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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator VARDON - Yes. He professes a very great deal, and quite right, too. But if Senator Needham objects to that term, I will say Senator Henderson. I am not prepared to admit that the statements of Senator Henderson upon this matter are justified. The Minister of Defence, in reply to an interjection, stated that the redistribution scheme which is now under consideration is not altogether a satisfactory one. But he gave no reason why it is unsatisfactory. He did, however, say that he did not think the unsatisfactory portion of it warranted the Government in turning it down. Three Commissioners were appointed for the purpose, of redistributing the electoral divisions of Western Australia. They know the country well. I suppose that Mr. Stenberg knows it as well as does anybody. They have gone carefully over it with a view to securing an equal quota for each division.

Senator Needham - There are other men who know the country just as well as they do.

Senator VARDON - I do not deny that. But it has been said that this ought not to be a party question, and with that view I entirely agree. I do not view it from a party stand-point. I confess my ignorance of the electoral divisions which are proposed. But the Commissioners were appointed for the purpose of going into this matter, and, so far, I have not heard anything which would warrant me in turning down their report and referring it back to them.

Senator Lynch - Must their reports always be accepted as satisfactory?

Senator VARDON - I do not say that. But the honorable senator has not proved that their report is unsatisfactory. Before I vote for the rejection of the scheme I require evidence that the Commissioners have made a serious mistake, and that in the divisions which they have proposed they have not. considered the principles laid down for their guidance. In their report they state that they have conformed to the Act, that they have taken into account the duties which they have to perform-

Senator Givens - And their ability as prophets.

Senator VARDON - I do not know that Senator Henderson is any better prophet.

Senator Henderson - I may be quite as good.

Senator VARDON - Senator Henderson has not convinced me that the Commissioners have made a mistake.

Senator Henderson - I never hoped to do so.

Senator VARDON - That is a tribute to the unsatisfactory mental condition which the honorable senator has reached, because I am at all times prepared to fairly consider any argument which may be advanced. I have considered the statements made by tha honorable senator, but he has utterly failed to show that we are justified in saying to the

Commissioners, " Take back this report and go over your work again." Before we refer their report back to them, we ought to know why it is unsatisfactory.

Senator Rae - So we do.

Senator VARDON - Then the honorable senator has hot told us why it is unsatisfactory.

Senator Givens - Because it is based upon such an unreliable quantity as the ability of the Commissioners as prophets.

Senator VARDON - The prophecy does not suit one gentleman; perhaps it does not suit his party. I do not know.

Senator Lynch - Anyhow, this party is split over the matter, and that is more than the honorable senator can say of his party.

Senator VARDON - I do not know how a single senator on this side intends to vote on this motion, nor do I care.

Senator Givens - You will have to come to the rescue of the Government, and give them a vote for once.

Senator VARDON - I intend to vote with the Government, because, so far, no honorable senator has given me a sufficient reason for voting against the motion. There is no reason why I should discount the report of the Commissioners. I have no evidence that they do not possess the necessary ability to do the work. This report, it seems to me, was compiled very carefully. I think that the Commissioners did their work conscientiously, and with a desire to carry out faithfully the duties laid upon them. I am not prepared to send back their report unless I am shown that that course is absolutely necessary.

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