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Thursday, 20 October 1910

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The interjections have become continuous, and I remind honorable senators that every member of the Senate has a right to be heard in silence, and that those who are interjecting are entitled to speak on the Bill for themselves.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not suppose that any honorable senator objects less to interjections than I do, but I am obliged, sir, to you for your interposition, because I do object to utterly irrelevant interjections. I must be allowed to repeat my opinion that this Bill will promote class feeling. I say that it will do so because it will inflict injustice upon individuals. I feel more strongly about its. effect upon the community-. I regret exceedingly to have to believe that it will promote a state of things in Australia which may go from bad to worse. If our people are willing to peacefully submit to the operation of a Bill which will inflict injustice in many cases, 1 say that the spirit of injustice is likely to spread. There is no tendency more dangerous than that towards selfishness in human nature. What do we hear to-day? I hear it from men of my own class, if honorable senators please, just as from all sorts and conditions of men, " Yes, of course, it is grossly unjust to so-and-so, but it does not touch us." If that sort of spirit spreads in this community it must work ill for Australia. I venture to say that if this land tax is received without protest, the result will be most disastrous. Once a spirit of toleration of injustice arises in any community, that community must fall, and it ought to fall. I feel as little disposed as any man to adopt such a counsel of despair. I believe that men in Australia will not consent to tyranny and injustice merely because it does not touch themselves. I believe that one effect of this tax will be to create that form of unselfishness which indignantly resents injustice to some one else. Our people will not remain indifferent and callous whilst individuals in the community are being treated with gross harshness, and if this Bill in its operation serves to arouse them, then in spite of the manifest injustice and hardship which it will inflict, some good may follow from it.

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