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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

The PRESIDENT - Order !

Senator DE LARGIE - I wish to state that the testimonials which I have made public were presented by Mr. Chinn when he made his application, and the Minister's reply was, " I take up this position. If you are able to prove yourself an efficient engineer, I shall regard that as far better testimony to your work than any written testimony could possibly be "-

Senator St Ledger - Nobody doubts now that Mr. Chinn is an engineer.

Senator DE LARGIE - He is an engineer of ability, as is proven by these testimonials. The honorable senator cannot prove otherwise. I have given the authority of men of undoubted standing in the engineering world as to the competency of Mr. Chinn. We have testimony as to his private character from Sir John Madden, who speaks of Mr. Chinn as a gentleman who has been personally known to him for many years, and as a man of high integrity and good professional standing.

Senator Vardon - Has the honorable senator a testimonial from Mr. Justice Hood?

Senator Findley - That is the second time Senator Vardon has said that.

Senator DE LARGIE - If honorable senators opposite, who are prepared to make insinuations, are game to do so, let them stand on their feet like men and do so. They should not sit like so many cowards and make charges which they dare not rise and make in a straightforward way. It is a pity that when these testimonials were presented to the Minister, he did not take copies of them, that they might have been on record from the date of the application. But they are here now, and have been in existence for years. A remark was made in another place expressing surprise that Mr. Chinn did not think it necessary to put all his testimonials on record. That may have been due to his modesty. Though, it was suggested in another place that he had not such a thing about him as modesty, it is quite evident that Mr. Chinn had splendid documentary evidence to prove his capacity, and did not consider it necessary to produce it. Another statement made is that Mr. Deane did not approve of the appointment of Mr. Chinn, but a reference to the file of papers connected with the appointment will show that Mr. Deane recommended that Mr. Chinn, with other engineers, should be appointed.

Senator Vardon - Will the honorable senator read that recommendation? .

Senator DE LARGIE - Yes. This is the letter and' certificate, for it is both -

Memorandum to the Secretary, Department of Home Affairs.

The question of the selection of engineers in connexion with the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway has received my earnest consideration, and, after conference with the Minister, I recommend . the following appointments : - Messrs. G. A. Hobler, F. W. T. Saunders, and H. Chinn, each with a salary at the rate of£750 per annum.

H.   Deane,

Engineer-in-Chief for Railways.

Senator Millen - What is the date of that?

Senator DE LARGIE - That memorandum is dated 14th February, 1912.

Senator Millen - Read the memorandum of the 6th February.

Senator DE LARGIE - What I have read is sufficient. Mr. Deane did recommend the appointment of Mr. Chinn to the Minister, so that I have nailed another lie to the counter. I have now convincingly disproved all the cowardly innuendos which have been hurled against this gentleman. If I belonged to a party which made such charges, and which declined to withdraw them when they were shown to be absolutely false, I should feel thoroughly ashamed. All these accusations were made for political purposes. Their authors were ready to' take away Mr. Chinn's character and to cast any sort of aspersion upon it, merely for party purposes. They were prepared to indulge in all kinds of scandal for the sake of scoring a few political points. That is a mean and vindictive attitude for anybody to adopt.

Senator Vardon - His appointment was a political job from beginning to end.

Senator DE LARGIE - Singularly enough, one of the two men who made these charges has notoriously practised political patronage all his life. He has never been known to appoint to a. position any person other than a " pal." Even in connexion with the appointment of justices of the peace in Western Australia, he showed, bis palpable bias.

Senator Givens - To whom does the honorable senator* refer ?

Senator DE LARGIE - The name of the gentleman is well known, and only the rules of debate prevent me from mentioning names, and thus making my exposure complete. Never in that gentleman's history has he been known to appoint a Labour man to any position. The present Government have removed that " boycott," hence all this hue and cry. But, having removed it, I hope that in future men holding Labour views will receive a fair deal in connexion with all appointments which require to be made. Mr. Chinn is possessed of very high engineering ability. If the attack upon him had been confined to his professional qualifications, it would not have been qf so mean a nature as it is. But an attempt has been made to cast aspersions on his private character, and it is the duty of those who know him to defend him from such aspersions. I am pleased, indeed, to have this opportunity of placing upon record testimonials which cannot be challenged - testimonials which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Mr. Chinn's private character is good, and that his engineering skill is all that can be desired. I hope that, in future, before any attack is made upon an officer appointed by the Government to any position, their critics will have some ground for their attack. I have shown that, in this case,, they have none. Their only excuse is that Mr.

Chinn is a Labour man. That fact we admit. But surely he has as good a right to be a Labour man as has anybody elseWas it necessary for him to obtain the consent of our political opponents before hecould become a Labour man? I say that he has as much right to hold Labour views as others have to hold Fusion views. The Labour party can take credit to themselves for having freed the civil servants of the Commonwealth from the political thraldom to which they were subjected in the past. In the future I am glad to say that they will not be victimized in any shape or form because of their political views.

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