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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - I have listened attentively to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, but, as I do not pose as a financier, I shall not attempt to criticise them. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that we have not time to seriously consider the Estimates contained in this Bill. I say that we have. I would like to go home this afternoon, but if the Senate should decide to adjourn at 4 o'clock, and to continue the session next week, I will, if my health permits it, be present again on. Tuesday. It does not matter to me what Government may be in power, I take up precisely the same position. Of course, Senator Gould is annoyed because of some of the legislation which has been enacted during the session which is now about to close. He has fought hard against that legislation, and, consequently, I am not surprised that he should feel annoyed. But I may tell him that, in South Australia, the progressive land tax, which, apparently, he cannot forget, has already had the effect of causing several large estates to change hands. Some 30,000 odd acres of most excellent land have recently been sold to the Labour Government of that State.

Senator Vardon - The same thing has been going on for some time.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But the honorable senator will not tell me that it has been going on at the same rate. We have shaken up the large land-holders there. What troubles Senator Gould is the fear that, if we require more money for defence purposes, we may impose a stiffer land tax. I am proud to be a supporter of the pre-, sent Government. To say that I am bound by the Labour Caucus is to talk the sheerest nonsense. I am only bound by my hustings pledges of four years ago. I am not bound by the same platform as are members of the Labour party who were elected to this Parliament only a few months back. I differ from them in. the matter of defence, and in other matters ; but I am prepared to stand or fall by my pledges to my constituents. It is well known that in the Caucus which has been so much referred to we have nothing to do with matters outside the platform of the party. My object in rising was not to make a speech, but to test the sincerity of our Conservative friends opposite. If they are prepared to go to their respective States to-day, and return to the Senate on Tuesday next to carry out their duties in connexion with these matters, there is no reason why they should not do so.

Senator Vardon - I, for one, am not going to waste any more time.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not blame Senator Vardon for that. He has been most regular in his attendance. I cannot say the same for some other honorable senators opposite, but I shall not mention their names. They will be known a little later on, but I may say that the lawyers have been conspicuous by their absence. I hope that the attitude I intend to take up is clearly understood. I saw Senator Millen personally on the matter, and told him that, so far as I am concerned, if he is determined to adopt the attitude he suggested, I am prepared to stand behind him. He said he would wait and see what transpires at lunch time. I have only to say now that if honorable senators who have been blaming the Government for not giving them an opportunity to discuss the Estimates are prepared to force the hands of the Government, 1 shall make one to assist them.

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