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Thursday, 10 October 1912

Senator GIVENS (Queensland.) . - When the sitting was suspended, I was about to quote from the Bundaberg Mail, which was at the time the organ of the party with which Senator St. Ledger was associated, theremarks ofthe Mayor of Bundaberg in introducing the honorable senator to a meeting. I do not think it will be suggested that the Bundaberg Mail would twist anything that was said to the honorable senator's disadvantage. . I have already put on record the reports of those remarks which appeared in the Bundaberg Star of the same date. I quote the following from the issue of the Bundaberg Mail of 2nd November,1906 -

Of Mr. St. Ledger, he might say that he had had a varied political career., but felt no doubt that he would be found quite able to explain his peculiar position to the meeting.

I go a little further, and say 'that Mr. Duffy would have been justified in saying insetad of "a varied political career," a variegated political career. "When I call into the witness-box Senator St. Ledger himself, and another distinguished member of his party, in the person of Mr. Duffy, who was at the time Mayor of Bundaberg, and chairman of the meeting referred to, I fail to see what grounds the honorable senator had for the mock heroics with which he tried to repel my remarks. I am aware thatthe honorable senator has questioned the truth of Mr. Duffy's remarks, and a debate upon the matter previously took place in the Senate, in which he said that there was no justification for Mr. Duffy's remarks, and repelled them with indignation. You, sir, as , a private member of the Senate-

Senator St Ledger - Need the honorable senator drag the President into this ?

Senator GIVENS - I am dragging into it a member of the Senate, as I have a perfect right to do, in order to prove the facts. In your private capacity as a memberof the Senate, you, at the time referred to, sent a copy of Hansard containing Senator St. Ledger's remarks upon Mr. Duffy.

Senator St Ledger - Who did that?

Senator GIVENS - Senator Turley.

Senator St Ledger - I did not know that until now.

Senator GIVENS - If the honorable senator did not know, it is entirely his own fault, because it is on record in Hansard. At page11911 of vol . 46 of Hansard, you, sir,are reported as having said -

I wish to say this for Mr. Duffy.He has always been a straightout honest opponent of the Labour party. I sat with him in the Queensland Parliament for some years, and I know' that, although he was opposed to the Labour party, he was always candid in bis statements, and told us so. As I have said, I sent a copy ofHansard to Mr. Duffy.

If Senator St. Ledger did not know of that, the fault must be his own, as it is recorded in Hansard.

Senator St Ledger -I had forgotten it.

Senator GIVENS - You, sir, went on to say -

I sent a copy of Hansard to Mr. Duffy, and promised him that 1 would use the letter which he sent me in reply. The following is his reply, dated 7th November, 1907 : - " Your letter of the 28th ult. duly 'reached me, and the copy of Hansard referred to is also to hand. " There is no truth whatever in Mr.St. Ledger's statement that my defeat at the 'late election was due to his attitude re my remarks relative to his wobbling propensities. In fact, the St. Ledger incident was only a nine days' wonder, and I was complimented by both friends and foes alike on speaking so plainly, and thus giving the public of Bundaberg an idea of the class of . man that was seeking their suffrages. " Mr. St. Ledger himself was no flabbergasted with my remarks that all 'he could say in reply was to thank me for anopportunity to explain his peculiar conduct."

I say that it was very peculiar. We have had many instances in Australian politics of men belonging to one political party at one time changing their opinion, and subsequently becoming members of another party.. We had Sir Samuel Walker Griffith as the leader of a political party in Queensland, at one time bitterly and violently opposed to Sir Thomas McIlwraith as the leader of the opposing party, and later these two gentlemen joined in the formation of a Government. I could quote innumerable such instances; but I have never known of a case in. which a gentleman who changed his political views in that way was not subsequently absolutely ashamed of the fact that he had wobbled and had gone back 011 his previous conviction. The trouble with Senator St. Ledger is not that I am not recording these things in Hansard to remind him of the past; it is with his own conscience, which is so evidently pricking him. The one saving thing about the honorable senator is that he appears to have the grace to be ashamed of himself.

Senator Chataway - The only politician with a conscience.

Senator GIVENS - I have not so far accused Senator Chataway of having a conscience. I have nothing to add to what I have said as a justification of the re- marks which I made a few days ago, and to which Senator St. Ledger took such violent exception. I have quoted the statements of people who are not Labour men, but who were of exactly the same way of political thinking as Senator St. Ledger himself. I have quoted the honorable senator's own previous remarks, and I say now, emphatically, that it was well recognised amongst the State Labour party of Queensland in1899 - and I was then a member of the State Parliament - that Mr. St. Ledger, as he then was, only required a reasonable prospect of successfully contesting a seat on behalf of our party to come into the party.The honorable senator may have had entirely opposite opinions, and may have been utterly opposed to our views, but I say that his conduct was to lead members of the party, and especially their leader, the late Senator Anderson Dawson - who is, unfortunately, no more - to believe that we had only to open our arms and, metaphorically, Mr.St..Ledger would have fallen upon our bosoms. As I have already said, if I were a very religious man, and much given to devotional exercises, I should go down upon my knees ten times a day and thank God that the honorable senator did not succeed in doing so.

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