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Saturday, 21 December 1912

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - I am in the position, sir, of proceeding to address you on a question which is apparently before the Senate, but, as to which question it is, both Senator Buzacott and myself are in entire ignorance. The reason for that is that Ministers have got into the habit of speaking in such a low tone that honorable senators at this end of the chamber cannot hear them.

Senator Pearce - We waited four seconds to see if any honorable senator would rise, but no one did.

Senator STEWART - I was under the impression that, perhaps, I was a little below normal, so far as hearing is concerned, but when I discovered that Senator Buzacott was in a similar position I began to think about things. I hope that Ministers will be kind enough to raise their voices just a little. I know that each of them has something of a voice when he likes to use it. If they do not use their voices, so that I can hear them I shall be under the painful necessity of finding out in some way or other, what the business of the Chamber is, what papers are presented, and what is being done. This whispering to you, sir, and across the chamber is most deplorable. It ought not to be carried on in a place where national business is transacted, and Ministers have no excuse, because this is a very small chamber, and any man with a very ordinary voice can make himself heard. I trust that Ministers will consider the convenience of, honorable senators, and try to make themselves heard.

The PRESIDENT - It was I who read the message, and I think that my voice can be heard at the other end of the chamber.

Senator STEWART - Well, I did not hear the message.

The PRESIDENT - The Minister moved that the message be taken into consideration on the next day of sitting.

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