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Saturday, 21 December 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - Senator Stewart has got into a humour which is rather incongruous at this season of the year. On any pretext whatever he proceeds to berate the Government.

Senator Stewart - Why do you not speak out?

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator has been long enough in Parliament to know that it is not the duty of the Government to watch over private business.

Senator Stewart - I am not talking about private business. That is what you do with public business.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senatorhas had his say, and I think that he might give the Government, in addition to belabouring them on occasions, an opportunity of saying something in reply, and even stop to listen to them. It is the usual practice for a member carrying private business in one House to arrange with some member of the other House to take charge of it there.

Senator Givens - Why was not that done last night?

Senator McGregor - It was done.

Senator Givens - It was not. Senator McGregor took charge of Senator Walker's private business.

Senator PEARCE - I am afraid that Senator Givens is also suffering from some hallucination.

Senator Givens - No; the record will show that what I say is correct.

Senator PEARCE - The records will show that the motion to make the business referred to an order for a later hour of the day was moved by Senator Walker.

Senator Givens - It was not ; and if that appears in Hansard, Hansard must have been faked.

Senator PEARCE - Senator Stewart has been long enough in Parliament to know the practice to which I have referred. The honorable member who moved this motion in another place with respect to the division of Queensland into two States apparently did not arrange with any honorable senator to take charge of the motion in the Senate, nor did he communicate with the Government on the subject. When the President read out the message, as he did in his usual tone of voice, it must have been distinctly audible in every part of the chamber. I naturally looked to Senators Stewart and Givens to see if they were going to take any action. After a pause of some seconds, and in order that the message might be dealt with, I suggested to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he should take the action he did. There was only one course which he could take, and that was to move that the message be taken into consideration on the next day of sitting. Senator Givens displays an anxiety to belabour the Government on any pretext, whether there is any foundation for his complaint or not.

Senator Givens - Why was not Senator Walker allowed to deal with the message concerning his Bill?

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator is mistaken in that matter.

Senator Givens - I challenge Senator Walker to deny the statement that I have made.

The PRESIDENT - I ask Senator Givens to keep order. The matter to which he is referring is not under consideration at the present time.

Senator PEARCE - I would ask Senator Stewart before he rises to belabour the Government on every question to make sure that he is not himself to blame. If he had been attending to the business of the Senate, he could not have failed to hear the message when it was read by the President, and as he took no action he is as much to blame as any one else in the matter. The Vice-President of the Executive Council asked for leave to move the motion he did, and that indicated that he had no authority to take charge of this business.

Senator Stewart - I did not hear the message or the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I think I must change my seat for one nearer Ministers.

Senator PEARCE - It might be well if the honorable senator did. so. Many of his misunderstandings appear to arise from the fact that he takes such a distant view of the action of the Government that he has got out of sympathy with them.

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