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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - It is not my intention to stand forward in any way as an apologist for the Government. That is not my function at any time, and I do not intend to do it now. The condition of the business-paper discloses the reason which has induced the Government to bring forward this motion. They are not prepared to submit business for transaction in this Chamber at the present time. In the circumstances, what is the sensible thing for us to do? Should we come here next Wednesday and adjourn immediately, after spending a more or less fruitless half- hour in questioning Ministers? Is that a purpose for which we should be called together ? I regret, as every other honorable senator must do, that Ministers have not seen fit to apportion the work of the session more evenly between the two Houses.

Senator Givens - If we always consent to a motion for adjournment, we shall be continually asked to do so.

Senator MILLEN - I am not prepared to bite my nose off to spite my face. I do not propose to penalize myself and my fellow senators by compelling them to come here for nothing. Our trouble arises, as has been pointed out by previous speakers, because it is, perhaps, not unnatural that a Minister should desire to father his own Bills. The result is that, as we have only one portfolioed Minister in the Senate, we are handicapped by the fact that many measures are introduced in another place which under the Constitution might be introduced here. That is a state of affairs which began with the Federation, and has continued until to-day. It will continue until the dominant party in the Senate takes up a firmer attitude on the matter than it has so far been disposed to do. I should be delighted if Ministers would recognise the necessity of more evenly apportioning the work of both branches of the Legislature. It would lighten our labours, and tend to a more careful consideration of legislative proposals. Under the existing system they are brought to. us in a heap towards the close of a session, when frequently under the pressure of time we are compelled to pass them with insufficient consideration. After all, we have to accept this motion, or remain here next week to mark time. What is the practical thing for sensible men to do ? There is only one answer to that question, and I therefore intend to support the motion.

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