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Wednesday, 5 November 1913


Senator OAKES (New South Wales) . - In reply, I merely wish to point out that, in moving this motion, I am perfectly within my rights, as our .Standing Orders empower us to give instructions to Select Committees. As a matter of fact, two or three honorable senators opposite complimented me upon having brought forward the motion. Senator Blakey welcomed it, and expressed the opinion that the fullest inquiry should be held into the case of Mr. Chinn. Senator Newland spoke in a similar strain, and so also did Senator Story. Other honorable senators, while giving their support to the motion, have cavilled at it. Senator de Largie made a personal attack on myself, which I propose to ignore.


Senator de Largie - The honorable senator cannot afford to ignore it.


Senator OAKES - I can afford to ignore any insulting remarks, because they always recoil on the head of the person who makes them. The honorable senator said that this was a put-up motion, and that I never intended it should be reached. He declared that it was simply a party move. . Let me give the Senate its history, with a view to showing whether his statement contains even a grain of truth. On the 27th August last a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn. Although Senator Senior said that the Government supporters objected to the appointment of that Committee, we voted for ib, because no division was taken. What, then, becomes of the statement that the Government opposed the motion"?


Senator de Largie - So they did.


Senator OAKES - As a matter of fact, honorable senators opposite took the business of the Senate out of the hands of the Government. On 24th September - nearly a month later - I gave notice of this motion because of the trend which! the inquiry was taking. I have studiously avoided making any insinuations in regard to the action of individuals. This is not the time or the place to discuss evidence or the motives which may actuate individuals. Before I tabled this motion the newspapers stated that after Senator de Largie had put about twenty leading questions to Mr. Chinn, Mr. Starke, when he endeavoured to cross-examine the witness upon his replies, was prevented from doing so. "When the Senate agreed to the appointment of a Select Committee it intended that the inquiry conducted into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn should be of the most complete character. The case has become a notorious one, and the public demand the fullest information regarding it. On the strength of the newspaper reports I gave notice of this motion, because I believed that if the Committee had decided to curtail the inquiry the Senate should tell it that the whole of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Chinn's dismissal should be investigated. I deny that there has been any move, either by individuals or by the Government, to bring this motion forward for party purposes. When it appeared upon the business-paper, on the 1st October, it stood at the head of the list. Government business, however, intervened, and the Government refused to allow me an opportunity to move it. An asterisk was then placed against it, and I' have since learned that when an asterisk is placed against business upon the paper it means that there is a permanent objection to that business being proceeded with. In the State from which I come the appearance of an asterisk against any motion merely indicates an objection for one night, otherwise it might be regarded as formal. I then withdrew the motion, as I had no chance of reaching it, because Senator Rae had three or four motions in advance of it.


Senator Needham - Senator Rae said that he was willing to postpone them.


Senator OAKES - I do not believe that. I do not deny that Senator Rae made the statement, but I knew that he was not so simple as to allow me 'to reach my motion when he had four or five proposals in advance of it. I then gave notice of the motion for the 9th October. The Senate did not sit on that day. On the 22nd October, when it again appeared on the business-paper, there were four motions ahead of it. I managed to secure the premier position for it on the businesspaper to-day, when Government business again intervened. I do not say that Senator de Largie secured the adjournment of Government business and then got this motion called on when I had left the chamber. That may be a mere coincidence. No doubt when he saw me walking through the chamber door he realized that there was an opportunity to get Government business postponed, and to have this motion called on. Fortunately, I was within call. Otherwise he would have been -able to exclaim, " Why is not Senator Oakes here? Why does he not proceed with this motion?" All that I ask is that the fullest inquiry should be held by the Select Committee into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator Rae would not have achieved its purpose, because its concluding words affirmed that if the money were not forthcoming there could not be any complete inquiry into the matter.


Senator Rae - I say that it is impossible to get the necessary evidence in the absence of the requisite monetary provision.


Senator OAKES - Then why perpetuate the farce of proceeding with the inquiry now? Senator Rae's amendment meant a complete negation of the Committee's proposal. If honorable senators think that I have any ulterior motive in submitting the motion, I ask them to vote against it.


Senator Rae - By way of personal ex:planation, I wish to say that Senator Oakes has attempted to cast a doubt upon my willingness to forego priority of place to some motions which stood in advance of his the other evening. When those motions were called upon I there and then offered to move their postponement in order that the honorable senator's motion might be reached. I did so in the hearing of several honorable senators.







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