1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2,30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It is intended to prepare regulations under the Electoral Act to provide facilities for enabling electors to vote at elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives in accordance with section 139, and to lay the regulations before both Houses of the existing Parliament.
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The necessary inquiries are being made, anda reply will be given in due course.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
SenatorHIGGS asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Has the Government observed that Mr. H. A. Grainger, the Agent-General of South Australia, is reported to hove written a letter to the London Standard, stating that the colonies ask Great Britain to make a beginning, however small, in the direction of trade preference?
Have the States of Australia made any request of the kind. If so, through what channel ?
What Australian products is it proposed to allow into Great Britain at a lower duty than is charged other nations ?
What British manufactures is it proposed to allow into Australia at a lower duty than is charged other nations ?
If Mr. Chamberlain proposes that Australia shall allow British manufactures into Australia at a low duty, will the Prime Minister ask for a guarantee that the British manufacturer shall pay his employes . the Australian rates of wages for the Australian number of working hours?
Can the Prime Minister give the Parliament any details of the proposals for preferential trade ?
Would it not be likely to save a lot of misunderstanding, heartburning, and disappointment to get down to details at once ?
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. The numerous payments made by way of special allowances to officers required a careful investigation of the circumstances before they could he continued under the altered conditions of the service. This inquiry necessarily took some time, but it is now so far completed that a decision in each case will be arrived at in a’ few days, and it is expected the amounts due will be ready for payment next week.
I may add that just before entering the Chamber I ascertained that the amounts due to the men under the old arrangement will be paid at once up to the end of this month, and whatever may be due to them under the new circumstances will be ascertained.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Clemons) -
That leave of absence for fourteen days be granted to Senator Matheson on account of urgent private business.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 10th June, vide page 685.)
Standing Orders 177 and 178 agreed to.
Standing Order 179 -
The title shall agree with the order of leave, and no clause shallbe inserted in any such draft not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– I am afraid that the marginal note - “compare South Australia 275” - is a little misleading, because that standing order refers solely to the title of the Bill, and has no relation to its subject-matter. It is a very excellent rule, which reads as follows : -
No clause shall he inserted in any such draft foreign to the title of the Bill.
Its object is to prevent the insertion of clauses that are irrelevant to the’ title which is on the draft Bill. Our proposed standing order is more restrictive than that one. There is no reason why we should restrict the opportunities which honorable senators may have so long as they keep the provisions of their Bills within the titles given by the orders of leave’. We are introducing into our standing orders something which has’ no relation to the titles of Bills. Our present rule says that when a. Bill is introduced it shall contain no clause which is foreign to the title, which is specified in the order of leave, and if subsequently we insert provisions which are not within the title, power is given by a subsequent standing order to the Committee to alter the title accordingly, and to make a special report to the Senate. The only object of the proposed standing order is to prevent a clause being inserted in a draft Bill which is foreign to the title, and the use of the words “ or not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill “ very much enlarges the scope. As it is supposed to be founded on the South Australian Rule No. 275, We ought to adhere to that rule.
– Which is the more restrictive rule?
– The one which is before the Committee. All we require to provide at this stage, as is done in our present rule, is that no clause in a draft Bill shall be foreign to its title. The only restriction which ought to be placed on an honorable senator is that the provisions of a Bill which he presents pursuant to the order of leave shall be within the title therein contained. The subjectmatter of the Bill we deal with tit a later stage. But it will be very unfair to an honorable senator when he brings up his Bill, or at the first reading of it, to have a ruling given that some particular clause is not relevant to the subject-matter, when the Senate in committee may decide that the particular clause is perfectly relevant. I wish to protect, honorable senators and tosee that they are free from allrestrictionsin introducing Bills. If a clause of a Bill differs from the title that is a matter for immediate ruling, and can be dealt with ; but the question whether some clause is relevant to the subject-matter ought not to be subject to an immediate ruling. The President of the Senate Ought not to be placed in the position of ruling that a clause in a Bill is out of order because it is not relevant to the subject-matter. That is not his function at that stage. All we have to do is to give a senator leave to introduce a Bill and to specify the title, and then to see that no clause in the Bill differs from the title or extends beyond it. We can all decide that. But if we give power to the President to say whether any clause in, a Bill is relevant to the subject-matter we give a power which is less easily controlled by the Senate than is the case if the question simply is whether a particular clause differs from the title. Every member of the Seriate can say at once whether a clause differs .from the title of the Bill, but it is a different thing to say whether a clause is relevant to the subjectmutter. It would be a pity to make a change in our existing standing orders in this respect. The practice in South Australia has been limited to compelling a member who brings in a Bill to see that his clauses do not go beyond the title. An injustice may possibly be done to a senator in having a ruling given which there may be no possibility of checking. The title of a Bill is like the writing on the wall. Every one can understand it. The titles of Bills nowadays are made much more elastic than they used to be. The Minister for Trade and Customs, whose reputation as a draftsman is well known, during recent years in South Australia, introduced the practice of giving Bills such a title as - “ A Bill relating to such-and-such, and for other purposes.”
– What does “other purposes” mean ?
– If it is intended by this standing order to defeat that convenient practice, let us understand it. That is a good reason it may be for departing from the old standing order, the object cif which was to get rid of technicalities. If the committee puts in the words “ not relevant to the subject-matter,” it transfers a subject which has to be decided by the President from the title to the words of the Bill, and that may raise some difficulties. I move - .
That the words “not relative to the subject, matter of the Bill” be omitted, with a view to in. serb in lieu thereof the words “foreign to its title.’’
I think that honorable senators will find that that is the form adopted by the other branch of the Legislature.
– Senator Symon is asking us to take a very retrograde step. He is asking us to go back to a practice which was found wanting a long time ago. The original practice of the House of Commons was that a Bill, as introduced, should, contain no clauses not within the title of the Bill. That was also the practice in most of our State Parliaments for a very considerable time. But it was found to be too restrictive. It was found that it prevented a great many clauses being introduced in a Bill which the mover and originator of the Bill thought ought to be introduced. Honorable senators will, no doubt, be aware that of late years the tendency has been to reduce the preamble of a Bill, and to diminish the title to a very short wording. In fact, the preamble has almost entirely disappeared, and the titles of Bills have become very short. In consequence of that tendency, the various Legislatures have found it necessary to alter their standing orders, and to give more scope to the introducers of Bills to put into them all they want. Instead of this standing order being, as Senator Symon has argued, a restriction, it is the reverse. The senator who introduces a Bill introduces what he likes, and what he introduces is the subject-matter of his Bill. He may include in that subject-matter almost anything he wishes relevant to the Bill. As a matter of fact, if this amendment is carried, honorable senators will be very much restricted indeed. It may be that the marginal note of the standing order is not quite clear, but that is of small’ importance. The amendment is inconsistent with the present practice of the British House of Commons, and of almost all legislative bodies. We want to give as free as possible scope to senators to introduce Bills, and to put into those Bills every clause that they think fit. Take an illustration. Suppose an honorable senator moves that he have leave to introduce, a Bill to do so and so. He can introduce into that Bill almost anything he likes that is in any way relevant or has any connexion with the title. But there may be clauses introduced into that Bill when it is first presented, which are foreign to the title. The standing orders say that if that happens the title must be altered before the measure passes ; and that is all. I hope we shall not adopt such a restrictive provision, and go back so many years in, I will not say the history, but the practice of legislation.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am quite confident that this question is not to be settled by describing an amendment intended to conform with our existing standing orders as restrictive. It is very much better if we can to avoid the use of any epithet of that description when we are dealing with what best gives effect, not only to parliamentary practice, but to the rights of honorable senators. No con.siderationseems to have been given to this subject, orto the South Australian standing order when our draft standing orders were framed. When I originally read the marginal note to this standing order, and saw the words “ clauses to come within the title,” I passed ifc. Then I read it again, and found that instead of the standing order providing that clauses were to come within the title, it said that no clause was to be inserted that was not relative to the subject-matter, of the Bill. What Senator Baker, no doubt, . intended to give us was a standing order providing that the clauses of a Bill should come within the title, but what the Standing Orders Committee have done is to give us a provision that no clause shall be inserted that is not relevant to the subjectmatter. That is a very different thing Who is to decide it ? What does Senator Baker ask the Senate to accept 1 That anything an honorable senator who intro.troduces a Bill puts into it is the subjectmatter of the Bill. If that be admitted we do not want the standing order at all. We are prescribing the course to be adopted in the initiation of a Bill. What we require is that the title shall be specified in the order of leave. If the title is specified the clauses of the Bill must come within the title. That is the initiatory stage provided for in these standing orders - that no clause shall be in a Bill that is not relevant to the subject-matter. But who is to decide that? The question to consider is, what is the object of initiation? Is it to deal with the subjectmatter or what is specified in Standing Order 1 77 1 If an honorable Senator conforms to that, he has a right to bring in his Bill, and not to be questioned as to the subject-matter of his Bill when he gives his title. A Senator introducing a Bill, says in effect: “In the form of this leave I bring in my Bill, every clause of which conforms to the title.” There is the landmark - the title - and by that is the right to introduce a Bill tested, and not by the ipse dixit of the occupant of the Chair for the time being, influenced, it may be, by his political views. It is the Senate, arid not the occupant of the Chair, who should judge the subject-matter of a Bill. Why should we depart from the existing standing order, which has been suggested for adoption also in another place 1 I am sure that none of us has the slightest wish to interfere with the privileges of honorable senators, and they will be seriously interfered with by the proposed standing order. I should like to hear some precedent given for a standing order allowing a ruling to be given as to the subject-matter of a Bill at the time of its introduction. If such a precedent can be submitted, I shall be the first to bow to it.
– The honorable and learned senator should remember that these South Australian standing orders were adopted with very little consideration indeed. He will remember that he moved a motion by which a sub-committee was appointed to consider the standing orders of the various States and bring up a report within 2i hours, a task which I pronounced at the time to be quite impossible. In order to overcome the difficulty the sub-committee recommended as a temporary expedient, and without consideration of the standing orders of the other States, that we should adopt the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia. That is no good reason why we should not now depart from them if we think it advisable to do so. I have not the advantage of being well acquainted with the practice of South Australia, but I know that in Queensland and in New South Wales the rule is that at all stages of a Bill the whole of the matter contained in it must conform to the order of leave. I know that Senator Symon raises his objection particularly on the point that the standing order proposes action to be taken at the introduction of a Bill. But the question is whether all clauses, whether originally in the Bill or subsequently inserted, should conform to the subject-matter or the title of the Bill. In Queeusland and New South Wales, the title of a Bill may be altered at any time. Under the practice there, any amendment which is relevant and conforms to the subject-matter of a Bill, may be agreed to, and if the title of the Bill does not fit the new matter introduced the title has to be altered. The very last thing done with a Bill may be to alter the title in order to make it fit the subject-matter. But the whole of the subject-matter of a Bill must be homogeneous. In my opinion, the standing order, as now proposed, is a better safeguard than that previously adopted, because the titles of Bills are now often very short. A Bill is introduced, for instance, to amend a certain law, and the words “and for other purposes “ which are very often inserted have been held to have very little meaning, because, in carrying out the standing orders, the President or the Chairman of Committees will look past them to seewhether an amendment proposed is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill : otherwise a clause might be put in in the last stages of a Bill which would come within the title, but which would be foreign to the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– Is there a standing order like this in New South Wales t
– I do not say there is, but I am arguing as to what can be done with an amendment. According to the practice to which I have been ‘accustomed, any amendment may be introduced which is relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill, and if the title does not fit it the title must be altered. If that is so, and a ruling to that effect may be given at any time, why should not it be given at an early rather than at a late stage of the Bill ?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I ask the indulgence of honorable senators to refer to May’s Parliamentary Practice, which sets forth the practice of the
House of Commons as being exactly what I have endeavoured to explain, and what is embodied in the South Australian standing orders at present adopted by the Senate. At the initiation of a Bill the only thing we have to look at is the title, and whether the Bill conforms to the title, which is the essential part of the order of leave. An honorable senator moves that he have leave to introduce a Bill entitled so and so. That is all the Senate knows, or can know at the time, of the subjectmatter of the Bill ; and if the order of leave is conformed to in that way, then the honorable senator’s privilege is clear to carry his Bill through its first and second reading. This is what May says at page 440 of the 10th edition, as to the practice of the House of Commons -
In preparing Bills great; care must be taken that they do not contain provisions which are not authorized by the order of leave ; that the prefatory paragraph prefixed to a Bill which de fines the object thereof, known as the title of the Bill, corresponds with the order of leave- ; and that the Bill itself is prepared pursuant to the order of leave and in proper form.
The South Australian standing order under which we work at present is exactly in conformity with the practice of the House of Commons. The standing order we are here asked to pass departs from the practice laid down by the existing standing order, and it is also a departure from the House of Commons practice as laid down by May. We may very well adhere to the practice of the House of Commons and to our present practice, and leave the standing order in a shape which merely enables the Chair to rule whether a particular Bill conforms to the title in the order of leave. Senator Drake quite unconsciously rather confused the object of the standing order, which has nothing to do with amendments extending beyond the title. These can be introduced in Committee. We may make a Bill intended for one purpose cover half-a-dozen different purposes : but if that be done we must at the close of the proceedings in Committee move that the title be enlarged to embrace those purposes. If we adopt the standing order now proposed we shall be doing violence to the practice of the House of Commons, which has existed for centuries, and we shall be giving a power to the Chair to prevent an honorable senator introducing a Bill and having its subject matter considered in Committee, not because it does not conform to the order of leave, the test of which is the title, but because in the estimation of the Chair it contains some provisions which are not relevant to the subject-matter.
– Where do we find the subject-matter?
– We cannot find the subject-matter anywhere until the Bill has been introduced. The standing order proposed is really an absurdity. It is very important that we should not restrict the privileges of honorable senators in introducing Bills, and in one aspect this standing order is worse than a restriction, because it puts an autocratic power in the hands of the President of the Senate to give a ruling upon the subjectmatter of a Bill, which we have not before us at all.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The argument just used by Senator Symon is untenable. The honorable and learned senator says that we propose to give an autocratic power to the occupant of the Chair to rule a Billout of order, if any of its provisions are contrary to the subject-matter. But the honorable and learned senator is willing to give the Chair power to rule a Bill out of order, if any of its provisions are not in accordance with the order of leave. Where is the difference? There will be just as much difficulty in arriving at a conclusion, and just as much room for argument upon any conclusion arrived at by the Chair in the one case as there will be in the other. In all my experience I have never known a Bill ruled out of order for any reason when first introduced. We are really fighting a shadow, because I do not suppose for one moment that a Bill introduced by a senator would so far transgress the order of leave, or so far wander from the subject-matter as to be ruled out of order. Senator Symon has referred to the practice of the House of Commons, and I shall now read from May, 9th edition, page 566 -
In the Commons,all amendments were formerly required to be within the scope and title of the Bill ; but by standing order, 19th July, 1854 -
Any amendment may be made to a clause provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, or pursuant to any instruction, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the House : but if any amendment shall not be within the title of the Bill, the Committee are to amend the title accordingly and report the same specialty to the House.
Since then the test always has been relevancy to the subject-matter of the Bill. As I said before, the House of Commons and various other Legislatures have found wanting the test as to the title of the Bill. In order to give more freedom to members, and to enable matters to be brought under consideration, the rule was enlarged and the subject-matter was made the test. If, of course, honorable senators wish to restrict themselves it does not matter to me ; I am quite prepared to administer any standing order the Senate may make.
– It is your duty to do so.
– I am now speaking personally ; and I am only anxious to give to senators the greatest freedom and the greatest power.
– This seems to be a somewhat praiseworthy effort at complication which arises from a confused train of thought. The standing order, as we found it, like every other standing order, was extremely simple.For instance, in the corresponding standing order adopted by the House of Representatives is -
The title shall agree with the order of leave, and no clause shall be inserted in any Bill foreign to its title.
That is perfectly simple, and can be clearly understood.
– It was probably copied from the South Australian standing order.
– I do not deny that ; I am simply saying that that is the standing order adopted by the House of Representatives.
– It is only a temporary standing order ; the House of Representatives has not yet passed standing orders.
– I am well aware of that. In the standing order now before us there is a confusion between the subjectmatter and the title. In the original standing order there is the clear connexion between the title and the order of leave, and we have the fact that every clause must be cognate, and in harmony with the title. The standing order before us requires that the title shall agree with the order of leave; and that is all right. But then it proceeds - andno clause shall be inserted in any such draft not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
Where is the connexion between the subjectmatter and the title? These may be as far asunder as the poles. The subject-matter may be decided to be one thing, and the title may be taken to cover something totally different.
– The Bill is not even in print at that stage.
– Of course it is not ; and who is to say what the subjectmatter is? No one, not even our present President, could say what the subjectmatter is on the initiation of a Bill. All that he can know is the title. Under this standing order it would be competent for the occupant of the Chair for the time being to rule that some clause was not relevant to the title. But at that stage who is to decide on so vague a question as that of the subject-matter? We have heard from Senator Baker that the proposed standing order is quite in conformity with other standing orders. No doubt it is in conformity with the other standing order which provides for amendments ; and if Senator Baker’s arguments had been put before us in discussing Standing Order 195, they would have been applicable and of value. Standing Order 195 is as follows : -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill provided the same be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
But an amendment is very different from an original clause, and the standing order I have read is most excellent at the stage to which it applies. Between an amendment’ at some subsequent stage of a Bill and a clause in the Bill as laid on the table, there is a vast difference. This standing order has been complicated without any benefit, and it would be far better to go back to the simple condition in which we found this and every other standing order, and so remove all doubt and difficulty. I would suggest that all the words in the standing order after the word “such “ be struck out. The word” draft” is used. It ought to be “ Bill.”
– Some honorable senators may be of opinion that “Bill” is a better word than “ draft,” and yet not be prepared to vote that the other words be struck out.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - To remove any doubt, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment, and move, as a preliminary, that the word “Bill” be substituted for the word “ draft.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the word “draft,” line 2, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “Bill.”
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That all the words after the word “ Bill,” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ foreign to its title.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order180 agreed to.
Standing Order 181 -
Except as to Bills which the Senate may not amend, the question “ That this Bill be now read a first time,” shall be put by the President immediately after the same has been received, and shall be determined without amendment or debate.
– I wish to direct attention to a word which I think ought to be changed. The only Bills which we receive are those which come from the other House, and which are dealt with under another standing order. The word “received “ may be applicable to such Bills, but it is not applicable to the Bills which are presented to the Senate under Standing Order 178. I suggest that we should use the word “ presented,” which is to be found in our present standing order. It is only fair that we should hear the view of Senator Dobson, who is a member of the Standing Orders Committee.
– I think that the word “presented” ought to go in.
– The word “received “ is a technical one which, I think, should be allowed to remain. A senator presents and the Senate receives a Bill. The proceeding is thus described in May -
The Speaker thereupon calls upon him by name: he answers “a Bill, sir,” and the Speaker desires him to “ bring it np,” upon which lie carries the Bill to the table, and delivers it to the Clerk of the House, who reads the short title aloud ; when the Bill is said to have been ‘* received by the House.”
Senator Sir. JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am exceedingly obliged to you, sir, for your explanation. I am only pointing out that in each instance the word “ presented “ is used in our existing Standing Orders 277 and 278. With Senator Dobson, I think it is the right word to use, because it would cover both cases.
– It seems to me altogether a misuse of words to say that a Bill is presented by the House of Representatives. A Bill is sent up here, where it is received. A senator presents a Bill, and the Senate receives it. The Standing order is quite right as it is.
– After the view which has just been expressed with so much vigour, I shall not. press my .objection.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Order 182 -
In Bills which the Senate may not amend the question, “That this Bill be now read a first time,” may be debated, and the debate need not be relevant to the subject-matter of such Bill.
– This standing order deals with a matter of a very grave nature. It relates to Money Bills, which are dealt with in a separate chapter, beginning at Standing Order 225. It deals with Bills affected by the financial sections of the Constitution. Having regard to the great power which the Senate has in connexion with Money Bills, it should have some corresponding opportunity to that which is possessed by the other House of dealing with grievances. I suggest that we should delay the consideration of this, standing order until we come to deal with the whole question of Money Bills in another chapter. It is out of place in a chapter which has no relation to Money Bills in particular, but which deals generally with Bills which come before the Senate for consideration. I should like to have the standing order considered in connexion with the provisions dealing with Money Bills, so that we may have all the rules relating to such Bills set out in one part of our code.
– This standing order does not affect our relations with another place.
– We have two sets of standing orders dealing with Money Bills, which can only come to us from another place j and why should we not insert this particular rule, which relates to Money Bills, in its proper place in our code 1 It is very desirable that we should have a clear arrangement of our standing orders.
– It seems to me that the standing order is in its right place. We are now dealing with first readings, and the first reading of a Bill which’ we may not amend comes under that heading. In the first place, we say generally that the first reading of a Bill shall not be debated, and then we say that the first readings of particular Bills may be debated. I admit that it is not a matter of very much importance ; but I submit that the standing order is in its right place.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That the consideration of Standing Order 182 be postponed until after the consideration of. Standing Order 225.
My desire is to make the standing order as large as possible in terms, and if it is shown to be large enough as it stands, I shall have no objection to its being inserted immediately after No. 225.
Motion agreed to.
Standing Order 183-
No Bill shall be read a first time unless the same be in print.
– I would ask Senator Drake to consent to the elimination of this standing order. Our practice is that after leave is obtained by an honorable senator the Bill is presented and read a first time without debate, and the next motion is that the Bill be printed, and the second reading be made an order of the day for a certain day. This standing order will compel an honorable senator who, perhaps, may not desire to proceed with his Bill after it has been read a first time to get it printed before it is introduced. Why should he be put to the expense of printing his Bill when between the date of the first reading and the dayset down for the second reading he might change his mind ?
– Why does he bring in the Bill ? A senator does not bring in a Bill for fun.
– Why introduce difficulties by requiring a Bill to be printed before it is read a first time ? A Bill is usually read a first time while it is in manuscript. The Government Printingoffice and the Government are always courteous in facilitating the printing of Bills for private senators, but why go to the expense of printing Bills before the first reading, and before it is known whether the Senate desires to give leave to print 1 The Senate may say - “We will not allow you to bring in your Bill, and to print it,” and may negative the motion for the first reading. Our present standing order is -
On the first reading the question shall be put that this Bill be printed, and the second reading made an order of the day for suchandsuch a day.
What is better than that ‘?
– There are very strong arguments in favour of this standing order. We want to have Bills printed as soon as they are read a first time, as it is desirable that they shall be circulated before that stage. If the expense of printing has to be incurred, what harm is therein requiring senators to have their Bills printed before asking for the first reading ? The Senate wants to be seized of the contents of Bills as soon as possible. A small check like this is not unreasonable. We do not want to have senators coming along with piles of manuscript Bills which they never intend to have printed, flinging them down, and asking that they shall be read a first time. Government Bills have always been printed before the first reading.
– What about Senator Dobson’s Divorce Bill 1
– That could have been printed before the first reading. The only saving of money could be where a Bill was read a first time, and not carried any further. We do not want to encourage that practice. How many cases are there of senators having Bills read a first time and then dropping them 1
Standing Order negatived.
Standing Order 184 agreed to.
Standing Order 185 (Day fixed for second reading).
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - This standing order does not provide for the reading of a Bill the second time. It ought to read - “after the first reading the question shall be put.” There must be an order of the Senate for the second reading. A Bill cannot be merely set down without an order. How does a Bill become an order of the day under this standing order? Our present standing order provides that the question shall be put, “ That this Bill be printed, and the second reading be made an order of the day “ for such-and-such a day.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 186 and 187 agreed to. ‘
Standing Order 18S (Amendments to be relevant).
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I should like to have some explanation from Senator Dobson on behalf of the Standing Orders Committee, as to why this standing order has been put in ? Is it not a fact that any amendment that is inconsistent with the .second reading of a Bill defeats the Bill t
– I do not see why Senator Symon should insist that on every occasion we should follow the South Australian orders, never deviating from them by a hair’s breadth. This standing order is taken from the standing orders of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. I also find that the standing orders of the Queenslaud Legislative Assembly provide -
No other amendment may be moved to such question unless the same be strictly relevant to the Bill.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 189 to 192 agreed to.
Standing Order 193 -
The following order shall be observed in considering a Bill and its title : -
Clauses as printed, and proposed new clauses.
Postponed clauses (not havingbeen specially postponed to certain clauses).
Schedules as printed.
Proposed new schedules.
Preamble (if any) .
And in reconsidering the Bill, which can only be done upon recommittal, the same principle shall be followed.
– This standing order makes, in a very indirect way, a change which honorable senators ought to. be made aware of. At present we have three opportunities of reconsidering the clauses of Bills which have been dealt with in Committee. One is at the close of proceedings in Committee when the motion is made that the report be brought up. Any honorable senator may then move for the reconsideration of any clauses which may have been previously dealt with. That is a most convenient process. It is done before the Bill goes out of Committee, and when everything is fresh in the minds of those who have been dealing with it. It saves the Chairman leaving the Chair. I do not know how far that practice has been followed in connexion with parliamentary institutions elsewhere, but in South Australia it has been pursued ever since parliamentary Government has existed. It has also been adopted in the Senate with great advantage. The second way of getting clauses reconsidered, is when the motion is made for the adoption of the report in the Senate. Then any honorable senator can move for a recommittal. The one process is reconsideration ; the other is recommittal strictly so called. The third process is when the motion is made that the Bill be read a third time. Then any honorable senator may move to have any clause recommitted. But if we pass this standing order in its present shape, it provides that a Bill can only be reconsidered upon recommittal, and we shall be abolishing and depriving ourselves of the power we have at present of securing the reconsideration of clauses before a Bill gets out of Committee. I wish to preserve every possible power for dealing with Bills, and I think that this is an ill-considered amendment, in the sense that it has not been sufficiently thought out, and that it curtails the power and rights of senators. I therefore move -
That the words “which can only be done upon recommittal,” lines 11 and 12, be omitted.
If that amendment be adopted I shall, a little later on, move to the effect that when the motion is made that the report be brought up, any honorable senator may move for the reconsideration of any clause or clauses.
– No doubt this is altogether a matter of convenience, and the practice of reconsidering a Bill without taking it out of Committee is peculiarly a South Australian practice. When the Senate first met the majority of honorable senators were against this practice. They had never had any experience of it and did not like it. As will be seen from the memorandum accompanying the Standing Orders Committee’s report, one of the objects of the Committee was to frame standing orders which they believed would be approved of by the majority of honorable senators. Senator Symon is slightly in error when he says that there will, under the proposed standing order, be only three opportunities of reconsidering clauses, because a Bill may be recommitted over and over again. Therefore, the amendment will not give the Senate any greater . opportunity of reconsidering clauses than we shall have under the standing order as proposed. The only difference will be in the mode in which the reconsideration takes place. There is one objection to the South Australian practice of reconsideration without taking a Bill out of Committee, and that is that we cannot get a fair copy of the Bill, and if a Bill is reconsidered in that way two or three times, it sometimes gets into such confusion that it is difficult to follow. Whether it is better to formally report a Bill to the Senate, have a fair copy supplied, and then reconsider it; or whether it is more convenient to reconsider it in Committee, is a question upon which I am not prepared to give a strong opinion either way. I think it does not matter much which course we follow, but there is undoubtedly an advantage in having a fair copy of a Bill when it is being reconsidered.
– It is a very great convenience to be able to reconsider a Bill in the same Committee without having it reported, because if that is not done, and the matter is postponed for consideration at a later date, and until a fair copy of the Bill has been printed, the subject-matter and details of the Bill pass out of honorable senator’s minds,and it is possible that some honorable senators, who have taken a great deal of interest in the measure, may not be present when it comes on for reconsideration. I am sure it will be admitted that during last session we reconsidered Bills in Committee under the existing South Australian practice with great advantage to us all. I remind honorable senators that if a very great number of amendments have been made in a Bill, and a clean copy of it is desired, there is nothing to prevent us refusing to give leave for reconsideration in such circumstances. I am sure that the practice we have so far adopted tends to expedite business, and is of great convenience to honorable senators.
Amendment agreed to.
– All the arguments which apply to reconsidering clauses in Committee apply, in my opinion, to the discussion of new clauses, and I propose to move an amendmentdealing with that matter.
– It is too late for the honorable senator to move the amendment he suggests.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the word “ principle,” line 12, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieutherof the word “order.”
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Perhaps the word “principle” is not the very best . word to use, but I do not think the word “order” is as good, because the reconsideration of one clause may be proposed, and how can we then say that the same “ order “ is to be adopted.
– The same procedure.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think we could not do better than adopt the word “ order,” which the Standing Orders Committee have used previously in this standing order, and to overcome the objection taken by Senator Baker the word “ followed “ might subsequently be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ observed as far as possible.”
– I do not think that the word “ order “ fully carries out the idea Senator Symon has in view. I think the word “ practice “ would be the proper word to use.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the word “followed,” line . 13, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ observed as far as possible.”
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 1 94 (Manner of reading clauses).
– The standing order provides that in the reading of the clauses of a Bill it shall be sufficient to read the numbers and marginal notes only. I move -
That the words “unless otherwise ordered” be added at the end of the standing order.
An honorable senator may desire to have a clause read, in order that it may be properly understood.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 195 agreed to.
Standing Order 196 -
No new clause or amendment shall be at any time proposed which is substantially the same us one already negatived by the Committee, or which is inconsistent with one that has been already agreed to by the Committee, unless a recommittal of the Bill shall have intervened.
– A slight confusion arises under this standing order, because it overlooks the fact that we can have a reconsideration of a Bill without having it reported. I suggest that the standing order might be amended by leaving out all the words after the word “ Committee “ where it last occurs, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ but on recommittal decisions of the former Committee may be reversed.”
– If we are to adopt the practice just agreed to of reconsidering Bills in the same Committee, we shall have inconsistent conclusions come to in the same Committee. This standing order requires reconsideration, in consequence of the amendment which has been agreed to in Standing Order 193 . Personally. I think that it might be struck out.
– This standing order is not necessary and it might as well be struck out as appear here with a reference to the South Australian Standing Order 291. Really I wish the printer had omitted all these references because they are absolutely misleading. This standing order has no relevance to the South Australian Standing Order 291. I agree with Senator Baker at present that this standing order should be struck out.
Standing Order postponed.
Standing Orders 197 to 200 agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It is at this stage that a consequential amendment should be made introducing a standing order to preserve to us the power we now have of reconsideration before a Bill leaves committee. I shall indicate what I propose and then, perhaps, the Chairman will rule whether I am in order. I move -
That the following be inserted as a new standing order: - “Whenever it is moved that the report be brought up the reconsideration of any clause or clauses may be moved as an amendment. “
– That cannot be considered at this stage, unless the honorable and learned senator introduces it as an amendment to a standing order before the Chair. It might be submitted as an amendment to Standing Order 203.
Standing Orders 201 and 202 agreed to.
Standing Order 203 (Bill ordered to be reported).
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the following words be added: - “and upon such motion ‘That this Bill be reported, ‘ the reconsideration of any clause or clauses may be moved as an amendment.”
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 204 to 217 agreed to.
Standing Order 218 -
N o amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the House of Representatives that is not strictly relevant. . .
– This is said, in the marginal note, to be the universal practice, and if that be so, it is a pity to lay the procedure down within the limits of a hardandfast standing order. So far, my objectionto the standing order is the introduction of the -word “ strictly” before the word “relevant.” An amendment is either relevant or not relevant ; there can be no question of degree. As worded, the standing order simply introduces another question which will have to be decided and another element of discussion. I move-
That the word “ strictly,” line 3, be omitted.
– The words “ strictly relevant” are to be found in this connexion in the standing orders of every Parliament. They are in the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia, and they have been interpreted over and over again in the House of Commons and in the Legislatures of all the Australian States. It would be inadvisable to alter the wording, especially in this standing order, because this deals with an amendment on an amendment of the House of Representatives. The question of relevancy is always difficult to decide, and each case must be settled on its merits. No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down ; a question of strict relevancy is one which must be left to the presiding officer. In the standing orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia, which are much admired, and properly so, the words “ strictly relevant “ are to be found several times.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I should like to see some of these instances pointed out. The fact is that the word “ strictly “ has been scattered much as is pepper from a pepper-box, and it is absurd to have these strong arguments in favour of the word “ strictly” being retained when, in the very next line of the same standing order, we have the word “relevant” standing alone.
– That shows that in the one case the rule is to be more strictly applied.
– Has there to be a diffierence made as to the relevancy ?
– A difference in degree.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what that difference is - why in tire one case an amendment has to be strictly relevant, and in the other case simply relevant
– In the case of an amendment on an amendment from another place, the rule must be strictly construed.
Question - That the word “strictly” proposed to be omitted stand part of the standing order - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 219 to 225 agreed to.
Postponed Standing Order 182 (Debate on first reading of Bill, which Senate may not amend).
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - As I said before, I think this standing order fairly meets the case. To the procedure on going into Committee of Supply, and to the substance of the standing order, I have no objection to offer. I think that Standing Order 182 should stand as Standing Order 225a.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I thought that this standing order was to be inserted under the head of Money Bills. It certainly will not be in its right place if it is put in here. It deals with the first reading of Bills which the Senate may not amend, and it ought to be either under the standing orders which relate to the first reading of Bills or under the standing orders which relate to Bills which the Senate may not amend.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - The standing order deals with Bills received the first time from the House of Representatives. These Bills are of two classes-; - those which we may amend and those which we may not amend. A Bill of either class has to be read a first time. Standing Order 225 sets out the procedure to be adopted ; and then we make an exception in regard to a particular set of Bills on which we desire to take to ourselves the right of discussing grievances. I think that the standing order will be inserted in the right place, with this exception, that it ought to begin with these words, “ in the case of Bills.” I move -
That the words “case of” be inserted after the word “In,” line1.
– If the standing order is inserted in this place, will it not be inconsistent with Standing Order 226, which reads -
When any such Bill shall have been passed by the Senate with or without amendment.
Standing Order 182 deals with Bills which the Senate may not amend, and if it is inserted after No. 225, we shall have to make an alteration in No. 226. I suggest that it should be inserted under the head of proceedings on Bills which the Senate may not amend.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It is a matter of perfect indifference to me where it is inserted, so long as it is connected with Bills which are brought up from the other House. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment with a view to the further postponement of the standing order.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Standing Order further postponed.
Standing Orders 226 to 232 agreed to.
Standing Order 233 -
No amendment can be proposed in any words of the Bill, which, having received the concurrence of the House of Representatives, have not been the subject of, or immediately affected by, some previousamendment, unless such proposed amendment be consequent upon an amendment already agreed to, or made by the Senate.
– I should like Senator Dobson to explain this standing order, which apparently is without any precedent.
– It is the universal practice.
– If it is the universal practice it should not be embodied in a standing order. There is a great difference between what is called “universal practice” and its formulation into a rigid standing order. This standing order is very difficult of construction. I appeal to any man to say what it means. I cannot make out what it is intended to prevent. It is far better to rely upon what is called “universal practice “ than to confine ourselves within the iron-bound limits of a standing order.
– In the Queensland standing orders the general practice is shown in italic letters for the guidance of the members, and the rules defining such practice are interspersed with the standing orders. It allows honorable members to know what is the practice, without having a rigid standing order. That plan has not been adopted in the case of these standing orders. We have no option but either to have no standing order on the subject, and to rely on universal practice, or to make a standing order. It will be an advantage to have the universal practice stated in a standing order, in order that our actions may be uniform.
– It is the universal practice that there must be some finality about Bills. One House passes a Bill, and the other House amends the Bill and passes its third reading, so that it has been passed by both Houses except as to certain matters which arein dispute, and on which f urther proceedings take place. Amendments on the amendments are made, and so on, until at last a point is reached when there ought to be finality, and that point is met by the standing order. It gives a certain amount of latitude in making amendments on amendments, and in making amendments which are relevant to those qf the other House. I admit that when a Bill has passed three or four times between the Houses and amendments have been made, and these are followed by consequential amendments, it is very difficult to arrive at a conclusion as to what is open. But there must come a time when only certain matters are open, and when those matters must be agreed to by both Houses or the Bill must be lost. This standing order, which was drawn by the Clerk, formulates the practice of all the States and the House of Commons.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I regard as of great value the practice which is adopted in Queensland. The volume which Senator Drake has been kind enough to hand to me is practically an annotated volume of standing orders, comprising references to the practice of the House of Commons, and so on. I wish that something of the same kind could be done for the Senate. I am not prepared to say that this standing order does or does not accurately define the universal practice. I do not understand it. I do not know what it is driving at. I have the greatest possible jealousy of having too many standing orders. We have here over 400 standing orders, and it is quite enough to master those which are plain, without having new ones piled one on top of the other, expressive of what is described as the universal practice. I give the utmost credit to the Standing Orders Committee for making an effort to embody in a standing order what is described as the universal practice, but we are all subject to human frailties. I defy any man to embody adequately in six or seven lines the universal practice on a debatable question, which must be the subject of either a ruling by the Chair or a deliberate conclusion by the Senate on the occasion when it crops up. ‘ Why is it necessary that we should have another standing order upon this Subject ? AVe have just had a division on Standing Order 218, which defines the kind of amendments which can be made upon amendments of the House of Representatives. Is not that .enough? We cannot propose an amendment on an amendment of the House of Representatives that is not relevant, nor can an amendment be moved to a
Bill unless that amendment be relevant to or consequent upon the acceptance or rejection of an amendment of the House of Representatives. What is this standing order wanted for ? It is a repetition in obscure and metaphysical language of another standing order. I ask that the Senate should not be hampered by an attempt - a laudable attempt - to embody something which is described as universal practice in a rigid, cast-iron standing order. Let us have some degree of latitude. If we are to be bound hand and foot in the discussion of matters, we may as well give up a portion of dur freedom. I appeal to Senator Zeal, as one who has had considerable experience, as to the difficulty of interpreting unnecessary standing orders. Why should we pile 233 upon 218, which is clear and expressive, for no earthly object except to attempt to reduce to a standing order what is universal practice? If it is universal practice we can deal with cases as they come up ; but in reducing it to language we may be doing more than universal practice warrants.
– It only gathers up a principle.
– There is, as Senator Dobson knows, great difficulty in using precise language. The principle is a good one; the effort may be a good one. But it is a dangerous thing to adopt a standing order if you have a universal practice, because in framing your standing order you may, through the infirmity of human language, express something different from the universal practice. The whole object is to have all the . freedom we can have in debate in the Senate, and in proposing amendments. We have already passed 2 IS, which limits the kind of amendments which may be moved on amendments coming from another Chamber. The standing order under discussion practically does the same thing, but does it in a much less precise way.
– But in maintaining freedom of discussion we should’ not violate the principle of this standing order.
– We have done enough in Standing Order 21S, and I shall, for these reasons, vote against this standing order.
– It is most desirable that our practice in regard to our own Bills, and messages thereon, should be the same, . as far as possible, as that with regard to Bills coming from the other place. As to Bills originated in the Senate, we have distinctly and definitely set down in Standing Order 218 what our practice shall be. It is undesirable that we should adopt any different practice as regards Bills coming to us from the House of “Representatives. The situation may be met by reconsidering Standing Order 225, which says that -
Public Bill’s coining to the Senate for the first time from the House of Representatives, shall be proceeded with in all respects as similar Bills presented in pursuance of orders of the Senate.
If, on reconsideration of 225, we struck out the words “the first time,” Standing Order 233 would be altogether unnecessary. An uniform practice would be thereby established. 1 therefore suggest that we might make a note of the desirability of reconsidering 225.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia. - I do not think that this matter has been properly understood. The question is what we shall do with a Bill when it comes to us a first time, after amendment, from the House of Representatives, is one thing. The Bill may come back a second time, and may be dealt with. It may then come back a third time. We must meet those cases. Standing Order 233 is to meet final cases, when a Bill has come back a third time, and when it is proposed we have arrived at the stage of finality subject to afree conference.. It is noargument to say that by previous standing orders we provide for the amendments we may make on the amendments of the House of Representatives. That is all very well. But this is an additional standing order to provide what shall be done when the Bill finally comes back and we have arrived at the last stage. The argument of Senator Symon that we must not bind ourselves will apply- to every one of these standing orders’. If we are to have the freest possible discussion, and are not to be bound by standing orders, we do not need any at all. Every one of these standing orders bind us. All the rules that we have been considering about amendments bind us. There is no reason whatever that I can see why we should not have some kind of standing order relating to the final stage of amendments between the two Houses, such as we have with regard to the first, second, and third stages. The history of this 3 c standing order is this. Some time ago it was decided in South Australia - I think by the House of Assembly - to adopt new standing orders. The Clerks of the two Houses - Mr. Blackmore and the Clerk of the House of Assembly - formulated this standing order, after careful consideration. The Standing Orders Committee do not take credit for it, because it was in the standing orders drafted by Mr. Blackmore.
– I have been studying this standing order as a layman, and I can see, after reading it without certain parenthetical sentences, the meaning of it very clearly. I will read it without those sentences, and the Senate will see the force, of it -
No amendment can be proposed in any words of the Bill which . . . have not been the subject of . . . some previous amendment, unless such proposed amendment be consequent upon an amendment . . . made by the Senate. It practically means that no new matter isto be put in a Bill after a certain time. I support the standing order.
– I think it would be safer to accept this standing order. It is one that would beseldom exercised, but it is just as well to have it. As I understand the position, a Bill comes from another place and is amended here. It is then sent back to the House of Representatives, and the amendments which we have made are either amended or agreed to. So the process goes on till the last stage ; and then it is provided that after another place has agreed to words to which we have already agreed, no further amendment on that amendment canbe made. A finality standing order like this provides a safeguard against confusion when that last stage arrives. I hope it will be carried.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that more confusion than even the standing order itself contains has been thrown around itin the course of the discussion. Senator Walker solved the difficulty by eliminating about one-third of the standing order. That is one way of solving a question. I ‘admire that method, and wish to carry Senator Walker’s process a little further by eliminating the whole of the standing order. The serious contention which has been put forward in favour of it is that the standing order contemplates the last stage of amendments. All I can say is that if so, the last stage will be very much worse than the first. Senator McGregor was rather carried away by the contention that the standing order is intended to meet the last stage, which is, however, absolutely met by Standing Order 218. That standing order also embodies the universal practice, and is fairly intelligible. Our desire is to provide that our powers in relation to amendments coming from the House of Representatives shall be, in some shape or other, properly under our control - that we shall not do more than deal with the amendments, and shall not re-open the whole Bill, which would be a monstrous thing to do. But how is that prevented? It is prevented by Standing Order 218 -
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the House of Representatives that is not relevant thereto.
That is a pretty high barrier to erect. It means that we cannot introduce anything which was forgotten when the Bill was in Committee in the Senate. Amendments made must be relevant to amendments of the House of Representatives, and must not seek to embody matters thought of afterwards. But that is not all. The standing order goes on - nor can an amendment be moved to the Bill.
That is, not to an amendment of the House of Representatives, but to the Bill or any’ part of it. unless the some be revelant to or consequent upon either the acceptance or rejection of a House of Representatives’ amendment.
It is absolutely final. It exhausts the whole subject.
– What about our own amendments?
– I think the suggestion of the Chairman was an excellent one, emanating from a mind experienced in parliamentary affairs. That suggestion would make it clear that the general practice is applicable not only to Bills coming back to us from the House of Representatives, but to amendments to Bills coming from the House of Representatives and amended by us. If we like to substitute for 233 a repetition of 218 we shall be using less ambiguous language and doing precisely the same thing. The whole essence of it is the concurrence of the House of Representatives in what’ we have done. We cannot alter that. If the Chairman’s suggestion is adopted, the matter will be put beyond doubt. Standing Order 218 is exhaustive and intelligible, and that this standing order is difficult of apprehension is shown by the fact that the powerful mind which Senator Walker possesses, though trained, by the way, on the Judiciary Committee of the Convention, has been unable to comprehend it.We should not hamper ourselves with standing orders which require the elimination of an essential part before they can be understood.
– The difference between Standing Orders 218 and 233 is, that under Standing Order 218 consequential amendments upon amendments made by the House of Representatives may be moved, and under Standing Order 233 consequential amendments may be moved in connexion with Senate amendments. That is what is intended by the standing order, and it is the universal practice. But as there is shown to be so much difference of opinion upon the matter, perhaps the safest plan to adopt will be that suggested by Senator Symon of leaving this standing order out, and then, when difficulties crop up, the President can rule as to what the universal practice is as questions arise.
– I apprehend that it will be desirable to have as far as we can a universal practice laid down. There are two ways of overcoming the difficulty. The first is that suggested in connexion with the reconsideration of Standing Order 225, and the other the introduction in this standing order after the word “ unless” of the words which follow the word “unless” in Standing Order 218 - “the same be relevant to or consequent upon, either the acceptance, amendment, or rejection of a House of Representatives amendment.”
– On looking into the matter I find that Standing Order 218 really applies to Bills which originated in the Senate, because it deals with amendments upon amendments made by the House of Representatives in Bills which have originated in the Senate. Standing Order 233 refers to Bills received from the House of Representatives. I am not prepared to say that Standing Order 218 applies to a Bill in all its stages, but at all events Standing Order 233, as Senator Baker has pointed out, is expressly placed under the heading of “ Amendments after disagreement.” It appears to me, therefore, that it would be wise to leave this standing order in. With reference to the remark that this is the universal practice, it appears to me that it embodies a principle which we should be doing a gross wrong to violate in any way. When we are dealing with amendments made by another place,we are bound to adhere to the constitutional practice whether we provide for it in the standing order or not.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I point out to Senator Dobson that Standing Order 233 does not exclusively relate to Bills received from the House of Representatives. It is under a heading of its own “ Amendments after disagreement,” but it refers to all Bills. That being so, the honorable and learned senator’s argument falls to the ground. Then Standing Order 233 does not refer to the condition of things to which my honorable and learned friend would limit it. It refers to identically the same set of Bills as are referred to by Standing Order 2 IS. In the meantime, I think we should strike this standing order out, and at the conclusion of the consideration of the standing orders we should reconsider either Standing Order 218 or Standing Order 225. If we decide to amend Standing Order 218, we can make it apply to Bills going both ways by an additional word or two.
– The cost of leaving this as it is will not be nearly so great as the cost of the argument.
– If that is the attitude to be adopted in considering these standing orders, I have no objection, but ‘ I remind Senator Dawson that we should not agree to standing orders which will cast any reflection upon the Senate, and I remind him also that we shall have to submit to rulings upon these standing orders.
– But this does not conflict with Standing Order 218.
– It does absolutely. My honorable and learned friend admits that it applies to the same Bills as Standing Order 218, and it introduces a lot of words which will receive an additional interpretation every time a Billcomes up to us from the House of Representatives.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I desire to point out that the words of this standing order are, with the exception of the use of the word “Senate” for the word “House,” identical with the words of the House of Representatives’ Standing Order 249. 3 c 2
There is a marginal note to Standing Order 249 of the House of Representatives giving a reference to Standing Order 207. That is a reference to a standing order of some other House. So that we have in support of this standing order not only the recommendation of our own Standing Orders Committee, but that of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives, and a reference to a standing order of some other House. In these circumstances I think we ought to pass this standing order. It is all very well to speak of the universal practice, and to say that we shall get a ruling upon the universal practice, but how is the President to rule upon the universal practice ? We have no standing order to say that he shall do anything of the sort, or to give him power to do it, and it is a moot question whether or not we should adopt the usual course of providing that where we have not otherwise provided by our standing orders the practice laid down by the House of Commons is to prevail. Even if we agree to such a provision, we shall still have uncertainty instead of certainty, and I ask honorable senators to pay some attention to the recommendation of their own Standing Orders Committee.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia).- -Undoubtedly there has been temporarily adopted by the. House of Representatives’ a corresponding standing order. But we have no assurance that this standing order will be finally accepted by the House of Representatives, and there is no authoritative standing order to this effect at present existing in any legislative assembly in the world. We are now engaged upon the task of adopting permanent standing orders for our guidance, and our object ought to be to endeavour, as far as possible, to have only such standing orders as can be thoroughly understood. When we come’ to deal with a standing order of this description it is not enough to say that it is at present in existence in a draft which has yet to come up for consideration in another place. We have to settle for ourselves whether this is a standing order which we ought to adopt. I agree that if we have no standing order applicable to a particular state of things, it is infinitely better that the Senate should have the practice of the House of Commons to go to, and to have a ruling sought, as a ruling must be sought upon all these questions, upon which each member of the Senate will be able to formulate his views of the universal practice relevant to the particular question that crops .up. What I object to is* the attempt to embody unnecessarily what may be described as the universal practice in a hard-and-fast standing order, when that universal practice is covered so far as it can be by the earlier Standing Order 218. Here we are at the beginning of the Federal Parliament endeavouring to lay down a hard-and-fast rule defining universal practice. It is from this point of view that, in the interests of the Senate, I think we should refuse to be bound by more fetters than are absolutely essential. For us to off-hand formulate in these standing orders a sort of political axiom of political practice is a task we ought not to undertake except under the most serious pressure. It is a task which we still less ought to attempt if there is already a standing order which, with the amendment as suggested by the Chairman, would exactly meet the case.
– The difficulty was met last session in another way, when, although we knew that consequential amendments must be made, a Bill was passed, and the amendments left to be inserted on the suggestion of the Governor-General after the final stages had been passed in both Houses. It seems to me that that is the practice that should be followed.
– Is it not better to have the practice embodied in a standing order than to have long discussions and repeated references to May ?
– The practice of allowing the Governor-General to suggest consequential amendments is embodied in the standing order. It has been pointed out that, if the standing order bs passed as proposed,’ there might be a tendency to abuse it. It would rest with the President to practically determine whether an amendment was consequential, and should he determine that it was, the other House might take the view that, so far from being consequential, it embodied a principle.
– The President would still have to determine the point if we were, relying on the unwritten practice.
– At any rate I think the standing order might have a tendency to create friction.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The object is not to create friction, but to definitely lay down rules which will so guide the two Houses that neither may have cause for offence. If the question be left open or vague, friction may arise, and it must be remembered that every standing order binds or “fetters” us in some degree. The object of standing orders is to facilitate business, and save time by preventing discussions at every stage as to what the procedure shall be, and the bonds are not very heavy, seeing that the standing order may, at any time, be suspended.
Standing Order postponed.
Standing Order 234 agreed to.
Standing Order 235 -
If in any. session the proceedings on any Bill shall have been interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament, the Senate may in the next succeeding session, by resolution, order such proceedings to be resumed ; provided a periodical election for the Senate has not taken place between such two sessions.
– The other day we were discussing the interesting question whether this is one continuous Parliament, or whether there is a new Parliament after each periodical or general election. Supposing it should be held that the Parliaments are separate, is it intended to take power to resume the consideration of Bills which have lapsed from a session of the preceding Parliament?
– I think that after the word “ periodical “ there should be inserted “ or general.”
– This standing order was made in pursuance of a resolution of the Senate.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That after the word “ periodical,” line 5, the words “ or general” be inserted.
– So far as I understand the standing order, it is only effective from session to session. At the end of the present session there will be a general election - that is, a periodical election for the Senate, which is a continuous body, and a general election for the House of Representatives, though the latter election is also periodical in a sense. If what Senator Drake has in his mind is a penal dissolution, I think that is. covered by the word “general.” I understand that when the new Parliament meets next year - that is, new in one sense, though not new as to the Senate in another sense - a
Bill partly completed this year could not then be taken up at the stage it had reached. A Bill partly completed last session, however, could under such a standing order bave been taken up this session.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 236-
Any such Bill may be sent to the House of Representatives as if it had been introduced and passed by the Senate in the second session.
– I think a verbal alteration is necessary in order to make this standing order clear. The words “second session” ought to be omitted, and “ next succeeding session “ substituted, thus following the wording of a previous standing order.
– If the words suggested were substituted they might be interpreted to mean the session after the session in which the Bill was being dealt with. I move -
That the word “second,” line 3, be omitted, with a view to add after the word “session” the words “ in which such proceedings have been resumed.”
– Is there any necessity for the standing order 1 ‘
– I do not think there is, and the simplest way would be to strike the standing order out.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think the standing’ order ought to be struck out as unnecessary. The House of Representatives have nothing to do with us in this matter, and the preceding standing order enables us to do all that we want to do. Why pass a Standing order which assumes that we are committing some gross irregularity 1
– I do not think it matters much whether or not this standing order is retained.
– I have discussed this matter with the Clerk, and it is only right to say that in his opinion it is desirable that the Senate should have a general authority in their standing orders to transmit a Bill.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 237 agreed to.
Standing Order 238-
Whenever the Governor-General shall return any Bill presented to him, and transmit therewith any amendment which he may recommend, such amendment shall be considered and dealt with in the same manner as amendments proposed by the House of Representatives.
– As the standing order reads, it will be competent for the GovernorGeneral to transmit with a Bill an amendment of any description which he may recommend. I decline to be a party to allowing a Government under cover of the Governor-General to have an amendment of principle or substance made in a Bill after it has been passed by both Houses. Therefore, I move -
That after the word “ amendment,” line 3, the words “not affecting the principle or substance of the Bill “ be inserted.
– If a principle of a Bill were interfered with by an amendment, and the Senate disagreed with the recommendation,’ it would be rejected at once. There is no necessity to introduce any words into the standing order, because the right of decision will always rest with the Senate. If we tie our hands we shall have long and tedious” debates on the question whether an amendment does or does not interfere with the principle or substance of a Bill. The more we leave our hands free, the better it will be for ourselves. We can deal with each case on its merits.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I hope, with Senator Playford, that if the Governor-General recommended any amendment that infringed the constitutional principle which he laid down, the Senate would instantly reject it.
– But if it were approved of by the Senate, it might not be rejected.
– T object to any amendment coming down from the Governor-General which infringes that constitutional principle. Otherwise a strong Government, with a strong backing, might force through the Houses an amendment which altered the principle or substance of a Bill, and which ought to be the subject of fresh legislation. The standing order is intended to cover formal amendments, and not amendments affecting the principle or substance of a Bill. If that view is expressed in the standing order it will avoid the necessity for the heated discussions which Senator Playford deprecated, and possibly greater care will be exercised in sending down amendments.
– Have we the power to limit the scope of the Governor-General’s amendments ?
– In this standing order we are erecting a sign-post so that the Governor-General may know that the amendments which he is to recommend are to be formal or verbal. I admit that this view has not been embodied in a standing order in South Australia, but I think we have now reached a stage when the constitutional practice ought to be embodied in a standing order.
– The Constitution of nearly every State contains a provision to enable the Governor to recommend amendments in a Bill ; but most jealously every Parliament has dealt with only amendments of a formal or verbal character. In this connexion perhaps I may be permitted to read section 58 of our Constitution -
When a proposed law, passed by both Houses of the Parliament, is presented to the Governorgeneral for the Queen’s assent, he shall declare, according to his discretion, but subject to this Constitution, that he assents in the Queen’s name, or that he withholds assent, or that he reserves the law for the Queen’s pleasure.
The Governor-General may return, to the House in which it originated any proposed law so presented to him, and may transmit therewith any amendments which he ma3’ recommend, and the Houses may deal with the recommendations.
I do not think that any Government would fare well which attempted in this way to introduce any amendments which affected the principle or substance of a Bill. I hardly think it is necessary to limit our powers in this respect.
– I think we should erect this sign-post, but I exceedingly regret that Senator Symon did not undertake the work in the Convention.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that the section in the Constitution could not have been better expressed than it is.
– Under the Constitution the Governor-General has a perfect right to send down any amendment, affecting a principle or otherwise.
– What does section 5S of the Constitution say ? Itsays that the Houses “ may “ deal with the recommendations of the Governor-General. My honorable friend said that if a recommendation were in violation of the wellunderstood practice, it would be rejected at once. ‘
– We shall be overriding the Constitution if we embody that view in a standing order.
– Not at all. What wesayisthatif the GovernorGeneral shouldsend downsubstantial amendments we shall not consider them. I am seeking to preserve the privileges of the Senate and to give notice by our standing orders that certain recommendations are not to come down because they will be rejected.
– This limitation should have been stated in the Constitution.
– I do not think so, because the Senate has full power to regulate its own procedure. All I ask the Committee to say in this standing order is that the Governor-General maY not remit any amendment which affects the principle or substance of a Bill. I desire the recommendations of His Excellency to apply to only formal amendments as was understood by the Convention, and not to amendments which might be the means of overruling a minority in either one House or the other.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - It will be the height of discourtesy on our part, and, I think, contrary to the Constitution, if we frame a standing order to the effect that if the Governor-General sends down anyamendments affecting the principle or substance of a Bill the Senate will not consider them. Any amendment which involved a principle of the Bill could not be put by the President to the Senate if we had such a standing order. The Constitution Act says that the Senate shall consider any amendments which are transmitted by His Excellency. An occasion may arise when it may be eminently desirable that a very important alteration should be made. As a general rule, the amendments recommended by a Governor are accepted without discussion, because they are. merely of a verbal nature. But it may happen that by some means or other a very important provision has, by the omission of a few words, been left out. Our clerks are especially careful, but a printer’s error may be made. To tie our hands, and say that because we have made some mistake which affects the principle of a measure, we shall not be allowed to consider an amendment in order to put ourselves right, seems to me to be absurd.
AVe should treat every amendment suggested by the Governor-General on its merits, whether it refers to a matter of principle or of detail. The Constitution is clear on the point. I ask Senator Symon not to press his amendment.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - -When my honorable friend, Senator Playford, gives me advice with somuch solemnity my immediate impulse is to accept it.- I totally dissent to his argument and his view of the Constitution. I would point out to him that his argument is self-destructive. I will put a point which he can weigh between now and when we shall have this matter again under consideration- because I intend to have it dealt with again, for the reason that it involves an important constitutional question. Senator Playford says that we should not tie our hands so as to prevent ourselves from dealing with any amendment recommended by the GovernorGeneral on its merits. I decline to deal on its merits with any such amendment affecting the principle of any Bill passed by the Senate. This provision is simply for the purpose of enabling clerical and formal amendments to be made, such as Senator Playford himself lias illustrated. They may be errors of a typographical nature, or errors made by the Clerk at the table, or possibly there may be an omission in a clause dealing with the principle of a Bill, which may be amended by message from the GovernorGeneral. It is not within the functions of the Governor-General to recommend an amendment which touches the principle of a Bill, and we should refuse to entertain any such amendment.
– We often make amendments in Committee which conflict with other parts of a Bill, and the conflict is not noticed at the time.
– Those are formal, consequential, or verbal amendments, and would not change the mind of the Senate one iota. But the more wrong my honorable friend is in his arguments, and the more unacceptable his views may be, the more ready lam to follow his advice when he proffers it with so much earnestness. In this case I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Standing Order agreed to.
Standing Orders 239 to 241 agreed to.
– We now come to those standing orders which regulate our practice in a way which will affect the House of Representatives, and I understand that there is a desire not to proceed, with the discussion of them just now. If that be so, I am quite willing that they shall be postponed. It is very desirable that they should receive the fullest possible consideration. I have already expressed my opinion with regard to them, and need not repeat it now. I move -
That Standing Orders 242 to 250 be postponed.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I suggest that the numbering of these standing orders be entirely altered. Their wording is not so bad, but they are a complete jumble in their present order. For instance, 242 refers a Bill to the Committee. Then 245 should be 243; 244 should follow, and next should come 243. No. 243 deals with the position after a Bill has been returned from the House of Representatives. Standing Order 248 should be numbered 246, because it deals with the proceedings in Committee; 249 should be numbered 247 ; -246 should be numbered 248, and 247 should be numbered 249. By altering the numbers in that way we shall have some sequence, and ‘ the standing orders will follow in their natural order. In the present jumble there is not the slightest sign of order.
– The standing orders as here printed follow the same system as isfollowed in the ordinary standing orders. Instead of being a complete jumble, Senator Pearce will, on further examination,, see that the first part deals with proceedings in the Senate. Then follow thestanding orders affecting the powers of the Committee and defining them; then those relating to proceedings in Committee are set out. There is no jumble at all. They follow in logical order. The mode in which they are arranged is first of all that they set out what the practice in the House shall be; then they set out what are the powers of the Committee, then the practice of the Committee. If Senator Pearce will look at the standing orders we have just gone through, he will see that we have adopted the same sequence as to ordinary Bills. First of all, we have set out as to ordinary Bills what may be done in the way of practice in the Senate itself ; then the powers of the Committee ; then the practice of the Committee. The sequence is perfectly logical, and consistent with our ordinary standing orders. I am aware that another arrangement is possible. If Senator Pearce looks at the first report of the Committee, he will see thatanother sequence was there adopted But, on consideration, it was thought that the -present arrangement was better. I think that it is more logical, at all events.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - My own idea was that the arrangement of these standing orders was a little bit confusing. But, after hearing Senator Baker, I think that perhaps there is a good deal to be advanced on the other side. What I rose particularly to say was that I am not going to be a party, unless compelled by action on the part of the House of Representatives, to the passing of standing orders affecting the two Houses without naring exhausted every power we have to come to an amicable arrangement avoiding trouble in the future. I know what it will very likely mean if we pass these standing orders as we have them drafted. We shall have a conflict with the other House, and that pretty quickly. It is better for us not to have such a conflict if we can possibly avoid it. We have no printed precedents to guide us. In South Australia the two Houses have been working from day to day, and the practice has not been reduced to writing. They have a compact which can be broken by either House at any time, and which is no part of the Constitution. They have no standing orders dealing with the matter. Their position is different from ours. We ought to exhaust every means within our power to arrive at an agreement between the two Housesastoourstandingorders upon this exceedingly important point. If we do not, the chances are that we shall be led into a dead-lock, which will be greatly to our injury, and much to be deplored. Therefore, I am not prepared under present circumstances to consider this part of the subject until, at all events, I can be sure that every effort has been made to arrive at a practical arrangement, or unless the other House shows a determination to adopt a course which I, as a senator, could not consistently agree to follow. I think that these particular standing orders ought to be postponed indefinitely. We can pass the others, and come back to this question again. I
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I am quite as anxious as Senator Playford is, and as every honorable senator must be, that there shall be an amicable arrangement between the two Houses. But it seems to me to be absolutely impossible that we can have any joint standing orders on this question. What are outstanding orders for ? To regulate our own practice. Our own practice is to make requests to the House of Representatives. Their practice is to grant or refuse those requests. So that our standing orders must be absolutely different. Let honorable senators look down these draft standing orders, and see if it is possible for the House of Representatives to adopt any one of them. It cannot be done. They only regulate our own procedure. Then look at the draft standing orders of the House of Representatives, which their own Standing Orders Committee have presented to them for adoption. I refer to their Standing Order 258, which has a number of sub-sections, but there is not one there that we can possibly adopt, because they cover their practice concerning a different state of affairs. We make the requests, and the)’ grant or refuse them. How can we have joint standing orders to regulate such matters 1 ,
– We could have an understanding.
– I do not know how we can arrive at that except through the Senate. A joint Standing Orders Committee certainly would have- no power to come to such an understanding. In the earlier part of last session, the Standing Orders Committees of the two Houses, I shall not say conferred together, but exchanged their drafts. I gave Mr. Speaker the draft of the standing orders the Senate’s Committee then proposed in reference to Bills which the Senate may not amend, but I said to him - “You cannot possibly adopt any of those ; they are not suited to your position.” We obtained from them the draft standing orders they proposed, but we could not adopt an)’ of them. The only point upon which we can come to any understanding - and it must be done by the two Houses - is as to how many requests we may send to another place before a difference bf opinion is finally settled. The standing order dealing with that matter is the only one which is at all open for discussion between the two Houses. All the others refer to our own practice in the Senate and in Committee. I cannot myself see how it is possible, except by resolution of the Senate communicated by message to the House of Representatives, or viae versa., that we can arrive at any arrangement in this matter. I do not know whether it is probable that we should arrive at any arrangement, nor do I know whether it is more probable that we should then arrive at an arrangement upon the abstract principle involved, than when the question arises in respect of a particular Bill as it did last session. In any case it is not a matter for settlement by the Standing Orders Committee, but by the Senate itself.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - Perhaps I used an inaccurate phrase in referring to “ joint “ standing orders; but Senator Baker has hit the point to which I intended to refer. My object is that we should come to some agreement upon the particular matter involved in the proposal to send three messages. That is the matter upon which trouble may arise between the two Houses, and we should, I think, arrive at a decision in regard to it. We should, I think, embody the arrangement come to with the House of Representatives on that point in our standing orders, and they should embody it in their standing order. We may arrive at a decision to send so many messages down. After they have considered our suggestions we may then reconsider the message they send “back, and we may send suggestions back to them again a second and a third time. We should have some mutual understanding as to what the practice upon that point is to be. The practice which the House of Representatives will desire to follow will unmistakably be that followed in South Australia, where only one message is ever sent from one House to the other upon such questions. No doubt the House of Representatives will light for the adoption of that practice as hard as they can, and we naturally will fight for the adoption of a practice which will give us what will practically amount to the power to make amendments. There will be differences of opinion between the two Houses upon this point, and we ought to agree to some compromise in connexion with it. I think that before any Money Bill is sent up to us upon which we may make, suggestions that point should be settled between the two Houses. The House of Representatives gave way on the Tariff Bill last year, but they did so under protest, and we, therefore, do not know how they will treat similar messages from the Senate on the next occasion. We may find that they will be the cause of trouble between the two Houses. I desire that we should avoid that if we can. We know what the’ results of a dead-lock between the two Houses may be. We had an experience of them in South Australia which was certainly a sad one. A dead-lock in that State caused an immense amount of trouble, and was settled eventually only by a compromise between the two Houses. Here, in Victoria, the State was placed in a worse position as the result of the dead-lock occurring between the two Houses of Parliament in connexion with the Darling grant. They had then the “Berry Blight,” “the Stone Wall,” “ the Iron Hand,” and I do not know what not.
– Our Constitution provides for a dead-lock, and the way out of it.
– The trouble and loss resulting from the dead-lock in Victoria were very great, and we can imagine what trouble would result from a dead-lock between the two Houses of the Federal Parliament. Its evil effects would extend over the whole Commonwealth, and would not be confined to one State. If we once begin to discuss a Money Bill and carry what we consider to beimportantsuggestions, and send’ them on to the House of Representatives, and if that House refuses to give them any consideration at all a dead-lock will ensue, and the chances of arriving at a compromise when our passions are heated and excited, will be very much less than if we were now quietly to sit around a table and discuss the matter calmly and amicably in order that we might arrive at a conclusion upon this very important point. I think that we should try to come to some understanding with the House of Representatives upon this proposal for three messages, with a conference at the close, before we deal with the other standing orders referring to these matters, and affecting only the conduct of affairs in the Senate.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - There can be no doubt that the point involved in this particular standing order is one of vital consequence to the smooth and effective working of our system of parliamentary government. At the same time, I do ‘ not think that Senator
Playford’s picture of the evils of the deadlock which occurred in Victoria in connexion with the Darling grant, or those of less momentous political importance, which occurred in South Australia when a difficulty of the kind arose there, at all resembles what would happen if a dead-lock arose under our Constitution. A dead-lock under our Commonwealth Constitution would be, I think I may say, quite adifferent sort of event or occurrence from those to which Senator Playford has referred. It might be none the less disastrous - perhaps I ought not to say disastrous - and it may be none the less a result to be avoided by every possible means. But under our Constitution, as Senator Playford will remember, we have provided for the very contingency of a difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives in relation to vital matters of this kind. We have machinery of great power to meet the case of a disagreement continuing for a certain period and under certain conditions between the two Houses. That machinery, although large and in some senses severe in its working-
– It is very drastic.
– It may be drastic, but my honorable friend knows that’ for a great purpose such as is to be served in solving a dead-lock of that kind the machinery must be considerable, and it must operate over the whole Commonwealth of Australia. That is to Say that it simply means that after we have exhausted our efforts to agree, and have failed in agreeing - and, of course, there will be no disagreement unless upon a point which is vital and fundamental - the whole matter is then to be remitted, by means of a penal dissolution, not of one, but of both Houses of the Federal Parliament, to the arbitrament of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Is not Senator Playford’s point, how far we can go before exhausting our efforts to agree.
– My honorable friend, Senator O’Keefe, is mistaken. I am not dealing with that now. I desire to point out, in dealing with the picture which Senator Playford has presented of what has been called a dead-lock in the States, that if we assert our constitutional position as a Senate, although the assertion of that position may result in what is termed a dead-lock, under our Constitution that dead-lock is absolutely and constitutionally provided for, and its solution is equally provided for by provisions which form a part of the system of our constitutional machinery. Whilst I agree very largely with what has been said in ‘ relation to these proposed standing orders, I do not wish it to be supposed, for a moment, that I shall be averse to giving full effect to the constitutional powers of the Senate, and to bringing these constitutional powers, if they come into conflict with the powers of the other branch of ‘ the Federal Legislature, to the arbitrament prescribed by the Constitution, the votes qf the electors of the Commonwealth.
– Neither shall I.
– At the right time.
– I am afraid Senator Drake misapprehends the point raised by Senator Playford. I have been dealing with a larger matter than that with which Senator Playford lias dealt ‘in order to appeal to our sympathy - the matter, if I may use the expression, of peace and order in parliamentary government, in relation to the assertion of our rights under the Constitution. I am not influenced by what Senator Playford has said, but I am influenced by the belief that everything ought to be done now to prevent a conflict, and everything ought to be done when a conflict does arrive, to avoid it if possible, and to minimize its effects if it is unavoidable. These standing orders are really divisible into two parts, and it is there that any difference lies between what has been said by Senators Playford and Baker. We have in these proposed standing orders some which are entirely our own affair. As Senator Baker has said, our object is to regulate our own procedure. There are some of these standing orders which affect ourselves, and ourselves only, but even those should not, I think, be couched in1 language which, when read by members of the other branch of the Legislature may irritate them a little. I dare say that members of the House of Representatives give some attention to our proceedings and to our language, and I think that if we can conserve and assert our rights by the use of diplomatic and careful language, which will not wound the susceptibilities of members in another place, we should do so. From that point of view I think that the particular set of standing orders which are our own, which we have a right to frame and alter as we please, might very well bear revision. But, as I have said, there are two sets of standing orders here - those which deal exclusively with our own affairs, and those, or one, at any rate, which directly challenges ‘the other branch of the Legislature, and which would precipitate a conflict with the other Chamber at an early stage. That honorable senators may give the matter consideration before these proposed standing orders are again considered, I would point out that there is a very grave hiatus. In the first place, Standing Order 242 is unnecessary. Bills which the Senate cannot amend are precisely in the same position, until after the second reading, as any other Bills which come from the House of Representatives. Then we are taken right to the stage at which messages come from the House of Representatives dealing with our requests. What I suggest for consideration is that between the two events there is a considerable interval. A good deal has to be done, and I think we should prescribe, to begin with, at what stage the requests we make are to go to the House of Representatives.
– The Constitution says “at any stage.”
– Yes, but we are prescribing our procedure, and it cannot mean on the second reading.
– We might go half through the committee stage and then send on a request, as has been done in the Legislative. Council of South Australia.
– I was not aware of that. “ At any stage “ means at any stage of the Bill, and last session discussion was provoked as to whether one set of requests exhausted the powers of the Constitution. That was the rock on which there was a possibility of splitting, but more amicable considerations came into play, and brought about a result, so far .as procedure went, that at all events answered our purpose. But that has nothing to do with the point with which I am now dealing. In relation to procedure, we ought to have a standing order providing when our requests should go back - whether on the first clause of a Bill, or in the middle, or at the end. It would be rather absurd, I presume, to send messages at any particular stage in Committee, and, therefore, we want a standing order ; and I am throwing out this suggestion in no critical mood.
We want the standing orders to be exhaustive, and I shall endeavour to frame amendments which will assist the Committee. My suggestion now is that we ought to have clearly prescribed what is to take place between the second reading and the time when the messages come back from the other branch of the Legislature, accepting, rejecting, modifying, or, to speak generally, dealing with our requests. The standing orders, as now submitted, are very crude to lay before the Senate, the members of which are not in the position of a Standing Orders Committee, and cannot sit round a table and discuss them. These standing orders are of vital consequence, and I know it is very difficult to frame them ; but I am allowing for all that in the remarks which I make. Standing Order 244 provides that if a message is returned completely complying with the requests of the Senate, the Bill, as altered, may be read a third time and passed. What is to intervene ? The Bill cannot be read in the interval j and the meaning is that the Bill must be read when the intervening process has been gone through. That should be prescribed by the standing orders : and all we have to do is in half-a-dozen lines to lay down the different steps to be taken, and make the matter as clear as midday. There are other standing orders to which similar consideration could be given with advantage, and instead of having, I will not say a jumble, but a crude set of standing orders, dealing with so vital a matter, we should have them in better form. The great difference, however, is in connexion with the second set of standing orders which directly affects the other House. Strong as I am in support of the widest constitutional powers of the Senate in relation to Money Bills, and adhering, as I do, to the position which I took up in the Convention, and out of it, as to the amplification of that power if possible, I shall never assent to such a standing order as that embodied in No. 246 without trying in some wayor other to secure - though it may be impossible to secure - the adhesion of the House of Representatives. For instance, if such a standing order were embodied in our code, I think the members of the House of Representatives would be perfectly justified in scouting it and saying - “If you, by your standing order, declare that a Bill must be sent down three times, and returned by the House of Representatives three times, and you can carry such a provision into effect, you are a much finer set of fellows than we took you to be.” Such a standing order would be provocative in the highest degree. If. the House of Representatives did not return a Bill three times, what then ? There are conditions on which we are to do - what ? We are to demand, notpolitely request - though I think a little politeness might be engrafted on outstanding orders - a free conference. But what would happen if the House of Representatives did not send back the Bill three times? We, like Mahomet’s coffin, would be hung up between heaven and earth, and I do not know where the Bill would be.
– The Bill would be in the other House.
– To meet such circumstances, we ought to provide that the Bill should then be considered as laid aside in the other House. Let us provide something which will get us out of the impasse into which we shall be put by a standing order that assumes a condition of things to which the House of Representatives may never assent.
– Standing Order 247 enables us to send a Bill back.
– We may send a Bill back; but what will happen? I am merely suggesting that the standing orders want the very greatest consideration. I do not like approaching the House of Representatives on this subject, but this is a matter on which both Houses must agree somehow ; and if it is to be the occasion of a dead-lock, the sooner we bring it about the better.
– If we are in the right ?
– Suppose the House of Representatives think they are in the right ?
– Will not the High’ Court have to say what is the meaning of the words “at any stage”?
– But Senator Dobson does not want a High Court.
– I do want a High Court.
– I thought the honorable senator did not ; b.ut at any rate a High Court, while it would solve many difficulties, would not solve this difficulty.
– The High Court would have to solve it.
– The High Court would not solve the question of the desirability of our endeavouring at this stage, like it or not as we may, to arrive at a modus vivendi with the other House.
– In such a case the High Court is the people.
– Yes; and in the other instance it is a High Court constituted by the people. With Senator Playford, I feel that we ought to attempt to arrive at some agreement with the other House as to the number of times requests may be transmitted. In my opinion the House of Representatives are under the Constitution bound to receive requests, even seventy times seven, in matters of disagreement ; but the question is - shall we approach this matter from the point of view of trying to arrive at some definite agreement on the subject? If so, let us try, and if we cannot succeed we shall be just where we were. Prom all these points of view I think a postponement is exceedingly desirable. Do not let us be overpowered with timidity, because of the pictures of other dead-locks which have no relation to our parliamentary condition. At the same time let us take care that our own standing orders are absolutely complete and clear, so that he who runs may read, as to the different stages the Bill must pass through. As to the standing orders which impinge more or less on the fun tiona of the House of Representatives, or on what the House of Representatives, may consider to be their rights, or regard as their constitutional duty, let us do everything we can to come to some arrangement. If we cannot we must make our own standing orders and abide by them, and fight for them until the last jump.
– I do not know that I have anything to add to the remarks that I made in the Senate, except to say that I think that the counsel given by Senator Symon to the Committee is extremely wise. I believe that we shall do well to carefully consider the proposal which he has ‘made. There is no particular reason for hurrying on the consideration of this part of the standing orders. I am still of the opinion that there is no necessity for passing these particular standing orders. Seeing that we dealt with some difficulties of this character last session, and in a manner which enabled us to get the legislation put through, it might be well for us to wait until another occasion arose, and then to deal with it according to the circumstances.
– When we are involved in a quarrel.
– That is the way in which standing orders have been evolved. A certain practice has gradually grown up in a deliberative Assembly, and, after a time, the record of the debates has been looked up, and the procedure crystallized into standing orders. Is not that the best way in which to proceed in a matter of this kind?
– But the Senate stands in a different relation from an ordinary Upper House to the other House.
– I admit that; but the same necessity arises for standing orders, and these are evolved in the same way. There is, of course, a novelty, because the relation between the Houses does not correspond with the relations that exist between the Houses of any other Parliament of which we have any knowledge. But still, I think the same argument is good - that seeing that we cannot be perfectly sure of a correct interpretation of the Constitution, we should proceed slowly, and not, before the necessity arises, put into print standing orders which would force us afterwards into an attitude which we might not be disposed to take up.
– A joint committee might arrive at some conclusion.
– I do not know whether a joint committee could do it, but, certainly, it would pave the way to a better understanding if the Standing Orders Committees were to meet and confer, and, by discussion, we could no doubt arrive, to a certain extent, at an agreement as to what the practice should be. In any case, I think that most honorable senators will agree that there is room for improvement in all the standing orders which we have been discussing. Seeing that we have postponed some standing orders, including the first chapter, which probably will require the attention of the Standing Orders Committee, I propose to go on to-night with the consideration of the remaining standing orders, and then to adjourn the further consideration of the code, including all the postponed standing orders, for, say, a fortnight. That will give an opportunity to the Standing Orders Committee to meet and to carefully deliberate, and to bring up the postponed standing orders with such amendments as may appear advisable to them in the light of this discussion. Judging from the tone of the debate, and the excellent speeches from Senators Playford and Symon, I believe it will see the advisability of bringing up the postponed standing orders in such a form that they can be adopted without any long discussion.
SenatorFRASER (Victoria). - I also think that we can get along very well without this chapter. If we agree to these standing orders, we may commit ourselves to a course of which “we cannot approve later on. We may be going in one direction ; the House of Representatives may be going in another direction; and thus we may be getting further asunder than if we had no standing orders on the subject. It is far better not to have any standing orders than to force ourselves to go in a direction which may be contrary to common sense at a particular time. I hope that the consideration of this chapter will be postponed ; in fact, I hope that it will not be brought forward again. Even if the Standing Orders Committees did meet, they would not be likely to agree on this subject.
– I think it will be a wise thing to postpone the consideration of this chapter, on the understanding that the Standing Orders Committee shall approach the corresponding committee of the other House and ascertain what it is prepared to do. I have my own opinion about what it will do, and about what the members of the other House will do, and it is derived from the proceedings on the Tariff Bill. A number of honorable members in another place think that we have the right to send down a Money Bill only once. I take the view that under the Constitution Act we can send down a Money Bill 100 times if necessary. If thereisan idea abroad that the Senate could send down a Money Bill an unlimited number of times, it will not lead to the rapid transaction of business. There should be an understanding on the part of the two Houses as to when finality is likely to occur. If it is known that a Bill will pass between the Houses only three times, honorable members will make up their minds on any question before the last opportunity of arriving at an agreement is availed of. We have advanced a stage, and when the Standing Orders Committee report the result of their efforts, we can decide whether it will be wise to have any standing orders on the subject, or to rely upon the provisions in the Constitution Act.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - This discussion divides itself into two parts. First of all, as to the relationship between the two Houses, I quite agree that we should exhaust every effort to come to an amicable arrangement. I am not at all sanguine about an arrangement being arrived at ; but still, if we can do so, well and good, and perhaps it is a waste of time to discuss that question now. There is another aspect to be considered, and that is the standing orders which absolutely relate to our own procedure, and which will come on for discussion again. I wish to answer some of the rather hypercritical suggestions made by Senator Symon. He has said that we ought, in the language of these standing orders, to be as conciliatory as possible. I agree with that. He objects to the words “demand a conference” as being language which ought not to be adopted. But I would point out to him that it is the language which has always been adopted in reference to conferences. At page 412, May says -
Either House may demand a conference.
– That is not the language of a standing order.
– -The objection of the honorable and learned senator was to the use of the word “ demand.”
– In a standing order.
– So far as my experience goes, that word has always been used in asking for a conference. May says - . .
Either House may demand a conference upon matters which, by the usage of Parliament, are allowed to be proper occasions for such a proceeding.
May goes on to say - ,” in demanding a conference,” and so on. It is a matter of no very great importance whether we use the word “demand” or the word “request,” but the former word was used because its use was sanctioned by the practice of the British Parliament and the State Parliaments. Again, Senator Symon objects to this standing order -
If a message is returned from the House of Representatives completely complying with the request of the Senate as originally made or modified, the Bill, as altered, may be read a third time and passed.
That was our practice last session. I will ask honorable senators to note the fundamental difference between the practice on Bills which we may amend and on those which we may not amend. In regard to an ordinary Bill, we go into committee, make amendments, and then pass the third reading ; after which we send a message to the House of Representatives stating that we have agreed to the Bill subject to certain amendments. Those amendments, and those only, are open for discussion. In the case of a Bill which we may not amend we must in the nature of the case adopt a very different procedure, and a different principle is brought into play. In the case of a Bill which we may not amend, we go into committee, but we do not read the Bill a third time, and do not pass it. The Committee reports to the Senate and the Senate sends a message to the House of Representatives requesting that certain amendments be made. Such a Bill has never been passed by us; the third reading has never been agreed to ; and the motion that the Bill do now pass has never been put. The Bill is open so far as the Senate is concerned, because we have never gone out of committee. The Bill is still in committee, subject to a message having been sent to the House of Representatives. Therefore the standing order which I have just read is quite right. In the case of a Bill which we may not amend, we have not read it a third time, whereas in the case of an ordinary Bill we do read it a third time before sending it to the House of Representatives. Supposing we receive a message from the House of Representatives virtually complying with our request, there is no necessity to refer the Bill in question back to the Committee, because everything in connexion with it is finished. The Houses are in accord, and all that we have to do is to read the Bill a third time and pass it. So that the difference in procedure and in the principles upon which we base our procedure is great.
– Do such Bills on leaving Committee go back to the Senate 1
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.What we did last session, and must do, is this : A Bill is referred to the Committee, and the Committee reports to the Senate. We do not read the Bill a third time, but we send a message to the House of Representatives informing them that we make certain requests. In the case of ordinary
Bills we do read them a third time and pass them before sending any message to the House of Representatives. So that the position is entirely different. When the message comes back from the House of Representatives, if it does come back, agreeing to everything we suggest, and making amendments accordingly, we are in this position : There is no necessity to refer the Bill in question back to the Committee, because they cannot amend it. All our requests have been complied with, and all that we have1 to do is to read the Bill a third time and pass it, if we choose to do so. So that I contend that the words of the particular standing order which I have read are correct. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind the fundamental difference between the two positions. If they do that, I am quite sure that they will see that the procedure suggested, which was the procedure we adopted last session, and which has always been adopted in South Australia, is correct. I am not going to labour the argument, or to say anything more about it, because the subject will come up for consideration again. I make these observations so that when it does come up again, honorable senators may bear in mind the fundamental difference between the position of a Bill which we can amend, and which we read a third time and pass, and concerning which we send a message to the House of Representatives embodying our amendments ; and the position of a Bill which Ave cannot amend, which we do not read a third time, which we do not pass, and on which we wait till the House of Representatives makes the amendments we desire. When the House of Representatives makes those amendments, the whole matter is at an end so far as we and they are concerned. There is no question between the two Houses, and all that we have to do is either to read the Bill a third time and pass it or to reject it. There is no object in referring it back to the Committee of the whole Senate, because that Committee can do nothing. It is, as it were, functus officio. The Senate has adopted the Committee’s report, and sent a message to the House of Representatives, which has agreed to make the amendments we require. The Bill comes back containing those amendments in the form in which we want them, and we read it a third time.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia): - My criticism of the standing order referred to by Senator Baker was not limited to the point that when a Bill is returned from the other place with a compliance with our requested amendments, it must then be read a third time without the necessity for its going back to the Committee of the whole. We all know that a Bill which we cannot amend, cannot be read a third time if we request amendments in it until those amendments have been dealt with in another place. What I complain of is that after the time when the Bill is read a second time - as unnecessarily stated in the first of these new standing orders - there is nothing to prescribe what the c’ourse of procedure of the Senate or of the Committee of the whole Senate shall be. There is a jump from the second reading of the Bill to the return from the House of Representatives of the message with regard to the requests of the Senate. It is merely with the object of suggesting further consideration in the interval, and so that these rules may be recast, and we may arrive at something definite, that we are discussing them now. The first standing order in question is No. 242 -
Bills which the Senate may not amend shall (unless otherwise ordered), after the second reading has been passed, be referred to a Committee of the whole.
We know what is done there. The next standing order is 243 -
All messages from the House of Representatives in reference to such Bills which do not completely comply with the request of the Senate . . . shall . . . be referred to the Committee.
There is a great gulf there. One standing order leaves off with the second reading of the Bill, and its reference to the Committee of the whole, and the next standing order starts with the return of our request from the House of Representatives either complied with or not complied with or modified. It is as though a Rip Van Winkle had made these standing orders and had gone to sleep between Nos. 242 and 243. What is the procedure 1 When a Bill which we cannot amend gets into Committee it will be dealt with in the ordinary way, except that we shall make requests instead of amendments in form. But there is nothing to prescribe that they shall take any particular form, or at what stage of the procedure in’ Committee we are to make our requests. If it is to be at any stage, let us-.say so.
It is not provided in these standing orders how the report is to be made. Personally, I think the Bill should go back to the Committee of the whole, because it has never left the Committee as a Bill in the Committee stage. Suppose there is a standing order prescribing that we shall send it to the House of Representatives before the preamble is agreed to ?
– We sent the Tariff Bill back from the Committee.
– We adopted procedure for the moment on that occasion. I dare say we can do so again. But here, in this off-hand, loose, undefined way, at the end of Standing Order 244, it is provided that, if a message is returned from the House of Representatives complying with every request made by the Senate, the Bill may be read a third time, and passed forthwith. That is not the way to settle a matter of that kind. Suppose there were half-a-dossen requests made, and the House of Representatives complied with part of them, should not the Bill go back to the Committee for the reconsideration of the remainder ? I hold that the Bill is in the Committee stage up to the time of the return of the message from the House of Representatives. It is only a matter of procedure that in order to get the Bill to the House of Representatives with our requests for amendments, it goes back to the Senate, because the Committee is not a proper body, and the Chairman is not the proper functionary to send a message to the other House. The Bill is still in Committee, and that is what Senator Baker has entirely overlooked.
– It is as plain as possible that if a Bill leaves the Senate with suggestions for amendments, and those amendments are not agreed to, it is in the Committee stage and should go back to the Committee to have the suggestions reconsidered. When a final agreement is arrived at between the two Houses, the Committee reports to the Senate and the Bill is read a third time. There is no hypercriticism, as Senator Baker supposes, in calling attention to a matter which affects the substance of our constitutional position; My criticism regarding the word “ demand “ is not got rid of by reference to May. I say that Standing Order 246 is one that might be construed as holding a pistol at the head of the House of Representatives. The language used is of a most aggressive character throughout. What is more to the point, having regard to our constitutional position, is the fact that it ties our hands to three messages, and does it aggressively ; whereas if we had an opportunity of sending 30 messages, we might avoid all difficulty. It is a fact that we are laying down by that standing order a rule of conduct for the House of Representatives- that they shall receive our messages three times and return them three times. I think that carries out our constitutional position fairly. I refer to this because there are two parties to the bargain, and it is said I am hypercritical. I believe that my honorable friends opposite, and many others, are of that opinion, and if the Tariff Bill had come back again to us, and we had not been inspired by the spirit of compromise, we should have had to incur the odium of laying it aside. I hold the opposite view that we have the right, under such circumstances, to return the Bill to the House of Representatives, and throw upon them the odium of laying it aside. I rather agree with the standing order, but if we lay down this rule it must be remembered that we are laying down a rule which impinges upon what the House of Representatives may claim. Suppose they differ from it, it may turn out to be like a man receiving a letter which he does not like. He sends it back again, and it is again sent to him, and so the game of battledore and shuttlecock goes on until the address upon the letter is worn off. I recognise Senator Playford’s view that we should incur the odium, but I say “ no,” the other House ought to do so. But if we, by a standing order, put our foot down, and say - “This House is going to adopt this course,” that will only be another instance in connexion with which we may get ourselves condemned before our time by the House of Representatives. If we are going to assert that right - and I do not deny that we may fairly do so by a standing order - I think it ought to be couched in some kind of language which will be, perhaps, less aggressive than that which is here adopted by which in effect we say - “This is the law we lay down. We are going to act upon it. If you, the members of the House of Representatives, and we, the Senate, disagree, we will send the Bill back to you, and you may do what you like with it.” It is fair that we should try to preserve that right to ourselves, but we should do it in as unaggressive a way as we possibly can. So that my criticisms are not hypercritical. They are observations of substance which, I am sorry to say, Senator Baker seems to have entirely misapprehended.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Senator Symon has entirely overlooked some of these standing orders. The honorable and learned senator says there is an hiatus between what it is proposed we shall do with a Bill after we have referred it to the Committee of the whole and the time when we send a message to the House of Representatives. I absolutely contradict that. If honorable senators will look at these standing orders they will see that first of all the Bill is referred to a Committee of the whole, then the standing orders set out what results can be arrived at by the Committee; they regulate the procedure and powers of the Committee, and they then go on to say that, whenever the Committee reports, a message shall be sent to the House of Representatives. Now, where is the hiatus ? There is a complete sequence.
– The whole thing is a jumble.
SenatorSir RICHARD BAKER. - The whole thing is not a jumble. It is all very well for Senator Symon to make assertions, but assertions are not proof. The whole thing is not a jumble, but it is absolutely in sequence, and is absolutely logical. There is no hiatus at all. The Senate, when it obtains a report from the Committee, if it is adopted, sends a message to the House of Representatives, and the standing orders as drafted go on to say that all messages received from the House of Representatives which do not completely comply with our request - that is to say, whenever there is not complete agreement - shall be referred to the Committee. Where is the hiatus and the want of sequence?
– The hiatus is between Standing Orders 242 and 243.
– That is a matter merely of the numbering of the standing orders.
– Then why not number them correctly?
– They are numbered correctly. The standing orders first of all state what the powers of the Senate shall be. Then they state what the powers of the Committee shall be; and finally what the procedure of the Committee shall be. And if the numbering needs to be altered, surely it is a small matter, and not worth so much discussion and talk. If it is merely a matter of putting Standing Order 243 where Standing Order 242 now is, and so on, it is a matter of very small importance indeed. But if honorable senators will look at these standing orders as a whole they will see that they follow the same principle as our ordinary standing orders in reference to Bills. That principle is, first of all, to state what the Senate shall do, then to state what the powers of the Committee are, and. then to show how the Committee shall proceed. If these standing orders had been divided into three parts, and at the head of each there had appeared the words - “ Procedure in the Senate,” “ Power of the Committee,” “Procedure in Committee,” these remarks, which are really uncalled for, would probably never have been made. I strongly object to criticisms of this sort, whichhave no substance at all, and which ought not to be, made.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - It is quite refreshing to have the President of the Chamber talking about criticisms having no substance at all, and about the time being wasted when we find the honorable and learned senator occupying ten minutes in a long dissertation exactly in opposition to the view he expressed when Senator Pearce suggested that the clauses should be re-numbered. Senator Baker then assured us that they did not require to be re-numbered at all. The honorable and learned senator was then perfectly clear that the numbers were all right. Now we find that he is quite convinced that they should be re-arranged.
– I did not say so.
– Any honorable senator who looks at them will see that they are absolutely unintelligible, in the sequence in which they stand. The question we have to deal with is, whether these standing orders give adequate provision for the purpose contemplated under the Constitution, and whether they give it with sufficient consideration for the rights of the other branch of the Legislature. However, the proposal made is that these standing orders shall be postponed to give Senator Baker an opportunity of sleeping upon the matter, and of reconsidering, not only their arrangement, but their substance also.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - If Senator Symon thinks that he is to do all the talking, and that I shall remain silent, I can assure him that he is very much mistaken. I again ask honorable senators not to attach any undue importance to these criticisms which are not founded upon substance at all.
– Why repeat this offensive language?
– Why should Senator Symon have repeated himself half-a-dozen times in the course of this debate ? I admit that I am repeating myself, but I am only answering repetitions from the other side. I do not think it is at all wise to continue this debate seeing that these standing orders are to be postponed.
– Then do set some kind of an example.
– But I can assure Senator Symon that he is wrong if he thinks he will prevail by the repetition over and over again of sentences which do not carry any weight.
Motion agreed to.
Standing Orders 242 to 250 postponed.
Standing Order 251 -
The quorum in Committee of the whole shall consist of the same number of senators (exclusive of the Chairman) as shall be requisite to form a quorum of the Senate.
– I think this standing order requires to be altered by the omission of the words “ exclusive of the Chairman.”
– I was just going to call attention to that, because under the Constitution the quorum is fixed at twelve, until Parliament otherwise provides.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to.
That the words “ exclusive of the Chairman,” lines 2 and 3, be omitted.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 252 -
A Committee of the whole shall be appointed by a resolution “That the Senate shall resolve itself into a Committee of the whole,” either immediately or on a future day.
– In this standing order there seems to me to be an hiatus, if I may be forgiven for using that expression. I hope I may be allowed to say that the standing order is incomplete. Standing Order 252,
I think, follows Standing Order 380 of our present standing orders, and adopts the whole of it. Of course, it is awkward to say “either immediately or on a future day.” If the Committee is fixed for a future day under an order of the day, the matter is thus provided for in the next Standing Order 253.
Whenever an order of the day is read for the Senate to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole, the President leaves the Chair without putting any question
But if it is proposed to go into Committee of the whole immediately, then we ought to provide for that as we do under our existing Standing Order 381, which says -
When such a resolution has been agreed to -
That is a resolution to go into Committee of the whole. the Speaker shall put the question, “That the Speaker do now leave the Chair,” which being agreed to, he shall leave the Chair accordingly.
Otherwise there is no order that he shall leave the Chair. I therefore move -
That the following words be added, “and if immediately,” then the President shall put the question : “ That the President do now leave the Chair,” which being agreed to, he shall leave the chair accordingly.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 253 to 266 agreed to with verbal amendments.
Standing Order 267 -
If no notice be taken, or it appears upon a. division in Committee that a quorum of senators is not present, the Chairman shall leave the Chair of the Committee, and inform the President thereof, but make no further report. No decision of the Committee shall be considered to have been arrived at by such division.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That all the words after “ taken,” line 1, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ of theabsence of aquorum in Committee the Chairman shall count the Committee and, if after the bell has been rung for two minutes, a. quorum be not formed, or if it appears on a division, by which division no decision shall be considered to be 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, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 268 to 272 agreed to.
Standing Order 273 -
Motions. - That the Committee do now divide “’ . . shall be moved without discussion, and be immediately put and determined ….
– We have heard a great deal about the standing orders. of South Australia, and there is no doubt a great deal to admire in those rules and in that State and its people. But a very great flaw can be observed in this standing order.
– It is one of the wisest of standing orders.
– It has workedvery well here.
– The standing order has worked very well here, for the reason that there hasbeen no very contentious legislation before us. The standing orders are framed for the protection of the minority, and it should not be in the power of a simple majority to close a debate.
– On one occasion Senator Higgs closured the Government.
– I do not remember the circumstances ; I must have been suffering from a slight aberration at the time. This standing order is prompted by a consideration of the conditions of the British House of Commons, where there are some 678 members, and where there are at times scenes of great disorder ; and if we had a similar number of members I could quite understand a provision of this kind being necessary. I can imagine that a lot of trouble might be caused by even a moderate multiplication of the cantankerous element of this Senate ; but, in my opinion, such a standing order was never intended for a deliberative body such as this. It should be remembered that this Senate is composed of six representatives from each State, and though, according to the Constitution, the smaller States have an equal voice with the larger States, it is now proposed to curtail the powers of the former. When the Commonwealth grows, and new States are added, a small State might send six senators with a mandate to advocate certain legislation ; and under the standing order it would be possible for the representatives of the largely-populated States to combine to crush such legislation. That could easily be done by one of the more powerful senators jumping up as soon as opportunity offered and moving that a division be taken immediately, and no opportunity would” be afforded of showing why a division should not be taken at that time. The calm and judicial way in which, generally speaking, we have conducted our deliberations, entitles senators from the smaller States to ask that such a motion should be carried by a reasonable majority. Let us provide for something more than a bare majority. I feel inclined to ask the Committee to provide for a majority of two-thirds of the senators then present. I believe that the standing order found its way into our code because it was feared by certain honorable senators that some senators from Queensland might endeavour to impress their extraordinary views on the Senate at inordinate length. It will be remembered that in the first code of standing orders distributed certain pages were pasted over with more drastic provisions. For what reason ? To meet the case of the senators from Queensland who had been given a bad reputation by those of our opponents who witnessed the Commonwealth celebrations and the opening of this Parliament, and who, of course, did not fail to describe us in what they considered to be our true colours. A feeling of consternation was created, and then certain honorable senators said - “ We will fix them by the standing orders.” I hope the Committee will recognise that a provision of this kind is only intended for use in a large body such as the House of Commons, which, owing to the large number of its members, cannot in ordinary times, when there is no opposition, conduct its business with reasonable speed. In the Senate, as a rule, not more than 24 senators are present. We are being asked to prepare a standing order for a time of trouble which will never arise here. I appeal to Senator Playford, who is liberal minded, and represents a numerically small State, not to pass this standing order without requiring the vote of a reasonable majority. With a view to testing the feeling of the Committee on the point, I move -
That the word “Motions” be omitted with a view to insert in lien thereof the words “ A motion.”
– Senator Higgs must be very hard up for arguments when he appeals to the representatives of the small States. I could understand an appeal being made to the members who represent small States in another place, because while one State is represented by only six members in that House, another State is represented by 23 or 24 members. In the Senate, however, the small State has equal representation with the large State. It is a poor foundation upon which my honorable friend has rested his superstructure. This rule has not been taken as he indicates from the standing orders of the House of Commons. The right to apply the closure is not vested in either a bare majority or a two-thirds majority, but in the Speaker of that House. The rule is taken from the South Australian code. I believe it was not enforced on one occasion last session.
– Once, on the motion of Senator Higgs against the Government.
– I never knew this form of the closure to be put in force in South Australia until the temper of the House had been raised to a high pitch by the great waste of time which had gone on. It has only been put in. force by the House in self-defence. There must be a rule of that sort in every deliberative Assembly, large or small, unless a minority is to be allowed to “ stone-wall “ to such an extent as to become a nuisance to every member who attends to his duties properly and fairly. The rule has never been abused in South Australia. I feel sure that it will never work harshly in the Senate, and that it will only be applied when it is richly deserved. It will be sufficient to provide for its application by the vote of an absolute majority.
– I support the amendment, because I think that the vote of more than a bare majority should be required when the closure is applied. Last session I suffered from the existence of this rule in our code. I submitted a motion to the effect that the editor of a newspaper in this city should be brought to the bar for printing a scurrilous article on royalty. Not being a person who parades his loyalty very often, I was surprised to find so many honorable senators who had received favours from His Majesty taking up the opposite position and applying the- closure. The exercise of this power should not be placed in the hands of a bare majority. In the case of my motion, only two honorable senators had spoken, and the matter had not been nearly sufficiently ventilated. But because it was not a palatable one to a number of honorable senators the gag was applied. Just as it operated against me on that occasion, it may operate against those honorable senators on another occasion, although not with my support. It may happen that only the representatives of one State are interested in the ventilation of a grievance, and, of course, the application of the gag in that case would be a much more grievous affair than it wasin the case in which I was interested. I hope it will not be applied here again, except by the vote of a fair majority.
– I think we cannot’ do better than pass the standing order as it is framed. Of course, it is the “ closure,” and that is an expression which, especially when it is converted into the word “gag,” immediately suggests some’ improper attempt to put a stop to free discussion. It has been’ the most successful, and it is the fairest method of putting an end to a debate which has lasted long enough, or to the discussion of a subject which has been -discussed enough, whether by one speech, or by two or three speeches. Its application does not depend on the President, the Chairman of Committees, or the leader of the Government, but on the sense of justice and fair play of the Chamber. During the whole of the time I had personal experience of this rule I never knew it to be abused. In a moment of excitement - perhaps in a fit of indignation - the application of the closure has been moved ; but an appeal by two or three members always availed . to have the motion withdrawn. It cannot be moved in the middle of a speech. If a member is ready to speak, and that fact is. indicated to the mover of the motion, it is always withdrawn. But the great safeguard is the sense of fair play and justice to the House itself.
– In the light of past experience I agree with those who’ are in favour of the standing order. But still I think. that Senator Higgs is quite right in suggesting that the vote of a substantial majority should be required. I have noticed in other Parliaments that when party feeling was running very high, and the majority was very narrow, they were prepared on every occasion to take advantage of the weakness of the minority, and to stifle further arguments. The result was that there was not a fair discussion. In cases of this kind a two-thirds majority is necessary. Probably the same amount of dissatisfaction would not be left on the minds of those who took part in such debates if a two-thirds majority had to operate. Senator Playford has said that he does not mind- whether the majority is an absolute or a two-thirds majority. It would be better for us to adopt a two-thirds majority of those present than to provide that an absolute majority of the Senate shall settle the matter.
– I never said an absolute majority of the Senate.
– Probably the honorable senator meant an absolute majority of those present. To safeguard the honour of the Senate - because there are times of excitement when a very small majority might be tempted to do an injustice to a minority - we ought to adopt the suggestion which I am supporting. If a set of senators were making, themselves obnoxious, there would be no trouble in inducing a two-thirds majority to restrain them j but to say that half-a-dozen members shall be silenced by a majority of one against them is absolutely unfair.
– I may state at the outset that I intend to support Senator Higgs’ amendment. It is all very nice for Senator Symon to use sweet-sounding phrases, as he is in the habit of doing, in advocacy of the line of action that he recommends. He has been in the happy and fortunate position of living all his life in a calm political atmosphere. From my experience of political life, I am not prepared to leave my rights as a member of this Senate to the “ keen sense of justice “ of any majority of it. Our standing orders are a printed document, which enables honorable senators to know exactly what are, their rights and privileges. They stand there in black and white. Any senator has as much right under them as any other, whether sitting behind the Government or in opposition. It ought not to be left in the power of any majority at any time, whether they have a “ keen sense of justice “ or a desire to do injustice, to rob any senator of his rights and privileges. Surely the Postmaster-General has not yet allowed to die out of his memory what a “ keen sense of justice” means in a heated political atmosphere. If this standing order is passed, in all probability I shall take advantage of it at some time to apply the closure to some particular member, though I shall not require it to be applied to me. If other people are going to use it, I shall be justified in using it upon others, though I certainly think we can do better without it. When Senator Drake was sitting in opposition in the Queensland Parliament, together with my honorable friend Senator Glassey and myself, we did not discover any “keen sense of justice” in the mere majority opposed to us. We found that every standing order that could be twisted and stretched in any way whatever to deprive us of our right of expressing our opinions on the floor of the House was used by the Chairman and carried out by the majority, because we were in a minority. It is not fair to ask us to depend on the good-will and charity of a majority of the Senate. By allowing the closure to operate in this way, a simple majority of one, even though the attendance might be only one above, a bare quorum, might be able to punish any group of senators who had not offended in any way whatever. Take a case that occurred only to-day. We had a discussion on these very standing orders consisting largely of a duel between members of the happy family from South Australia. It resulted in a drawn battle. I believe both the combatants drew blood. It might easily happen that some senators or a majority of those present might lose patience with such a duel and might use the closure. With what result 1 That every other honorable senator, although not offending in the slightest degree might be deprived of the right of expressing any opinion on the merits of the case at issue. Once the closure motion is carried the question is decided, and” the mouths of the whole of the members of the Senate are closed. I object to being subjected to a drastic punishment when I am not an offender. Senator Playford has given a case in justification of this proposal. He tells us that on one occasion, in the South Australian Parliament, Senator McGregor set to work to adduce a number of reasons why he intended to oppose a particular measure. .He numbered those reasons, and after two hours he was still engaged in stating number one and had not approached number two. God only knows how long he would have been before he got to number five ! Therefore it was wise, argued Senator Playford, to have a rule of this kind to stop senators, like Senator McGregor, from ‘ getting as far as reason number five. It might be wise on such an occasion to punish Senator McGregor for wilfully wasting time and obstructing public business, but there is no reason whatever why unoffending senators should be punished for his offence. It is also to be remarked that the offending senator who calls down this drastic provision is not effectively punished at all, because it is impossible to move the closure until the offending senator has completed his offence. . Therefore the guilty escapes and the innocent are punished.
– You save others from following the offending senator’s example.
– You punish the innocent because the innocent may be tempted to offend. That is a reason advanced by an honorable and learned senator who asks us to depend upon the fairness of the majority of , the Senate ! These are good and sufficient reasons against this particular provision. If we want to prevent what Senator Playford has complained about, we can provide that a motion may be submitted that a particular senator be no further heard. Then the offender will be punished, whilst the innocent will escape. I see no reason for this standing order.
– I cannot conceive of any reason why any honorable senator should be afraid of the majority of the Senate. It appears to me that any one who puts himself in that position has a guilty conscience. Those who are afraid of a majority will, I suppose, object to being turned out at the next election, unless there is a two-thirds majority against them. That would be a splendid idea ! Next time they would want to increase the majority to nine-tenths, and after that I suppose they would wish to provide that they should represent the minority. There is no common sense about the idea. I cannot conceive that any honorable senator is on sound ground in objecting to a decision by the majority. I trust that the Senate will adopt the standing order.
– Like Senator Fraser, I am astonished that our democratic and radical members in the labour corner refuse to bow to a majority in the Senate. Almost everything we do is done by a majority, even though it may be only a majority of one, and our honorable friends opposite are quite inconsistent in insisting that a two-thirds majority shall be necessary to carry the question, “ That the Committee do now divide.” A question, “That the Chairman report progress,” or “ That the Chairman leave the chair,” is carried by a majority of one, and yet it may have the effect of blocking the whole policy of a Government, and may make and unmake a Government. If honorable senators are sick of listening to matter which is not practical politics, we are told that a majority of one is not to:be sufficient to stop the continued waste of time. The Senate should have absolute control over its own business. We hear many references to the “gag,” but my experience is that if the “gag” could be put upon each of us to some extent, it would be better for the conduct of parliamentary business. If ever the parliamentary machine collapses and does not do justice, it will probably be on account of the excessive amount of talking indulged in. If I had my way I should limit the speeches of honorable senators, and also of Ministers.1 I should be pleased to consent to a limitation myself, because I believe I should then deliver more condensed speeches, and speeches with more in them. I think we should retain absolute power by majority to say as a Senate that we have had enough discussion upon a particular question. And if honorable senators will bring forward extraneous subjects we should be able to say in the same way that we do not desire to discuss certain subjects.
– During last session there was an average attendance of 24 senators, and I point out that under those circumstances, if Senator Higgs’ proposal is agreed, to, sixteen senators will be able to close a debate. Surely, if there is a gross abuse of the privileges of debate, we shall be able to find sixteen senators willing to prevent it? What will happen in the other case? Thirteen senators will be able to effectually block eleven other senators.
– If a majority of one can throw out a Customs Bill, why should not a majority of one prevent an honorable senator gossiping too much ?
– Senator Dobson must see the distinction - that in one case we are legislating, and in the other we are deciding upon our legislation. Is it advisable that thirteen senators shall be able to say to eleven others, “ We shall at ‘once close the debate upon this subject” ?
– That is just what honorable senators did last session.
– I suppose I shall be as ready as any other honorable senator to take advantage of this proposal, but I think that the proposal made by Senator Higgs will give ample power to stop any debate which is a gross abuse of privilege.
– I hope the standing order will be agreed to as printed. I have had a good deal of experience of a similar standing order, and I found it work exceedingly well, I was for ten years in a House with a membership of 24-, and even there debates were sometimes continued without any useful purpose in view. It is a proper thing for those elected to transact the business of the country to be placed in a position to stop obstruction of that character. I have known the motion, “ That the House do now divide,” to be put and subsequently withdrawn when it has been found that one or two members have been especially anxious to speak. But where there is a deliberate purpose to prolong a debate unnecessarily we are perfectly justified in adopting the best means to prevent it.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - Senator Fraser seems to be under the impression that this world is governed by majority, and that a majority can do anything it pleases. The honorable senator is entirely mistaken. Majorities cannot do as they like. There is a restriction, and in every well-governed community the rights of the minority are preserved, and if the majority encroaches upon those rights there is a tribunal to punish them. I am contending that the rights of a minority in the Senate should mot be at the tender mercy of the temper which the majority ‘may be in at any particular time. Honorable senators speak of other honorable senators as having guilty consciences, and as being afraid to trust the justice and fair play of their fellow senators. I have already said that I have proved what the sense of justice of fellow members of Parliament is worth by a personal experience, which has been a lengthy, and, to some extent, a painful one. The veriest child in the community who sticks his hand into the fire -and gets it burned, learns by experience not to put his hand in the fire again. Possibly Senator Fraser has always been in the happy position- of being with the majority, and has never been called upon to suffer. The honorable senator represents absolutely the wrong class to have ever been subjected to the injustice this standing order provides for. I have been astonished thatSenator Drake, who has been through precisely the same experience as Senator Glassey and myself, has not raised his voice with those of the colleagues with whom he was associated in the Queensland Parliament. From my experience in the Queensland Parliament, I would as soon trust myself alone at midnight with a gang of burglars as trust to the sense of fair play and justice of certain members of that Parliament. We found that they were capable of torturing and twisting every standing order, not only to gag us, but to put us outside the House, and if our election had had to be determined by their interpretation of standing orders their keen sense of fair play and justice would have prevented even our nomination for election. When there is a keen difference between political parties the sense of fairness and justice in either party is never very keen. Senator Dobson has said that it would be a good thing if honorable senators all round could be prevented from talking so much or sp loosely upon every subject that comes up for discussion. With that I absolutely agree. But this standing order is intended to apply only to the minority, and it never can apply to the majority. So long as Senator Dobson continues to sit with the majority he will only have the pleasure of applying the gag, and will never have to undergo the discomfort of having it fitted on himself. As the Senate is constituted it might very well happen that a combination of honorable senators representing two of the States could absolutely close the mouths of the representatives of any one State on which they might have some design. That is a kind of thing for which we certainly should not specially provide, in our standing orders. We should stand as a minority in relation to our standing orders as any citizen of the Commonwealth stands in relation to the law governing the country.
– Senator Dawson has mentioned my name particularly, and has taken us back a long time to what happened in the Queensland Parliament. But the recollection of what happened here last session is fresher in my mind. During last session we had this standing order in force in the Senate, and it was used I think only twice, and first by Senator McGregor.
– No ; it was first used by the late Senator Sargood against Senator De Largie.
– Then it must have been used more frequently than twice. On the first occasion I remember Senator McGregor moved the motion immediately after Senator Neild had spoken. Then I have a very vivid recollection of another time when it was used against the Government, and certainly not because members supporting the Government had been doing too much talking. It was used not for the purpose of preventing them speaking, but for the purpose of taking a division in a thin House. Late at night there were twelve honorable senators present in the Chamber who wished to go to a division, and there were eleven on the Government side who were not prepared to go to a division. The motion that the Senate do now divide was then moved and carried on division by twelve against eleven.
– r>id the honorable and learned senator think that fair at’ the time?
– I did not, and I was surprised that honorable senators opposite should have done it. Having done that it seems rather surprising that they should express so much indignation at what is regarded as a base and brutal majority overriding the rights of the minority. Surely the minority of eleven on that occasion had some rights as against the majority of twelve; but those gentlemen, no doubt, considered that they were discharging a public duty in using this particular weapon.
– Because it was at their hands.
– Those honorable senators do not desire that weapon to be used at the present time, nor do they anticipate that they will desire to use it in the future. I do not blame them for the action they are .taking, but it seems rather unnecessary to draw public attention to myself and my own particular case, seeing that recently, on the most prominent occasion on which the closure was used, I, as the representative of the Government, was the special victim.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - Senator Dawson seems to be under the impression that, under this standing order, the vote has always gone against the member who was anxious to speak, but I have known it go in the contrary direction many times.
– I say that the standing order can apply only to the minority, and never to the majority.
– I have known, when a motion of the kind has been submitted, one or more honorable members, who also desired to speak, cross the floor in order to give a majority to the member against whom it was sought to exercise the standing order.
– I have known cases in which no such generosity wasshown.
– So have I ; and in every such case the closure has been the right thing. In all the years I have worked under a similar standing order I have never known it abused.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - Senator Drake has said that this particular provision was applied last session against the Government, and has asserted that honorable senators who sit in the same corner as myself did not at that time manifest the indignation we are manifesting now. But we are now framing permanent standing orders,, and if we do not now object to what we deem objectionable we must for ever after hold our peace. We should then have no right toprotest when the standing order was applied. Last session we adopted temporary standing orders, and it was not then considered wise to discuss the rules, but to accept them on trust. We have worked under those standing orders for one session, and have found this provision at any rate objectionable.. Senator Drake, in response to an interjection from me, said he considered theexercise of this standing order last session as grossly unfair ; anc in doing that he admitted that the exercise of a standing order of the kind leads to unfairness, otherwise injustice.. Senator Drake, however, is now in favour of the standing order, not because he believes in its justice, but because it was. used against him last session ; and now ina spirit of retaliation he seeks to make it permanent.
– No, No !
– I can attach noother meaning to the words of the honorablesenator, who offers no justification beyond the incident of last session.
– I merely wished to show the use which was then made of the standing order.
– I then pointed out. that the standing order itself was objectionable, but said that if it were allowed to remain, we, in common with other senators,, would probably use it. It must be distinctly understood that we are not contending thatthe Senate should not have some power tocurtail debate, but that that power should notbe placed in the hands of one senator. Thereought to be a provision similar to that. found in other Legislatures,- so that when the closure is applied it shall be with the consent of at least two-thirds of the senators present. Indeed, I would go further, and say that thetwo-thirds should notbeless than onethird of the whole Senate. Surely it is not too much to ask those who are great sticklers for the standing order, to show some reason for it, and if they cannot, to let it go by the board. On our side, we have clearly shown very good reason why such a power should not be exercised by one senator.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am sorry so many are opposed to the amendment, and if it be the intention of the majority present- to defeat it, . I hope they will reconsider the matter and postpone the standing order until there is a reasonable number of senators in the Chamber. There are now only 19 out of the 36 senators present, and- yet we are laying down rules of procedure to last for a great number of years.
– The standing orders can always be altered.
– There will not be much alteration if many are of the same mind as the honorable senator. It is true, as Senator Playford said, that the small States have equal representation with the large States ; but that only applies to the present Senate. Under section 7 of the Constitution new States may be created, and the Senate has the power to increase or decrease the number of representatives, providing that the original States each retain six. Under that section a small State may be created with only three representatives ; and we may easily imagine what could happen then. If, as Senator Playford says, the whole Senate gets thoroughly sick of a discussion, surely it would be possible, with, say, eighteen senators present, to get thirteen to agree to a motion under this standing order. The same honorable senator said that it does not much matter either way.
– I said that there is no question of justice in the matter.
– There is certainly a great question of justice. Senator Fraser talks about minorities having no rights.
– I said that a minority may be often right and a majority often wrong, but that a minority has to submit.
– The majority must rule, and we always take that view at election times. But the majority rule is then applied only after full and adequate discussion of the programmes of the candidates, and there is no application of the “gag.” This standing order, although it merely refers to a division in Committee, deserves all the opprobrious epithets that can be applied to it. When I was saying something about the reputation of the Queensland Legislature, it was suggested that I was romancing, and ought to be able to write a book ; but is it not a fact that honorable senators, since the standing orders were first produced, have received a page of the most drastic provisions ever submitted in a Legislature, dealing with infringements of . the order and privileges of the Senate ? On this point I refer honorable senators to Standing Order 428 and those following it, which are provisions originally introduced in the House of Commons to meet such occasions as that on which Colonel Sanderson, M.P., and other honorable members indulged in a free fight, and generally upset the equilibrium of the Chamber.- These standing orders are introduced here because honorable senators have an idea that at some time I, or other senators of similar disposition to myself, may make things uncomfortable. Senator Drake’s reason, as representative of the Government, for supporting this standing order is that at one time we in this part of the Senate, after giving most unswerving support to the Government, found it desirable to once disagree with them and carry a motion under the rule. Because we did ‘ that, Senator Drake is going to apply the “ gag “ to us for all time.
– I did not say anythingof the kind.
– Senator Drake forgets all about the experience of the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament - an experiencenever suffered in any Parliament of Australia - and only has an unhappy remembrance of what occurred here last session. The honorable senator, who has a many-sided character, objects to us in this corner, because we are not a lot of Nazarenes who turn the other cheek when struck. This standing order was exercised against us at a very early period, by either a strong supporter of the Government or a member of the Opposition, and when we found the weapon used, we thought we would give others a taste of the same treatment, in order that we might at some future time receive support in our endeavour toalter the provision. .We have all along said that we object to the closure, and while there is a hope that honorable senators will give way and take the same view as we do, we have a right to ask for fuller discussion. The majority in favour of the Pacific Island Labourers Bill has been described by Senator Symon as a majority of only one or two.
– I said it was not a big majority.
– I appeal to the Committee whether any attempt was made by honorable senators to limit the discussion on that measure ? Was not the most ample discussion of its provisions allowed 1 No one attempted to apply the gag, although it was known that there was a majority in favour of such legislation.
– Nor would they in any other case of equal importance.
– We do not know. A time may come when the Senate may not be composed of broad-minded magnanimous gentlemen, and I am looking ahead. The honorable and learned member has talked about the sense of justice of the Senate. Its sense of justice has been shown during this discussion. Although we are considering an important question affecting the procedure of the Committee for all time, we hear honorable senators interjecting that Senator So-and-Sohas spoken once, , andhe has no rightto speak again. I believe that if we were to discuss the question all night it would be recognised in the future that we did quite right. X desire to call the attention of honorable senators to a book which, I am sure, they studied when they first entered politics. In Mill’s Essay on Liberty these words occur -
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner : if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply, a private injury, it. would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted on lv on a few persons, or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of all opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation ; those who dissent from the opinion still more than those who hold it.
I am very sorry that honorable senators are not paying sufficient attention to the words of one of the great teachers of the human race. This is.one of the most serious rules that we have had to consider, and it is well worthy of full discussion. No less than seventeen honorable senators are absent. I am satisfied that if they had anticipated that the Committee would have reached Standing Order 273 to-night they would have made an effort to be present.
– Surely we can recommit the standing order.
– I do not believe in postponing the consideration of an important question of this kind.
– It will not hurt the honorable senator.
– It may hurt me. I am reminded of what occurred when we were considering the Tariff Bill. My action was not approved by several honorable senators. On one occasion I was discussing at some length a proposition, and when I appealed to Senator Playford to stay and listen to some of the important arguments I had to offer, he said that he had had enough of the discussion, and he went away. He thought it was absurd on my part to proceed in that way, but I feel sure that honorable senators will now admit that if we had allowed Senator Symon and his followers to take their own course with the schedule they would have attempted to alter the duty on almost every item. It was was only because a few honorable senators freely discussed the items that they said - “We will not bother about a number of the items with which we originally intended to deal. We shall allow them, to go as they are,” and instead of about 175 requests for amendments being sent to the other House, only about 100 were sent. I consider that I fulfilled a public duty in occupying the attention of the Committee as I did, even though some honorable senators deprecated what they considered to be a waste of time.. A time may come when similar legislation will be brought forward.
– If the honorable, senator will resume his seat, I will ask the Committee to report progress.
– I shall be very pleased to resume my seat.
– As we have not made quite as much progress to-night with the standing orders as 1 anticipated we shall go on with their consideration on Wednesday.
– I doubted whether we should be able to get a quorum tomorrow. I shall be glad if honorable senators will make a House to-morrow.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will give me an opportunity on Wednesday or Thursday next to discuss my notice of motion relating to the action of the Governor of Victoria.
– Icannotconsenttoput aside Government business for that purpose. The only private members’ business on the paper for to-morrow is a notice of motion in the name of Senator McGregor, and after it is disposed of, or after the lapse of the time which is allowed for private members’ business, we shall go on with the standing orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030611_senate_1_13/>.