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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator BUZACOTT (Western Australia) . - I congratulate Senator de Largie upon having brought this matter forward, not, as Senator Sayers has suggested, for the purpose of whitewashing Mr. Chinn, but rather for the purpose of insuring that one of our Commonwealth officers shall receive that justice which he has neither the opportunity nor the power to obtain for himself. During the past few weeks the press of Australia has had: a good deal to say in connexion with Mr. Chinn's appointment, and complaints have also been made, principally by opponents of the Government. The charge has been laid at the door of the Ministry that Mr. Chinn was appointed to his present office on account, not of his professional abilities, but of _ his Labour principles. I was surprised and disappointed this afternoon to hear the Leader of the Opposition - finding that he had no argument to advance in refutation of the material which had been submitted by Senator de Largie - sink so low as to say, regarding certain statements, " They may be true, or they may not be true." I regret that any honorable senator should speak in such a manner concerning another honorable senator, or that he should insinuate-

Senator Millen - I did not make the insinuation against Senator de Largie at all.

Senator BUZACOTT - I am sorry if I am misinterpreting the honorable senator. I understood him to make the charge against Senator de Largie, and if he did so I sincerely regret it. When I entered the Senate I held a very high opinion of this Parliament, and one which I should be reluctant to sacrifice.

Senator Millen - Without wishing to curtail the honorable senator's time, will he allow me to say that I intended no reflection upon Senator de Largie, or upon any honorable senator who used documents here this afternoon.

Senator BUZACOTT - The Leader of the Opposition condemned the Government for not having appointed these engineers, and declared that Mr. Deane appointed them. I claim that the Government should have appointed the engineers "of this railway. They are responsible to the people for the carrying out of that work, and next year they will have to answer to the electors for these appointments. It is manifest, therefore, that the Ministry should have appointed Mr. Chinn. The Leader of the Opposition also stated that the only papers which appeared on the file in reference to Mr. Chinn's appointment were testimonials from Labour Ministers in Western Australia. May I direct his attention to the fact that on that file there also appears a reference from the Honorable J. G. Foulkes, ex-M.L.A., for Claremont, who is not a Labour Minister.

Senator Henderson - And never will' (be.

Senator BUZACOTT - In that reference, Mr. Foulkes states that Mr. Chinn brought about reforms in the railway service of Western Australia which saved that State at least ,£100,000 per annum. The Honorable W. J. Butcher, another ex-M.L.A., and a hide-bound Con:servative, makes a similar statement. The file also contains references from the Honorable W. T. Loton, and Mr. Randall, exSpeaker of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, both of whom are strong opponents of the Labour party. If the Fusion party affirm that Mr. Chinn's appointment is a political job, they must admit that they had more to do with it than had the Labour party, because that gentleman has more references from the former than. he has from the latter. He has only three testimonials from members of the Labour party, whereas he holds about fifteen references from members of the Conservative party. The papers submitted by Senator de Largie this afternoon will, I am pleased to know, be circulated throughout Australia per medium of Hansard, so that the public will have aft opportunity of learning that the charge which has been levelled against Mr. Chinn is absolutely groundless - that as an engineer he possesses high qualifications, and that as a man the utmost reliance can be placed in him. Regarding the objection which has been taken to the appointment of men who hold Labour views, I hope that in future the Government will give preference - all other things being equalto such men. Other Governments have adopted this rule, and the present Ministry should follow their example. I should like to know why consideration should not be extended to Labour sympathizers by a Labour Government in the same way that consideration has been extended by the Fusion party to men who sympathize with their views? I am very pleased that this matter has been brought forward, and1 I am certain that this debate will be productive of a great deal of good.

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