Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 4 November 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I desire to intimate to the Senate through you, Mr. President, that it is not the intention of the Opposition to discuss this Bill or the next one on the businesspaper. In making that announcement I take the opportunity of stating briefly the reasons which have induced the Opposition to arrive at that decision.

Senator Stewart - Have the Opposition had a caucus meeting ?

Senator MILLEN - The decision has not been arrived at lightly, but after a serious and exhaustive consideration of the whole position as it presents itself to the minds of those who sit upon your left. The reason why the Opposition have decided to take this course is briefly as follows : We recognise - we are bound to recognise - the absolute futility of any efforts that we may put forward, not indeed to defeat, but even to amend, the measures that are now presented to us.

Senator Rae - Hear, hear.

Senator MILLEN - We also recognise, however, that the hopelessness of our efforts would not in itself justify, us in maintaining silence. We recognise that there is a responsibility and a duty thrown upon an Opposition, and that responsibility was never greater and that duty never so serious as is the case to-day. But for the proper discharge of the duties of an Opposition it is essential that there should be certain given conditions - those conditions which invariably mark the proceedings of a deliberative Chamber. We have come to the conclusion - rightly or wrongly - and T desire to say this without offence to anybody - that this Chamber to-day has ceased to present the features which entitle it to be regarded as a deliberative assembly.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator cannot say that without offence.

Senator MILLEN - I am saying it without the intention to be offensive.

Senator Barker - The statement is a reflection on the Senate.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator may think so. I would ask, as the Opposition is taking a new departure, to be allowed to make my statement without interruption. I was saying that in the mind of the Opposition the Senate has ceased to possess those features which entitle it to be regarded as a deliberative assembly. Consequently, to our mind, there is no use in continuing deliberations in it. The causes which have brought that about-

Senator Rae - I rise to order.I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator further than to ask you, sir, whether it is competent for any honorable senator to state what Senator Millen has just said, that this Senate has ceased to present the character of a deliberative assembly?

Senator Barker - That is his opinion only.

Senator Rae - I wish to ask for your ruling - the question ought not to be settled lightly - whether it is to be permitted -to go out to the world uncorrected that this Senate is no longer a deliberative assembly? " It appears to me that it is a deliberate insult to the Senate to make that statement.

Senator Millen - May I point out that I was merely explaining what was in the mind of the Opposition?

Suggest corrections