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Friday, 1 May 1931

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I direct attention to certain statements attributed to the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) in a speech at Port Adelaide on Monday night last. In the Melbourne Herald of the 27 th April, there appeared the following report : -

Speaking at the Port Adelaide Town Hall he (Mr. Theodore) made another bitter attack on the Senate and upon the banks. He said that Nationalism, with its Senate majority, still determined the legislative action of the Commonwealth. The Senate consists mainly of unconscionable tories - puppets of vested interests. Until we get control of the Senate we cannot effect the will of the people.

Senator Ogden - Why advertise him?

Senator PAYNE - I am not giving the Treasurer an advertisement. My purpose is to tell him, through the press of Australia, that I, as one member of this Senate, strongly resent his action in descending so low as to make an attack upon the members in this branch of the legislature, who have been elected, not by one section, but by the majority of the people in the States which they represent. The Treasurer would have the public believe that he and his party have a mandate from the people to do just what they like in this Parliament.

Senator Dooley - But is it not a fact that the honorable gentleman and his friends represent those interests ? .

Senator PAYNE - We represent the majority of the people in the States from which we come, and our mandate is just as definite as the Treasurer and his party may consider theirs to be, todo what we believe is in the best interests of the Commonwealth. I also remind Mr. Theodore that, although he was Premier of Queensland for many years and was never tired of talking about his mandate from the people, during the whole of that time Queensland always returned senators opposed to his policy.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It may be mentioned also that his government never had a majority of the electors behind it.

Senator PAYNE - Exactly. The position is entirely different in this chamber. Honorable senators are elected by a majority of the electors in each State, and when we remember that in the case of the Senate it is not possible to jerrymander the electoral boundaries, since each State is polled as one electorate, we should be proud of the fact. Another point to be remembered is that it is our duty to legislate in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. In view of these facts it is deplorable that at a time like this a Minister occupying such a prominent position in this Government should go out of his way to indulge in purely electioneering speeches.

Senator Ogden - What is the use of advertising him?

Senator PAYNE - I am not advertising the Treasurer. In any case if the honorable senator is prepared to take lying down anything that Mr. Theodore says, I am not. It is about time that his statements were challenged. I deemed it necessary to bring this matter under the notice of the Senate, and wish again to express resentment that Mr. Theodore should have so little regard for the status of his office as Treasurer of the Commonwealth as to indulge in utterances of this kind.

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