Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 21 November 1913


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) . - A very few words will be sufficient for me on this occasion. I repeat the request which I submitted to the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, inviting him to state, for the guidance of the Senate and the Government, and for the information of the country, whether it is his intention, speaking for his party, that the procedure repeated for the third time today is to be continued indefinitely until the Government and the other branch of this Legislature are willing to accept direction from this Chamber as to the methods by which they shall conduct their business. I have told the Senate, and I repeat the statement to-day, that the Government, having adopted their course of action, and that course of action having been approved by the other branch of the Legislature, refuse to be coerced by any resolution adopted at the instance of my honorable friends opposite. There is a clear statement of the position the Government take up. We are entitled, in return, to ask the Opposition an equally clear statement as to their intention. I should like to say, in addition, that if , the course taken so far by my honorable friends opposite has been taken with a view to make a protest against what they consider an irregularity in the conduct of public business, there was a very simple method by which such a protest might have been placed on record without bringing public business to a standstill. The protest would have been equally effective, but much less destructive of the public interest, if a motion had been passed here expressing the views of my honorable friends' opposite. Instead of adopting that course, which I venture to say would have met the requirements of their case, as stated by themselves, they have thought fit to adopt an entirely different course, which means that the whole of the public business for which this Chamber has been brought together, and for which the Parliament exists, is to be brought to a standstill. Why? Simply because the Government, acting with the authority of a majority in another place, will not arrange their businessaccording to the ideas of my honorable friends opposite. I venture to saythat no more preposterous and outrageous proposition was ever put forward in any other second Chamber anywhere. It would be impossible for men having any idea of what is implied in the term " responsible government " to listen to such a suggestion, much less to be influenced by such a threat.


Senator de Largie - Responsible government!


Senator MILLEN - Yes, responsible to the other House. Let me repeat that. With a full understanding of what the Senate stands for, and a due recognition and appreciation of the responsibilities intrusted to it, I say that responsible government, as I understand it, means that the Government are responsible to one branch of the Legislature, and in our case that must be to the House of Representatives. The attempt made by the dominant party in this Chamber is a stretching out to take control, not merely of the Executive, but of the other House as well. I should like very much indeed to hear Mr. Fisher and other leaders of the party opposite stand up before the country as those who justify a Government taking their orders and instructions from this branch of the Legislature rather than from the other. That is the position with which we are faced to-day. So far as the present Government are concerned, they will be no party to it, nor will they depart in the slightest degree from the course which they have mapped out for themselves, and which has the approval of a majority in another, place, by any action of the kind proposed to be taken here to-day.







Suggest corrections