1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Papers relating to the refusal of certificates of domicile to three Chinese residents of the Northern Territory.
Further papers relating to the admission of certain boiler-makers under contract into Western Australia.
Memorandum by the Treasurer, relating to the payment of rebate of excise laid on Australiangrown sugar by white labour.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Tho answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The amounts voted were not allocated amongst the States. Estimates of the actual requirements of the various States were submitted to Parliament, and the expenditure was charged to the States in which it was incurred. When compensation is made to the States for property transferred, the amount of this expenditure will be included.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice’ -
In the case of the officer in charge of the Princess Royal- Battery at Albany, Western Australia, who without authority allowed Japanese - officers from visiting warships to inspect the fortifications, what punishment has been inflicted upon the officer ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
This matter has been, referred to the Commandant of the Commonwealth Forces of Western Australia (or a full report
– I beg to move -
That the Senate do now resolve itself into a committee of tho whole for the purpose of considering and adopting the standing orders re- ported to the Senate by the Standing Orders Committee on the 9th of October, 1901, with amendments recommended by the Standing Orders Committee in special report presented to the Senate 4th June, 1003.
It will be remembered that previous to the first meeting of the Senate, a code of standing orders was framed for temporary adoption, and that it .was afterwards slightly amended, and laid upon the table in the amended form on the 23rd May, 1901. A motion was made for” its temporary adoption on the 5th June - that is soon after the appointment of the Standing
Orders Committee. The matter was discussed then, but the Senate was not prepared to discuss the standing orders at length, and was not disposed to adopt them without discussion. It, therefore, referred the whole matter to a small committee, who were asked to consider the standing orders used in the States Parliaments, and to bring up on the following day a report recommending the adoption of one set of standing orders. It was pointed out that it would be almost impossible for any committee to perform the task in that short time. But, however, on the next day, the Committee brought up a report recommending the temporary adoption of the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia, and, with a few exceptions, they were adopted. The Standing Orders Committee afterwards held a number of meetings extending from Juno to nearly the end of December, and, in October, the draft standing orders, as amended and recommended by that body, were laid upon the table of the Senate. It was proposed that they should be adopted by the Senate as a temporary expedient. But that course did not find favour with the Senate, and, consequently, we have been acting since June last under the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia. In one respect, perhaps, that course may not have been a disadvantage, because we have become during that time thoroughly well acquainted with the standing orders under which we have been working, and can regard them now as a point of departure in adopting new standing orders. It will be noticed in considering the standing orders now before the Senate, that the side-note says that the)7 are, to a large extent, taken from the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia. But it does not follow that these particular standing orders have been adopted by the Committee without reference to the standing orders of other States. In a great many States “the standing orders of the various Legislatures are almost identical. But where a standing order is practically the same as that which we have been working under since June, 1901, reference is made in the draft to the standing, order of the House of Assembly of South Australia, and not to the standing order of any other State, though it may be actually identical. I hope that we shall be able, as the result of our efforts now, to evolve a code of standing orders that will allow the fullest possible freedom of debate to all members of the Senate, and at the same time not leave any opening for unnecessary discussion, or for what may perhaps be called a waste of time. Up till now I think it will be agreed by all that our debates have been well conducted. We have dealt fully with every subject that has been brought forward, and at the same time we have been able to keep our debates within reasonable limits. I think that that will happen also under the new standing orders. I propose to glance, briefly only, at the new standing orders, and to point out what appear to be amendments of the standing orders under which we have been working for so long. I cannot tell the Senate the reasons which have actuated the Standing Orders Committee in their recommendations, as I was not a member of that body. But I have no doubt that the members of. the Committee and you yourself, Mr. President - whom I notice as having been asked to take charge of the report in committee–
– Where does the PostmasterGeneral notice that?
– In the report of the proceedings of the Committee on page 16. The reference there I take to mean that you, sir, as the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, will, in the course of the debate, explain to us, where necessary, the reasons that actuated the Committee in the alterations they made.’ I am glad, also, to see from their report that the Committee communicated with the Standing Orders Committee appointed by the House of Representatives with a view to secure uniformity, as far as possible, in the standing orders of the two Houses, and that that result has been arrived at in most cases. It would put us in a somewhat stronger position if the Committee were able to inform us that they and the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives had been able to come to an agreement in all cases. I have had occasion, in my cursory glance at this report, to refer to particular orders in which the other House is particularly interested ; and I think it would have been a great advantage if the Standing Orders Committees of the two Houses could have come to an agreement upon those matters. The greater number of our standing orders have to do with the internal work of this Chamber only, and in regard to them we should, perhaps, be justified in resenting any assistance that might be offered from outside. But in regard to standing orders which, by their nature, necessarily bring us into contact with the other Chamber, it would have been an advantage if we could have had agreement. Without it we may by our standing orders practically compel ourselves to take a certain line of action which may bring us into conflict with the other Chamber. In those matters it seems to me that it would be a wiser, and, perhaps, almost a more courteous thing to delay coming to a decision until such time as the subject could be discussed thoroughly with the corresponding body appointed by the House of Representatives. I shall refernow only to thealterations which have come particularly under’ my notice, and make such observation as may . appear to me to be pertinent to the subject as I go along. The first chapter, honorable senators will notice, deals with the proceedings at the opening of Parliament. That is merely an embodiment of the practice that has been adopted in the past, and which, probably, we shall follow, as we naturally follow a precedent wherever we can even if we have no standing orders on the subject. When we come to discuss that, I may have to refer to one or two matters which at the present time are not quite clear to me, but there appears to be nothing calling for serious objection. When we come to chapter 2, I shall ask honorable senators to direct their attention io Standing Order 25, in which, I think, there is an innovation. I am not prepared to say - and in this matter and others I am not in the counsels of the Committee - that it is not perfectly right; but it appears to me, from my knowledge of the proceedings in the particular State from which I come, that this provision is an innovation. I refer to the provision that the President, in presenting the address in reply to the Governor-General shall claim in the name of the Senate “the right of free and direct access and communication with His Excellency.” It may be merely a trifling matter of form, but under the practice to which I have been accustomed the Speaker and, I think, the President, ask that the most favorable construction shall be put upon the actions of the Chambers they represent. The proposed form is somewhat new to me, but I have no doubt that the members of the Committee will be able to tell us why . it has been adopted. Standing Order 26 will raise the question whether our sittings constitute a continuous Parliament, or whether at each election of the House of Representatives, and of half the Senate, a new Parliament commences. In’ the State with which I have had the most acquaintance, the proceedings of the Legislature are divided into separate Parliaments. After every general election there is held to be a new Parliament. If that be so in our case, this session is the second session of the first Parliament, and the next session will be the first session of the second Parliament. The question will arise whether we can take power in our standing orders to bind by an act of ours a future Parliament. That is a matter upon which I invite discussion. There is nothing to which I have to call attention in chapter 4. In chapter 5, Standing Order 36, the Standing Orders Committee deal with the Printing Committee. At the end of that standing order power should be given to confer with the similar committee of the House of Representatives. In the matter of printing more than anything else, it is desirable that the Committees of the two Chambers should confer and act together. I will give one instance of the desirability of so doing. In the laying of papers upon the tables of the two Houses, and . in getting them printed, we are in this difficulty. . Though we have made an arrangement that papers, wherever possible, shall be laid simultaneously upon the tables of both Houses, we may have each House giving a separate order that papers shall be printed ; in which case technically duplicate prints of a paper will have to be issued. For instance, to-day I have laid some paj)ers on the table of the Senate. Those papers have already been laid upon the table in the” House of Representatives. Seeing that the House of Representatives got them before we did, they probably have ordered that those papers shall be printed. I did not ask for any such order to-day in the belief that a similar order had been made in the other House, but in case it should not have been made, we might be wanting a paper and find that it had not been printed and circulated because no order to print had been obtained from either House. It is desirable that in these matters the two Printing Committees should confer, and that there should be a close understanding between them in order to insure that, whenever a paper was required to be printed, it should be printed by order of one House and circulated amongst the members of both. That would prevent the possibility ‘ of papers which were not required being printed at all, or the other possibility of papers which were required not being printed, although they were laid before both Houses simultaneously.
– What power does Standing Order 35 give 1
– There is power to confer. under that standing order, and also under Standing Order 34, but not under Standing Order 36. I presume that that is only an inadvertent omission. An alteration will have to be made in Standing Order 38 in consequence of the passage of the Electoral Act, which provides for a different method of dealing with disputed returns. Honorable senators will see that an Elections and Qualifications Committee will still be necessary in order to deal with matters respecting the qualifications of senators, or vacancies in the Senate, or the case of any senator who has been appointed but not elected. So that the proposed standing order will require to be somewhat amended.
– The necessary amendments has been made in the new standing order which the Committee has circulated.
– I believe a suggestion for an amendment is made in a special report which is to be considered together with the one we are now discussing. Standing Order 48, chapter 8, which deals with motions for leave of absence to senators, provides that a motion is not to be debated.
– A motion of the kind was debated last session on the initiative of the Postmaster-General.
– That only shows how careful we should be in making the proposed alteration. We ‘ can conceive of cases in which it would be desirable to, at all events, say a few words on a motion of the kind.
– The standing orders could be suspended.
– But in framing standing orders we endeavour to avoid the necessity of suspending them. We require that our proceedings shall always be governed by the standing orders, and, to that end, in such a task as that in which we are now engaged, we try to avoid leaving any ground for suspension. Chapter 9 deals with the sitting and adjournment of the Senate, and Standing Order 59 deals with motions for adjournment, in which I am inclined to think is a very fair and proper way, so as to provide for occasions when a senator desires to debate any specially urgent matter. In suc*h case the senator has to state that the subject which he desires to debate is a definite matter of urgent public importance ; and four senators have to rise in their places to support . him. The senator then has the floor of the House, and by the next standing order the duration of the speeches is limited. These standing orders - deal with a matter which may be considered, because it brings into operation certain regulations with regard to the right of moving the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing grievances. In chapter 10, which deals with the routine of business, a little alteration will have to be made in regard to Ministers fixing the order of Government business. As the standing order under this head reads, it applies only to days when the Government business takes precedence, but, of course, exactly the same reason exists on ordinary as on special days for the Government putting their own business on the notice-paper in the order they desire. For instance, on Fridays, when private business finishes at one o’clock and Government business comes on after the luncheon hour, it is just as important that the Government should be able to fix the order of their own business as it is on any other day. Chapter 16 deals with the “previous question,” which, I think, could have been moved in this Chamber before under the rules of the House of Commons, though it was not specially provided for in our standing orders. It is now provided for in accordance with the practice that obtains in most Parliaments. Chapter 18, which deals with divisions, provides that the President or Chairman may vote wherever they may be sitting ; and this clears up a little difficulty which arose last session.
– Perhaps it would be better to say that this standing order is intended to clear up a difficulty.
– On my reading of the standing order it will prevent any difficulty arising in the future. There is an important alteration in chapter 19 with regard to public Bills. In this chapter it is provided that a public Bill may be brought in if necessary on an order of the Senate. I presume that to mean that -where a resolution has been carried in. favour of the introduction of a Bill, with a second resolution, practically instructing the Government to bring in the Bill, that shall be considered sufficient without further formality. It means, I take it, that such a Bill can “ be brought in by the Government at any time, the resolution being regarded as the order of the Senate. Standing Orders 1S1 and 1S2, which deal with first readings, contain an innovation which seems to have become necessary in consequence of the constitution of these two Houses. We have been accustomed to have the Estimates laid on the table, and an opportunity has generally been taken for discussing those Estimates on the second reading of a Supply Bill, though strictly speaking, according to the standing orders, a second reading discussion should be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. The two standing orders to which I have referred provide that on the first reading of a Money Bill there may be a debate, which need .not be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. I presume that that is intended to be exactly the counterpart of the debate which takes place in the other Chamber on going into Committee of Supply, when there is a general discussion of grievances, according to an old practice handed down from time immemorial. Standing Orders 235 and 23G deal with lapsed Bills, and there again, I think, will arise the question as to whether the sessions of Senate are to be regarded as those of one continuous Parliament t or of separate Parliaments - that is, when there has been no dissolution. I take it that though these standing orders will enable a Bill not passed in one session to be revived in another, they will not admit of a’ measure which has failed in one Parliament being revived in another Parliament without going through the necessary preliminaries. However, that is a matter which no doubt will receive attention when it arises in committee. Standing Orders 242 to 249 are amended by the special report, and to these I desire to direct particular attention. These standing orders deal with the action of the Senate in connexion with Bills which we may not amend. The whole question was debated last session, and it will be remembered that the Senate then pressed a request a second time ; and another place, in order that the Bill might be passed, and to avoid the possibility of a dead-lock, agreed to deal with those requests, though under some sort of protest. What is proposed now is to fix our practice, to say that we may make such requests three times, and that if they are not assented to we may then demand a free conference. I think I am right in saying that the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives have not agreed to that course, and are probably not likely to agree to it ; and I ask the Senate to consider very carefully, in dealing with this matter, whether we are justified in taking the step now proposed, and, if justified, whether it is policy to do so. If we have regard to the past we may be pretty well sure that if we follow the practice proposed we shall bring ourselves into conflict with the other House. Honorable senators may say that we must do what seems to be right and take the chance of conflict. But is it necessary for. us, when there may be a possibility of coming to an arrangement with the other Chamber, to lay down our practice beforehand 1 To fix our standing orders in this way is to practically lay down a binding rule compelling ourselves to take a certain course of action which we know will bring us into conflict with another place. Why cannot we leave the matter as it was last session 1 Why not wait until the time comes, and then deal with it according to our best lights ?
– Then the House which had the advantage would fix the procedure.
– When the particular question arises ?
– Surely that would be done after full consideration, and probably after some kind of conference? What is proposed now, before there is any question actually at issue between the Chambers, is that we shall decide the matter for ourselves without any reference to the other House. Is that likely to promote peace between the Chambers? It will place the other Chamber in the position that, unless they submit or agree to whatever rule we lay down, they must adopt some other practice which will bring them into conflict with us. Is the other Chamber more likely to meet us fairly if we take advantage of this opportunity to lay down a hard - and - fast rule for ourselves ?
– We had better adhere to the Constitution, and, if necessary, send the Bill back twenty times.
– That is the way in which the honorable senator reads, the Constitution, and, if that be a correct reading, what need is there for us, by means of the standing orders, to put ourselves under compulsion to take a certain line of action before any contingency arises 1
– The other House agreed to that practice last session.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. On that occasion the House of Representatives passed a resolution to the effect that, while it was not conceded that the Senate was justified in sending a request a second time, they would, in order to get on with legislation, deal with the Bill.
– It was a sort of concession “ without prejudice?”
– Exactly ; it was a concession “ without prejudice,” in order that the Bill might be passed. It seems to me desirable that, if possible, this matter should be arranged on a consultation or conference of the Standing Orders Committees of the two Houses. It does not tend to peace, but exactly the reverse, to take this occasion to assert that in future, when any question arises, the Senate will take a certain step. It is shutting the door to any peaceful negotiations between the two Houses, when we put our foot down and declare - “We are going to do this, and the other House will have to follow us and make their standing orders fit with ours.” I am sure the Committee will consider this matter very carefully. Chapter 22 deals with select committees; and Standing Order 303 provides that no protest shall be recorded. That, I presume, will do away altogether with the practice of adding riders. I do not know what is the objection to riders, because very often a select committee brings in a majority report and a minority report.
– That is never done by a select committee.
– I thought it was; at all events in another State select committees have frequently taken that course. The last words of the standing order are -
A senator objecting to any portion of the report shall propose his amendment at the time’ the paragraph he wishes to amend shall be under consideration, but no protest or dissent shall be added to the report.
The President tells me that that is not a novelty, but it certainly is a novelty to me.
– It is a novelty upon the practice in South Australia.
– I know that in connexion with the proceedings of select committees in another State, members of such a committee have been in the habit of adding their protest to the general report in the form of a rider. All the sections of chapter 23 as originally drafted come out, and other sections 316 to 319 are substituted. These are alterations which have been made necessary in consequence of the passing of the Electoral Act. In chapter 26, dealing with conferences, I notice that Standing Order No. 340 provides that -
There shall be only one conference on any Bill or other matter.
I should certainly like to hear reasons against allowing, possibly, a second conference. When there is a dispute between the two Houses we shall all desire to come into accord somehow or other, and if, one conference having failed, a second might succeed, I do not know what objection can be urged against it. Chapter 34 deals with the conduct of senators and rules of debate. The standing order I desire particularly to refer to in this chapter is No. 393, and I am afraid that I have myself been offending against that standing order several times this afternoon. It is the one which provides that a senator shall not turn his back upon the Chair. I am afraid that I offend more often against that standing order than against any other. The President understands, I am sure that I do so out of no disrespect to the Chair. The offence against the standing order arises really from the formation of the chamber, and the place in it which I occupy when introducing or speaking upon a measure.
– The honorable and learned senator has abundant excuse, be cause there is no such standing order in any other Parliament in the world.
– I do not rely upon that, but it is certainly exceedingly difficult, especially if interjections come from my right, to reply to them without to a great extent turning my back upon the Chair. I desire merely to draw attention to the standing order. The important amendments in this chapter appear to me to be those dealing with motions, and providing that there shall be no debates upon certain questions. They embody, I think, to a great extent the practice which we have already adopted in debate. For instance, no debate is allowed upon the motion “That the Senate do now divide.” That is a standing order which we have adopted before, and most of these standing orders in this chapter appear either to accord with the practice we have been following up to the present time, or are taken from the practice of the House of Commons. This chapter also deals with infringements of order and privilege, and provides punishments which appear to me to be rather stringent, but I suppose that in certain circumstances they would be justifiable. In matters of this sort we have to rely greatly upon the officer presiding over the Senate, or over committees of the whole, and, of course, on the good sense of the Senate itself. I do not pretend that the remarks I have made are anything like exhaustive, but I think 1 have touched slightly upon the principal cases in which alterations have been made from the practice which we have been following up to the present time. I hope that when we have thoroughly discussed these matters, we shall turn out a code of standing orders under which we shall be able to transact the business in this Chamber satisfactorily, and keep the debates up to the high level which has so far been established.
– I should like to raise a point of order as to whether it is competent for the Committee to adopt standing orders. The motion reads -
That the House shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole for the purpose of considering and adopting the standing orders–
– That is adopting them so far as the Committee is concerned. Of course the Committee will report to the Senate, and unless the Senate adopts the report of the committee, or adopts it with amendments, the report of the Committee will of course have no effect. The Committee is only appointed to consider these matters in detail.
– I do not intend to follow the lead of the Post1 master-General, and indulge in a detailed criticism of the standing orders we are now considering, because it seems to me that such a criticism and consideration ought properly to take place in committee. It has been the custom in the Senate to debate Bills on their second reading, because all Bills are supposed to contain some principles. The details of these standing orders we shall, I suppose, discuss in committee. But when I read the orders of the day, and note that this matter is set down as . Government business, and then when I am referred by the PostmasterGeneral to the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee that the President be requested to take charge of the proposed standing orders in committee of the Senate, I can, I think, see some reason why the Postmaster-General has gone into a lengthy and detailed criticism. It is a novel thing to me to find a Government in the first place setting down in the orders of the day certain business as being Government business, and then immediately abdicating their position and allowing the President or any one else in the Senate to take charge of the proceedings when we get into committee.
– No ; we are not going to do that.
– I am very glad to hear it. That is just the assurance I desired to get from the honorable and learned senator. I am glad that the Government, having placed this matter amongst the orders of the day as Government business, intend to take charge of it in committee as well as before the Senate. Perhaps the chief reason for my rising to speak upon this motion is to remind honorable senators that no member of the Senate is more closely interested in the standing orders than our Chairman of Committees. He will be called upon to administer them, and, owing to the fact that he occupied the Chair as Chairman of Committees during the whole of last session, the honorable and learned senator will probaby be conversant not only with the standing orders under which we were then working, but also with the standing orders now submitted to us, because he has been a member of the Standing Orders Committee. But when we get into committee, Senator -Best, as our Chairman of Committees, will be debarred from discussing the standing orders now submitted to us. I think it is a very great pity that the honorable and learned senator should be under that disability. I therefore venture to make the suggestion that Senator Best should obtain leave from the Committee to speak when he thinks fit on any standing order. I think honorable senators will all agree that it is desirable that Senator Best should have that opportunity. I fail to see under what other circumstances, except by entering now upon a detailed criticism, Senator Best will be able to give honorable senators the benefit of the knowledge which he peculiarly must possess as to the desirability or otherwise of our adopting these standing orders. I hope the suggestion I have made will be adopted. I have said that I do not intend to examine the standing orders in detail now, because, as I have indicated, I think this is not the proper time to do so. I Can, however, assure the Postmaster-General that in committee I shall be prepared to give them as lengthy consideration as he has given them in the Senate, and to criticise them in detail quite as minutely as the honorable and learned senator has done. Having made that statement, it would not be fitting for me to proceed now with any criticism of the standing orders - and for that reason, and not because I have not many comments to make upon them, I refrain at present from further remarks.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I beg to move as an amendment -
That the words “and. adopting,” line 3, be omitted.
I should like to be allowed to say that I think it is not the province of the Committee to adopt these standing orders. If, as the motion states, the Committee is to adopt them, and we are then to ask the Senate to adopt them over again, we shall be making double work, which is unnecessary.
– I think Senator Higgs, in moving his amendment, is asking the Senate to take a new departure. It is the rule in all legislative bodies that no ^motion finally leaves the legislative chamber until a motion for its adoption has been passed. Before honorable senators are asked to depart from that rule, some stronger reasons than those advanced by Senator Higgs in support of his amendment should be submitted to them.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). It appears to me that the words “ and adopting “ are a mistake. I entirely agree with Senator Higgs. The Committee certainly do not adopt the standing orders, which are only put before them for consideration. The adoption is by the Senate afterwards, The words in this motion are surplusage, and it will be a great deal better to omit them.
– We could insert the words “ and report.”
– Certainly, if honorable senators like. But the motion as now framed does not express the truth, under the circumstances. We ought to ask the Committee to consider and report on the standing orders.
– I also think it is for the Committee to consider the standing orders and to make a report, and afterwards for the Senate to adopt that report. I am in favour of the amendment.
– Whether the word “adopting” or “agreeing” is used, it is much the same thing. The committee can only adopt standing orders so far as it is concerned. The Senate may throw the standing orders so adopted into the waste-paper basket if it likes. It seems to me nothing unusual to use the words “ and reporting.” All the clauses of a Bill have to be agreed to by a committee before it can report to the Senate, and therefore” it really adopts them.
– - The Committee will agree to the standing orders - which is equivalent to adopting them - and the Senate will adopt the report of the Committee. If a difference is made between “ adopting “ and “ agreeing to “ at the committee stage, then it will be necessary in the Senate to move first to adopt the report of the Committee, and then to adopt the standing orders, whereas, if the motion is left as it is, the Senate- will adopt the report of the Committee, and the whole business will be finished. I think it will be seen upon reflection that the motion is quite correct in form.
– I think it is quite obvious that it is not competent for the adoption of standing orders to finally rest with the Committee. No matter what word is made use of the intention of the motion is that the Committee shall consider the standing orders and come to a decision. The word “adopt” really means that the Committee shall come to a decision on the draft standing orders. Will any honorable senator suggest for a moment that if the standing orders were allowed to remain at that stage they would be the rules of the Senate? When the Committee makes its report it will be for the Senate* to adopt the standing orders, and it is only then that they will have any validity. I have to thank Senator Clemons for mentioning a matter which is more or less of a personal character. Necessarily, I take the keenest interest in the proposed standing orders. It is quite true that I was a member of the Standing Orders Committee for a portion of the time, and that we were not unanimous in the adoption of many of the standing orders. The general understanding was that we should reserve any discussion of details until the standing orders came to be considered in committee or in the Senate, as the case might be. There are certain standing orders to which I take exception, and on which I should be glad to be allowed the privilege of saying a few words, while there are certain others which I should be glad to see included. I realize at once that the consideration of these rules does not involve a party question, otherwise it would be most improper for the Chairman to take any part in the deliberations of the Committee. If, by reason of any little experience I can make any remarks which may be of value to the Committee - and the Senate accepts the view which has been expressed by Senator Clemons - I shall occasionally, if there is no objection, exercise the privilege of speaking on the standing order that is before the Chamber.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - PostmasterGeneral). - I do not think that any harm can result from carrying the motion as it is. I apprehend that Senator Higgs thinks that perhaps by a verv strained construction the use, of the words “ and adopting “ may mean that the standing orders will become law when agreed to in committee. Every committee is delegated certain authority by the Senate to consider the details of a measure or . proposal and to bring up a report: In this case each standing order must be agreed to. When the Committee shall have agreed to all the standing orders, then it will have adopted them as far as it could adopt anything. Its resolutions will be reported, and if they are agreed to the standing orders will be adopted by the Senate. I cannot see that any objection can be taken to the form of motion.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
– May I take this opportunity to thank honorable senators , for re-electing me to the position of the Chairman of Committees, and at the same time to express my deep appreciation of the honour which they have done me in that regard. I appreciate it as the greater compliment, by reason of the fact that honorable senators were good enough to pass the motion for my appointment as formal business.
Standing Order 1 -
On the first day of the meeting of any session of Parliament after a general election for the Senate and the House of Representatives, or after a general election for the House of Representatives -
If there be a President he shall take the chair.
The Clerk shall read the proclamation calling Parliament together.
– This, I think, is the proper opportunity to draw attention to an omission - which every honorable senator must recognise at once as being extremely unusual - of the resort that is had, practically sj>eaking in the Parliament of every civilized community, to the practice of the House of Commons in case of a difficulty arising. In ‘ chapter 1 of ‘its standing orders, under the head of the general rule and conduct of business, the House of Representatives provides that -
In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland.
I propose to move that a similar rule be inserted in these standing orders.
– That will not be an amendment, but a new standing order ; and it will have to be proposed after the consideration of the printed code is completed.
– At the proper stage, sir, I shall move the insertion of a new standing order to that effect.
– I intend to propose a series of amendments in this standing order. In- the first instance I move -
That the following words be inserted before paragraph (a): - “ The Clerk shall cause the Senate bell to be rung five minutes prior to the hour named in the proclamation.”
I propose the amendment as a matter of convenience to senators who may be assembled in the club-room or in the precints of the Chamber. Unless they receive a warning at some time they are apt to forget the hour in which the Senate is to to meet, and come straggling in after the ceremony is over.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I wish again to ask for the Chairman’s ruling. I propose to make an alteration, but I am not quite certain as to whether it takes precedence of the amendment moved by Senator Higgs. I may point out that this chapter of the standing orders mixes up two things - the proceedings of a new Parliament and those of a current Parliament. From my point of view, those two things ought to be divided. I know what is at the bottom of all this. What is in view is that ours is a continuous Parliament, and never ends. I hold that that view is not entirely correct, and, in any case, it is inconvenient. I wish to make Chapter I. deal with two separate things - (1) the proceedings of a new Parliament, and (2) the proceedings of any session of a current Parliament.
– I have no objection whatever to the amendment of Senator Higgs. It is a matter of convenience. But I strongly advise the Senate not to admit that a new Parliament is constituted solely by a dissolution of the House of Representatives. I ask the Senate to consider its own rights and its own position. If we do not be careful we shall have a great deal of difficulty about this question. If we look at the Constitution we shall see that the word “Parliament” has a certain meaning attached to it. Section 1 provides that -
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, the Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereafter called the Parliament, or “The Parliament of the Commonwealth. “
That is to say, the Parliament is a continuous body. There is no question of a new Parliament. There is no suggestion that the Parliament dies when the House of Representatives is dissolved. The Parliament is treated as a continuous body, and the Senate is part of the Parliament. In South Australia we had some difficulty on this question, and a contest nearly_ arose between the two Houses in reference to the words “ new Parliament.” We had to consider what those words meant 1 Did Parliament cease to exist and a new Parliament arise whenever a dissolution of one House took place 1 I strongly advise the Senate not to agree to any such proposal.
– How does Senator Baker propose to provide for a penal dissolution of the Senate?
– That takes place under the Constitution itself. The standing orders provide for it because in the case of a penal dissolution there would be an election for the House of Representatives. It is provided for, consequently, in Standing Order 1. This question was thrashed out by the Standing Orders Committee with great thoroughness. I also call attention to the additional fact that the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives thrashed it out, and adopted this standing order altered to meet their different position. So that we have the standing orders of both Houses adopting this course of procedure. It will be a great mistake if we use a word which we find in the Constitution in a different sense from that in which it is there used, and if we use it in a sense which will, imply that the Senate is not so much a constituent part of the Parliament as is the House of Representatives. I hope that the standing order will stand as drafted.
– I have been endeavouring to devise some means whereby I can meet Senator Clemons in his desire to move an amendment in this standing order I think that the proper course will be for Senator Higgs to withdraw his amendment for the time being, and then for Senator Clemons to move the omission of the words “ or after a general election for the House of Representatives.” He can test the question on those words ; but to carry out what he desires means a re-drafting of Standing Order 1, or of Chapter I. altogether.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the words “ or after a general election for the House of Representatives,” be omitted.
– It appears to me that the question in dispute hinges on the use of the word “ new “ - whether there is a new Parliament after the House of Representatives and half the Senate have gone before the country, and a general election has taken place. In South Australia we were in exactly the same position as are the Senate and the House of Representatives. For years our Legislative Council was practically a continuous body, so many of its members retiring at a certain- time and so many remaining, just as is the case here. But, for convenience, whenever there was a general election for the lower House we spoke of a new Parliament having been elected. We have numbered our Parliaments. If honorable senators turn to the records of South Australia they will see that reference is made to the first Parliament, the second Parliament, the third Parliament, and so on. I’ believe that the Governor in his opening speech alludes to the number of the Parliaments. The newspapers do, at any rate, in their accounts of the opening. Common usage has “prescribed that a new Parliament comes into existence after a general election. In South Australia, in our standing orders, we have separate clauses describing first the opening -of a new Parliament, in which there is probably a little more form and ceremony than on an ordinary occasion ; and, secondly, the opening of an ordinary session. I do not know that there is much in the point. It will not make a bit of difference. Of. course Parliament is a continuous body. There is no doubt of that. That is to say, it is supposed to be continuous, but it is not so in actual fact, because there ave intervals in which there is only a part of Parliament in existence. The lower House is occasionally dissolved, and an election takes place, and in the meantime there is really no Parliament in existence. In . our case, as the whole of the House of Representatives and half the Senate will go to the country, I think we may fairly speak of a new Parliament coming into existence after the elections. I do not know that there is any special reason why we should adopt a newstyle of procedure. In all the States the Parliaments are called new. Parliaments after general elections. It would have been better if the Standing Orders Committee had adopted the usual practice, instead of a new one, from which no- particular good can result, although I cannot see at present that it will do any particular harm.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I have thought that we sometimes too slavishly follow a body that is to some extent analogous to ours, but which is certainly not so altogether. We are not on the same footing as the British Houses of Parliament. We are a new body. We are a Federal Senate.- We have a certain analogy with the British Parliament, but only to a small extent ; and it is about time that we struck out and thought for ourselves, and adopted a phraseology suited to our own circumstances and conditions. I will admit that in most of the standing orders of the States the words “ new Parliament “ are used, because they have adopted the phraseology of the British Houses .of Parliament. But, as I have pointed out, that Parliament is differently constituted from our own. The House of Lords is different from this Senate. It must be remembered that the Scotch elective peers are elected for the Parliament - for the same period of time as the House of Commons. The Irish peers are, it is true, elected for life. But although the words “ new Parliament “ have been handed down in Great Britain for a long time, the time has arrived in our history when we may adopt a phraseology more suited to our circumstances, especially when the old phraseology implies a certain amount of subserviency on the part of the Senate to the House of Representatives.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - leannot help saying that Senator Baker is not the only man in this committee who recognises to the full and desires to see carried out the powers and privileges of the Senate. For that reason I, to some extent, resent the remarks which he has just made. I have risen, not because I do not understand or feel the importance of maintaining our privileges and rights, but to point out that this is simply an instance of confusion of thought, and, if I may use the word, of blundering. No distinction is drawn in this standing order between an ordinary session and a new Parliament. I shall adopt the term “ new Parliament,” with Senator Baker’s permission, to indicate that sort of Parliament which meets practically at the expiration of every three years from the time when we first met. That explains pretty well what I mean by a “ new Parliament.” According to Senator Baker’s position, that is not a new Parliament at all. But I would point out that between a Parliament which meets directly after a general election and a Parliament sitting in a session like the present one there is a considerable difference. This standing order mixes up the two hopelessly, and draws no distinction between an ordinary session like this and the meeting of a new Parliament. It is for that reason, and not because I am blind to the privileges of the Senate, or want to diminish its powers, that I have moved the amendment before the committee. I move it in the interests of lucidity and to avoid confusion of thought.
– I should like to ask Senator Baker what is the meaning of the words “ general election for the Senate and the House of Representatives’!” Are we to understand that what is known as a penal dissolution is referred to, or an election such as will happen at the end of this year, when half the number of senators will retire 1 What is the meaning of the term “ general election” as here used?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Perhaps it would have been better if the words “periodical election” had been used. Senator Pearce will see that the word “periodical” is used in a Bill that is before us, and there denned. When these standing- orders were drawn up the Bill had not been seen by any of the committee; in fact, the measure has been laid on the table only this session.
– I suggest that Senator Clemons withdraws his amendment temporarily in order to allow the word “ periodical” to be inserted.
– I have no objection.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) proposed -
That the word “ general,” line 1, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “periodical. “
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - In my opinion the clause ought to be redrafted in order to meet the circumstances pointed out by Senator Pearce. A periodical election, which under ordinary circumstances takes place every three years, is provided for in . the Constitution, and it appears to me that there is no necessity for the words “ or after a general election for the House of Representatives.” At an ordinary election about half of the members of the Senate go to the country at exactly or about the same time as the whole of the members of the House of Representatives, and therefore it may be argued that both Houses are then before the electors. Then there is a penal dissolution in which all the members of both Houses go to the country at the same time ; but some provision should be made for that contingency.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - What is provided for here is the meeting of Parliament after a periodical election for the Senate, or after a general election for the House of Representatives. If there is a penal dissolution there will be a general election for both Houses, and that also is provided for. If there is some additional election that does not alter the sense of the standing order, which seems to me to be quite clear.
– A little further on I was going to call attention to one or two matters in this chapter which are not quite clear to me. At present I only wish to say that the chapter appears to deal with every possible case of the meeting of Parliament, either after a general election, or after a periodical election of the Senate. We are now, it seems, dealing with the question as to whether Parliament is or ‘is not a continuous body ; but that question, I fancy has been evaded. It has not been settled, I take it, whether we are to divide our proceedings into different Parliaments.
– The question does not arise.
– To a -great extent in, these matters we are governed by ordinary phraseology, and are accustomed to speak I of a new Parliament, after each general election. That is an idea inherited in most of the States ; and in Queensland, for instance, each new Parliament is given a number, although it includes the Legislative Council whose members are nominated for life.
– That Legislative Council is different from the Senate.
– My point is that each Parliament in Queensland is after a general election called a new Parliament, although it includes the Legislative Council, whose members are nominees for life.
– Is it not called a new Parliament because the Upper House is a nominee House?
– I do not know whether that is the reason, but such is thefact. I think that this standing order has been framed in such a way as to providefor a Parliament meeting under all circumstances without deciding the question of whether or not it is a new Parliament.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).. - It would be better to postpone thestanding order and re-draft it. We ought to strike out the word “ general,” and conclude the paragraph with the words, “ or after a general election for the Senate and House of Representatives.” That would meet the case of a penal dissolution.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - Looking into the matter a little more closely, I see strong reasons why the Parliaments should be divided as suggested. There is an immense difference between the opening of a new Parliament and the opening of an ordinary session. In the former case there are no sworn members and no President, and Commissioners have to be brought in. Members have to be sworn and a President elected before the Governor-General comes to open Parliament. Although we should not follow slavishly everything done by either the mother of Parliaments or her daughters, we may see that there is a great deal of reason for this difference in the two forms of opening Parliament. At present we should confine ourselves to settling the form which the first part of the standing order should take. If we use the words “ periodical election,” and afterwards provide for a general election of the Senate and House of Representatives, the case of a penal dissolution will be met.
– In my opinion everything that is necessary is provided for in the standing orders, although for greater clearness the word “periodical” might be used. It is only in case of a dead-lock that the Senate has to go to the country along with the House of Representatives, and the standing order provides for such a contingency, although it is not stated in so many words.
– There may be a general election of the House of Representatives without a general election for the Senate.
– If so then certain things follow. But there must also be a general election when both Houses are dissolved, and it is provided that in such cases certain events happen.
– There is a certain vagueness about the standing order, and I fully realize the difficulty to which Senator Clemons has called attention. If the standing order be altered’ it should provide for an ordinary meeting of Parliament, and for a meeting after a penal dissolution. But the standing order is altogether silent as to the latter, and I suggest that it should provide for the meeting after a periodical election for the Senate, and a general election for the House of Representatives, “ or after a general election for both Houses of Parliament.” That would meet the case of a penal dissolution or of an ordinary general election for the House of Representatives, with a partial election for . the Senate. We do not stand in exactly the same position as the House of Representatives, seeing that our existence as a body is practically continuous, and, therefore, it is necessary to distinguish between the two Houses. I suggest that which seems to me to meet the difficulty, and to explain the difference between the two dissolutions.
– I am afraid that if we adopt the standing order as now proposed it will lead us into a dilemma in the future. If we assume the position that there is no end of Parliament, unless we have a double dissolution, and if the President is successful when he goes before the country next time, we shall, so far as he is concerned, be saved the trouble of electing a President. We shall have a continuous President. That may be an advantage. I agree with all that Senator Zeal has said upon the necessity of having a clearer definition. We should have a definition of what is a new Parliament. If not, we shall find ourselves in some such fix as I have indicated. I hope the matter will be left over for further consideration.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I am sorry to trouble the committee so often, but I must express a hope that honorable senators will not alter this standing order without due consideration. On the point raised by Senator De Largie, if honorable senators will look at the Constitution, they will find that the President can only hold office so long as he is a senator. When his term as a senator ceases he ceases to be President. Then, although at present we hope that the elections for the House of Representatives and for the Senate may take place at the same time, that they may not happen always. There may be a penal dissolution of the House of Representatives without a penal dissolution of the Senate ; the time also may come when the elections for the two Houses may not occur at the same time, and all that is provided for in this standing order.
– Is a double penal dissolution also provided for 1
– Yes, a double dissolution is provided for. I may tell honorable senators that when the standing order was first drawn, it contained the words “ after an election following on the penal dissolution of both Houses,” but those words were struck out as being surplusage. They are not necessary, because if there is an election for both Houses there must necessarily be an election for one. A general election for the House of Representatives must take place periodically, even although there is not a general election for the Senate at the same time. I think that the more honorable senators study the standing orders, the more they will see that every possible case is provided for. I shall say no more about it, because I have already stated my views once or twice. I think it is perfectly clear, and if any attempt is made to alter it without careful consideration, we shall only get into difficulties. If it is to be re-drafted, let the work be done by the Standing Orders Committee. I think it is very possible that if any attempt is made to re-draft it by this committee in a hurry, it will not be made nearly so clear as it is now.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - With all due respect to Senator Baker, I must differ with his contention. If Senator Baker, had to go to the country in the month of November of this year, and were elected, he would still be a senator, and even if he were defeated, he would remain a senator until the end of December. I would ask the honorable and learned senator to look at section 17 of the Constitution. The second part of the section provides that the President shall cease to hold office if he ceases to be a senator. Consequently, if the honorable and learned senator is elected when he goes to the country, and if that is before the end of his term, he will still be a senator, and consequently, under this standing order, he will still be President of the Senate.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia.) - This standing order incidentally touches upon the question as to the term for which the President of the Senate is elected - whether for three years or for six years. From the first part of the standing order it may be argued that if a President is elected he shall sit as President so long as he is a member of the Senate. If he is amongst the number of senators who have polled a higher number of votes it mav be arcued that he is entitled to retain the office of President for six years, and if he has to go for election with the first batch because he happens to be amongst the number of senators who obtain a lower number of votes, it may be argued in the same way that he has been elected President only for three years. I do not know whether it was intended when we elected the President that he should be elected for three or six years ; but this standing order pretty well fixes his election for sixyears.
– The amendment immediately before the committee is to strike out the word “ general “ with a view to insert the word “periodical.” Although I must confess that I cannot see that the standing order as at present drafted covers the contingency of a periodical election, the amendment proposed will hardly cover what is intended or desired by honorable senators. It is quite clear that the contingency may arise of a dissolution of the other House and the continuance of the. Senate. Another contingency may arise in which there may be an election of half of the members of the Senate at the same time as a general election for members of the House of Representatives. It seems to me desirable that the confusion which appears to exist in the minds of honorable senators should be cleared up by some in6isive language.
– If this standing order is to be reconsidered it had better be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee, and if it is to be postponed it would be as well, I think, to postpone the whole chapter. I should like, however, before moving the postponement, to draw the attention of Senator Baker and other honorable senators to a matter which I cannot quite understand at the present time. I understand that this chapter is designed to meet every possible case, to provide for cases where there is a President at the commencement of a session and for cases where there is no President. After the words “ if there be a President,” the procedure which shall take place during the opening of the session is set forth, and that procedure is the procedure which was followed at the opening of the present session, there being a President. But when we come to Standing Order 3 it states, “ The Senate will then adjourn,” and at that stage this session we did not adjourn. We did business after that, and probably should again desire to do business. Standing Order 3 seems to be correct in case there is no President. Honorable senators will see that reading. But the Senate does not adjourn when there is a President. This session we appointed a committee to prepare the address in reply after that, and we might possibly have gone on to consider the address in reply. That is frequently done, and it was done during this session in the other Chamber. But according to these standing orders, under circumstances exactly the same as those existing at the beginning of this session, we should have had to adjourn as soon as the senator who had been elected had taken the oath. We could. not have gone on with the address in reply. The practice here in cases where there is a President does not seem to be the same as the practice hitherto adopted. If the chapter is postponed for reconsideration I hope that matter will be taken into consideration.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Before the chapter is postponed, there is a question arising out of the first paragraph, which, I think, should also have the serious attention of the committee. Under paragraph (a) “if there be a President” it is provided that he shall take the chair, and “we are told that this standing order is intended to deal with the condition of things which arises after an election following a penal dissolution, and after an ordinary periodical election. We must contemplate, as Senator De Largie pointed out, that upon a penal dissolution every member of the Senate will cease to be a senator, and then this paragraph- (it) could not apply in the case of a senator elected after a penal dissolution, because there would be no President. The only case in which it would apply, if it applied at all, is in the case of a periodical election. I should like to know whether we assume here that the President is elected for the full term for which he is elected to bea senator. It would be as well for the Standing Orders Committee to take that point into consideration. According to my reading of the Constitution, his term of office as President is not there laid down. What is laid down is that if he ceases’ to be a senator he shall cease to hold office as President. He may cease to be a senator by resigning before the term for which he has been elected has passed. By ceasing to be a senator he would cease to be a President. By adopting paragraph (a) in its present form, it seems to me that we shall be admitting that our present President, who is one of the six-year senators I under existing circumstances, is to be President when the new Parliament meets after the coming periodical election. If that is the wish of the Senate, well and good. But it should be remembered that we are laying down the principle that a senator elected to be President is to remain President for the full term of six years. The contingency to which Senator De Largie referred must then be taken into consideration, and as each senator holds office until the 31st December, if he is elected at the periodical election he will not have ceased to be a senator at any time, and if the present occupant of the office is re-elected, the contention may be very well brought forward that he is the President. We ought to seriously consider whether the Constitution contemplated that the Senate had the power to bind its successor in the election of the President. It seems to me that, under these circumstances, the only occasion upon which the Senate could possibly elect a President would be after a penal dissolution.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That Chapter I. (Standing Orders 1 to 1G) be postponed.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not agree with those who have said that this standing order deals with the position of the President at all. Certainly, if there is no provision in the standing orders for the President’s term of office it might be construed to be so. When we come to deal with the next chapter we can fix the term during which a senator shall hold the office of President. Senator Baker has said that the Constitution provides that the’ President shall hold office during his term of membership. But I do not think that that is the correct reading of section 17, which says -
The Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate ; and as often as the office of President becomes vacant^ the Senate shall again choose a senator to be the President.
Inasmuch as we are now in a position to fix. the term of office for the President, I think we ought to do so. Certainly honorable senators should be given an opportunity of saying whether they are in favour of a three years’ term, or a six years’ term, or a life term, provided that the occupant of the chair is not defeated at an election.
It is only reasonable to postpone the consideration of this chapter in order to allow the honorable senator who thinks that the standing order should be altered to bring forward a proposition.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I think that Senator Pearce has rather overlooked the contingency of the dissolution of the other House without the Senate being dissolved at the same time. Paragraph (a) of the standing order provides for a contingency of that character. Supposing that after a general election of the House of Representatives, and perhaps a partial election of the Senate, the other House should meet and then be sent to the country, the Senate is still in existence with a President at its head, and when the new Parliament is called together he will be in the chair. It seems to me that all necessary provision has been made to conduct the business of Parliament. The meaning of the standing order might be made a little plainer by the addition of the words “ after a dissolution of both Houses “ ; but even without those words I contend that provision has been made to meet every case which is likely to arise.
Motion agreed to.
Standing Order 17 -
Whenever the office of President becomes vacant, a senator, addressing himself to the Clerk, shall propose, to die Senate for their President some senator then present, and move that such senator do take the chair of the Senate as President. Such motion shall be seconded by some other senator.
– I think there is a great deal of force in the suggestion of Senator Higgs that the President’s term of office should be fixed.
– Does not that depend upon the interpretation of-the Constitution ?
– We cannot . affect that by our standing orders.
– I submit that the Senate is the proper body to interpret the Constitution in that respect. Surely we cannot refer a question of that sort to the courts? Surely the Convention never contemplated taking away from the Senate the right to elect its officers, or to say that after a Senate had elected a President no future Senate, no matter how differently constituted, should have the right to interfere with that election ; that the only way in which it might be interfered with was by death, resignation, defeat at the poll, or a vote of no confidence. In order to test the feeling of the committee on the point, I move -
That after the word “ whenever,” line 1, the following words be inserted : - “ owing to a periodical or general election of the’ Senate, or from any other cause.”
– I feel sure that the amendment will not meet the object of Senator Pearce. One can conceive that it would apply only to a case where a senator had lost his seat, and he might lose his seat owing to a periodical or a general election or owing to death. It does not say that he shall cease to be President. I would suggest to my honorable friend to move the insertion of a new standing order to this effect -
The President shall be elected at the first meeting of the session following a periodical or general election of the Senate.
– It was a great pity that this question was not considered and settled in the Senate before the Standing Orders Committee brought up its report. I do not feel that I should be justified in voting to elect a President for a Senate in which I might not have a seat. Since one-half of the Senate has to go to the country every three years, it is not fair that the President should hold his office for longer than that term.
– I think it is’ the usual practice for the President of a Legislative Council to be elected for the term of his councillorship. The President’s term of office will expire when his term of membership expires - on the 31st December, 1,906. I think it was quite understood when he was elected that we followed the usual practice in all Legislative Councils. On the 31st December, 1906, his term of office will cease, and, should he be re-elected, he will come back as a new senator.
– Yes ; but he will be re-elected before- that date.
– He may be a senator-elect for the next Parliament, but his term of office as President will cease at the end of the year 1906, and if he should be re-elected he will come in as a new senator. If the new Senate should choose to elect him to the Chair, well and good ; but if not he must give way to another senator. He could not possibly come back to the Senate as President on the 1st January, 1907.
– I do not know of any understanding of the kind. My idea is that in common fairness, both the President and the Chairman of Committees ought to be elected for the same term, and that is for the life of a Parliament.We can imagine a case in which we may be looking round for a President under certain conditions. We may say “ If we elect Senator So-and-so he will be in office for six years : but if we elect Senator Somebody Else he will be in the Chair for only three years,” and the chance is that the latter may get the position simply because it will afford an opportunity to elect another President at the end of three years. Under the circumstances, as one-half of the members of the Senate will retire every three years, I think it would be far better to elect the President for a term of three years. Then let us treat our Chairman of Committees somewhat differently from what we do now. Up to the present he has only been elected for the session. He should be elected for the same term as the President.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - How would Senator Playford provide for a dissolution of the House of Representatives? He contends that a general election would mean the choice of a “new Parliament.” A new Parliament may have been in existence” only about a year, and we may have elected our President. Suppose there is then a dissolution of the other House. Then, of course, there would be a new Parliament, and we should be called together by the Governor-General. Would Senator Playford then contend that we should have to elect a new President, although he might have been in office only twelve months, and although the Senate might not have been dissolved at all?
– We do not recognise a penal dissolution of the other House if we are not touched.
– We are now discussing the proper interpretation to be placed upon a section of the Constitution. We cannot do that by standing orders. If we pass standing orders which conflict with the Constitution, the Constitution will negative them. The Constitution says that the President shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a senator. Can we interpret that section by passing a standing order? Certainly we cannot.
– Who can be asked to decide it ? I am afraid the High Court is not going to do it.
– All questions involving an interpretation of the Constitution ought to be decided by the High Court, and certainly the High Court would not be affected by the existence of a standing order.
– Not by the procedure of Parliament ?
– This is not a question of parliamentary procedure. What the honorable senator wants is to graft on to our procedure the interpretation of a section of the Constitution concerning which there may be some doubt. Under one interpretation it may be held that the term stated in our standing order is not according to the Constitution, and then our standing order would be absolutely nugatory. It is not necessary at this stage to discuss the question.
– I should like to call the attention of the Post- I master-General to the fact that standing order 17 is closely intertwined in its object with chapter 1, which is to be re-drafted so that we may get a definition of the term “new Parliament.” When we get that definition, we shall be able to put into this standing order what will meet Senator Pearce’s wishes. I agree that this question is not one that can be settled by a standing order. It arises under the terms of the Constitution, which will have to be interpreted by the High Court. It might be convenient therefore to postpone this standing order until we get the definition to which I have referred.
– Where are the committee tb begin their consideration of the standing orders if we are to postpone the one now under discussion ? Similar reasons can be found for postponing others.
– If these standing, orders are badly drafted, I am not responsible for it.
– I am afraid that if we postpone this chapter we shall have the debate over again later on.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - On consideration I can see a great deal of force in Senator Higgs’ contention, that putting in the words which I have proposed in this place will not carry out ‘ my intention. But the insertion after the word “ vacant “ of the words “ which vacancy shall take place by reason of a periodical or general election of the Senate,” would have the effect I desire. Senator demons’ proposal hinges on the determination we come to upon chapter I. If the term “ new Parliament “ is not denned in chapter I., his proposal will have no effect. It will be open to question - What is a “ new Parliament?” I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That after the word ‘ ‘ vacant “ the following words be inserted - “ which vacancy shall take place by reason of a periodical or a general election of the Senate.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order18 -
If only one senator be proposed and seconded as . President, ho expresses in his place his sense of the honour proposed to be conferred upon him, and submits himself to the Senate, and he is then taken out of his place by the senators who proposed and seconded him, and by them conducted to the chair.
– I do not think this standing order is very felicitously worded. I desire to submit an amendment, which, however, I shall not press if there is opposition. I move -
That the words “ the senator so proposed is called by the Senate to the chair without any question being put, and then “ be inserted after the word “President,” line 2.
– The standing order seems better without the proposed amendment. At present, a senator when proposed as President expresses his willingness or otherwise to act ; but the amendment makes him at once take his place in the chair, from which he has to express his willingness to be elected.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Clemoxs) proposed -
That the word “and,” line 4, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Being again unanimously called to the chair.”
– These amendments are not quite clear to me. What is the meaning of the words “ in his place”?
– In his place in the chair.
– Then we have the words now proposed “being a^ain unanimously called to the Chair Do these words refer to the time when the senator is in the Chair? The meaning usually attached to a standing order of this kind is that a senator so circumstanced shall speak from his ordinary place from which he is called to the Chair ; but according to the amendment he is taken to . the Chair, and then unanimously called to the Chair again.
– I understand that Senator Clemons is desirous of adopting the South Australian standing orders relating to this matter. These standing ordersare -
– The Standing Orders Committee had before them the standing orders of the South Australian and other Legislatures, and they adopted in this instance those of the Victorian Legislative Council, because the latter are short and quite as much to the point as any of the others. I am afraid that we have made a mess of the matter.
– The amendments of Senator Clemons do not follow the wording of the South Australian standing orders, but make the chosen senator express from the Chair his sense of the honour which is to be bestowed upon him. The South Australian standing orders make the senator speak from his usual place in the House.
– I wish to have the South Australian standing orders.
– An attempt to make three standing orders of South Australia into one standing order has hot had quite such a clear result as one might desire. I see no necessity for the second amendment which is now before the committee.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The object of the Standing Orders Committee was to enable the Senate to ascertain that a senator proposed was willing to accept the office, and Senator Clemons’ amendment, which has been carried, makes a further amendment necessary. I move -
That after the word “then,” line 4, the words “ if he accepts office” be inserted.
– I am quite convinced that the standing order will have to be re-committed.
– I must point out to Senator Higgs that the amendment which he has suggested is not in order.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 19 to 23 agreed to.
Standing Order 24 verbally amended and agreed to.
Standing Order 25 -
Before proceeding to any business, the President, with such senators as desire to accompany him, shall present himself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of. the Senate. He shall in the name, and on behalf of the Senate, claim the right of free and direct access and communication with His Excellency.
– Before we leave this chapter, I point out that so far I have been unable to find any standing order which provides for filling a vacancy in the Presidency, occurring either during a session or during a recess. I am not prepared to submit any standing orders for the purpose, but I think there should be some such standing order. The standing orders of South Australia, under which we have been working, have been held up to us as a model, but in this matter it is not proposed to adopt them. Standing Order 23, of the South Australian standing orders, provides for filling a vacancy in the Speakership occurring during either a session or recess.
– The honorable and learned senator will see that Standing Order 17 says “Whenever the office of President becomes vacant.”’
– I move -
That the words “He shall, in the name and on behalf of the Senate,’ claim the right of free and direct access and communication with His Excellency,” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “He shall, in the name and on behalf of the Senate, lay claim to their undoubted rights and privileges, and prai’ that the most favourable construction may be put upon .all their proceedings.”
I am suggesting the- form of the Queensland standing orders, and it also follows the lines indicated by the Postmaster-General in his opening remarks.
– The old words were departed from because they are a survival of the procedure which has come down to us from the time of the Tudors and Stuarts, when the Speaker of the House of Commons claimed from the Crown certain rights and privileges. These included the right of being exempt , from the common law of. libel - the right of freedom of speech - the right of being exempt from arrest, and the right of free and direct communication with the Crown, and the prayer that the most favourable construction should be placed upon its proceedings. The use of the words has been continued bv. all Parliaments down to the present time, though they now involve the ridiculous absurdity of the President or the Speaker claiming from the Crown rights which the Crown cannot grant, and the Crown solemnly granting those rights. Is it not time we stopped that? What right has the Crown to abrogate the common lair! Under section 49 of the Constitution we have all the powers, immunities and privileges of the British House of Commons, and it is under that section of our Constitution that we are exempt from the law of libel and from arrest while attending Parliament. It seems to me that we should adapt our procedure to existing circumstances, and we should not ask His Excellency to grant us that which he cannot grant, and leave him to pretend’ to do that which we know he cannot do. The question received a great deal of consideration in Canada, and a pamphlet written by a clerk of one of the Dominion Houses exposed the whole absurdity. I think it is as well that we should ask the GovernorGeneral for something which we know he can grant, and not for something which we know he cannot grant.
– It must, I think, have come as an awful shock to the many supporters of Senator Higgs to find him proposing such an amendment after his bold declarations of republicanism. I hope that his action is only a temporary lapse on his part, and .that he will set himself right by withdrawing the amendment.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I was not under the impression that I was in any way altering my views. It was with the object of maintaining the rights and privileges of the Senate that I moved the amendment. It seemed to me that if there was any choice between the two expressions, to ask “ the right of free and direct access and communication with His Excellency “ was placing ourselves in a more and undignified position than if our President were to go to the GovernorGeneral, and inform him that we claimed “our undoubted rights and privileges.” Personally I feel that there is bo necessity for the President doing anything more than acquainting His Excellency with the fact that he has been appointed President of the Senate. But if we are to have any form of words put into the President’s mouth I think the old form is better than the one now proposed. If at any time any GovernorGeneral were so injudicious as to refuse to receive our President there would probably be trouble, and I have no doubt we shall be in a position to meet such a contingency if it should ever arise. There is in the old expression a reminder of a tradition which I think we should do well to uphold ; the tradition that the Parlia- ment of the people is above all its officers, whether King or Governor-General. The form I suggest is to be preferred to a request that the Governor-General will be pleased to receive our President any time it may be necessary for him to call.
– If we go back to the origin of this form, we shall see that it is a perfect farce even to ask from the Governor-General what it is proposed to ask from him here. The form originated at a time when the King had some power in the House of Commons, and when it was necessary that the election of the Speaker of the House of Commons should be confirmed by the King. The Speaker was then practically the King’s President in the House of Commons, and the King had a right to veto his appointment. We have now come to a state of things in which we do not require the consent of the King or his Vice-Regent, and the whole thing has become a useless form from beginning to end. In my opinion there is no necessity for this or the preceding standing order. However, it seems to me that Senator Higgs is right in proposing that, if we should claim anything, it should be something that sounds well, like our “ undoubted rights and privileges,” rather than that we should go crawling to the GovernorGeneral and claim the right of free and direct access and communication, which every gentleman would give us under any circumstances, without asking for it. If we must do this kind of thing, let it be done in the old style, and let it be understood that it is a relic of the past, and has only this significance, that it shows how far we have adcanced. It will perhaps attract the attention of our children, and when they ask the reasons for it we shall be able to say - “ Read up history and you will find how wonderfully we have advanced in democracy.” The proposed form is exceedingly childish, and I should like to know the honorable senator who suggested it. I think he ought to be ashamed to argue the matter. We might very well go to the Governor-General and present our President to him, saying - “ This is the gentleman whom we have elected to preside over our deliberations.” but we should ask ‘ him for nothing. If Senator Higgs will withdraw his amendment, I shall move the omission of the last four lines.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the words, “ He shall, in the name and on behalf of the Senate, claim the right of free and direct access and communication with His Excellency,” be omitted.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The phrase has been used that we are to go “crawling” to His Excellency to demand a certain thing. Is it not better to go crawling to His Excellency to demand something which he can grant, than to demand something which he cannot grant? I do not mind if all the words are omitted. I do not think that there is very much in them. I never thought that there was, but the reason for demanding the right of free access to His Excellency is that we have had Ministers of the Crown gradually usurping all power, and claiming rights and positions as against Parliament. In some instances I have known them to want to lay down the rule that communications to His Excellency from Parliament should pass through them.
– So they ought.
– They ought not. Parliament ought to have direct and free communication with the representative of the Crown irrespective of the Ministry, and the Ministry ought to be placed in their proper positions - the servants of the House and not the masters. I do not think it will do any harm to strike out the words, and I do not know that it will do much good to retain them. Whether they are retained or omitted, I contend that both Houses must have direct communication with His Excellency, and not through the Ministry.
– The Parliament consists of the King, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. In this standing order the Senate is only asked to say that, as a part of the Parliament, it has the right of free arid direct access to the King through his representative. We do not crawl to the Governor-General, as Senator Playford has said, when the President, in the name and on behalf of the Senate, claims the right of free and direct access to and communication with His Excellency. If there is any attempt on the part of the Ministry or any one else to deprive us of this right we can fall back on the standing order.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 26 -
At the commencement of each session the Senate may appoint a senator to be Chairman of Committees, who, unless otherwise determined, shall hold office during the session, and until the end- of the second week of the next session.
– I propose to ask the committee to alter this standing order so as to provide that the Chairman of Committees, like the President, shall be elected at the commencement of a new Parliament. In the first place I move -
That the word “session,” line 1, be omitted with a view to insert the word “Parliament” in lieu thereof.
– Although I am quite at one with the object of Senator Playford, I would point out again that if the committee use the words “ new Parliament,” and have the phrases “ new Parliament “ and “ old Parliament,” we shall be subordinating ourselves and our position to the House of Representatives. I object to that. The Parliament does not consist of the House of Representatives alone; it consists of the King, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. I think it will be far better to use the words “so long as he is a senator.” I am sure that we shall get into difficulties about the meaning of the phrase “ a new Parliament.” In South Australia there was once nearly a conflict between the Houses concerning the meaning of the words “ new Parliament.” A great difficulty arose, and different opinions were expressed. I believe that the committee will make a great mistake if it uses the words. I hope that the amendment will not be pressed, and I suggest that the standing order should read in this form -
The Senate may appoint a senator to bc Chairman of Committees, who, unless otherwise determined, shall hold office so long us lie is a senator.
– That may be for six years.
– I trust that Senator Playford -will agree to an amendment to the effect that the Chairman shall be elected until the next periodical election of senators; in other words, for a term of three years.
– In the case of the election of President, we have affirmed the principle that the office shall not be held for a period longer than three years, and it will not be consistent with that decision if we pass the standing order in its present form.
– I hope that Senator Playford will agree to the suggestion made by Senator Walker.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I am quite willing to accept any amendment which will provide that the Chairman shall be elected for three years. At the same time I do not agree with Senator Baker in his contention that in vising the words “new Parliament” weshall use words which will cause trouble between the Houses, or give up any rights or privileges that we possess. I have no recollection of any trouble arising between the Houses in South
Australia from the use of the words. If it ever existed it must have existed before I entered Parliament in 1868. The words “new Parliament are always used in that State, and we know exactly what they mean. They are also used in the other States. However, if my object can be accomplished by using other words, I am quite willing to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I would suggest to Senator Walker that the standing order should be framed in this form -
At the commencement of a session, after a periodical or general election of the Senate, or whenever any vacancy shall occur, the Senate shall appoint a senator to be Chairman of Committees until the next periodical or general election of the Senate whichever first occurs, pro- ‘” vided that he Still remains a senator.
Amendments (by Senator Walker) agreed to-
That the word “each” be omitted with the view to insert in lieu thereof the word “a;” that after the word “session,” line 1, the following words be inserted: - “after each periodical or general election of the Senate or whenever any vacancy shall occur.”
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- I beg to move -
That the word “ may,” line 2, be omitted, with a view to insert the word “ shall”, in lieu thereof.
I move this amendment for the reason that it is necessary that a Chairman of Committees shall be appointed. At the commencement of the last session there was an idea that the President might do the whole of the work, and that a Chairman of Committees would not be necessary. I now think that that idea is a mistake. Put unless we substitute the word “ shall “ for “ may “ the . Senate might at some time be able to evade the intention of this standing order, which says that at the commencement of a session after a periodical or general election a Chairman shall be elected.
– They could get rid of that standing order if they wished to do so ; we cannot bind any future Senate.
– I think the amendment ought to be made.
– We may at some time have a President who will be willing to do the double duty.
– Surely honorable senators do not anticipate such a period of calm, considering that we have started as strongly as we have done, and that our troubles are likely to be multiplied as time goes on.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - I am sorry to find myself so often opposed to my honorable friend Senator Higgs. But I think it reasonable to suppose a state of affairs when a Chairman of Committees may not be needed. Suppose something happens to induce a Chairman to resign before the end of a session, when there is little or no business to be done. It would be unreasonable then to put the Senate in the position of having to appoint a Chairman. The word “ may “ is preferable to the word “ shall “ until we are quite sure that we shall always require a Chairman ; and if we need a Chairman, the word “ may “ will not prevent his election.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Honorable senators seem to have lost sight of their main object in proposing the alteration of this standing order in the first place. They propose that the words “after a periodical or general election “ shall be inserted, in order that we may define the term of office of the Chairman of Committees. If honorable senators do not alter the word “ may “ to “ shall,” it will be quite possible for any Senate in the future to refrain from electing a fresh Chairman.
– If they wish to do so, why should they not ? Why dictate to persons who come after us?
– But if we do not alter the word “ may,” we shall have to put in something indicating the term of office of the Chairman of Committees. If that is proposed to be done well and good ; but it can be done in a simpler way by using fewer words.
– I would point out that it is absolutely necessary that we should have a Chairman of Committees, because later on a certain procedure is provided with regard to the Deputy President, who must be the Chairman of Committees for the time being. Therefore the word “shall” ought to be inserted.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) agreed to-
That the words “ during the session, and until the end of the second week of the next session “ be omitted, and that the following words be insorted in lieu thereof : - “Until the next periodical, or general election of the Senate, whichever first occurs, provided he so long remains a senator. “
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 27 to 30 agreed to.
Standing Order 31 (President relieved by Deputy President). .
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - At the end of this standing order we have the words - “when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees.” The standing order only provides that one of the deputy-chairmen may take the Chair at the request of the Chairman of Committees. . But he may be ill, or absent from any other cause, so that he cannot request any one else to take the Chair for him. To meet such a case, I move -
That the following words be added - “ or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 32 agreed to.
Standing Order 33 -
A Standing Orders Committee, to consist of the President and Chairman of Committees and seven senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
– With regard to this and the following standing orders, I wish to know whether the Standing Orders Committee have taken into consideration the number of the senators constituting the various committees? I suppose that the numbers will be similar to- those on corresponding committees of the House of Representatives. It is here provided that the Standing Orders Committee shall consist of nine senators, the Library Committee of seven, the House Committee of seven, and the Printing Committee of six. I do not know whether there is any reason for fixing various numbers for the various committees, or whether it has been provided that there, shall be equality of numbers between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
– The principle that has guided the Standing Orders Committee in fixing these numbers is this : We have followed the practice of the Senate. The Senate appointed a Standing Order Committee consisting of the number of members mentioned in this standing order, and we have followed that practice. There is no particular charm in any particular number, but we consider that we ought to follow the practice laid down by the Senate itself.
– I am glad to have heard that expression of opinion. The whole value of this word “ practice” lies in the one fact that in the first session of the first Parliament the Ministry made certain appointments to committees. That is all the practice ; and it is easy to deduce the value of it. The Postmaster-General has asked a very pertinent question, which should be answered by the senator in charge of the business of the committee ; and we understand that these are Government proposals. In reply to that question, we have heard that there is no reason why the number of senators on these committees should not be different, except that they have been so appointed in the first session of this Parliament. I hope the PostmasterGeneral will take steps to have the numbers made uniform.
– There is no reason why there should not be a difference.
– We may assume that there is good reason for having a fixed number. In relation to one committee - not one of the committees before us - the Postmaster-General took very decided views, and the great argument then used was that each State should have one representative. But the Postmaster-General is willing to drop the argument now, when it is particularly applicable, if applicable at all.
– I trust that the Postmaster-General will see that the number of senators is the same on each committee, which, in my opinion, should consist of the President and” one representative from each State. With that idea I move -
That the word “seven,” line 2, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “six.”
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I trust that the committees will not be made too small, because as it is there is much trouble in getting a quorum. Another reason is that if the number be altered, it will not correspond with the number of members of the similar committee in the House. of Representatives, with which power is given to confer.
– I hope the amendment will not be pressed. This is a very important committee, the members of which should be sufficiently numerous to insure even more than a bare quorum. No doubt the Standing Orders Committee had good reasons for suggesting the number as it appears in the draft before us. If the number of members be made smaller, the President and the
Chairman of Committees, in spite of doing their best, might not be able to get a quorum together.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Order 34 (Library Committee)
– As to the uniformity of numbers, we were told that special circumstances attached to the Standing Orders Committee. I do not object to that argument, but in regard to the Library Committee, the House Committee, and the Printing Committee no claim can be made for differentiation. On the Library and House committees we have the President and six senators, but the Printing Committee for some reason is bereft of the services of the President. I should like to make all the committees alike, and I frankly confess I do not care whether that is done by eliminating the President from the House Committee and the Library Committee, or by adding him to the Printing Committee. If the honorable senator in charge of . the proposals before the Senate would give some indication of his views, that might cause me to move or refrain from moving an. amendment.
– I do not attach any importance whatever to uniformity in the matter of the number of senators on these committees. What is of importance is that the corresponding committees in both Houses shall have the same number ; and that is the reason I asked the question to which Senator Clemons has referred- To me it appears a matter of indifference whether there are six or seven senators on any one of these committees, but I am rather inclined to the higher number, owing to the difficulty of getting a quorum. I do not know whether it is at his own desire that the President is not on the Printing Committee, but if it is not, I think he should be asked to serve. That is a very important committee, to which I shall draw attention at the proper time.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Order 35 agreed to.
Standing Order 36.
A Printing Committee, to consist of six members, shall be appointed ….
– I think it highly desirable that the President, if he can afford the time, should be a member of this committee, and, further, I suggest that the committee should have power to sit as a joint committee, in order that there may be uniform action in regard to the printing of papers.
– I desire to draw attention to the fact that there are at present seven members on the Printing Committee without the President.
– I hope that the President will not be placed on the Printing Committee, because I have a great deal of work in connexion with the other committees of which I am a member. I may point out that the Speaker is not on the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives, and I have never known a Speaker or President occupy such a position in any of the other States.
Amendment by (Senator Drake) agreed to-
That the word “six” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “seven.”
Amendment (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “ The committee shall have power to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.”
– Is this committee not to be at liberty, in the same way as other committees, to act during recess?
– The Prin ti ng Com mi ttee hardly requires to act during recess.
– That mav be doubted, because there are useful public documents which honorable senators might like to have occasionally.
– It is not the practice, nor is it necessary, for the Printing Committee to meet during recess. I was a member of the Printing Committee of the South Australian Parliament for years, and the rule was to meet before the close of the session, and decide on what papers we would recommend to have printed. I support the amendment, because a provision to that effect has been found extremely useful in the past.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to-
Standing Order 37 agreed to.
Standing Order 38 -
A committee, to be called “ The Committee 01 Disputed Returns and Qualifications,” to inquire into and report upon all questions as to the qualification of a senator chosen or appointed in accordance with section 15 of the Constitution Act, or as to the validity of such choice 01 appointment, and as to the vacation of his seat by any senator shall be appointed
– Originally this standing order gave power to the committee to inquire into and report upon questions of disputed elections, but that power has been withdrawn, that being a matter for the new court under the Electoral Act. The committee will report as to the qualifications of senators chosen or appointed, a matter which does not appear to come within the Electoral Act.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 39 and 40 agreed to.
Standing Order 41 (Senators’ roll to be kept by clerk).
– I see no provision made for recording the attendance of honorable senators, and I think that perhaps that could be dealt with here.
– If the honorable senator will look at the journals he will see that the attendance of honorable senators is recorded every day.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 42 to 44 agreed to.
Standing Order 45 (Vacant seats).
– This standing- order provides that any question with regard to the seats to be occupied by new senators shall be determined by the President, but I take that to mean that the President is to decide where there is a difference of opinion between honorable senators or any disputed claim, and not that he may dictate to a new senator where he shall sit.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Order 46 agreed to.
Standing Order 47 (Leave of absence may be given).
– There may be some good reason for providing that a motion asking leave of absence for an honorable senator should not be debated, but it seems to me that occasions may arise when it will be desirable to ask for some explanation. When an application is made for leave of absence on behalf of a senator some reason must be given, and it seems to me that honorable senators should be allowed, if they choose, to challenge that reason.
– I move -
That the words “ and shall not be debated “ be omitted.
Leave of absence on behalf of a senator may be asked so frequently that it may be thought desirable that he should be informed that, in the opinion of the Senate, he is not attending to his duties. Under the standing order as proposed, honorable senators are debarred from making a speech in which they could give reasons for voting against a motion asking for leave of absence.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 48 to 50 agreed to.
Standing Order 51-
The Chair shall be taken and prayer read at the time appointed on every day fixed for the meeting of the Senate ; but if, at the expiration of five minutes after that time, there be not a quorum of at least one-third of the whole number of senators, the President shall adjourn the Senate to the next sitting day ; the names of the senatoi-s present, in either case, being entered in the Journals.
– I think it would be as well to provide for ringing the bells a second time after the Chair is taken, before permitting an adjournment of the Senate for want of a quorum. If honorable senators are outside and hear the bells rung a second time they will understand that there is not a quorum present . and that there is a danger of the Senate being adjourned. I move -
That the words “ the bells having been again rung for two minutes “ be inserted after the word “ time “ line 4.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 52 to 54 agreed to.
Standing Order 55 -
If any senator shall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees on notice being taken by any senator shall report to the President, that a quorum as aforesaid is not present, the President, standing up in his place, shall count the Senate ; and, if a quorum be not present within two minutes, he shall adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day.
– If honorable senators will refer to the marginal notes they will see that there is an air of novelty about Standing Order 55, and upon investigation they will find that the novelty is in the omission of words providing for the ringing of the bells for two minutes. I suggest that the standing order should be amended so as to read -
If any senatorshall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees on notice being taken by any senator shall report to the President that a quorum as aforesaid is not present, the bells shall be rung for two minutes, the President shall then count the Senate, and if a quorum be not present shall forthwith adjourn the Senate until the next sitting day.
– Before the honorable and learned senator proposes any amendment in the form he has suggested, I should like to say that I think what we desire to arrive at is that the bells shall be rung, and that the count shall be made before the President is brought in. If that is not done the President will very often be brought into the Chamber quite unnecessarily, and before he takes the Chair a quorum will have been formed.
– I think honorable senators can better carry out what is suggested by Senator Drake by an amendment of Standing Order 267, dealing with notice taken of the absence of a quorum in committee. I fully agree with Senator Drake that it is a waste of time as well as of trouble, to bring the President in when we can get a quorum by simply ringing the bells.
– Perhaps it would meet the views of honorable senators if the standing order were to read in this way -
If any senator shall take notice that a quorum as aforesaid is not present, the bells shall be rung for two minutes, and if a quorum is not then formed the Chairman of Committees shall report the absence of a quorum to the President.
– I prefer the standing order as I have suggested it.
– But that I think will not carry out the intention of honorable senators. It will not prevent the President being brought in when honorable senators are within reach, and a quorum may be’ formed before the President has time to come into the Chamber.
– The adjournment for refreshment has given an opportunity to the Postmaster-General and myself to formulate what we conceive to be the desire of the committee. I believe that this wording will carry out the general wish of honorable senators -
If any senator shall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees shall report to the President that a quorum as aforesaid is not present, the bells shall be rung for two minutes. The
President shall then count the Senate, and if a quorum shall not be present, he shall forthwith adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day.
If that draft of the standing order is accepted, it will involve a corresponding alteration in No. 267, which, it is suggested, shall be made to read as follows -
If notice be taken of the absence of a quorum in the Committee, the Chairman shall count the Committee, and if after the bells have been rung for two minutes, a quorum is not formed, or if it appears on a division (by which division no decision shall be considered to have been arrived at) that a quorum is not present, he shall leave the Chair of the Committee, and the President shall resume the Chair.
Standing Order (on motion by Senator Drake) amended accordingly and agreed to.
Standing Orders 56 and 57 agreed to.
Standing Order 58 verbally amended and agreed to.
Standing Orders 59 to 61 agreed to.
Standing Order 62 (Routine of business).
– If honorable senators will refer to Standing Order 70 they will see that it adopts a new procedure. It provides that after formal motions have been called on, an honorable senator may move that any notice of motion which he has on the paper be postponed. Therefore it is necessary to amend 62 by the insertion of the words “ postponement of business.”
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That the words ‘ ‘ Postponement of business. 6.” be inserted after the figure “ 5.”
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 63 and 64 agreed to.
Standing Order 65 (Government Business).
– It is admitted that Ministers should have the right to arrange the order of their own business on all days, and therefore it is necessary to omit the first two lines of the standing-order. I move -
That the following words be omitted : - “On days upon which by sessional order Government business takes precedence of other business.”
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 66 to 90 agreed to.
Standing Order 91 (Questions on presentation of petition).
– In its special report the Standing Orders Committee has recommended that this standing order should be amended so as to provide that in the case of a petition being presented against a return it shall be referred at once to the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. It is necessary to make a further amendment. Any petition against the return of a senator is now to’ be referred to the new tribunal. Consequently the words referring to the matter in this standing order will have to come out.
– No petition against an election can be presented to the Senate. The only petition that can be presented is as to the appointment or choice of a senator or as to his qualifications ; and in the draft standing orders laid on the table on the 4th J une it is provided that such petitions are to be referred to the Committee on Disputed Returns.
– If the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee assures me that in the document laid on the table the standing order appears as it should be, there is nothing more to be said. But I should have thought that, seeing that petitions against returns are now to be referred to the new tribunal under the Act, it would be necessary to make an alteration.
– Under the Act a petition against a return goes straight to the High Court, and does not come here at all. We can only deal with cases where there has been an appointment by the Governor in Council, or a choice by a State Parliament.
– This standing order deals with petitions against disputed returns, and we say that they shall be referred at once to the Committee on Disputed Returns.
– Those returns that do not come -under the Electoral Act are dealt with by the Senate. Standing Order 316 says as regards disputed returns that -
Any question against the choice or appointment of a senator which cannot, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, be brought before the Court of Disputed Returns, may be brought before the Senate by petition.
Those .words “choice or appointment” have a technical meaning, that is to say, the choice of a State Parliament or an appointment by the Governor in Council as contemplated by the Constituion. They are the only kinds of petitions that can come to us at all, and we have a committee to deal with them. As regards .all other petitions against returns, the Electoral Act provides that they shall go to an official of the court.
– ! must confess that this is something new to me. I certainly understood when we dealt with the question of disputed returns under the Electoral Act that all questions of that nature, whether involving election, or choice on the part of a State Legislature, or appointment by a Governor in Council in the event of the Legislature not being in session, were to be referred directly to the court. I think that above all other bodies in the world a committee of Parliament is the least fitting to decide an electoral matter concerning which a considerable amount of heat may have been engendered. I regret very much that all petitions of the kind are not to be dealt with by the court.
– It may be an omission, but we had to provide for it in the standing orders, in order that petitions might be received here.
– I quite understand that the new tribunal will not deal with all matters concerning returns, but only with disputes regarding the election of senators. But if this standing order remains as we have it now, a petition may be sent to us against a return. It may be a petition which ought to be brought before the .new tribunal, but we shall have a standing order saying that such a petition shall be received here and referred at once to the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications ; whereas only certain petitions are properly receivable by the Senate. No doubt, the President will decide which petitions are not properly receivable.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The Postmaster-General is quite right. If a petition is presented here which ought to be presented to the court, we can have nothing to do with it. We do not refer it on. This standing order must be read in connexion with Standing Order 316, which refers to the only petitions which can properly be received here.
– Why can we not say that in this standing order ?
– I think it is clear enough. This standing order relates tq a petition which properly comes here.
– Why does it not say so ?
-I think it does say so. The standing orders go on to say what petitions shall be received and how they shall be dealt with. Standing Order 91 must be read in connexion with other standing orders. Thus, Standing Order 316 says -
Any question . against the choice or appointment of a senator which cannot, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, be brought before the Court of Disputed Returns, may be brought before the Senate by petition.
That classifies the petitions, and if the two standing orders are read together the implication is that only those petitions which ought to be sent here can be referred. Others have no right to be sent here at all.
– Why not state that ? Why have to begin with an implication t
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Order 92 (Restrictions on Printing).
– Frequently petitions are sent to us and we are asked to get them printed for the information of the public. Does this standing order mean that we are not to get petitions printed unless we intend to take subsequent action?
– You ask for the petition to be printed, and say that you are going to take action.
– A petition may be of a public nature, and people may desire to know something about it.
– The standing order means that a petition is not to be printed unless a senator intends to take action upon it. But a senator who wants to get a petition printed will probably state that he is going to take action. I do not say that he will after that deliberately neglect to take action, but I am rather inclined to think that, to salve his conscience, he may table a motion, and even talk upon it; and that consequently the time of the Senate will be wasted.
– The object here is to save unnecessary printing.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 93 to 104 agreed to.
Standing Order 105 (No notice received after commencement of business).
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South. Australia). - There is a question as to whether we ought not ‘ to put at the end of this standing order the words “ unless by leave of the Senate.” A practice has grown up of leave being given to senators to give notice after business has been called on. I cannot say that it is a good practice, and I am not at all sure that the standing orders ought not to be suspended to enable it . to be done. But considering that the standing orders under which we have been acting are merely temporary and provisional, I have not raised an objection to the practice. Unless the words I have mentioned are added, however, I shall in future feel it to be my duty not to allow any one to give notice after business has been called on unless the standing orders are suspended.
– I move -
That the following words be added: - “unless by leave of the Senate.”
Cases may arise when it will be necessary for a senator to give notice of motion at the close of a sitting, and some provision should be made to meet such an event. Every senator will, of course, endeavour to give notice at the proper time, but it would be a pity to prevent that step being taken at’ any other time.
– It ought to be said how the leave of the Senate is to be obtained.
– “Leave” means unanimous leave.
– There are cases in which an urgent notice of motion can be explained in a few words, and in my opinion leave ought not to- be givenwithout suspension of the standing orders unless under very exceptional circumstances.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 106 to 119 agreed to.
Standing Order 120-
If all motions shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the debate thereon shall be inferrupted.
– Does this standing order not conflict with Standing Order 59, which provides that the whole discussion on motions for the adjournment of the Senate shall riot exceed three hours.
– Standing Order 1 20 refers to motions On the notice-paper.
– I think that Senator Higgs is right, and that the difference between the two classes of motion ought to be shown.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to.
That the words “ except motions for adjournment under Standing Order 59 “ be inserted after the word “motions,” line 1.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 121 to 127 agreed to.
Standing Order 128 -
Leave of Senate must be granted without any dissentient voice.
– Is this not giving too much power to one senator, who, because he happens to be in a bad temper or has’ an impaired digestion may feel disposed to refuse leave? I have myself suffered from a similar standing order, and I should like to submit an amendment to the effect that the majority of the senators present, or at least two-thirds of those present, have power to give leave.
SenatorSir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Senator Higgs has overlooked the fact, that when leave is asked for, it is for something which as a rule is contrary to the standing orders. We make standing orders in order that the public business may be properly regulated, and leave to do something which is not in accordance with the standing orders ought to be unanimously given, or otherwise we shall get into difficulties. How should we find out whether one-third of those present objected without taking a division every time? The granting of leave in the manner proposed in the standing orders is the rule in the British House of Parliament, and in every legislative body witli which I have acquaintance.
– I urge Senator Higgs not to persist with an amendment in the direction he indicates, because it will be a very dangerous course to adopt. The word “leave” has almost a traditional meaning in Parliament, and is recognised by authority to mean unanimous leave. Moreover, Senator Higgs will only create greater difficulty for himself if he insists on this two-thirds majority. By Standing Order 438 it is provided that the standing or sessional orders may be suspended on motion without notice, provided that the motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators. As Senator Baker has properly pointed out, leave is generally asked for something which is contrary to the standing orders, and if it is desired to bring forward a matter of great importance, and one or two or half-a-dozen objections are raised, the standing orders may be suspended by nineteen senators.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 129 to 132 agreed to.
Standing Order 133 -
An amendment proposed but not seconded will not be entertained 63 the Senate nor entered in the journals.
– I should like to have a definition of the word “journals.” If the word means only the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate I have no objection to the standing order.
– The honorable senator will find, on reference to Standing Order 39, that all. proceedings are to be noted by the Clerk, “ and shall constitute the Journals of the Senate.”
– I was thinking of Howard. That publication has lately been described as a book, and if it were to be included under the word “ journals,” I thought it might be possible that on . some occasion I might move an amendment for which I could not get a seconder, and there would be no record of it in Hansard.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 134 to 145 agreed to.
Standing Order 146 -
If the Senate resolves the previous question in the affirmative, thereby resolving that the original qxiestion be not now put, the original question and any amendment thereon before the Senate are thereby disposed of, and the Senate shall proceed with the next business on the noticepaper.
– I think that this standing order is somewhat inconsistent with Standing Order 148, which provides -
The previous question cannot be moved to an amendment, nor in committee, nor can an amendment be moved thereto.
I believe it is recognised by all authorities that the previous question cannot be moved as against an amendment, and Standing Order 146 appears to me to be irregular in providing that if the Senate resolves the previous question in the affirmative, the original question “and any amendment thereon” are thereby disposed of. As a matter of fact, whilst there is any amendment before the Senate, I do not think it is competent for the previous question to be moved at all. I shall be glad to hear the views of the President upon the matter, but assuming what I have said to be, as I believe it is, the undoubted parliamentary practice, we should amend Standing Order 146 in order to make it conform to the general parliamentary practice set forth in Standing Order 148.
– It does not appear tome that we must necessarily conform to the general parliamentary practice. What we should do is to make our standing orders conform to the convenience of the Senate ; but I do not think the Chairman is right in his contention. I see no inconsistency between Standing Order 146 and Standing Order 148. Standing Order 1+6 simply affirms that the previous question may be moved whether there is an amendment before. the Chair or not. For instance, some honorable senator moves a motion, arid another moves an amendment upon it ; the previous question may then be moved to dispose of both, and, if carried, it sweeps away the whole question. “Whatever the procedure may be in other places, that Seems to me to be convenient. Standing Order 148 deals with another matter altogether - the previous question cannot be moved -to an amendment. That is not the point. We cannot move the previous question to an amendment, but we can move it to the original motion, and, if carried, it sweeps away both the original motion and the amendment. There are three propositions in StandingOrder 148 : that the previous question cannot be moved to an amendment, that it cannot be moved in committee, and that an amendment cannot be moved thereto, and while they are consistent with each other, I think none of them are inconsistent with Standing Order 146.
– I point out that if an honorable senator wishes to move the previous question regarding an amendment thereon, he can do it by moving the previous question on the original question. I remember that the chapter dealing with the previous question occupied a good deal of time before the Standing Orders Committee, and a great deal of care was taken by the President in drawing up these standing orders.
– I have just drawn the attention of honorable senators to the point. If they desire to make what I claim to be an innovation I am perfectly satisfied.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 147 to 159 agreed to.
Standing Order 160 -
The President or the Chairman of Committees may vote by stating to the Senate or to the Committee whether they vote with the “ Ayes” or with the “Noes.”
– Although this practice was laid down by the Senate a little time ago, I still think it is a practice to which many take exception. I move -
That the words “ when in the Chair “ be inserted after the word “may,” line 1.
That will set at rest the question whether the occupant of the Chair should be allowed to evade the responsibility of sitting on one side or the other. The practice which has been allowed to grow up in the Senate is an innovation. I know that in the Queensland Parliament, when the Speaker is not in the Chair, and wishes to vote, he takes his place on the side either of the “Ayes” or the “Noes.” I- think that the President of the Senate, whoever he may be, might as well conform to the general usage, especially as the practice adopted here during the last 1 2 months is taken exception to.
– I should like to hear the opinion of honorable senators on the subject. It is not an important one, but I cannot see that any disadvantage results from the practice of allowing the President to remain in the Chair, and signify that he desires to vote upon one side or the other. The instance quoted by Senator Higgs does not “seem to me to be quite conclusive. That might be the practice . in some Chambers which are differently constructed, and where it might be more convenient.
– I am inclined to agree with Senator Higgs. I myself had an experience of rather an unpleasant nature in connexion with this practice. On one occasion during a division I was not satisfied as to how the President was voting, and I said to the teller - “Have you asked the President how he is voting ? “ The teller was simply angry with me. That is the only time I have ever had any unpleasantness in this Chamber. I think that the President should be asked to sit either on one side or the other of the Chamber during a division, if he is not in the Chair.
– The matter is one which can be decided without any reference to what has happened in the past. It is undoubtedly an inconvenience to a teller when . an honorable senator sits with the “ Ayes “ and votes with the “Noes.” The teller may or may not hear the “aye” or the “no “ of the President when the question is put, and when the seats on either side are of equal comfort I do not see why the President, when voting, should not sit upon one side or the other.
– It seems to me that honorable senators are fattoo straight-laced in keeping up old customs and old forms. The standing order provides merely for a courtesy, which might very well be extended to the President and the Chairman of Committees. If the President is sitting in the seat which he finds most convenient, it is surely no hardship upon a teller to require him to say - “Well, Mr. President, on which side do you propose to vote.” We ought not to be bound by an old custom which I dare say has operated very well in the past. Occasionally we must depart from old customs. I am rather surprised to see Senator Walker, who is generally in favour of preserving old forms, agreeing with Senator Higgs in this matter. I thought last session that this courtesy should be extended to the President and to the Chairman of Committees, and if a division is called for I shall vote in that direction.
– We ought to be”1 consistent in framing our standing orders. When we are devising a system of voting, I do not see why a particular senator should be given a privilege which is denied to others. In a committee of the whole it is no more undignified for the President to cross the floor than for any other senator to do so. If it is not thought worth while to adopt a general rule, let every senator have the right to remain in his seat and vote as he chooses. Of course it will give additional work to the tellers, and, if any confusion should result, it can only be ascribed to our desire to uphold the dignity of senators.
– It amused me to hear Senator Glassey suggest that Senator Walker, as a good old conservative, should follow the good old plan when he is actually following it. In the only other Parliament of which I have- had any knowledge, the rule was for the Speaker or the President when the House was in committee to pass to the side of the “Ayes “ or the side of the “ Noes,” and thus indicate on which side he was voting. Another practice has sprung up in the Senate - we hardly know how. It caused a considerable amount of trouble last -session. From the place iri which the President was sitting we did not know which way he was voting, and now it is proposed to extend the privilege to the Chairman of Committees. .If the President and the Chairman are to be allowed to sit on the side of the “Ayes” and to vote on the side of the “ Noes,” we shall not know where we are. It will put them to no trouble or annoyance to vote exactly in the same way as other honorable senators do. Of course when either of them is sitting in the Chair it is only right that he should be allowed to indicate which way he desires to vote.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 161 and 162 agreed to.
Standing Order 163 -
No senator shall be entitled to vote in any division unless he was present within the bar when the question was put, with the doors looked, and the vote of any senator not so present shall be disallowed.
– I move -
That the words “he was,” line 2, be omitted, and the word “is” be substituted for the word “ was,” line 3.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 164 and 165 agreed to.
Standing Order 166 -
The doors shall be closed and looked as soon after the lapse of two minutes as the President shall think proper to direct ; and then no senator shall enter or leave the Chamber until after the division.
– -We ought to amend this standing order, because it gives too much power to the President. It will allow him to say - “ We shall not have a division for some time.” We ought to provide definitely that the doors shall be locked after the lapse of two minutes. In Queensland the bells are rung for two minutes, the doors are then locked, and no option is given to the presiding officer to delay the taking of the division.
– In South Australia a similar rule has never caused any trouble. The doors have always been locked at the expiration of the two minutes.
– In the Senate the doors have always been locked at the expiration of the two minutes, and therefore it is not necessary to retain the words which give an option to the President. J move -
That the words “ as soon,” line 1, be omitted.
– On this occasion I have to disagree with Senator Higgs. Some person must give the signal for the attendants to lock the doors. They cannot bo allowed to be the judges as to when the two minutes have elapsed. The standing order simply means that the President shall direct tho attendants to lock the doors.
– It is a great deal better to leave the standing order as it is, because it may happen that just as the time is expiring a senator is entering the Chamber.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 167 to 169 agreed to.
Standing Order 170 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Standing Orders 171 to 176 agreed to.
Semite adjourned at 8.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030610_senate_1_13/>.