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Friday, 6 December 1912

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I cannot understand the action of Senator Stewart in moving his amendment, except by attributing it to a sudden desire for information, which will probably pass away as quickly as it arose. The paper dealing with Government advertising deals only with the cost, and gives no information as to the nature of the advertising. We are told by members of the Printing Committee that it is a bulky paper, and if it were .printed the probability is that Senator Stewart, like the majority of us, would not think it worth while to turn over more than the first page before he threw it into the waste paper basket. I have no wish to assist those who have raised a howl all over the country against Federal extravagance by consenting to the expenditure of money upon unnecessary printing. The whole of the information in connexion with the use of karri sleepers for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway can be found in the pages of Hansard, which also contains full statements of the merits of the question from both points of view.

Senator Stewart - To look for the information in Hansard would be like looking for a grain of wheat in a bushel of chaff. An honorable senator could not carry Hansard all round the country with him.

Senator DE LARGIE - I should prefer to carry Hansard rather than these papers. A reference to Hansard would give honorable senators a better understanding of the whole question of the use of karri sleepers than he could obtain from a perusal of the papers. I do not propose to object that the Printing Committee have decided not to print the petition which I presented to the Senate the other day, but I do say that there is more justification for the printing of such papers than for the printing of many official documents that are included amongst our printed papers. The presentation of a petition is the only way which some people have of letting their opinions be known to the country.

Senator Millen - The petition the honorable senator presented is in Hansard, because it was read in the Senate.

Senator DE LARGIE - If If it is in Hansard, I have no desire that it should be printed as a separate paper. We should do nothing which would interfere with the right of people to petition Parliament.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - How often have petitions had any effect upon the honorable senator's opinion on any matter with which they deal ?

Senator DE LARGIE - That does not matter. The right of petition should be continued to the people, because it is the only way in which some persons are able to let their views be known. Their petitions may appear to be drivel to us, but they are matters of serious moment to the petitioners. I know that the Committee have gone through all the papers referred to them, and I do not quarrel with their judgment. We have appointed a Printing Committee to advise the Senate in such matters, and we should act upon their recommendation:

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