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Wednesday, 1 October 1913

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - I do not wish to unduly weary the Senate by replying at great length to the vain discourses to which we have listened from honorable senators on the other side. As an earnest of this, perhaps I am justified in asking leave at this stage to continue my remarks tomorrow.

Senator Findley - No ; let us get some work done.

Senator McGregor - We are eager for work.

Senator BAKHAP -I do not feel indisposed to continue if honorable senators opposite are inclined to honour me by listening to my remarks in closing this somewhat protracted debate. They have said a good deal in denunciation of the Liberal party as a whole. The Liberal tree has been denounced root and branch. I remember that Senator McGregor, who was one of the first speakers on the motion before the Senate, connected the Liberal party of Australia with the times during which the Saxon churls had brazen collars put around their necks. The honorable senator tries to make the Liberal party now in power responsible for the collar placed upon the neck of Gurth, the bond thrall of Cedric of Rotherwood. He tried to make the Liberal party responsible for some lessons in humility, to which he took exception, and which were inculcated upon his youthful mind when he attended Sunday school. He said that he had been taught to bear himself well towards his superiors and all in an exalted station in life, but the honorable senator misconstrued the lessons of humility he received, and denounced the Liberal party, because he misconstrued those lessons of Christian doctrine. Another honorable senator, who is not a great authority upon anything, accused the Liberal party of having included me in its ranks because I happened to be more or less an authority on matters Chinese. We have been treated to a remarkable dissertation by the Honorable William Hughes, who occupies an exalted position in the Labour party in another place. The honorable gentleman has taken to himself very great merit because the Labour section in this Chamber, which is here in considerable numbers because of the accidents of political time and chance, has been pleased to make a House so that the business of the Senate may be conducted. We thank honorable senators opposite for nothing in this regard. If they do not think that it is part and parcel of their duty to attend here to enable the business of the country to be carried on, we are not going down on our knees to implore them to do so. I invite them at any time they please to take advantage of their numbers, and, emulating their comrades in another place, to go outside and have the Senate counted out.

An Honorable Senator. - Very good; wewill take the honorable senator's advice.

Senator BAKHAP - I invite them to do that at any time, and leave it to the tender mercy of the electors to sneeze their heads into the basket of the political guillotine the first time they have the opportunity toput the machine into operation. One of the leaders of the party opposite has assumed merit for the party because honorable senators, in the pursuance of their undoubted duty, attendhere and help us to transact the national business in this Chamber of Review of the National Legislature. I do not accord them any merit in this regard. If they so misconstrue the duties of their position as to refuse to help to make a House in order that public business may be transacted, I am prepared to leave them in due time and season to the electors of the Commonwealth. We are not at any time going to bow before them and thank them for having been so gracious as to assist us in carrying on the business of this Legislature.

Senator Long - What business?

Senator BAKHAP - Honorable senators have invited me to continue my remarks in order that this lengthy debate may be brought to a close.

Senator Long - Does the honorable senator call that business}

Senator BAKHAP - If they do not care to remain here and assist they can go outside. I thank them for nothing. The situation is this: The Labour Administration had for three years a continued political existence derogatory to itself and useless to others. It is so that the electors of Australia considered it when they had the opportunity to express their opinions on the 31st May last. The Liberal Administration was given power, with a slender majority, it is true. And the fact that we are few in number in the Senate is continually alleged against us as a crime. I think I may quote the historic line by a national poet which is placed in the mouth of one of his immortal heroes: " The fewer men the greater share of honour." Although we are few in number, we will certainly do our honest best to transact the business of the Commonwealth on legitimate lines - on lines which we believe will be fruitful in rich results to the welfare of the people of Australia. It is true that the Liberal majority is not a large one.

Senator Ready - I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]

Senator BAKHAP - When one of my colleagues called attention to the state of the Senate I had stated that the Government majority is in truth a slender one, but when we remember that the majority ' enjoyed by the Labour Administration in another place previous to the 31st May was annihilated by the electors after three years of rule, during a period of prosperity unprecedented in the. history of the Commonwealth, I think that impartial, political critics will concede that a very rich result was achieved by the Liberal party, and it could not be expected, seeing that the Labour majority of from nine to eleven had been extinguished, that a large Liberal majority could, in addition, be secured. In the circumstances, the Liberal victory was a most pronounced one, and I venture' to say that nobody in Australia was more astonished at the very considerable victory achieved by the Liberal party than was the Labour party. As a proof of that fact, I may point out that these gentlemen were so confident of victory that they neglected to exercise in due time and season favorable to themselves that political patronage which they had the power to exercise by virtue of being in possession of the reins of national Government. The ex-Minister of Home Affairs, and, I understand, the high priest of religion, the Honorable King O'Malley, acknowledged this when he said that a great mistake had been made, that three good jobs had gone, that the Labour party, because it anticipated victory, had neglected to make the appointments to the Inter-State Commission. The very fact that he acknowledged that three good jobs had gone is illustrative of that amount of political self-confidence which was felt by the members of the Labour party in general, and by the members of the Labour Administration in particular, prior to the 31st May. I am not going to say very much in regard to contemplated amendments of the Electoral Act. When the Electoral Bill comes here we shall have an opportunity to discuss all matters incidental to the carrying out of elections in Australia.

Senator Long - I desire to call attention to the state of the Senate.

A quorum not being present,

The President adjourned the Senate at 10.17 p.m.

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