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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In the absence of the leader and acting leader of the Opposition, I may be permitted to echo the sentiments of the Prime Minister. It is generally supposed that if a Speaker has a leaning one way or another, it is in the direction of the powers that be; but I should like to say, on behalf of the Opposition, that we feel as fully as the Prime Minister does the fairness with which you, sir, have held the scales of political justice. No occasion has occurred in the history of this Parliament, and certainly of this session, in which any honorable member on this side has had reason to doubt the absolute justice and impartiality of your decisions. We acknowledge not only your justice, but your great patience and consideration for those who in moments of anger or disappointment may have sometimes exceeded legitimate limits. We feel as the Prime Minister does, not only regard to yourself and the Chairman of Committees, but in regard to the great assistance and care, beyond what is demanded of them, of the Hansard staff, and also in regard to the officers of the House. It is scarcely in my province, I think, to join in the congratulations of the Prime Minister on the splendid legislation which he claims to have been passed. There is some of it to which we should feel inclined to take strong exception; but the Prime Minister 'and his colleagues are quite entitled to enjoy those congratulations, seeing that they_ have fathered most of the measures which the House has passed. It is a matter for great congratulation that, although the House has passed through a trying experience in this session - I was not here myself to see it, but I know from experience of five-and-twenty years what it must have been, because I have fought and slept through many nights in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales - in view of the trouble there has been over certain measures, it is matter for congratulation that the House is now dispersing with such goodwill amongst all its members. There is apparently not an atom of- personal ill-feeling between the members of one side and the other ; and it augurs well for our work next session that we should be parting now on such friendly terms.

Mr SPEAKER - I should like to say, if I may be allowed to do so, that I am exceedingly obliged to the honorable the Prime Minister and to the honorable and learned member for Parkes for the words which they have spoken. I can only add to those words these : .That no Speaker would ever be able to do his duty in the Chair unless he felt he had the support and confidence of the House. That support and that confidence I have always felt that I have had, and in their. possession I have studied to do the best I could for the advancement of the business of the country, in fairness to all those who are members of the House. I would like to add a word or two in recognition of the very excellent help rendered to me by the Chairman of Committees, whose aid during the recent prolonged sittings enabled me to pass through hours of great strain. The good work of the officers of the House is known to us all, as is the good work of the officers of the Hansard staff. There ore some persons connected with our duties here who are engaged in offices upstairs. They are not seen, but they have also done very much to facilitate the work of the House in She preparation of its records. To the messengers .of the House I am sure our very best thanks are also due. I may say that, in response to many requests made to me privately by honorable members, and in response also to some remarks uttered' on the floor of the House, arrangements have been made tq double 'the usual .leave pf absence granted to these officers of the House during the coming recess, as some slight recognition of the efforts they have put forth. I shall be pleased now, if I may be permitted to do so; to wish all honorable members the compliments of the season.

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