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Wednesday, 5 November 1913

Senator GARDINER - Every honorable senator who votes for the motion will affirm that Mr. Chinn is placed upon his trial to prove his professional reputation. If we do that, we must, in common justice, afford him every opportunity to vindicate those qualifications. That will mean calling as witnesses, not only the authors of the testimonials which I have read, but the professional men with whom Mr. Chinn has worked in our different cities. That gentleman will realize that he - is fighting the big moneyed interests.

Senator Oakes - Does the honorable senator suggest that moneyed interests put the words into Mr. Deane's mouth which resulted in Mr. Chinn's dismissal?

Senator GARDINER - I say that moneyed interests put the honorable senator here.

Senator Oakes - That is very good sidetracking.

Senator GARDINER - I grew too heavy for side-tracking a long time ago. For twelve months there have rested on the tables of this Parliament testimonials which justified Mr. Chinn's appointment. In his reply, Senator Oakes should give us strong reasons for doubting the genuineness of those testimonials, or he is not justified in expecting us to sanction a big expenditure to undertake the extended inquiry which he suggests. If he merely wishes to gain a passing advantage for his party, I am not interested in Mr.

Chinn. I have never seen that gentleman, nor have I spoken to him. I do know, however, that the attacks which were made upon his character by Mr. Fowler and Mr. Hedges in the last Parliament were unprecedented in any British Parliament. The decision of the Judge who was appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into Mr. Chinn's case is worth reading. The report of the proceedings of that Commission will be found in. the Melbourne papers between the 1st February and 6th February, of the present year. It is a remarkable fact that, although that Commission was appointed by the late Government in response to clamant demands by members of the then Opposition, there is not a document in this Parliament to show that it ever sat.

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - - Does the honorable senator mean to say that the official report is not to be found on the table of the Library?

Senator GARDINER - I do. I applied to an officer of the Senate for it to-day, and I was told that the only information I could get was from the newspapers. That is a position which ought to be remedied without delay. The late Government appointed that Commission because, if the charges which were preferred against Mr. Chinn contained even a scintilla of truth he was unfit to remain in the Public Service of this country. I rose chiefly to point out to Senator Oakes that - although he may not have been aware of it - Mr. Chinn is highly recommended by the people who are best qualified to recommend him in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. He holds the highest possible references. I am pre-' pared to accept those references, because T believe them to constitute a true record of his work. In my opinion, any man of ordinary ability could prove himself competent to fill the position from which Mr. Chinn has been recently discharged. Because I believe that he is competent and that his qualifications need no further inquiry into them, I think it would be a needless waste of public money to put him in the position of having to prove his efficiency by the evidence of witnesses drawn from -all quarters of the Commonwealth. I shall, therefore, vote against the motion. I am not afraid of the Ministerial party saying that I have opposed the motion for party purposes. I have been connected with my party for over twenty years, and have always voted according to the dictates of my conscience. I shall continue to do so. When the parting of the ways comes, I shall be prepared to leave organizations or party if anything that I am required to do conflicts with my conscience. I am certainly not going to be frightened from doing what I believe to be right by the statement that I am making a party move. I shall vote against the motion, because the subject has already been inquired into by a gentleman whose fairness has never been questioned. If Senator Oakes is not prepared to accept that verdict, let him give some reason why the taxpayers' money should be further expended to prove something that no one with any knowledge of the facts questions. There is no reason why the motion should be agreed to, and I regard the action taken in bringing it forward as simply another example of the twisting which has earned for the Ministerial party an unenviable reputation for being willing to slander, for party purposes, even to the extent of striking at a man's personal and professional character.

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