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Thursday, 20 November 1913

Senator OAKES (New South Wales) . - As a representative of New South Wales in the Senate, I very strongly protest against the action of Senator McGregor. I wish to put the case from my own point of view, apart from any party feeling. We are senators assembled here on behalf of Australia, not on a population basis, but on a State basis, with six members from each State in the Union. We are brought here from all parts of the Commonwealth to transact the business of Australia, and there is a properly-constituted Government in power, with representatives in this Chamber. Necessary legislation has been passed in another place, and it is now for us in this Chamber to deal with it; but it seems that, because in this Chamber the numbers are against those holding the same views as the party in the majority in another Chamber, the business of the Commonwealth is to be held up - till when ? Can Senator McGregor tell us when this farce of moving the adjournment from day to day will cease 1 Yesterday we took it as a protest, and as an opportunity for honorable senators opposite to assert their principles - and numbers, perhaps - but to-day we have the same thing; and this may go on from day to day as long as the Senate meets here. The public of Australia will be perfectly entitled to look upon these proceedings as nothing but a waste of time. We ought to discharge our duties as long as there is a properly-constituted Government in power. No one can gainsay that Mr. Cook is in power constitutionally, and no one can gainsay that he is carrying on business under a serious handicap and odds. He is in office by the will of the people. The fact that my honorable friends are on the other side of the chamber is a proof that Mr. Cook is the properly constituted Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. A majority in the other branch of the Legislature have enacted legislation which has now been forwarded to us for review. In these circumstances, are we to take up the stand that we refuse to discuss it ?I strongly protest against the course of action which has been taken by the Leader of the Opposition.

Senator Long - I rise to make a personal explanation. The pair-book shows that during the absence of Senator Keating I had paired with him, but on consulting the Whip of my own party he suggested that another pair should be found for that honorable senator. I make this explanation in order that honorable senators opposite may not think that I have violated my promise.

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