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Wednesday, 13 August 1913

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - I do not desire to enter into a discussion of the intricacies of the quarrel between Senator McColl and Senator Russell.

Senator Russell - There is no quarrel.. It is a matter of fact.

Senator BAKHAP - What is it but a. quarrel ? Does not the language which the honorable senator used, and had to withdraw, constitute in itself a cause of quarrel ?

Senator Findley - When slanderous statements are made.

Senator BAKHAP - Does not slander involve a quarrel ? I am sorry that Senator Findley is such a precisian in the use of language. I only want to take exception to a certain statement made by one of the senators for South Australia, and also, I believe, by one of the senators who preceded him. They accused the Liberal party of making statements about the unclean manner in which the recent elections were conducted. That language is used to imply that the Liberal party have made allegations of irregular and improper conduct against the electoral officials. I have heard no responsible Liberal speaker make any statement of the sort in connexion with the conduct of the elections by the regular electoral officers, but I do know that a member of the late Ministry - and this matter particularly concerns Tasmania - was the only public man, I will not say of eminence, but of temporary prominence, who made any allegation or took any direct action in connexion with the conduct of the elections by the electoral officers. He went so far as to indulge in Czar-like action, and suggested the removal of some of the electoral officers. Senator Findley. - What has this to do with Senator McColl' s speech?

Senator BAKHAP - I am showing that one of the senators for South Australia said that an allegation was made by the Liberal party in connexion with the unclean conduct of the elections.

Senator O'Loghlin - I repeat the statement.

Senator BAKHAP - What all the Liberal speakers I heard said, subsequent to the elections, was that the Electoral Act afforded opportunities , and opened the door for the perpetration of many irregularities; and I, when returning thanks for my election in Hobart, said that the advent of a Liberal Administration would insure one thing - a full, free, and impartial investigation of the allegations that were current.

Senator Findley - That was gentlemanly.

Senator Russell - Where is the proposal for a full inquiry?

Senator BAKHAP - That investigation is proceeding.

Senator Needham - While it was proceeding your colleague made this charge.

Senator BAKHAP - I am not here to discuss the merits of what Senator McColl said, as he is well able to keep up his end of the log. He has made his defence. But I am here to defend the Liberal party against the charge of having made allegations against electoral officers. We have made no such charges. The only overt act hostile to them of which we have cognizance is that of the late Minister of Home Affairs, who took an attitude from which he had to recede, and not by any means gracefully.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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