonable person who was thinking of employing him would be, " You tell me that you have been in Australia for forty years, but where did you work before ? " I do not want to hear a recommendation of an engineer by an Attorney-General, no matter on which side of politics he may be. I want to hear recommendations of Mr. Chinn from his employers, who, I submit, are the only persons entitled to certify to the work which he has done. Have such recommendations been submitted ?

Senator Ready - Yes.

Senator SAYERS - I have not heard any. I heard challenges made to produce recommendations when the matter was discussed in the first instance. Those who defended Mr. Chinn on that occasion brought nothing forward in his favour, and I have heard nothing since, although I have heard the matter discussed outside.

Senator de Largie - You have no right to refer to the debate in the other House.

Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator got through a very nice thing this afternoon. I do not object to it in the slightest, but I hope that the same thing will be allowed later. Where is a single recommendation from an employer of Mr. Chinn? Where are the great works which he has carried out?

Senator McGregor - They are here; they were all read this afternoon.

Senator SAYERS - I do not know whether anything has been raked up during the last eight or ten days, but when this matter was last under consideration the Minister in another place did not bring forward any evidence that Mr. Chinn had a qualification as an engineer. He read extracts and recommendations from AttorneysGeneral, ex-Ministers, storekeepers, and others. If an honorable senator were going to build a house he would not accept from an architect a reference from a member of the Senate who knew nothing about his qualifications; on the contrary, he would say, " Show me some samples of your work. Get me a recommendation from a previous employer showing that you are qualified." I do not know whether Mr. Chinn is qualified as an engineer or not. He was appointed, no doubt, for services rendered. I should not find any fault with the appointment if he were qualified to fill the position. We have heard that he was an engineer in Melbourne; but have we found one person here ready to vouch for him?

Senator Blakey - Yes. Sir William Zeal.

Senator SAYERS - Have we found any engineers in Queensland willing to vouch for Mr. Chinn's qualifications?

Senator McGregor - Yes.

Senator SAYERS - We have heard a man vouch that Mr. Chinn was a good traffic manager.

Senator Blakey - Do not show your ignorance.

Senator SAYERS - It is all very well for honorable senators to interject ; but there has been no recommendation put before this or any other House of Mr. Chinn as a qualified engineer.

Senator Ready - Yes, plenty of them.

Senator SAYERS - I say distinctly no. I notice that Mr. Deane, who, I understand, is a leading engineer, is very qualified in his references to Mr. Chinn. He did not recommend him.

Senator de Largie - He did.

Senator SAYERS - If any man can say that there is a letter from an engineer in favour of Mr. Chinn, it is a very weak and poor one, indeed. If I were going to select a manager for a mine, I would not act upon letters of recommendation received from politicians who know nothing about mining ; but I would ask every applicant to prove to me that he was qualified to look after the mine. That is what any reasonable man would do. I leave it to the plain-thinking people of this country w ho read Hansard, to say if they would select Mr. Chinn for this position on the recommendations which have been quoted. He may be the best man in the world, but in my opinion his references are not of the right sort. All that I have heard so far has been that he would make a good traffic manager or a Railway Commissioner. According to some of the letters which have appeared in the press, he was recommended as a Railway Commissioner for Tasmania, hut he did not receive the appointment. In Queensland we have a Railway Commissioner who is, I believe, one of the best in Australia, but he is not an engineer. He employs an engineer to carry out the engineering work. A man may know all the details of railway management from A to Z, but that does not make him an engineer. According to the testimonials I have heard, Mr. Chinn is a very good man with his pen. I have known men to apply for a position who could produce a report which would make one's hair stand on end, but for practical work they were of no use. I hope that that is not the case with Mr. Chinn. The adjournment of the Senate has been moved to-day to try to whitewash this gentleman. If he is the man he is reckoned to be, he needs no whitewashing. I ask the people to say whether they will accept the recommendations which have been produced in support of Mr. Chinn's appointment. I have known men to come along with a bundle of references, which emanated from persons who knew nothing about the work required to be done. It is a notorious fact that some persons can always get references by some means or other. It is necessary to find out the capability of; the man who gives a reference to another man. What, for instance, does the

Attorney-General of Western Australia know about engineering ? Does any one of the gentlemen whose names have been quoted know anything about engineering ?

Senator O'Keefe - What did Sir William Zeal know?

Senator SAYERS - What did he know about practical engineering? A man may be a civil engineer, but he may know nothing about the practical part of the work. You will get a mine manager with half-a-dozen letters to his name quoted as an authority. He may be reckoned an "expert," although he may know nothing more about working a mine than does the wheel of a coach.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator was only a braceman himself.

Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator is very insulting, and 1 mustsay thai if he makes such remarks about me, I shall publicly insult hiin in this chamber, and tell him that he cannot tell the truth. It is impossible for him to tell the truth. He now makes a statement that is a glaring and a wilful lie.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark. If Senator de Largie made any statement that was offensive to the honorable senator, and complaint had been made about it, I should have insisted upon its withdrawal.

Senator SAYERS - I say now that the statement by Senator de Largie was a deliberate lie, and it can be proved to be such. If I have to say that it was true, it is very peculiar.

Senator St Ledger - Senator de Largie wanted to insult Senator Sayers.

Senator SAYERS - Deliberately. I say that when a man makes a statement of that kind he knows that it is not true.

The PRESIDENT - I must ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark, or I shall have to take other action.

Senator SAYERS - What remark?

The PRESIDENT - That a statement made by Senator de Largie was " a deliberate lie."

Senator SAYERS - What can I say? Tell me. Surely I am not expected to acknowledge that the statement was true.

The PRESIDENT - It is not my duty to tell the honorable senator what to say. Will he withdraw the statement which he made?

Senator SAYERS - In deference to your ruling, I withdraw. But Senator de Largie has made a statement, that, as I have said, was not true. He made that statement for the purpose of insulting me.

The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator had mentioned at the time that a statement that he thought unfair to himself was made, I should have called upon Senator de Largie to withdraw it.

Senator SAYERS - Well, sir, I must say this in my own defence - that if an honorable senator is allowed to fling such accusations across the chamber, trouble must arise.

The PRESIDENT - I did not hear any accusation thrown across the floor. The honorable senator did not say that any accusation was made against him, or request that any remark that he considered offensive should be withdrawn.

Senator SAYERS - It is useless for me to say any more.

Senator St Ledger - The remark made by Senator de Largie - I heard it distinctly - was that Senator Sayers was "only a braceman."

Senator de Largie - And what is that?

Senator St Ledger - That is just the point.

Senator Needham - Is that an insult?

The PRESIDENT - Does Senator St. Ledger rise to a point of order?

Senator St Ledger - My point is that Senator de Largie, in hurling that remark at Senator Sayers, was not in order. What does it matter whether Senator Sayers was a braceman or not?

The PRESIDENT - There is no point of order.

Senator de Largie - I should like to speak on the point of order.

The PRESIDENT - Senator St.Ledger rose to a point of order, but has not stated one.

Senator SAYERS - Of course, you, Mr. President, may not see the point, but any man who has been a miner would see it. 1 was speaking of mining, and of engaging men for a mine. While I was doing so, Senator de Largie, with his usual sneer, made an offensive remark. I will not say what I know about Senator de Largie. I will not make a statement about him on the floor of the chamber.

Senator McGregor - I was a hod-carrier once, and the honorable senator can say it any day if he likes.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Sayers'time has expired.

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