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Wednesday, 16 November 1910

Senator LONG (Tasmania) . - I wish to avail myself of this motion to explain that I was out in the gardens adjoining the building this afternoon when rhe division was taken on the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Legislative Powers; Bill, and the bell that usually warns honorable senators that a division is about to take place did not ring. That is the reason why I was not present to record my vote on that very important measure. I wish also to take advantage of this opportunity to explain an incident that has been made a good deal of in Tasmania, in a way which reflects upon the Labour party as a whole. When Senator Symon was speaking the otherday he said, amongst other things, that he had little hope of being able to change the opinions of honorable senators on this side. I jocularly interjected that he might change our opinions, but he could not change our votes, and mentioned that he had probably heard that before. My reference was to an old story with which, probably, most members of the Senate are conversant. A Conservative member of the Imperial Parliament who had sat for the same constituency for a great many years was asked if, during his lengthy service, he had never heard a speech from a Liberal member that had made him change bis opinions regarding Liberalism. His reply was, " Yes, I have heard many speeches that have changed my opinions, but I have never heard one that has changed my vote." My interjection has been used in the press in different parts of Australia to suggest that the members of the Labour party are bound hard and fast. It is contended that, no matter how eloquent and. convincing arguments from the other side may be, they cannot in any circumstances change the votes of honorable senators on this side.

Senator Rae - The difficulty is to make an interjection appear to be jocular.

Senator Givens - We shall have to instruct the Hansard reporters to mark jokes as jokes.

Senator Pearce - They have sufficient to do in unravelling the jokes.

Senator LONG - The Hansard staff have already sufficient work to do without asking them to do what Senator Givens suggests. The fact is that there are times when jokes are dangerous, and possibly this was one of them. I make this explanation in justice to myself, and other members of the Labour party in the Senate. I am quite sure that Senator Symon fully appreciated the interjection, and that, in common with other members of the Senate, he was thoroughly conversant with the old story which I revived.

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