1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorLt. -Col. NEILD presented a petition from four persons, being members of representative organizations in the Commonwealth, praying the Senate to reject the Judiciary Bill.
Senator CHARLESTON presented a similar petition from 337 persons, of whom 165 represented 18 district councils in the State of South Australia.
Senator GLASSEY presented a petition from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, praying that justice might be done in the case of Mr. Goldring, and that the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers might be brought under the jurisdiction of some court of law wherein any citizen could claim immemorial rights.
Senator CHARLESTON presented a petition from fourteen members of the Legislative Council of the State of South Australia, praying the Senate to amend the Judiciary Bill.
Petition received and read.
Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL presented a similar petition from the Victorian Employers Federation.
PROTECTION OF PATENTS.
Senator PULSFORD. - I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether the despatch from the Colonial Office, with regard to the mutual protection of patents throughout the British Empire which last week he told us had been lost, has been discovered, and, if so, whether it will be laid on the table?
Senator DRAKE. - The despatch is included in the printed papers of the Conference already laid upon the table.
DEPUTY POSTMASTER - GENERAL : WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
Senator PEARCE asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Has the Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia applied to retire on a pension?
If the Government grant the application, will they deal with the appointment of a successor from the Federal service, or will they limit it to officers at present in the Federal service in the State of Western Australia ?
Senator DRAKE. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
The Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia has applied to be allowed to retire on pension at the expiration of six months leave of absence.
As the Public Service Commissioner is of opinion that the Deputy Postmaster-General cannot be retired on pension at present, the question of a succcessor has not been considered.
LETTER CARRIERS AND SORTERS.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the letter-carriers employed by the PostalDepartment, Sydney, work 98 hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with English mails ?
Is ita fact that letter-sorters in the Sydney General Post-office work 96 hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with English mails?
Is it a fact that letter-carriers and sorters in the Brisbane General Post-office work 90 hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with English mails ?
Is it a fact that for extra work connected with English mails the letter-carriers and sorters in Brisbane receive £2 per month?
Is it a fact that for extra work connected with English mails sums varying from 10s. to 27s. per month have been hitherto paid to lettercarriers and sorters in the Sydney office?
Is it a fact that the latter payments have been discontinued ?
Is it intended to discontinue the payment for extra work in the Brisbane office ?
Senator DRAKE. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Ten only of the letter-carriers employed in the Postal Department, Sydney, are employed 98 hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with the English mails.
Letter-sorters in the Sydney General Postoffice do not work 96 hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with English mails.
Letter-carriers in the Brisbane General Postoffice work 90 hours 40 minutes per fortnight, irrespective of extra work connected with English mails and Sundays. Sorters work 84½hours per fortnight, irrespective of extra work in connexion with English mails and Sundays.
No. Letter-carriers for all overtime, including English mails and holidays, were, up to the 30th June last, paid 28s. per month. Sorters in receipt of £150 and upwards per annum, receive £2 per month, and those with less salary, 28s. per month for all overtime, including English mails and holidays up to the 30th June last.
5. Prior to the 31st December last, payments of from 7s. 8d. to16s. 8d. per month were made to letter-carriers and sorters in the Sydney office for extra work in connexion with the English mails, and15s. per month to sorters in connexion with the despatch of the weekly newspapers. In addition to these payments these officers were allowed holidays in lieu, which in the case of the Brisbane officers were covered by the monthly payments mentioned in answer No. 4.
The latter payments have not been made since the 31st December last.
The whole question of the continuance of the payments in both Sydney and Brisbane is now under the consideration of the Public Service Commissioner.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many letter-carriers are employed in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne respectively ?
How many letter-carriers are employed in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne respectively ?
Senator DRAKE. - The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : -
In the city of Sydney, 79 letter-carriers, including thirteen supplementary letter-carriers, are employed. In the city of Melbourne 50 lettercarriers are employed.
Two hundred and thirty-six letter-carriers are employed in the suburbs of Sydney, and in the suburbs of Melbourne 254 letter-carriers are employed.
How many military annuities or pensions granted for long service, or, and in connexion with the grant of medals formeritorous service, hitherto paid by State Governments have been discontinued by the Commonwealth ?
What is the total sum per annum thus retrenched. ?
Is the repudiation of these long-standing allowances considered justifiable, and, if so, upon what grounds?
– T - The answer to honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Seven annuities (amounting to a total annual sum of £140) were granted prior to transfer by the State of New South Wales, which is the only State in which they were granted. The regulations for the Commonwealth, issued in January, 1902, do not provide for any future annuities. The claims of the seven referred to for the continuance of their annuities are being further investigated.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council,upon notice -
What were the quantities and the values of the wheat and maize imported into the Commonwealth during the twelve months ending on 30th June ?
– T - The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Wheat, 3,928,610 centals, £1,364,300; maize, 1,119,947 centals, £328,169.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will he take steps to cause to be laid upon the table of the Senate copies of the papers and correspondence relating to the two summonses for breach of the Customs Act against Farmer and Co., Sydney, one of which was withdrawn, and the other proceeded with on 9th July, 1902, including copies of the guarantees given by the firm, and all letters, &c. , on the strength of which the Minister for Trade and Customs thought himself justified in charging Senator Pulsford as follows: - “In ignoring that information, he, it seems to me, has wilfully misled the public.”
– The The paper will be obtained, if possible, and laid upon the table of the Senate.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Was not notice of the following questions given on 24th June : -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
I have here the information asked for by the honorable senator, which I think should have taken the form of a return.
– I think that a great many of these questions should be formulated as motions for returns.
– I thought it would save time to put questions.
– Most voluminous statistics have been asked for, and I have them here. I will lay them upon the table of the Senate as a paper presented by command.
– Senator Matheson asked for a military return, and it took twelve months to produce it.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : -
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Correspondence with reference to the proposed transcontinental railway in connexion with the defence of Australia.
Report of the Commissioner for the State of Victoria for the distribution of the State into divisions, etc., with map.
Military Forces of the Commonwealth -Return showing the number of officers and other ranks of the permanent militia and partially-paid forces of the Commonwealth on the 30th June, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message, vide page 2078) :
Clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed after the twenty-eighth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and three, a bonus, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such sugar-cane or beet delivered for manufacture after the commencement of this Act, and before the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven.
Senate’s Amendment - After the word “ three “ insert “orfor a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
Howe of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to for the following reason : - Because the Bill is a proposed law a ppropriating revenue or moneys, and Amendment No. 3 isan infraction of the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, or from amending any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people ; and the House of Representatives does not deem it necessary to offer any further reason, hoping the above may be sufficient.
– Ho senators will notice that in their message the House of Representatives have intimated that they agree to all the amendments made by the Seriate except the one in reference to which they make a statement. In accordance with the method in which the relations between the two Houses have ill ways been carried on, I am glad to see that the House of Representatives, instead of adopting the course which is generally adopted in the States Parliaments when such questions arise - that is to say, the course of laying the Bill aside altogether - have proceeded in what seems to be the more courteous and, if I may say so, the more common-sense way, of disagreeing with the particular amendment, and giving their reasons for their disagreement in their message. So that we have now to consider merely the reasons for the disagreement of the House of Representatives with our amendment. There is no question at all that this is a very important matter for the consideration of the Senate, as is every matter which involves the relations between the two Houses. The Houses represent the same people - grouped differently - and the same interests, and any friction which takes place between them must necessarily involve delay if not injury to some of the interests which are involved in the legislation before us. I am quite certain that honorable senators will realize that we must avoid above all things making the Senate an arena for the academical discussion of constitutional questions. We must avoid above all things insisting upon rights unless we feel sure that the Constitution has given us those rights, and that it is in the interest of the whole community that they should be insisted upon. It may unfortunately happen sometimes that insistence upon a right by the Senate may cause great inconvenience, and it may be hardship, to some section of the community. That cannot be prevented sometimes, because it may be much more important that the powers of the Senate should be asserted and maintained than that some portion of the community should be saved from inconvenience. For the same reason I think it must be evident that the obligation is placed upon us on all occasions to see that our claim to any powers we may think that we possess is well founded ; and we should be careful not to insist upon any power under the Constitution unless we can find the plainest possible reasons in the. Constitution itself for the assertion of those powers. Before I enter upon the consideration of the constitutional aspects of this question, may I remind honorable senators how this matter stands. The amendment with which we have to concern ourselves, is one which was proposed by Senator Glassey, and which has the effect of extending the operation of the bonus. As the Bill came to the Senate, no benefit was to be given to any person who employed black labour after the 28th February, 1903.
– The honorable and learned senator should not use the word “ bonus,” or somebody will be arguing the matter.
– Und Under this Bill as amended it is a bounty. I think the honorable senator will see that I am right before I have finished ; but he is quite right in his correction now. The word used is “bounty”; and I am glad to see that we have amongst us a gentleman who is so careful about the words, which we employ in our Acts of ‘Parliament as to have proposed the use of the word “ bounty “ instead of the word “ bonus.” I say that Senator Glassey’s amendment was to the effect that the bounty should be given to a new class of persons altogether : that is to say, instead of the privilege stopping short at the 28th February, 1903, in regard to cases where black labour was employed, it was provided that if at any time up to 1907 a planter should show that for a whole year he had been employing white labour he should be entitled to the bonus. Of course, it is quite obvious that- that involves an increase in the amount to be voted. That is quite clear.
– It does not involve an increase of the amount which the taxpayer would pay for his sugar.
– I - I am coming to that point by-and-by. But I want to take the argument step by step. The amendment involves the payment of the bounty to all those persons who have employed white labour for a year. Now let us look for a moment at what the position was before that amendment was made. Honorable senators will recollect that, under the Excise Act, Parliament gave the right of rebate for sugar grown by white labour. A period was fixed - the 2Sth February - as the date after which no black labour was to be employed if a person wished to get the benefit of the rebate, as it was then called. That Act was introduced in October, 1901. Of course, at that time, February, 1902, was a very reasonable date to fix, but, in consequence of circumstances which, no doubt, will be in the recollection of all of us - I should think for all our lives - that Bill was not passed until July, 1902. Under the. circumstances, a complaint was made by various persons in Queensland engaged t in the cultivation of sugar, that it was not fair, and that they should have had more notice. They made their representations to the PostmasterGeneral and to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the result was that those gentlemen promised the growers that a regulation would be introduced extending the time to the 28th February, 1903. That regulation was introduced at the end of the year 1902, and, acting on the faith of it, a large number of persons entered upon this business with the full assurance that, if they did not use any black labour after this date in 1903, they would be entitled to claim the bonus. It was found that the regulation was ultra vires, and that under it no payments could . be made. Honorable senators are aware that the Auditor-General is bound to pay only such appropriations as are authorized by law. No matter what regulation is made, the Auditor-General has no right to go outside the Audit Act ; and it became impossible without an Act of Parliament to pay these amounts, although persons had engaged in the growing of sugar by white labour on the faith of it. On looking into the matter another point became apparent, namely, that the operation of encouraging the employment of white labour hy a system of rebates, resulted practically in the whole of the rebates being paid by those States which consumed Australian grown sugar. In fact, it was found that during the year in which the Excise rebate prevailed, New South Wales and
Queensland were the heaviest sufferers ; < that is to say, these States lost most by the rebate, and were, therefore, practically carrying the greater part of the burden, which is one of the prices paid for a white Australia. It became evident to the sense of justice of the community, and certainly of the other House as of the Senate, that that state of things could not go on, and that the only fair way was to provide that the cost of this bonus or bounty should be equally divided amongst the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the Bill with which we are now dealing was introduced, in order to settle the two points to which I have referred. First, the Bill legalized the date of 28th February, 1903, giving the right to the bonus to all those who had acted on the faith of the regulation ; and, secondly, it made a fairer distribution of the burden of payment for a white Australia. I need not refer to the manner in which the Bill was dealt with by the Senate. I have called attention to the circumstances with a view of pointing out that if this Bill does not pass, two consequences must follow. First, the burden of the payment will continue to be borne, as I, and I believe a majority of this Senate think unfairly, by New South Wales and Queensland prin.cipally, and to a small extent by Tasmania. . Then, in addition, it will be impossible for persons who have been employing white labour on their plantations, and altering their arrangements for the future on the faith of their being paid, to receive any bonus, although they on their part have done all that is necessary to obtain it. It appears to me that in dealing with the matter in a practical way, and in considering what attitude the Senate should take up, we cannot ignore the position which must arise if this Bill does not become law.
-Col. Gould. - Is the honorable senator not going rather far in order to determine a constitutional point, and speaking as if this were the second reading of the Bill 1
– I d I do not think so. The method I am adopting now is a method which distinguishes, as it ought to distinguish, a Chamber of this kind from a mere debating society.
– It is manifestly an unfair way.
– I - If we discuss this as a mere academical question, there is no other matter to be considered but the constitutional point.
– The honorable senator is putting a threat into his observations.
– We We are not discussing this as a mere academical question, but as a piece of proposed legislation. Does Senator Millen say that I am using a threat ?
– It is very much like a threat.
– A - An observation of that sort could only come from an honorable senator who absolutely misunderstands the position. If honorable senators will only wait to hear my explanation in dealing with the constitutional question, I think they will see that I am perfectly right. I am not making use of any threat, but sim pl y pointing out the consequences that must follow if the Senate maintains the attitude it has adopted. I come now to the constitutional question, which, I say, we cannot consider without having reference to the consequences which must follow if we insist on the amendment. No doubt the position is one which the Senate is entitled to maintain, and, as I said before, ought to maintain, no matter what the consequences are, if the right is clear. But in a case in which the right is doubtful - even to put it strongly in favour of my friends opposite - we ought to consider the circumstances to which I have alluded. I do not say there is any doubt ; my own opinionisabsolutely clear - and I say this with all respect for the very able deliverances made on the opposite side - that we have no right whatever to claim the power which has been asserted in the amendment. First of all what is the position? We have by the amendment claimed a right to increase the amount of the appropriation and the liability of the Commonwealth, which depends on the number of people who obtain the bonus. But if that principle is good then it would apply to any case in which the other House sent up a Bill appropriating money for any purpose, no matter what the amount might be ; and it would be in the power of the Senate to increase the appropriation to any extent it thought fit. The principle which is advocated by my friends opposite applies now to a small matter ; but another illustration of its application may be given. A
Bill might come up providing for the construction of a transcontinental railway to Western Australia, and involving the expenditure of some millions of money. Some honorable senators might think that there was not sufficient provision made for the proper construction of stations, or for the accommodation of the traffic which might grow, and that if the railway was to be built at all, the amount proposed to be expended ought to be increased by £500,000 or £600,000. Then the Senate would have a perfect right, if the claim now made were sustained, to so increase the expenditure.
– Would not the Senate have the right to determine, if the Bill provided for a narrow gauge, that there should be a broad gauge, although the appropriation must necessarily be thereby enlarged ?
– If If it involved the expenditure of more money - no.
– Then do not bother to send such a Bill here.
– W - We will talk about that when the Bill is sent. I say again that if the claim made is to be allowed, it means, beyond all question, that for any reason - I do not care whether that reason be connected with the width of guage or the increase of accommodation on the line itself-the Senate might say that the expenditure ought to be increased by £500,000 or more.
– The Senate might desire to have a double line.
– T - That is so ; and in regard to any such expenditure the Senate would, under the circumstances that I have described, have the right to vote an increase. A Bill providing for an appropriation for the salaries of the officers of a Department might be sent to us, and if the claim now made were to be allowed, it would be perfectly open to the Senate to make an amendment which would have the effect of increasing the expenses of that Department by as many hundreds of pounds as honorable senators liked - there would be no limit. When we remember that the Constitution itself expressly prevents a Bill for the appropriation of money or the imposition of taxation - which covers the whole field of finance - from being originated in the Senate, how can we possibly expect that the other House will submit to a claim that the Senate may in any case where the Bill is not a taxation Bill or a Bill appropriating money for the ordinary annual services of the Government, send down amendments which would have the effect of increasing the expenditure of the people? It is quite impossible for us to expect the other House to agree to the assertion of any such principle. I say without hesitation that it would be impossible for the administration to be carried on under the present form of responsible government, if the principle thus asserted were to be admitted ; and therefore the other House cannot accept an amendment of the kind now before us. And if the other House cannot accept such an amendment the only course open to them is to lay the Bill aside should it go down again. I point this out, not as a threat, but as a consequence which must necessarily follow if the Senate persists in the claim made : that this legislation must be defeated, and all those persons who throughout Australia are interested in different ways in the alteration of the law now proposed, will be thrown back on the rights which are given to them by the Excise Act of last session.
– Drop this Bill andbring in another.
– W - Why should that be done ?
– Why should it not be done ?
-Wh -Why should it be done?
– Because the honorable gentleman says that there is a difficulty.
– H - Honorable senators will see at once that to adopt the suggestion of Senator Zeal would be only another way of acceding to the view which the Senate has put forward.
– Has the Senate no right to put a view forward ?
– Of Of course the Senate has that right ; but the view must be tested by the question whether it is tenable or not under the Constitution.
– Apparently it has been tested by the ruling of the Speaker in the other Chamber.
– I d I do not know why the honorable senator makes that observation. The question was tested by the vote of the other Chamber in the same way as such questions are tested in this Chamber . Although in both Houses we always look with the greatest respect on the deliverances from the Chair, it is the House or Senate, and not an officer of the House, which has to decide the attitude to be taken.
– There was no deliverance from the Chair in the other Chamber.
– As As a matter of fact, Senator Neild is in error in saying there was a deliverance from the Chair.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon, but he cannot have read Hansard.
– The Speaker directly called attention to the view that the amendment was against the Constitution.
– Exa Exactly ; but I say there was no deliverance made from the Chair in the other House which can be taken as having settled the question. The matter was settled in the House of Representatives just as we settle matters here - by a majority.
– Is the question of sufficient importance to cause a difference between the two Houses? Why labour it ?
– U - Unfortunately everybody, perhaps, does not look at the matter from the same point of view as does Senator Dawson.
– It does not matter whether an alteration be requested or an amendment made.
– M - My own view is that where it is a question of whether we should proceed byrequestoramendment-
– But is that the question?
– Are Senator O’Connor and the Prime Minister at variance on the point ?
– I - If the Senate can bring its views before the other House, I do not see that it matters very much, practically, which course is followed.
-Col. Gould. - But the Prime Minister does not think that the Senate could, in this instance, make a request.
– Wha What we are dealing with now is whether or not we have a right to make this amendment.
– To run ourselves into a noose.
– I - I do not propose to discuss this constitutional question with the same detail as would have been necessary if it were coming before the Senate now for the first time. I have read very carefully the very complete and able deliverances of Senator Baker, and also the very able deliverances of the Chairman of Committees, and I am not in a position from the point of view of authorities or the practice of the House of Commons to add anything to what has been said so well already by the Chairman of Committees. Therefore I do not propose to enter into that field of discussion. I do not enter into it for another reason. It does seem to me that when we established this Constitution, and when we carefully laid down in section 53 these rules for regulating the relations between the two Houses, it was our inten- tion to get away from that mountain of irreconcilable precedents and cases which has grown up under parliamentary law in England regarding the relations of the two Houses there. We could not possibly argue a case in the old days, where the relations between the two Houses of a” Colonial Legislature were involved, without the citation of scores of authorities, some of them contradictory, all of them having more or less bearing upon the question at issue, and none of them tending to any satisfactory result. It appears to me that in framing this Constitution, and laying down these definite rules, the intention was that the people of Australia should have a charter of the rights of the two Houses, plain for any man to read, and that within the four corners of the Constitution they should be able to gather what the rights of the two Houses are.
– I am afraid they did not succeed very well.
– I s I said in the earlier part of my remarks that I have no doubt whatever as to what those rights are. I quite admit that if we bring down that mountain of precedents on to the consideration ‘of these questions we may cover up and obscure anything, but I say that if honorable senators look at this section as it is, and interpret it in the light of the ordinary meaning of language, there is no doubt whatever that the power claimed here does not exist. Let us look at the section. First of all it is provided definitely that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
That covers the whole field of finance, because there are only two ways in which we san impose obligations upon the people. We can impose a tax upon them, and when that tax has been collected we can appropriate the proceeds of it.
– It is not then the people’s money, it is the King’s money.
– R - Really, I hope the honorable senator will not make irrelevant observations of that character.
– The honorable and learned senator knows that the Customs Tariff Act has decided that.
– W - We shall deal with that on some other occasion.
– We are going to deal with it on this occasion.
-I -I am dealing with the constitutional point now, and I say that section 53 covers the whole ground of finance. It prohibits directly the origination in the Senate of any law appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation. We need not trouble ourselves about the other part of that first paragraph of the section, because it deals only with the definition of what used in the old days to be called a Money Bill.
– Is it not to be read in connexion with section 56 1
– I d I do not think that section has rauch to do with it. Then we come to the second paragraph of the section -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
So that, first of all, there being a prohibition against the origination of any of these financial measures in the Senate, any amendment of taxation laws or of ordinary annual appropriation laws is also expressly prohibited. Then follows the other paragraph, ‘which is the subject of the present controversy -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It will be noticed first of all, that this paragraph presupposes that there is in the Bill itself a proposed charge or burden upon the people. The words used here - “Any proposed charge or burden on the people”- -clearly must refer toa burden or charge on the people proposed in the law referred to. We have already a prohibition against amending a taxation Bill ; we have already a prohibition against amending an annual Appropriation Bill, and this third paragraph covers every other possible measure in which finance is concerned ; and in regard to them, there is this prohibition against amending “up,” as it has been called. Every other kind of amendment is open, but we must not amend up, or so as to increase a proposed charge or burden on the people.
– That is not very clear. If the- Senate thinks the amendment will not increase the charge or burden, and the other House thinks it will, there is a conflict at once.
– I - I shall deal with that in a moment. I shall show what is the common-sense meaning of these words “a proposed charge or burden on the people,” and I think I shall be able to satisfy the honorable senator on that point. What is a “ proposed charge or burden on the people ?” Surely, that means a proposed charge or burden on the Commonwealth. In the preamble of this Constitution we are told, as the basis of the, whole Constitution, that-
Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania …. have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established.
It was expressly stated in that way, so that it might be known that this was not a Federation of States, but a union of the people of these different States, and the people who are mentioned in this Constitution are the people of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, the Commonwealth itself. And when this prohibition is enacted against amending any proposed law so as to increase any charge or burden on the people, surely it means, if meaning of any kind is to be given to it, that when a Bill comes up to the Semite having in it some money provision which imposes a charge or burden on the people, it cannot be amended so as to increase that charge or burden. Now, what is a charge or burden on the people? Surely the plain meaning of it is - something that the people have to pay. If we impose a liability on the people, it is a burden on the people, because they pay it. If we appropriate some of the moneys of the people, that also is a burden on the people, because they have to meet that appropriation. Now the argument has been used, and it is really suggested in the interjection made by my honorable friend, Senator Dawson, that if by a process of reasoning we can establish that an amendment made in one part of a Bill reduces, and an amendment made in another part of the same Bill increases a charge or burden on the people, and the net result is that there is no increase in the charge ‘ or burden, then the latter amendment involves no increase of the charge or burden on the people. I say that’ cannot be so. It cannot be that we are to depend for the establishment of the powers of these two Houses on our reasoning of an abstract question of that kind.
– A question of probabilities.
– A - A question of probabilities as the honorable and learned senator says.
– The whole of the honorable and learned senator’s argument depends upon probability - the probability of a larger number applying for the bounty.
– T - That is not a question of probability at all.
– It certainly is.
– Not a single additional grower might apply under this Bill.
– If If the matter is to be argued upon that basis, then no appropriation can be a burden on the people because nobody can say with certainty that any one. will ever come within it.
– But very few could resist the temptation, and we are dealing with human beings.
– A - As I have said before, we are not now dealing with this question in a debating society, but in a practical Legislature, and I ask any honorable senator to say whether he really believes that when we offer a bonus of this kind for any one who brings in his sugar after having employed white labour in ite cultivation for twelve months there will be no application for the bounty ?
– T - The honorable and learned senator might Say that with regard to the bounty itself.
– Or with regard to the sun rising to-morrow.
– Or Or with regard to Senator Pulsford asking no more questions about the Customs.
– Are not the charges under this Bill to be taken in connexion with the Tariff charges 1
– No, certainly not -
– I - I am very glad Senator Dawson has asked the question. If we are to look at the Excise Tariff Act, we should look at any other legislation–
– That bears on the point.
– T - That bears on the point. And then it would be open to us, by going through a series of calculations and taking a number of different rights and obligations dealing with sugar, to argue that the net result of it all was that this particular bounty did not impose a burden on the people.
– We could make it a mathematical - point instead of a constitutional point.
– E - Exactly. And we might say that if a man could establish that there would be a profit to the State in adopting a certain policy, that a proposed bounty would be self-supporting, he might argue that in these circumstances there would be no charge on the people. All this shows that it is quite impossible to put this matter upon any other ground than the certain definite ground laid down in the Constitution itself. If we are dealing with a Bill, and one Bill only, intended to be dealt with in the terms of the Constitution, then we know what we are doing, and we have a definite standard. The test ‘is - Is this proposed charge increased ? That is all we have to decide. But if we are going to enter into all these other inquiries, how can any one say what the result will be ? The Senate may arrive at a conclusion that this proposal will not cost the country anything, and will therefore be no burden on the people ; whilst the other House may come to exactly the opposite conclusion. In the same way, in dealing with any other question, perhaps involving principles such as those of free-trade and protection, one set of honorable senators may come to the conclusion that a certain charge will mean a burden on the people, and another may come to the conclusion that it is absolutely impossible for it to become a burden. All these things appear to me to show that the only safe way to consider this matter is to look at the words of the Constitution, and it says in plain language that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It is said that the bonus cannot be a charge or burden on the people, because the money has already been provided, and the mere allocation of it cannot impose a charge or burden on the people. That, too, is a fallacious argument. It is fallacious for this reason, that the Bill not only imposes a liability, but appropriates the money for the payment of the bonus, and year after year,- until 1907, when the bonus will come to an .end without any further appropriation by Parliament the money will be provided. Therefore we shall not require to vote any more money. Suppose that the argument may be good for this year - and I do not think it is, as I shall point out in a moment - what do honorable senators say when they come to next year 1 There is an obligation which must be provided for ; the only way of providing for the obligation is to collect the money from the people ; therefore the obligation results in imposing a charge or burden on the people.
– Suppose that next year we retain ‘ the bonus and repeal the Customs and Excise duties on sugar, where are we. then?
– E - Exactly ; the only ground which those honorable senators have is absolutely cut away from them.
– It is very improbable that we should do that while giving a bonus.
– But suppose that it was done. The bonus is given for the purpose of encouraging the employment of white labour, and not the growth of sugar.
– T - The suggestion which has just been made show’s how impossible it is to decide a question of this sort on a general system of legislation. All we are concerned with is the particular measure before the Senate. If the effect is to increase the expenditure on the face of the Bill, then it increases the charge or burden on the people.
– Suppose that an amending Bill were brought in which reduced taxation, would it be taken to be imposing a fresh burden on the people ?
– Suc Such a Bill could not be amended by the Senate.
– Even if the effect of the Bill were to reduce taxation 1
– Yes Yes, because by the express provisions of the Constitution the Senate cannot amend a. taxation Bill in any way.
– Will the honorable aud learned gentleman look at section 55, which says- - “laws imposing taxation “ 1 All the sections refer to laws imposing taxation.
– But not remitting taxation.
– S - Section 53 says-
The Senate may not amend’ proposed laws imposing taxation.
I should be very sorry to rest any argument on such a fine distinction as that. It appears to me that when fi Bill is brought up dealing with taxation it deals with the imposition of taxation, and even if it remits taxation, it still deals with the imposition of taxation.
– It does not impose taxation.
– I d I do not wish to be led into a side issue, because it takes me away from the main argument I am addressing to the Senate. What meaning has been given to that part of section 53 by those who contend that this power exists in the Senate 1 I have looked very carefully through the debates, and 1 think that the honorable senators who have taken the view that the Senate has the power have been unable to give any definite meaning to it. They seem to think it is surplusage ; they do not know what it means. One of the first rules for the interpretation of any Act of Parliament, particularly of a Constitution Act, is that effect must be given to every portion of it.
– If you can.
– Doe Does the honorable and learned senator say that we cannot give effect to this portion of it t
– I think we can.
– P - Plain words are used, which have a meaning well known in parliamentary law and usage, and, apart from that, a clear grammatical meaning. If honorable senators are to give those words a meaning at all - and they must give them some meaning - they cannot escape from the conclusion that, if in any circumstances an alteration is made to increase any expenditure proposed in a Bill, which will have the effect of increasing the burden on the people - that is to say, increasing, the amount which the people will have to pay - that is a violation of this provision. It is said that it is not increasing the burden of the people if it appropriates money. What does the phrase “ a burden on the people “ mean ? It cannot mean taxation, because that has. been already dealt with in an earlier portion of the section. It must mean something else. It is said that an appropriation does not increase the burden ; but we have only to remember what an appropriation is in order to see that it must be a burden on the people. What is the process ? The requirements of the people are made known through the Ministers ; a message comes down from the Crown requiring a certain amount to be voted. When that amount has been appropriated then a Committee of Waysand Means determine how it is to be raised. Tho whole theory of our responsible government is that we find out first what is wanted and then provide the means of getting it.’ Whenever we appropriate money, whenever we decide that it is necessary that theCommonwealth, or the people of the Commonwealth, shall incur a liability, then we devise means for raising the money. Therefore, whenever we impose a liability we impose by necessity a charge on the people because that liability must be met by the people. It does seem to’ me that this matter is absolutely clear if honorable senators give the proper meaning, or any meaning to the part of the section to which I have been referring. I have thought it necessary to state perhaps at greater length than I otherwise would have done, the reasons formy opinion. I have done so in deference to the very careful and elaborate reasoning which has been advanced by Senator Baker upon the other view. With every respect to his opinion, I cannot concur in it, and I cannot see that there has been any good reason advanced in support of it. I should like to say a few words in regard to the history of this section, which perhaps may be useful to honorable senators. It will be remembered by those who followed the proceedings of the two Conventions that these provisions existed in the Constitution Bill of 1891, though not in the same form. They were different in order but the same in meaning, and they were introduced in that form in the Constitution as it came before the last Convention. There was only one attempt made to alter the clause, and that was when the amendments suggested by the States Parliaments were being considered. One suggestion was made in regard to the clause by the Legislative Council of South Australia, over: which at that time I understand Senator Baker presided. The suggestion was to strike out the clause, and it was negatived without division and without discussion. So far from no meaning having been attached to the clause, and so far from it having been looked upon as surplusage and useless, although the attention of the Convention was expressly drawn to it by this recommendation of the Legislative Council of South Australia, it was decided to leave it in, and of course that was done because it was a necessary part of the provisions for dealing with the financial relations between the Houses. In a word, those financial relations really amount to this, that there is to be a power in the Senate to amend any Bill except a Bill appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government, or a Bill imposing taxation and the power in regard of all other amendments is limited in one way only, and that is that we cannot amend any proposal involving expenditure of money, so as to increase the amount. .That is the general effect of these provisions. It appears to me that they are the only, provisions under which we can reasonably carry out this scheme of responsible government, combined with the power of the Senate, which the Constitution provides for. I hope that the Senate will see that its claim is not supported, either by the words of the Constitution, or by the spirit or intention of it, and that under the circumstances it will be doing well, not only in the interests of those persons, who are immediately concerned in the bonus, but in its own interests by not pressing this amendment.
– What is the alternative?
– The The only alternative is that if the amendment be insisted upon, the’ Bill must be laid aside in another place.
– What is our alternative?
– Our Our alternative is a request.
– Has not the Prime. Minister said that we cannot make a request and an amendment in respect of the same Bill ? 6 k
– I h I have never heard it. ‘
– It is reported in Mansard that he did. I shall give the quotation, if the honorable and learned gentleman likes ?
– I h I have not heard it, and I do not want any quotation from Hansa/rd. I have been asked what my opinion is, and I have no hesitation in saying that there is a power in the Senate to make a request of this kind, and that if that power did not exist we should have a very large class of cases absolutely omitted from the consideration of the Constitution.
– The Prime Minister does not think so.
– I t I think that the honorable and learned member is mistaken. I know that the Postmaster-General did make some reference to that view, but it really was not necessary for the consideration of the matter with which we were dealing on the last occasion, and I do not think from my recollection of his remarks that he was very certain or expressed any definite opinion about it. There is no doubt that on the face of it the words do bear that interpretation, and I can well understand any one who looked at the section on the spur of the moment while debate was proceeding falling into what I venture to think would be a narrow interpretation of the Constitution. I do not think that when the matter comes to be looked into closely, there can be any doubt that it was intended that the power of amendment and the po;er of request should be complementary to each other - that where the one ends the other begins.
– If we send down a request to the other House, will the Ministry endeavour to carry it into effect ?
– I - I have told the honorable senator that my colleague and I will support, as the Government will support, a request if we think it is a reasonable one on the merits, having regard to the constitutional position.
– Will the members of the Government in the other House support it? We know that they frequently differ. We have a reason for asking that question from what Sir Edmund Barton said, as reported in Hansard, in reference to this matter.
– I - I do not think it is necessary for the honorable and learned senator to ask me that question. I have stated what attitude the Government will take up. Senator Glassey is I know above all things practical. No honorable senator in this Chamber entertains a greater desire than he does t0 maintain the privileges and rights of the Senate ; but when that honorable senator reflects that we are dealing with practical legislation, and sees what must necessarily be the consequence of our attempting to insist upon a position which is really untenable, I hope that he will form his own judgment as to the merits of this constitutional problem. Then, if he thinks there is any doubt about it, I hope that he will take care that the interests of the people of the Commonwealth do not suffer while we are taking up a position which, under the Constitution, is not tenable. I therefore move -
That the Committee does not insist upon the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
– Some of the remarks which have been made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council seem to me to be very weighty indeed. With some of them I most cordially concur. I am very glad” that he has made the statement that we must rely on our Constitution itself for its interpretation, and that we need not encumber ourselves- - in fact, that we must not encumber ourselves - with the mass of decisions and precedents which we find in May. We must rely upon the words, the spirit, the meaning, and the intent of the Constitution itself; and I contend that, measured by that standard, we have a perfect right to make the amendment in question. As Senator Downer has remarked, if we look back at the history of the two Conventions which framed this Constitution, we shall find that there were two parties who held strongly divergent views in reference to what should be the relative powers of the two Houses. There was one party in the Convention, consisting of the representatives of the smaller States, which said that we ought to have a Senate modelled on the Senate of the United States - a Senate coequal in power in almost every respect with the House of Representatives. There was the other party, who wished to frame a Senate on the model of the House of Lords, and on the model of the Legislative Councils of the States. There can be no doubt whatever that a compromise was arrived at between those two parties. There were four pitched battles on this subject - in Sydney in 1891 ; in Adelaide and Sydney again in 1897 ; and in Melbourne in 1897 and 1898. Over and over again the delegates nearly started for their homes without formulating any Constitution whatever, because they could not agree upon this important question. Not only was there a compromise, but the fact that it was so was stated over and over again. Sir Edmund Barton said “ Now is the time for compromise. These clauses in reference to the powers of the two Houses have been taken out of the proper order, and now is our time to compromise.” The three able men who led the Convention, Senator O’Connor, Senator Downer and Sir Edmund Barton, to a very considerable extent took the side of the delegates from the smaller States who wished to have a Senate on the model of the Senate of America. Had they not done so I feel perfectly certain that there would have been no Federation. Sir John Forrest - and I only quote him because he is a member of the present Ministry, and because he is also a member of the other House - put forward the contention of the side which he advocated in very clear language. As will be seen from the Adelaide Convention Reports, page 490, it had been decided for the purpose of convenience that ordinary Appropriation Bills should originate in the House of Representatives, and he said -
We have also conceded that the Appropriation Bill shall not be amended and can only be rejected. All we claim is that all other Bills - Tariff, Excise and Taxation Bills - shall be subject to amendment by the Senate, and it seems to me that that is a reasonable demand.
That was the contention. We did not get all we wanted ; and when I say “ we,” I mean we who fought for a strong Senate. But we got a good deal of what we wanted, as I shall show by-and-by. In a former address which I made to the Committee of the Senate I argued on the assumption that according to the British Constitution - according to the practice and conventions of the British House of Commons - the proposal of Senator Glassey could be put forward as an amendment. But I expressly stated then, and I expressly state now, that I believe that that assumption, is altogether false and erroneous. I admitted the assumption merely to argue that, even if it were correct, the Senate could still make the amendment in question. I wished to meet my opponents on their own ground. I elaborated that argument, and contended first that our Constitution is a novel Constitution, the like of which the world has never seen before, especially in reference to the relative powers of the two Houses ; that with small exceptions the Senate was given co-equal powers with the House of Representatives ; and, secondly, that if the false assumption that the Constitution is modelled on that of the British Constitution be admitted, Senator Glassey’s proposal could still be treated as an amendment. Although I admitted for the sake of argument and elaborated the second contention, I declared then, and declare now, that it is not correct. I will now proceed to elaborate the first argument - namely, that according to the spirit, meaning, and words of our Constitution, we have made an amendment which we were entitled to make. We cannot look to the Constitution of any other country for guidance ; we cannotlook to the British Constitution ; we cannot look to the American Constitution ; we cannot look to the Constitution of Canada, which Professor Dicey declares was obtained by what he first calls “official mendacity,” but which he afterwards describes as “ diplomatic inaccuracy.” Canada was tricked into adopting a Constitution founded on the British basis. As the position stands, we must dissociate from our minds all the practices, all the understandings, all the conventions, adopted under those forms of government under which we have lived so long. We must clear our minds from all that mass of precedents which experience has taught us, and we must form conventions and understandings in accordance with our own Constitution, so that that Constitution may work as it was originally intended that it should work. Now let me ask the consideration of the Committee to section 56 and to its history. Clause 56 in the Convention Bill of 1891 was practically a copy of similar provisions in the States Constitutions. It provided -
It shall not be lawful for the House of Representatives to pass any vote, resolution, or law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or the produce of any tax or impost which has not been first recommended to that House by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution or law is proposed.
I ask the Committee to note that that clause as originally drafted provided for a message to be sent to the House of Representatives alone. But what did the Convention do ? It deliberately refused to adopt that clause.
In the Adelaide Convention the clause was altered, and, as framed by that Convention, it read -
It shall not be lawful for the Senate or the House of Representatives to pass any vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or moneys to any purpose whichhas not first been recommended to the House in which the proposal for appropriation originated by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution, or law is proposed.
What does that provide? It provides, in clear and unmistakable language, that the Senate can originate and appropriate revenue.
– It does not.
– I ask honorable senators to note the words - “ To the House in which the proposal originated.”
– That is in direct conflict with the first line of section 53.
– I do not think it is ; but in clear and unmistakable language it provides that the Senate shall be able to originate and appropriate revenue, not Bill appropriating revenue, but can appropriate revenue by amending Bills initiated elsewhere. I introduced those words myself in the Constitutional Committee of the Convention, and my main argument was, that I wished to make the Senate as strong a House as possible. But, I also argued that as a matter of convenience, though a Bill originating and appropriating revenue under the first part of section 53 originated in the House of Representatives, still it might come up to the Senate, and it might be found that moneys or revenue had to be appropriated for some other purpose. It was, therefore, proposed that a message could be sent to the Senate recommendingan appropriation. I ask Senator Dobson and others to bear in mind the important difference between originating a Bill - because “proposed law” all through these sections means a Bill - and originating a proposal in a Bill. They are two different things altogether. That reconciles the first part of section 53 with section . 56. It is quite true that the Senate cannot originate a Bill appropriating revenue, but it does not follow at all that we cannot originate an appropriation of revenue if we first get a message.
– Should we not have had a message for Senator Glassey’s amendment?
– A message is a condition precedent to either House originating an appropriation of revenue, but it must be sent to the House iu which the proposal originated. The section I have just read is not in the words of our present Constitution. It was altered from the original words to the words which we now find as a drafting amendment. I have looked up the original records which I have in my possession, and I find that the clause, as drafted in Adelaide, was altered to its present form, and that the alteration was treated as a drafting amendment, and a drafting amendment only. If the Senate has power to originate an appropriation in a Bill which comes to us from the House of Representatives, surely we have power to alter an appropriation. Ever since the time of Euclid, it has been an axiom that “ the greater includes the less ;” and if we have power to originate an appropriation, surely we have power to alter an appropriation. Then Senator Dobson raises this point - Ought we nob to have had a message 1 By section 56, the only prohibition on either House as to appropriating revenue is the receipt of a message, not by both Houses, but by one House - the House in which the appropriation originated. Therefore I contend that if a message is once received either by the Senate or the House of Representatives, either House can alter or increase the appropriation in question. We must recollect. as I said before, that we have a novel Constitution, which enables either House to do anything not prohibited by the Constitution itself.
– Supposing one House received a message involving an expenditure of £1,000,000, could the other House increase that expenditure to £1,500,000?
– Undoubtedly ; but neither House can alter an appropriation without the concurrence of the other House. It has been pointed out that we might have a Bill sent up appropriating a small amount, and that the Senate might enormously increase the appropriation. But we certainly could not do anything of the sort without the concurrence of the other House. In fact, the argument which has been presented really is that the two Houses cannot increase an appropriation. I have shown from a quotation from May - not that I think it has anything to do with the question - which I read when I addressed the Committee, that if once a message is sent down in general terms - that is, recommending the purposes for which an appropriation is to be made - then even the House of Commons can increase the appropriation. And unless we are prohibited by the Constitution itself why should we not do so ? Section 53 of the Constitution provides -
Except as provided in this section the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.
And therefore by section 56 the powers of the two Houses- are equal. The Senate is not prohibited by the Constitution from doing that which we have done, namely, appropriating revenue, and therefore I say we are perfectly justified in the position we have taken up. I have seen it- suggested, but I do not think seriously, that the small appropriations for fees or licences require a message, and have something to do with section 56. But I think it is quite clear that that is not so. The words of the Constitution itself provide that these small appropriations shall not be taken to be appropriations of money. Sir Edmund Barton, when speaking in the Convention for Senator O’Connor, Senator Downer, and himself, with reference to these small appropriations, said -
We have since considered the matter, and I think I can say, for my honorable friends and myself, that we entertain no doubt upon the subject, and that the words in the proviso to the first part of clause 53 - “but a proposed law shall not be taken to appropriate any part of the public revenue or moneys “ - will be construed to mean that by a law of the Constitution such things are not to” be an appropriation, and will not require messages.
If the small appropriations mentioned in the first part of section 53 do not require messages, what was the object of providing in section 56 that messages may be sent to the Senate ? That latter provision was inserted deliberately, and deliberate!)’ kept in the Constitution. In the very last discussion which took place in the Convention concerning Money Bills, Mr. Isaacs proposed that the clause giving power to send a message to the Senate should be struck out. Mr. Isaacs, on that occasion, said -
I would like to point out what we did in Adelaide. As the Bill stood in 1891, and as it stood before an alteration was made in Adelaide, clause 56 ran as follows : -
I shall not read the clause, but it was quoted by Mr. Isaacs, and it provided for a message to one House only. Mr. Isaacs went on to argue that the section as it now appears ought to be altered, because it would give power to the Senate to appropriate moneys. The Convention, however, did not agree with Mr. Isaacs, and, by nine votes, retained the clause. At the” Federal Convention in Sydney, the following conversation took place, as reported on page 480 of the proceedings -
The Hon. J. H. Gordon. - But still the intention of the clause is to give the Senate the power of appropriating money for salary under a Bill which the Assembly has passed.
The Hon. E. Barton. - That might allow the Senate to deal with the appropriation of money for carrying on the civil service.
Mr. Wise. Or for originating a new department for the civil service.
The Hon. E. Barton. - Very nearly ; at any rate, it would enable the Senate to go shores in the appropriation for the civil service.
That is to say, Sir Edmund Barton, as leader of the Convention, admitted, without any denial from the members of the Convention, that the Senate could share in making appropriations, and that messages could be sent to the Senate. The clause was not altered after these observations “were made. Sir Edmund Barton then went on to say -
The Senate is not deprived of the power of amending appropriations except in respect to the ordinary annual services of the Government. In order that it may have this power in full efficiency, it is intended by this sub-clause to .confine the Annual Appropriation Act to such matters as relate to the ordinary annual services of the Government, so that appropriations, apart from that, may be dealt with in the ordinary woy.
These two statements which appear to me perfectly clear were made not by any ordinary member of the Convention, but by the leader, and they were assented to and carried out by the Convention. It is contended now by Senator O’Connor that every proposal for an appropriation out of the consolidated revenue imposes a charge or burden on the people. If that contention be correct no doubt the whole of the ground is cut away from under my argument. But I hold that it is not correct. The argument is founded on the reasoning that the money must come from somewhere, that it can only come from the people, and therefore if Senator Glassey’s amendment increases the amount paid in bounties, it increases the appropriation of the revenue for that purpose, and thus increases the charge or burden on the people. But very little consideration will show the fallacy of that argument, its fundamental unsoundness, and that it can only be advanced by ignoring the meaning of the Constitution. If the argument be sound it applies to all appropriations of money or revenue. It is alleged that every single appropriation which can possibly be conceived is an increase of the burden on the people. What a position that would bring the Senate to ? As pointed out by Senator Millen, the Senate could not, if the argument were sound, alter even the gauge of a proposed railway.
– That is no argument against the position taken up by’ Senator O’Connor.
– Yes, it is -) because it shows that the argument is not true, leading, as it does, to a manifest absurdity. As a fact, we know that a great many appropriations are intended to decrease, and do decrease, the charges or burdens on the people. I have already referred to the Audit Act, and to the fact that the object of the Auditor-General and his staff is to see that money raised by taxation is properly expended, so that the burdens on the people may not need to be increased. The Postal’ Department, for instance, brings in a surplus revenue; and surely it cannot be said, in view of that fact, that the ?2,000,000 annually appropriated for carrying on this remunerative service increases the burdens on the people. Then again, according to Senator Pearce, a State monopoly of the tobacco industry would result in a profit of ?1,000,000 or ?2,000,000 per annum. Would the appropriation of revenue for the purpose of paying salaries to the staff necessary to conduct a profitable tobacco monopoly be regarded as increasing the burdens on the people ?
– All I can say is that I should like to have my burdens increased in the same way. Then there is another consideration. Supposing the revenue is in such a buoyant state that there is a large surplus, and money is appropriated for a particular purpose. Under such circumstances, that - appropriation would not increase the burdens on the people. It might prevent a decrease of the burdens by means of the remission of taxation, but it could not be said to increase the burdens on the people.
– W - We should have to wait until the end of the year to see whether it did or did not increase the burdens.
– In this case we have to wait until the end of the year to see whether the sugar-growers employ white labour.
– T - Then, while a Bill is going through we cannot say whether it increases the burden on the people or not ?
– It very often happens that that cannot be decided. If Senator . O’Connor’s argument is a proper one, it means that whenever a Bill is introduced to remit taxation, it may be urged that by the remission we increase the burdens on the people, because the money must be made up in some other way - that it must come out of the pockets of the people; and that, therefore, a Bill to decrease taxation is a Bill to increase taxation. But the main, the most conclusive, argument in answer to the contention of Senator O’Connor is that it ignores the Constitution. The prohibition is that the Senate is not to increase any proposed charge. But there must be a proposal in the Bill itself before an amendment can be made to increase the proposed charge or burden. We cannot have an amendment to a motion unless there is a motion - we cannot have an amendment to a proposal unless there is a proposal. Therefore, Senator O’Connor rightly argues that in the Bill itself there must be a proposal to impose a charge ; and that the prohibition to the Senate is that they must not increase a proposed charge. It is not that the Senate must not pass a law which may ultimately necessitate some charge or burden ; it is the proposed charge or burden, and that only, which we may not increase. Otherwise we might have to speculate three or four years ahead before we could legislate. Although Senator O’Connor deprecated any academical discussion of this question, I contend that we have a perfect right to make a fair endeavour to find out what the Constitution means; and I suggest that the honorable and learned senator himself departed from the principle he laid down. I shall just give a couple of illustrations to show what an absurdity Senator O’Connor’s argument leads us to, and how the principle which underlies it has been ignored by the Senate and the House of Representatives during the time we have been in existence. That principle is, that any obligation imposed on the Executive, necessitating or increasing the expenditure of public moneys must be met, and that, therefore, increased charges or burdens must result. If that be so the Senate cannot amend a proposed law, so as to render it necessary to appoint any public officer, who, presumably, must be paid something, or so as to increase the number of officers employed in any Department, or, so as directly or indirectly to cause any public expenditure. It can hardly be imagined that the plain words “ so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people “ were intended to have so far-fetched and absurd a meaning. Let us examine the argument as applied to the Post and Telegraph Bill, the first Bill we passed. By clauses 6 and 7 we provided for the appointment of a Postmaster-General and a Deputy Postmaster-General for each State, whose salaries must be paid out of the public revenue. We initiated that Bill.’ Then again clause 15 empowered the Postmaster-General to enter into contracts for the carriage of mails. Those who enter into these contracts, and carry the mails, must be paid out of the public revenue. Under clause 17 we provided that the Postmaster-General must pay the States Railway Departments for the carriage of mails, and so on through the whole Bill. The Bill really teemed with appropriations of revenue.
– I think it was the Senate that introduced the restriction against the employment of coloured labour in contracts for the carriage of mails.
– We also introduced the provision for the minimum wage.
– I am not now. Honorable senators will find it difficult to pick out any Bill we have passed, or any clause in any Bill which we have passed, which either directly or indirectly does not necessitate expenditure. Again, take the illustration of the Property Acquisition Bill. By clause 46 methods were provided for paying the States for property acquired by the Commonwealth. The methods were to be at the option of the Governor-General, and it was provided that the Governor-General, which means the Ministry, might credit in account the various’ States with the amounts owing to them, and pay them interest at the rate of 3 per cent. Senator Playford proposed, and it was carried in the Senate, that the rate of interest should be 3^ per cent., and that involved an extra charge of probably £60,000 a year.
– A nice burden on the peoole.
– What did that do but appropriate revenue ? I remind honorable senators that in this case there was no other Act necessary, because the Constitution itself provides that we shall acquire this property, and that we shall owe the money to the States. Therefore, we had the whole scheme complete without the necessity for any other Bill. Under that Property Acquisition Bill, which we initiated and which we amended, the revenue of the Commonwealth could be debited with £350,000 a year, or something like it, as interest on the moneys we owed to the States. If it is possible that an appropriation of revenue may increase a burden on the people, surely these are cases in which the burden is so increased. Now, I come to this Bill itself.
– B - Before the honorable and learned senator leaves that point, would he mind telling us what meaning he attaches to the words “ charge or burden on the people ? “
– As Senator O’Connor very properly pointed out, in considering an Act of Parliament, the Constitution, or any other law, we must if possible give effect to every word and every line of it, and therefore I ask the honorable and learned senator to give effect to that provision of the Constitution which enables a message to be sent to the Senate, and enables the Senate to originate an appropriation of revenue. We are invited to consider part of a scheme - this Bill and this Bill only. That seems to me rather ridiculous, because the two Bills before us are undoubtedly ancillary to each other. They are both parts of the same scheme, and we must consider them together to find out what the scheme is.
– And they would have been in one Bill had not the Constitution Act prevented it.
– Yes ; they would have been in one Bill if it were not that the Commonwealth Constitution provides that Bills imposing taxation must deal with the imposition of that taxation only, and must not deal with any other subject. It was therefore impossible for the Government to bring up this scheme in one Bill.
– T - The honorable and learned senator must remember that it was first proposed to be done by way of rebate and not by way of bounty.
– I am coming to that directly. If the honorable and learned senator thinks that the facts are altered by calling the rebate a “bonus,” a “ bounty,” or a “ repayment,” I do not. I desire to look at the substance, and not at the phraseology. We are told that both these. Bills - at least that is. the effect of the reasoning - impose burdens on the people. The one provides for an excise duty of £3 per ton - that undoubtedly imposes a burden on the people. Then we are told that the other Bill, which provides that the very same people who pay the excise, or some of them, are to get a bounty or rebate, also imposes a burden on the people. How can that be ? Surely there is a difference between giving and taking? In one breath we say to these people who grow sugar with white labour - “ You pay £3 per ton excise duty “ ; and in the next breath we say - “ When you do that we shall give you £2 per ton back.” I do not care whether it is called “ rebate “ or “ bounty it is in substance the same thing - at all events, so far as the persons who get it - the sugar-growers under the Excise Tariff Act - are concerned.
– I - It is quite a different thing. The people who have the rebate deducted are a certain class only, whilst the whole community pays the bounty.
– That is what I have said. So far as the sugar-growers who, having paid the excise duty of £3 per ton, get £2 back by way of bounty or rebate, are concerned it is the same thing. No one can deny that. That being so, I say that this scheme provides for a remission of taxation, and not for an increase of taxation. It is a remission of taxation so far as the sugar excise tax is concerned. Will any one deny that the extension of the number of people to whom this rebate or bounty is paid will not diminish the revenue derived from sugar ? That seems to me quite clear, and that being so, so far as the sugar taxpayers and the sugar tax are concerned, this Bill diminishes taxation, and Senator Glassey’s amendment still further diminishes taxation.
– Why, we lose taxation by it.
– That is exactly what I say. Of course we lose taxation by it.
– Then we must make up the revenue from another source.
– We lose taxation by it, and therefore I say it is a remission of taxation. We shall not get as much out of the sugar tax under Senator Glassey’s amendment as we should have received if the amendment had not been carried.
– Out of which tax ?
– Out of the sugar tax.
– Excise or customs ?
– I do not care. Out of both, or out of the excise if the honorable and learned senator pleases. We shall not get as much revenue as we should have received if Senator Glassey had not carried his amendment. Under these two Bills what do we say ? We say to the growers of sugar by white labour - “ You pay £3 per ton excise duty and we will give you back £2 perton.” Is not that a remission of taxation so far as they are concerned ? In form it may not be, but in effect it certainly is a remission of taxation, and we cannot alter the substance of a thing by altering the wording by which it is stated. I shall give a case in point which seems to me to be absolutely on all fours with this. It arose in Great Britain, and is quoted in, the tenth edition of May, page 567 -
In 1 865, it being proposed to reduce the existing drawback on the export of sugar, it was agreed on consideration that the proposal should originate in Committee, lis it was equivalent to an increase of charge upon all the importers of sugar who desired to export it.
Now what does that mean? I am not going to refer to the procedure of the House of Commons, because I say we have nothing to do with that. But as to the principle involved, the standing order of the House of Commons provides that all proposals for a charge or burden on the people must originate in Committee, so they said in effect that the origination of a drawback on sugar meant an increase in the sugar duties. It meant that the sugar duties would bring in more because the drawback was reduced: Now substitute the word “ bounty “ for the word “ drawback “ - and they are substantially the same thing - and it is clear that if the effect of Senator Glassey’s amendment had been to decrease the number of people who received the bounty, then the honorable senator would have been moving to increase the sugar tax, but it will have the contrary effect.
– S - So the honorable senator could not have moved an amendment decreasing the number to receive the bounty, because it would have been unconstitutional ?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.Why?
– B - Because, according to the honorable and learned senator’s own argument, it would have increased the taxation.
– Just so ; that is my argument. That is what was done in the House of Commons case to. which I have referred. They said that if you decreased the drawback payable on the export of sugar you increased the sugar duties. Our bounty is not the same thing in name, but the principle is the same. In both cases there is a certain excise, or import duty. In both cases, in the case of the bounty, and in the case of the drawback, certain people who pay the excise or import duty receive something back again. If the amount which is received back again is decreased, the sugar duties are increased, and if it is increased the sugar duties are decreased. Therefore, if Senator Glassey’s amendment had been in effect exactly contrary to what it is, I say he could not have moved it, because he would have increased the charge or burden on the people.
– Very clever, but not convincing.
– I cannot see any flaw in the argument myself, and if honorable senators consider the matter I think they will see that I am right. What have we to consider? We have to consider the sugar tax.
– Give a bonus to every one who produces sugar whether by white or black labour, and it will be good for us all round, according to the honorable and learned senator’s argument.
– If we giveabonus to every one who produces sugar, whether by white or black labour, will not our revenue from the sugar tax decrease? That is exactly what I am arguing. I say that if we give a bounty, a bonus, a drawback, or a rebate, or whatever else honorable senators like to call it, to every one who grows sugar, then we shall not raise money by the sugar duties.
– Then we shall have to make up the loss by taxation.
– That may be so. The honorable senator has hit the point. We should, perhaps, have to make up the revenue in some other way, but that is not the question we have to consider here. That is not what the Constitution says. The Constitution says that we may not increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
– We may decrease the revenue but not increase it.
– We may decrease the revenue but not increase it. Now let us look at the message from another place. In that message three reasons are given for disagreeing to the amendment. The first reason stated is - “ Because the Bill is a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys.”
We do not deny that. That is agreed. I do not see any reason why we should deny that. We have never asserted that it is not such a law. That therefore is no reason at all. The second reason stated in the message is that - “ Amendment No. 3 is an infraction of the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or money.”
But we did not originate this proposed law, and we never asserted that we could originate it. All that I have asserted is that we can amend a Bill appropriating moneys which has originated in another place, so long as by so doing, we do not increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. Whether I am right or not, that is shortly my contention. Then, the message from the other House says, further, that we are prohibited from increasing a proposed charge or burden on the people, but the real question at issue is have we done so. I do not deny any of their allegations ; but I contend that the allegations do not meet the point. It has been argued that there is very little substantial difference between proceeding by way of a request and proceeding by way of an amendment. I think that is so. But proceeding by way of request puts the stamp of inferiority on the Senate. I do not wish to see the stamp of inferiority put on the Senate more than is necessary, because we may depend upon it that if the general public find that we cannot do this, that, or the other thing, they will very soon associate us in their minds with a Legislative Council, and we shall not only fall in public estimation, but, byandby, we shall fall in our own estimation. I wish to see a strong, powerful Senate, so that we may be in reality, what we are in name, a true Federation. The Constitution is the supreme law. Subject to any limitations and conditions imposed by it the representatives of the people may impose taxes upon the people and appropriate the proceeds of such taxes for specific objects. No doubt they may, or they may not, bind and fetter themselves by rules of procedure, and by agreements or understandings between the Federal Houses ; and in doing so they may, or may not, adopt, either in whole or in part, the procedure of the House of Commons if they desire to be hide-bound by procedure arising out of conditions which do not exist. But at present this page of our Constitution is unwritten. Let us see that what we do write spells “ Federal Constitution,” and that the fundamental theory on which our Constitution is based - that the Commonwealth is a Federation, and that the Senate is a Federal States House elected by all the people of the Commonwealth grouped in States to represent them as State units - may never be forgotten.
– The point out of which this question arose has developed very largely. It reminds one of the Scriptural phrase -
Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.
The conclusion from the address of Senator Baker is that the easiest way of solving the difficulties into which the Senate has apparently got, would be for us - if we have the power as a matter of procedure - to still more largely increase the scope of the bonus, so that it might be given’ - as Senator Styles suggested - to every grower, irrespective of what labour was employed in producing sugar. The effect of that might be, in the dim and distant future, to so greatly increase the production of sugar in Australia that we should require to import none. The revenue from sugar duties would thus be cut in two, and, therefore, we are told, it would be a measure for diminishing taxation - the burden on the people - instead of increasing it. That appears to me to be the conclusion which is to be drawn logically and constitutionally from the argument to which we have just listened. But there are, I think, a good many steps for us to traverse before we can quite reach that stage, and it would be well just to recall what has taken place, and the various arguments which have been advanced on matters which are of very great importance to the Senate, and to the construction of those provisions of the Constitution which have been largely in debate. We must all agree with the concluding part of what Senator Baker said in respect of the importance of conserving the power of the Senate. No member of the Senate has a monopoly of the care of its rights and privileges. I protest against any claims to superiority in our anxiety to make the Senate a great and potent factor in the legislative proceedings of this country - in the maintenance of the rights of States, and the rights of the people who have sent us here, and whom we represent just as much as honorable members in the other House do. But we must not be carried away by vehement appeals about the rights of the Senate. This and similar questions have to be considered in the calm light of our constitutional knowledge and experience, and statements such as have been made as to our proving false to our duty and so on if we do not now assert our right to amend instead of to request an amendment, seem to me to beal together beside the question, and to be calculated to divert our minds from the clear conception of the issue with which we have .to deal, rather than to assist us in its determination. But there is another point which is of great weight, and is not to be overlooked, and that is, that whilst we must use every effort to uphold the rights of the Senate on all occasions and under all conditions where we believe them to be infringed or challenged, we must also remember that we are here not only to maintain its honour and its dignity, but that station in the Legislature which has been assigned to it, and which will be seriously imperilled if we plunge ourselves into a conflict with the other House on matters of little moment, or if we provoke a conflict with that House as to a matter on which we ourselves may be in grave doubt. I think that the two elements have to be weighed in that connexion. Again, we ought, it seems to me, to be influenced by what Senator O’Connor said as to the fate of the Bill. It is a matter of supreme indifference to me what becomes of the Bill, in so far as it affects the judgment I may arrive at on the question which confronts us. I voted, as Senator Glassey is aware, for his amendment, but the face of that amendment does not divert my mind one way or another in regard to the consideration of this question. On the other hand, I think it is exceedingly unwise for the Senate to get into a constitutional struggle, where grave doubts are entertained, and where those who are supporting an aggressive course of action have no particular confidence in their own view, and when the address of the active leader in this matter, as Senator Baker undoubtedly is - and a most interesting address it was - begins and ends with doubt, we ought to choose a better fighting ground, If we are going to raise the question of the construction of the provision as to increasing a charge or burden on the people, it ought to be raised when we have a better case. It ought to be raised when the plaintiff, so to speak - as Senator Baker is - has a better belief in his case. That honorable and learned senator voluntarily and spontaneously challenges the ruling of the Chairman of Committees.
– There was no ruling.
– Undoubtedly the Chairman ruled that the proposal should be put as a request, and not as ian amendment.
– He gave his opinion.
– Not at all. I happen to know - my honorable and learned friend was not here - how this came about. Senator Best was not in the Chair when the amendment of Senator Glassey was about to be put. When I found, to my astonishment, that every proposal was being put as a request, I called the attention of Senator Dobson (Deputy Chairman) to the fact, and desired a ruling as to whether it was correct or not, because it so appeared in Hansard. I said that, whatever might be the case in regard to the amendment of Senator Glassey, which might or might not be put as a request, there could be no doubt that our other amendments were perfectly in form and in order. Senator Glassey’s amendment, without demur by a single senator, was put as a request. But on a recommittal, the matter was raised by, I think, the Postmaster-General, and am express ruling as I read it in Hansard was given by the Chairman, and challenged by Senator Baker.
– I understood that it was only a. speech, not a ruling.
– The Chairman is not in the habit of making speeches when he is in the chair, nor is the President. While, of course, Senator Baker when he descends from the Chair has a right to take part in the proceedings in Committee, it is rather a dangerous practice for him to challenge the ruling of the Chairman when it may have to be submitted to him in his judicial position of President. I. am quite satisfied that Senator Baker did not look at the matter in that way at the moment. But, no. matter who the occupant of the chair may be, it is a dangerous and awkward position, because, if the ruling of the Chairman is challenged, it is referred to the President, who gives his ruling without those controversial aspects, and that natural and involuntary heat which we all feel in argument, and which Senator Playford a few minutes ago resented a little. I think that the conflict ought to be preserved for the floor of the Senate. Now there is an additional reason why that point of view ought to be emphasized. The Senate ought not to be unduly influenced by the view which Senator Baker takes, because he has not given a ruling as President. That must be remembered. T say so for this reason - that if a division of opinion arises in the Senate on a constitutional point, and it is submitted to the President, who gives his ruling upon it, and that is in accord with the views of the majority of the Senate, I say emphatically that it is to be expected that he should be supported. The danger is - I am quite sure that it must be so - that some honorable senators may have been led astray by the fact that Senator Baker’s view was so expressed, ‘ and they may not have discriminated between his view as Senator Baker, and a ruling given by him as President from the Chair. I say these things, because on the one hand we should not be led away by the fate of the Bill, and on the other hand we ought to be extremely careful, where the matter is one of grave doubt, not to be unduly influenced by the opinion of Senator Baker. It is just as well to draw attention to the fact that Senator Baker began his most interesting speech when this matter was first brought forward, by saying that -
The more I have considered it the more the difficulty of arriving at a correct interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution Act in this respect has forced itself upon my mind.
Then after arguing at great length to show that a “ charge or burden on the people “ meant a direct tax, Senator Baker again says -
I shall now state another point of view which I admit rather puzzles me. If the words “increase any proposed charge or burden on the people,” include taxation only - and that is what my argument comes to - what was the object of putting them into the section ?
I have read the speeches delivered on the subject with very great anxiety and great interest. It is impossible to imagine a case in which it would be more imprudent for us to challenge the other House than in this, in which the leader of the movement expresses such grave difficulty and such doubts. Then he says -
If it does not refer to appropriations of revenue it is useless.
So that the conclusion of the first deliverance was that we had to reject a provision of this Constitution of which we are all so proud, and to declare that it was nugatory and a dead letter. Then at the close of his second speech Senator Baker made a suggestion so as to keep alive that provision in the Constitution. Honorable senators will find it on page 1843 of Hansard, where he says, notwithstanding his doubts and difficulties -
I am speaking again mainly because I think it is my duty to inform honorable senators concerning the dissipation, I will not say the entire dissipation, but the dissipation to a great extent,
That was by considering the provision as applying only to loan Bills - of the doubt which I formerly expressed as to what was the real meaning of those words.
Now greatly as I appreciate many of the points which have been submitted to us by Senator Baker, I am quite clear that the Senate ought not to allow itself to be led away - I will not say led astray, - by insisting upon a proposition which was put forward with such grave misgivings, and about which such grave doubts were expressed when the amendment was eventually sent - down to the other House of Parliament. Of course, it is our duty now if we think a mistake has been made to extricate the Senate from the difficult position in which it has been placed as well as we can. Here let me say that I agree with those honorable senators who have referred to the real question as being largely one of form. The sole issue is whether we should send an amendment or a request to the House of Representatives. In this particular case, where so much doubt existed in regard to the question, would it not have been wiser of us, upon a matter as to which we felt no particular confidence, to have sent a request instead of an amendment? If there is one way more than another in which we can magnify the position of the Senate, it is by insisting, as I have consistently insisted, that our powers of request are equivalent to our powers of amendment. I say - and it was said in the Convention time and again by those of us who wished to elevate the Senate to a position of great power under the Constitution - that if the other House will pay no attention to our requests, it will equally refuse to accept our amendments. There is no doubt about it that those who represented the smaller States agreed to these terms on the distinct assumption that a request and an amendment were a distinction without a difference - that it was, to use the words which I employed in the Convention, “ a case of tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.”
– And the representatives of the other States regarded the matter from the same point of view.
– Why did they vote against the provisions of the Constitution in this respect if they did not think so? It was, so to speak, only by the skin of our teeth that we were successful in exacting these terms from the representatives of the larger States. It was on one of the occasions when ‘ this subject was discussed that we had the suggestion that we should break up the Convention and go home without a Constitution. If any member of the Senate can convince the majority that the right to amend is perfectly clear, then I shall say “ Let us amend “ ; but if it is a matter as to which we have grave doubts, then I say “ Do not let us force an issue upon a matter upon which we ourselves are doubtful.” The first condition it seems to me in any controversy of this kind is - if I may use a term which is very ugly, but very expressive - that the protagonist, the member of the Senate who puts the issue forward, and is representing the interests of the Senate ‘in the campaign, should himself entertain a clear conviction that he is right without any doubt or apprehension at all upon the subject. That is the position asit appears to me. _ I have read, I think,, every word that has been said, and have listened to-day with particular attention towhat Senator Baker has said largely in repeating to us what he stated before, and in reiterating the arguments and conclusions to which he has arrived, subject to those doubts which he evidently entertains. But I must confess that at the stage at which the matter was left before - and beyond which it has npt been taken now - the speech of the honorable and learned senator practically answered itself. Its arguments are self-destructive. The position taken up on the construction of the Constitution involves hopeless contradictions ; the terms which are employed are confused, and the reasoning which is founded upon the confusion of terms is absolutely reasoning in a circle - reasoning round and round about.
– Does not that imply a confusion of ideas ?
– The idea was perfectly clear - that the Senate had the right to amend ; but the mode by which that conclusion was arrived at - and if honorable senators take the trouble to - look at the speech they will see it for themselves - was confused and selfcontradictory. Let me clear away one or two things that have nothing to do with the issue, and that may have affected the minds of honorable senators. It was pointedout to us on the occasion of the last discussion that this was a question of State rights. As will be seen from page 1842 of Hansard this remark was addressed by Senator Baker to the Senate -
It is really a question of State rights. This ispreeminently a Bill concerning State rights. It is a Bill which will increase the revenue of some of tho States, and decrease the revenue of others. It is a Bill, the effect of which will be to decrease the amount repayable by the Commonwealth to some States and to increase the amount repayable to others. In a question of State rights such as that’ is, surely we ought to. have the freest possible hand.
I say that it is not a question of State rights at all. The question is simply one of whether by this Bill we are imposing a burden on the revenue of the country - thatis on the taxpayers of the country.
– The Bill must be taken in conjunction with existing Acts of Parliament.
– I will come to that in a minute or two, but I wish first of all to clear away this question of State rights. Honorable senators are aware that that expression is used with regard to many things that are not State rights at all. It is like “that blessed word Mesopotamia.” It seems to have some fascination in regard to our particular position as a Senate.
– It sounds well.
– It certainly sounds well. Then again I wish to clear away the argument addressed by Senator Baker to the Senate, in which he represented that we were entitled to make requests apart from the provisions of this Constitution. I entirely deny that. There are certain requests which we, of course, are entitled to make. We are entitled to ask the concurrence of the House of Representatives with regard to the appointment of a joint standing committee and so on. But no one with the most limited knowledge of parliamentary procedure would suggest for an instant that such a thing as one House requesting another House to make amendments in Bills was ever heard of outside our Constitution.
– South Australia.
– In South Australia the practice was to make suggestions, not requests. It was never heard of in any parliamentary procedure or practice until it was put into our Constitution, that one House could make requests to another to amend a Bill. The non legislative rule of South Australia with regard to suggestions is different from our constitutional power of making requests. Therefore I put that also on one side. The next contention that I ask honorable senators to put on one side, is that a message for an appropriation of revenue in general terms can be addressed to either House. That is not so ; and the sooner the idea is removed from our minds the better, if we are to go on harmoniously. T find that Senator Downer, who adopted in many respects the language, as well as the views, of Senator, Baker, said, as reported on page 1822 of Hansard -
This was accentuated by an express provision in the Constitution, providing for the GovernorGeneral sending down a message recommending an appropriation to either House, which would have no point in the world unless either House had the power of appropriating.
Where is that express provision in the Constitution ? I only wish there were such a provision, because it is one that I, and others who fought with me, endeavoured to have inserted: There is not one word, however, in the Constitution to justify the statement that there is an express provision for the Governor-General sending such messages to the Senate.
– What does section 56 mean ?
– Mr. Higgins, in another place, when the Prime Minister was speaking, interjected : “ The Governor? General may send a message to the other House.”
– What I say now is that there is no express provision in the Constitution empowering such a message to be sent to either House. If such words had been in the Constitution, as Senator Downer seemed to think they were, it would.” have relieved us of a great deal of difficulty, and placed us in the enviable position of practically enjoying the same powers as the House of Representatives. I do not agree with Senator Baker’s narrative of the proceedings in the Convention in connexion with this matter. The fact is that the Constitution Bill, as it originally passed the Adelaide Convention, did not contain the proviso which now appears in section 53 as follows : -
But a proposed law shall not be taken to appropriate revenue or moneys or to impose taxation only by reason of its containing provisions for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties.
In the interval the Constitution was sub’mitted to the criticisms of the States Legislatures ; and at the Sydney Convention, on the motion of Tasmania, the proviso was inserted.
– It is the least important provision of the lot.
-It was inserted at the instance of Tasmania, in order that the drastic exclusion of the power of the Senate with regard to Money Bills should not apply to those minor matters of appropriation.
– Hear, hear.
– I am speaking from recollection, but Senator Dobson will correct me if I am wrong. The result was that, at the Melbourne Convention, Mr. Isaacs moved in the direction of having the words “ of Representatives “ inserted after the word “ House,” in what is now section 56. The reason given by Mr. Isaacs for this motion, and also by the present Minister for Trade and Customs, who was the President of the Convention, was that it was necessary to make the meaning of the section absolutely clear. In the case of the Constitution, all the sections must be read together ; and when we find in section 56 the words, “ The House in which the proposal originated,” and in another provision that the proposal can originate only in one House, surely the interpretation is perfectly plain. When we find it provided in section 53 that proposals for appropriating revenue shall only be originated in the House of Representatives, and when a subsequent section says a message is required for the House in which the proposal originates, are we to conclude that that is not to be read as meaning the House of Representatives? Of course the House of Representatives is meant, and no lawyer of the most humble capacity could possibly read the Constitution in any other way. But there is a wider meaning to the provision. It has at least the meaning that, in regard to the provisions forminorappropriations, which were inserted at the instance of Tasmania - appropriations which may be dealt with in this House, and be made the subject of amendments, such as fines, fees, penalties, and so on - a message may or may not come to this House.
– Sir Edmund Barton said that he expressed the opinions of himself and colleagues when he stated that no message was required in the second Chamber.
– I have not overlooked that point ; and what I have indicated is the only application the sections can have. But Mr. Kingston and Mr. Isaacs, who were strong supporters of the dominance of the House of Representatives in relation to Money Bills, said that the provision ought to be made clear, and desired to insert “of Representatives” after “House.” These gentlemen were promptly told that if their suggestions were carried out it would prevent minor appropriations being made in the Senate. That is the story of what took place at the Convention. The position was then seen in a moment ; but a further argument was used by Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. Reid, and others, who expressed the opinion that there need be no an xiety, because the proviso prevented those minor matters being considered as appropriations, and, therefore, nomessage would be required in the Senate. We have been quoting from the official reports of the Convention, but I do not know that we should take thecasual or controversial arguments of men as the solid and convinced opinions of jurists. Those were heated debates on the question of the powers of the Senate in financial matters, and to pick out a passage here and there and say that it gives a considered judgment on a constitutional matter of the kind is hardly fair. We were engaged in debate, and, as I say, the expressions of debate are not to be taken as the judgments of jurists. But the language of Sir Edmund Barton is not for one moment susceptible of the construction placed upon it by Senator Baker.
– We paid some attention to the language, coming, as it did, from the leader of the Convention.
– But I shall show that a wrong construction has been placed on the language. Sir Edmund Barton expressed no opinion that the Senate was entitled to amend Money Bills ; he said exactly what he meant, and his language does not support in the slightest degree the contention put forward on the present occasion.
– Does the honorable and learned senator know what Sir Edmund Barton meant ?
– Then the honorable senator is the only person in Australia who does.
– There are occasions on which, perhaps, that might be said of Sir Edmund Barton, but this is not such an occasion. Mr. Kingston, at the time to which I was referring, said -
The only proposal for appropriation which can originate in the Senate will be in those cases which are covered by the first proviso to clause 54.
These are the words of a gentleman who wished to insert the words “ House of Representatives “ in order to make sure of the meaning of the section. Then Mr. Kingston said -
I ask the leader of the Convention, whilst it has been decided that these minor measures of appropriation may originate in the Senate, not to go further, and to throw away the safeguards generally imposed in connexion with the appropriation of public fluids, and that wherever such a measure is originated, you must have the Governor’s message to protect it.
Then Sir Edmund Barton said -
Does not the Constitution say in express terms, in the second part of the first sub-section of clause 54, that such a law shall not be taken to appropriate any part of the public revenue ?
Mr. Kingston. That is what I am objecting to. That is introduced there as a qualification in reference to origination.
And then I myself interjected, though I do not quote the words as an authority -
That proviso in clause 54 merely means that you will not call these Appropriation Bills, but still they deal with money.
That was to suggest the view that a message might be required, and that that would satisfy any criticism as to the use of the expression - “The House in which the proposal originated.”
– U - Under the old Parliamentary law, these would have been Money Bills, and the Senate could not have touched them.
– The sooner we recognise the position the better, namely, that there is no power under the Constitution for the Senate to receive a message from the Governor-General, in the words of the Constitution, recommending the appropriation of “ revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation,” which it is provided “ shall not originate in the Senate.” I say emphatically that the Convention never intended, and the Constitution does not provide, that the Senate may receive from the Governor-General a message recommending a proposed law such as the Bill before us, “ appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation.” Senator Baker referred also to Sir John Forrest as indicating that we have this power. We cannot acquire a power by abstract reasoning on the subject. We cannot acquire this power by taking these expressions used in debate as to what we were all claiming or demanding in the Convention, and the expressions of Sir John Forrest really have no bearing upon this question.
– I beg the honorable and learned senator’s pardon. I quoted only what Sir John Forrest claimed we ought to have.
– Yes, we all claimed it, but we did not get it.
– I know that.
– Then what is the use of going back to the Convention in order to induce the Senate to claim something under the Constitution by reason of, or measured by, the extent of the demands we made at the Convention, but which were not granted to us by the Constitution ? Such a proposition could only land us in the wildest difficulties.
– Surely an explanatory remark by one of the draftsmen of the Constitution might be of assistance, and that is how theremark made by Sir Edmund Barton may be regarded.
– I am not talking now of the remark made by Sir Edmund Barton, but of those made by Sir John Forrest. I do not think that the remark made by Sir Edmund Barton justifies the contention which we are making, and which I should be very glad to make if it were tenable. I may tell my honorable friend Senator Millen that I should like very much that we should have all these money powers. But we have not got them, and we must do the be3t we can with what we have got. It seems to me that my honorable friend will find that Sir Edmund Barton’s remark does not warrant the inference drawn from it. It was made in the course of a debate dealing simply with the condition of the Commonwealth Bill at that time, and without reference to the limitation of the power of the Senate afterwards agreed upon.
– I admit that it may not be wise to draw any inference from what Sir Edmund Barton said.
– I have no wish to deal with the matter in that way. This is not a party matter at all. If Sir Edmund Barton said that we have the power to amend a Bill so as to increase a burden or charge on the people, all I can say is let us give effect to it; but I am afraid we shall not find that to be the law. All that Sir John Forrest said was -
All we claim is that all other Bills, Tariff, Excise, and Taxation Bills, shall be subject to amendment by the Senate, and it seems tome that that is a reasonable demand.
Well, have we got that power ?
– Why, then, is this demand now made? I find that
I took the same view as Sir John Forrest at the Convention. I find that unfortunately I inflicted a very long speech upon the Convention, advocating and insisting upon that view. But we did not get what we claimed. That view was urged in connexion with this amendment in the then state of the Commonwealth Bill. At the same time when that speech was made by Sir John Forrest and we all joined in the debate, the provision was thai; -
The States Assembly - that is, the Senate - shall have equal powers with the House of Representatives on all proposed laws except laws appropriating the necessary supplies for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Honorable senators will note that that omits reference to taxation Bills. As the Commonwealth Bill then stood, the Senate had the same power as the other House in dealing with taxation Bills ; but Mr. Reid moved an amendment to insert the words “ and laws imposing taxation,” so as to enlarge the prohibition against the interference of the Senate from a prohibition only against interference in the case of Bills appropriating public revenue to one including also Bills imposing taxation. And it was not with a view to demanding something, but in resistance to that proposal to diminish the power of the Senate - a proposal which, I think unfortunately, was carried - that these expressions were used in connexion with the matter. What possible bearing have they upon this question 1 None whatever. We have to take what we got. The fact that we desire the Senate to have equal powers in every respect with the House of Representatives does not affect the matter we have now to determine one bit. Then, too, a reference was made to the practice in the House of Commons, and here I may be allowed to say that, whilst there may be differences of parliamentary procedure under the Constitution here and- in the old country, still it is legitimate, and that course has been pursued bv Senator Baker himself, to refer to the practice and to the nomenclature adopted in the British Parliament with a view, so far as we can, to getting light thrown upon the nomenclature with which we have to deal. Surely that is a proper thing ? For instance, “ a- charge or burden on the people “ may be explained by tradition, by parliamentary usage, or by ‘ the usage of common- life.
– Or by an interpretation clause.
– Or it may be by an interpretation clause. How else are we to arrive at it ? If we have no definition of “ a charge or burden on the people” in Che Constitution, we can only get one by applying our common sense, and whatever experience, knowledge, and use we can refer to in respect of other parliamentary institutions or other Governments. That course was largely followed by Senator Baker in his first and also in his second address on the subject. The honorable and learned senator quoted - properly, I think - from May and other authorities, and as I understood, to refute or qualify the doctrine that only a Minister of the Crown can propose an appropriation of revenue, he referred to the case of appropriations for the British Museum. That happens to be altogether illusory, and if the reference to it has had any effect upon the minds of honorable senators, I would ask them to refer to Todd’s Parliamentary Government, at page 751, where they will find it explained as an exception to the absolute well-known rule, and on the ground that a trustee of the British Museum is allowed to propose a grant to that immense institution because he is supposed to know more about the details of it than anybody else. It is not an admission that there is any difference in the constitutional rule, but that is the only exception to the doctrine that it is the members of the Ministry who are responsible for the charges on the people and their expenditure, who should propose grants of supply. The only exception which proves the general rule is the one referred to in regard to the British Museum, which rests on a position entirely its own.
– Because of exceptional technical knowledge on the part of a trustee of the museum.
– Because he is acquainted with the details. Having got rid of these matters which might affect one’s mind upon casually looking at the position, let us view it as it really is : Senator O’Connor has, I think, put it very concisely. Really, the simple question here is whether a charge or burden on the people is different from a charge or burden on the revenue, or the money of the people ? That is the whole question. What those honorable senators who have placed us in this position -with the other House have to establish is that a charge or burden on the money of the people, on the pockets of the people, is not a charge on the people. It seems to me that they have a very up-hill task to perform. I cannot understand it. I should like to think otherwise. I have always considered that my liabilities “and debts were charges upon me, and occasionally, as most of us have done, no doubt, I have felt them a very great burden. Debts and charges involve a liability and obligation to pay them. Otherwise, what does this argument come to t - that my liabilities or obligations are not a charge or burden upon me unless I have to mortgage my property to pay them.
– T - They are of benefit to the honorable and learned senator. ‘
– Yes ; distinctly according to the argument we have heard. I intend to look that up. It is the most novel thing in the world to me. I have listened in perfect amazement to-day to hear that this is a Bill for the remission of taxation. I remember a gentleman called Micawber who thought that he had discharged his obligations when he gave a bill for them. He used to say - “Thank God, that’s paid.” But that is nothing to the Commonwealth which, when it places its people under an obligation to pay a bonus amounting to many thousands of pounds, is actually decreasing its burdens. I do not know what to call that. It is not logic anyway. It is ingenious, but it is bewildering.’ What is the position here 1 We have had a policy in existence for twelve months under which we have allrwed a rebate of the sugar duty. We imposed an excise duty of £3 per ton on sugar, and we said that £2 per ton of that should be handed back as a rebate to all the people who grew sugar with white labour. That policy has been abandoned, or is being abandoned. This Bill is intended to substitute for the rebate, or the drawback, or whatever honorable senators like to call it, a bonus, to be charged upon the whole of the people of this country. That is the position. It is to be a charge upon the consolidated revenue. Senator Baker tells us that it is the substance of a thing we must look at. I look at the substance, and what is the substance of this matter ? It is an impost upon the taxpayers of this country - a bonus. There is no getting away from that. Senator Baker tells us that the same people get it and pay it. Not at all. Even in the case of the rebate, it is not the same people who get it and pay it. Under the rebate provision, it is the growers who get it, and it is the consumers who pay it. Indeed, “ things are scarcely what they seem “ when we come to consider such a proposition as that. That is the case with regard to the rebate, but what is the position under this Bill 1 The position under this Bill is that even as regards the growers we do not give them the drawback. We tax them to the full extent of £3 per ton. I think the view that has been put a very narrow one, but even if we take it upon the narrow ground that has been put, there will be an increase of the burden on the people, because the tax is £3 a ton, and if we did not provide the bonus it would only be £1 per ton. Unless we pay, the bonus it is only £1 per ton, so that the bonus is to make up the £3 per ton excise which is proposed under the Excise Tariff Act. You say that the grower shall pay £1 a ton and the taxpayer the other £2. If that is the position, even from the narrow view of being a tax or direct burden on the people, it is a direct burden to the extent of £2 a ton. But that is not a view which troubles me. The position is that we had a customs duty of £6 a ton ; we have it still. We had an excise duty of £3 per ton reduced by the £2 a ton rebate to £1, and we now have an excise tax of £3 a ton without any rebate at all. The taxpayers are called upon to pay a bonus of £2 per ton on all sugar grown by white la.bour. What is that? Is it not a charge on the consolidated revenue the money of the people? And will not the amendment of Senator Glassey increase that charge ?
– It is not arguable.
– It is not arguable, and it is admitted by Senator Baker.
– It is only Senator Baker who says it is not arguable.
– It is admitted by Senator Baker, and my honorable and learned friend must follow his leader. It is always well to start with an admission. At page 1699 of Hansard, Senator Baker says -
Although Senator Glassey’s amendment may increase the amount to be paid by way of bonus, it does not increase the amount of taxation on the people as a whole.
– I say that.
– A few sentences further on Senator Baker says -
I will take it for the sake of argument, and I believe it is correct, that in all probability Senator Glassey’s amendment will appropriate more revenue than the Bill would appropriate if it were not amended as proposed.
What more do we want than that ? Again at page 1701 he says -
Senator Glassey’s amendment is an increase of a charge upon the revenue.
I think it may be taken as settled that it is an increase of the charge on the revenue. But, whilst making that admission, we have the very singular argument that because, the bonus will tend to produce more sugar, which would only pay the excise duty of £3 a ton, we may be able to supply all our own wants, therefore it is a remission of taxation and reduces the burden on the people. If that is so, I would ask Senator Baker to apply it to every protectionist duty in the Tariff. I am getting instruction, because he is a freetrader. These high duties, imposed for the purpose of diminishing importation, lessening the burden on the people, and encouraging the local article, are no burden on the people, because, if they are effective, they will reduce the Customs revenue. Surely, that is not to be put to a sane man as what we are to inquire into? What we have to deal with is the question whether this amendment diverts any portion of the people’s money into a particular channel, and we need not go into the ramifications of a protectionist tax, or the question whether a bonus will encourage the iron industry, and prevent us getting revenue from imported iron, or encourage the sugar industry, and prevent us from getting Customs revenue from sugar. We have to deal with the Bill quite apart from those suggestions which depend upon ramifications and entanglements of reasoning for the purpose of showing that because in the long run - in some way - by increasing the amount derived from that source of revenue you will reduce the aggregate amount of it, you are diminishing the burden on the people, although by some other tax you may have to make up that burden in order to pay that very bonus. Really, it does not appear to me to bear investigation for a moment. Suppose that it had been a Bill to provide £100,000 for the payment of this bonus, and that Senator Glassey had moved to increase that sum by £25,000 ; surely that would have been a distinct increase of the burden on the people. What difference does it make? Are we to calculate the number of persons to get the bonus, and the aggregate amount of it, by inquiry as to who will come in if the date is left as it was in the Bill originally, and who will come in under the amendment of Senator Glassey ?
– W - When the Treasurer was framing his Estimates he would have to put down an extra amount.
– It might have been done by providing a sum on the Estimates. Does any one mean to say that if it had been done in that way we could, by our inherent power of amendment, have extended the date? Suppose that it had been a Bill to provide that the payment of the bonus should cease on the 1st January next, and that the amendment of Senator Glassey had been to continue its payment for two years afterwards. Surely to goodness that would have meant an increase of the expenditure. If that is so, is there any one who can deny that it is a burden on the people ? Did the Bill create a liability on the people ?
– The editor of the South Australian Register says that it means £400,000 taken out of the pockets of the people.
– I do not wish to enter into that question just now. It is admitted that it is a burden on the revenue. Is not a burden on the people’s pockets a burden on the people? It does not seem to me that the question will bear investigation.
– I do not think so either.
– I recollect my honorable and learned friend saying in the Convention that it was a law of human nature that, however much a man might be convinced that he was wrong, he would always stick to his own opinion if he had expressed himself strongly, and I think he is rather inclined that way now. I shall ask him to apply that most valuable test as put by Senator Styles, and, I think, Senator McGregor - do not let us have any needless subtleties, but let us consider what common sense would say. If a man incurred an obligation to pay a sum of money I should think that common-sense would say that it was a charge or burden on him. Putting it the other way - if we do not give the bonus surely the people will be so much the better off. Take the case of a naval subsidy. Surely that is a burden on the people? Does it depend on whether the payment of the amount will cause a deficit or a surplus before it can be considered a burden ? If the people’s money is not expended for one purpose it will be expended for another purpose, and whatever the obligation may be it is a charge or burden on them. Take the post-office, says Senator Baker, which is carried on at a profit. What has that to do with the question before us? The cost of carrying on the postal service is a charge on the people just as in a State the cost of running the railways is a charge on the people. The cost of carrying on any service is not now charged to that service, but to the taxpayers. If there is a profit they get the benefit of it, and if there is a loss they have to make it up.
– Deficits have to be made good out of the revenue.
– Exactly. Take the illustration which has been trotted out twice as to the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Bill, in which Senator Playford moved an amendment to get the State bonds valued on an actuarial basis of 3-Jr instead of 3 per cent. What is that ? That is a bargain which does not come within this provision of the Constitution at all. That is a case of the two Houses settling the terms of a purchase. What has it to do with the imposing of a burden? But if it imposed a burden, and the other House chose to allow the amendment to pass, that is not the situation in which we are now. In my view, the Senate was properly justified in making the amendment, because it was a Bill settling the terms on which the Commonwealth should buy from the States, and the States should sell to the Commonwealth certain properties.
– It creates a precedent.
– The Act appropriates revenue, too. It gives directions for the payment of the money. It says that when the amount of purchase money is arrived at the Government have to pay it.
-Of course it does, but we did not amend that portion.
– T - The Bill was introduced in the Senate, but it did not appropriate any money.
– It only provided for the mode of payment, and it is totally different from the Sugar Bonus Bill. This is a Bill whose absolute purpose certainly is to impose this liability upon the funds of the people, and therefore, it seems to me, upon the people themselves. The distinction sought to be drawn was that a “ charge or burden “ on the revenue was a different thing from a “ charge or burden on the people.” Look first at that contention apart from the Constitution. No one, apart from the Constitution, can doubt for a moment, applying the ordinary principles of interpretation, that this amendment is “a charge or burden on the people.” Under the Constitution itself it is as plain as noonday. It is urged that whatever may be the case when applying common sense to the proposal, when you come to the Constitution, you must discard common sense, or some other interpretation must be given. Let us see. Section 53 deals with the appropriation of all moneys and the imposition of taxation. It is exhaustive -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation shall not originate in the Senate.
The continuation of the section says -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
That is exhaustive. We cannot amend “ proposed laws imposing taxation “ ; we cannot amend proposed laws “ appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.” Then comes the third paragraph about which difficulty has arisen -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
That cannot refer to taxation Bills, can it ? That is quite clear. It cannot refer to laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services. That is quite clear. What can it refer to ? It must refer to all other Bills under which there is any appropriation of revenue or moneys. We ought to remember that the whole contention offered by those who have argued for this extraordinary power of the Senate under the Constitution is in contravention of that position. They admit that that paragraph cannot refer to Taxation Bills ; it cannot refer to Bills appropriating annual supplies for the year. We all admit that. But the whole contention of this
Chamber was to the contrary. Senator Baker said, on page 1699 of Hansard, - because it is’ well to show what this contention is, and upon what grounds it rests -
I take it that the words “burden on the people,” mean the burden on the people who pay the tax directly.
Again he says on page 1699 -
I can find no warrant for departing from the proposition that the immediate taxpayers are the persons in view when the words are used.
And that view is adopted literally, and put more strongly by Senator Downer, on page 1823 of Hansard, when he says -
A burden on the people has to be imposed in a direct form ; it may be by a Taxation Bill. That is a direct burden placed on the people. An appropriation of revenue does not place a burden on -the people.
On page 1824 he re-asserts that view, and says -
So far as the people are concerned the burden is the same. Burdens on the people are moneys which the Crown raises for certain purposes . . . All burdens on the people are burdens imposed by the Crown.
Senator Keating put the view much more strongly, on page 1827 of Hansard, when he said -
I contend that the “ charge or burden “ on the people referred to in section 53 is, as Kas been pointed out by the President, an impost that directly falls upon the immediate taxpayer.
My honorable and learned friends cannot have read the conclusion of Senator Baker’s speech, otherwise they could never have made that proposition. The question as it was before the Senate when they made their speeches - because Senator Baker did not make his second speech until after they had spoken - was on the basis of his contention in number 6 of this session’s Hansard, from which I have quoted. Senator Baker devoted the greater part of that address to an endeavour to show that “ charge or burden on the people “ meant taxation, and taxation only. That was his first proposition. If he had supported that proposition there would have been an end of the question. If “ charge or burden on the people “ only means taxation, there is an end of the matter. Senator Baker spent the greater part of his address in apparently seeking to establish that proposition ; but when he came to the end he “ gave the whole show away,” so to speak, when, after endeavouring to prove that the words mean taxation, and taxation only, he wound up by saying that they did not mean anything of the kind. Let me read what he said. At the end of his speech he says -
I shall now state another point of view which,, I admit, rather puzzled me. If the words “increase any proposed charge or burden on the. people” include taxation only - and that is what my argument comes to - what was the object of putting them into the section ?
If those words mean, as my honorable and. learned friend Senator Downer and Senator Keating suppose, taxation, and taxation only, then, as Senator Baker says, the words are useless, and should never have been in the Constitution at all.
– I never said that.
– But my honorable and learned friend’s leader said, it.
– He is not my leader.
– My honorable and learned friend’s leader on this question - and a very excellent leaderhe is on such a question.
– Let it be “ leader “ if the honorable and learned senator likes ; but do not let us have halfanhour spent in discussing that point.
-It. seems to take half-ari-hour to drive an elementary idea into my honorable and learned1 friend’s head.
– I always try to avoid the term “leader” and otheroffensive terms.
– If my honorable and learned friend says that it is. offensive to describe Senator Baker as his. leader on this question I unreservedly withdraw the term. But what I want to pointout is this : That having Senator Baker’s first speech on the subject before them, without the subsequent explanation- with regard to loans, and which I will refer to at further length in a minute, my honorableand learned friends were caught by an exceedingly specious argument that thewords in question could only refer to taxation, and that nothing could be a “chargeor burden on the people,” except a directtax. But if they had read the latter part of Senator Baker’s speech, they would have found that, as I have already said, he gave the whole show away, because he said -
If the words …. include taxation only, what was the object of putting them into the1 section ?
None! Because the two earlier paragraphs exhausted the subject of taxation. But my honorable and learned friend Senator Baker goes further. He is too good a constitutionalist not to see the fallacy of his own argument. When it comes to the point he is “ not game “ to face it. And he gets out of the difficulty by saying - “ Wipe those words out of the Constitution.” I do not think that the Senate will do so. He says that that is the result of his argument - if the provision means taxation only out they may go.
It is quite clear that the Senate cannot introduce a clause into any Bill imposing taxation. The Constitution Act provides that a Bill imposing taxation must deal with taxation only.
So that it cannot be such a Bill as that.
And no clause dealing with any other matters can be introduced by either. House into a Bill which imposes taxation dealing with any other matters.
Perfectly correct ; I agree with every word of it.
Therefore, if my argument, which I have just elaborated, is correct, what is the object of the section at all.
And then he gave the very solution which I agree with -
If it does not refer to appropriations of revenue it is useless.
Of course, to make the provision useful it must refer to appropriations of revenue. That is the constitutional explanation, and that is what it does. If this Bill is a Bill appropriating revenue, according to Senator Baker’s own argument, it comes within the paragraph we are dealing with, and we cannot amend it so as to increase the amount. His speech is a perfect arsenal of weapons for the destruction of his own arguments, though it has also been the fountain of argument for my honorable and learned friends opposite. These are the words in plain terms. If they do not refer to appropriations of revenue they are useless. Therefore, if the words of the section are of any value at all - if we do not obliterate them from the Constitution - they mean appropriations of revenue. That is exactly what we say. Honorable senators cannot get away from it. They cannot escape from that conclusion. The words include the appropriations of this Bill. But Senator Baker still further clinches the matter by saying-
It cannot possibly refer to impositions of taxation, because taxation must be imposed by a Bill dealing with taxation only. That puzzles me, I admit.
But it does not seem to have puzzled Senator Downer, who promptly adopted the very argu ment that it meant taxation, which Senator Baker distinctly said it did not mean. That being the state of the case, of course some explanation ought to be forthcoming to make the words of the section of some use. We are not likely to erase the words from the Constitution if any sense or use can be given to them. Therefore, in the interval, Senator Baker puts his thinking cap on and makes a most important discovery. It is really a brilliant discovery. He says, in effect - “ On a former occasion I suggested that the words meant taxation, and taxation only. I afterwards said that they did not mean taxation at all, and that if they were to be of any use they must mean appropriations of revenue. But between then and now I have found that they mean loans.” That view evidently gives away completely those honorable and learned senators who had previously adopted Senator Baker’s view. Because, if the words mean loans they do not mean taxation. Loans are thrown in instead of appropriations of revenue, because if the propositions about the appropriations of revenue were adhered to, this position could not have occurred. But on what authority is that said? If honorable senators say that it means loans, they must sa,y that it means loans only. I say that it means loans, but I do not say it means loans only, or that a loan is exactly an appropriation of revenue. It is not so much a burden on the people as an appropriation, because, although we have to pay the money back, still it has been obtained from those who thus become our creditors. Now we come to Sir Edmund Barton, who is said to be the authority for the loan theory. The debate referred to was that on the disabilities of the Senate with regard’ to amending appropriations ; but the quotation proves exactly the opposite of that which honorable senators have contended. The words are as follow : -
The Senate is not deprived of the power of amending appropriations except in respect of the ordinary annual services of the Government. In order that it may have that power in full efficiency, it is intended by the sub-clause–
That is not the sub-clause with which we are now dealing, but a totally different matter. The sub-clause as to the disability of the Senate in respect to increasing the charges or burdens on the people was never debated at any sitting of the Convention at Adelaide, Melbourne, or Sydney, nor was it debated at the Convention of 1-891. I do not care whether Sir Edmund Barton or anybody else be referred to ; it is unfair to pick out words in regard to any particular clause, and by their use seek to lead the Senate astray in the interpretation of another clause. But taking the words as applied generally to the financial powers of the Senate, what do they mean ? The quotation which I commenced proceeds -
In Older that it may have that power in full efficiency it is intended by the sub-clause to contine the annual Appropriation Act to such matters as relate to the ordinary annual services of the Government, so that appropriations apart from that may be dealt with in the ordinary way.
What way ? By diminishing them if you like, but not by increasing them. The Convention had passed the earlier clause upon which this contest has arisen, and what has happened ? Senator Baker rests his argument, that loans are meant, on an inquiry by Sir John Forrest, who, when Sir Edmund Barton used the words I have quoted, asked - “Loan Bills, for instance?” That is not a statement but a question, and Sir Edmund Barton replied, not “Tes,” or “Exclusively,” or anything of that kind, which would have been misleading, but - “ That may be so.” On that most flimsy of flimsy foundations, Senator Baker raises a superstructure of argument to get rid of his previous conclusion that Appropriation Bills, if anything, must be meant, and to say that it means Loan Bills. If it did mean Loan Bills then certainly much more would it mean Appropriation Bills. Before such a construction can b.e placed on the words, it is necessary to read in the further words - “ Loan Bills exclusively.” Is it contended that no other appropriation can be dealt with ? Of course, they can ; and scores of them may come to us any day. Would it not be a most extraordinary anomaly if we were forbidden to amend Appropriation Bills for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and yet be permitted to amend, by increase, special appropriations under an Act of Parliament.
– Not at all.
– To me it would be most extraordinary. All I can say is that there is as much an appropriation in the one case as in the other. The Constitution says that the Senate shall not amend any appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government ; but, according to the arguments we have heard, if there be a special appropriation it may be modified and amended even to the extent of doubling it. That would be the most topsy-turvy system of constitutional government ever invented. . The standing orders of the House of Commons have been quoted in order to show that a charge or burden on the people is a different matter from taxation ; but there is not a word in the reference to the standing orders which, for one instant, bears out that view. There are instances after instances in constitutional authorities where the words “ charge or burden on the people “ are used to mean a charge or burden on the people in respect to the grant of Supply to the Crown. There has been a good deal of confusion in regard to the order of parliamentary procedure. Senator Baker reversed that order strangely enough, but Senator O’Connor has presented it in the right way. Senator Baker, in his first address on the subject, said -
That shows that under the British procedure there are three stages which have to be taken into consideration before moneys which, it is proposed shall be taken out of ths pockets of the people, can be paid for the services of the Government. First, a tax, duty, or impost has to be levied. This imposes- “a charge or burden on the people,” in the words of our Constitution.
That is not at all the order of events. Senator Baker proceeded -
Secondly, the proceeds of such charge, or burden on the people have to be granted to the Crown. This transforms the proceeds of the tax into the revenues of the Crown.
That is not the order of events, and Senator Baker has evidently misread the Parliamentary procedure. Senator Baker proceeded -
Thirdly, the grant has to be appropriated to specific services.
Will honorable senators believe that the order of procedure is exactly the reverse ? First of all? the House has to go into Committee of Supply in order to decide what has to be voted to the Crown, and then are granted the supplies, which are required for a specific purpose. Then the House has to go into Committee of Ways and Means for the purpose of raising the wherewithal to meet the obligations which have been undertaken by the grants. In mediaeval times, hundreds of years ago, the procedure was as Senator Baker has described, but, thank God, we have improved a great deal since then. Magna Charta, and then the Act of Settlement passed in the time of William and Mary, amongst other instruments giving freedom put a stop to all that kind of thing, and deprived the Crown of the right of doing as it liked with the money of the people. The practice of constitutional government is that the Crown must come down and ask by message for the means required for a specific purpose, and then the order of events is as I have stated. The moment we remember that this is the order of events there is an end to it. There are some very instructive passages in Todd’s Parliamentary Practice which explain why these appropriations are called charges on the consolidated revenue. On page 723, there is reference to “ thatmemorable period” which means the time when the final stand was taken by the Parliament of England on behalf of the people in declaring that they would impose no burdens, or undertake any obligations until there was a message from the Crown stating the specific purpose for which the supplies were wanted.
Si nce that memorable period the Crown has been entirely dependent upon Parliament for its revenues, which are derived either from annual grants for specific public services, or from payments already secured and appropriated by Acts of Parliament, and whichare commonly known as charges upon the Consolidated Fund.
That is the reason the other House goes into Committee of Supply - in order to impose an obligation on the people so that supplies may be voted to the Crown to defay certain charges. The Crown is theoretically the hand which pays, and, as I say, the money is voted for specific purposes. If the taxation is already sufficient, no more need be imposed, but if not, then of course fresh taxation is involved. But that fresh taxation is not the burden - it may only be a thousandth part of the burden. The cost of the army and navy in England is a charge on the people, and so is interest on the consolidated debt ; but fortunately the taxation is sufficient to meet those charges, though, if it should prove insufficient, the income tax, for example, may be increased. The general charge on the people is the entire indebtedness of the country, and Todd makes that perfectly clear on page 753 -
The motion in Committee of Supply is proposed from the Chair in the following words : - “ That a sum not exceeding £ be granted to Her Majesty for the object specified in the particular vote in the printed Estimates.”
Then we tie the hands of the Crown as to the purpose for which it is given. And so every one of these payments is a grant of public money, but then they are all charges, as he says, on page 765, in reference to defence for instance -
But on 30th July, 1866, in deference to objections made by members of the House of Commons to the introduction, late in the session, of a Bill to provide for the construction of certain additional works connected with this great scheme of naval defence, the Government withdrew the Bill, and agreed to proceed next year in the ordinary form of presenting an estimate for the works, and voting the same in Committee of Supply.
What does he call the specific appropriation intended to be made by the Bill ? A “charge” of course. He says - “ But usually such Bills contain a clause providing that the charges in question shall be defrayed “ out of the moneys voted by Parliament.
There we have the use of the word “ charge “ exactly as it is used in our Constitution. Honorable senators will find these references at pages 765, and at 785. He says further -
The resolutions of the Committee of Supply are reported to the House at a future date.
That is not ways and means ; it is not taxation at all.
The resolutions of the Committee of Supply are reported to the House on a future day, they are then agreed to, disagreed to, or recommitted, as the case may require. If, on consideration of the report, it be thought necessary to increase the sum granted by the Committee of Supply, the resolutions proposed to be increased must be recommitted. The House may indeed lessen the sum proposed to be granted without recommittal, but to increase the amount would be to impose a charge -
That is on the Consolidated Revenue Fund - not previously sanctioned by the Committee.
There are scores of other cases which make that abundantly clear. There is an elementary book which not only shows the whole thing so clearly that any student of constitutional law may thoroughly understand it, but in which the very word “ charge “ is used in connexion with a proposal for supply in Committee of Supply, that is a grant to the King for any specific purpose. At page 189 of Homersham Cox’s Institutions of the English Government the writer says -
In treating of the somewhat complicated subject of modern fiscal legislation, it will be convenient to consider separately the three branches of it : -1. Grants of supplies. -
That is the imposing of the obligation, the incurring of the liability.
That is taxation.
Then, at page 191, referring to the same grants made in Committee of Supply, he says this -
The Committee of Supply, as it is commonly termed, is a Committee of the whole House appointed to consider of the quantum of the supply which the House, by a former vote, has agreed to grant to the Crown. This Committee is appointed by virtue of a standing order of 1007, which continues substantially unaltered to the present time, and by which any motion in the House for a public aid, or charge on (lie people is to be referred, at a future da3’, to a Committee of the whole House before any resolution or vote of the House do pass therein.
He uses the very words* we have in our Constitution. What right have we to reject these words, used not in regard to taxation, but in regard to any grant of money out of the consolidated revenue. It does not matter where the money comes from. This is stronger than a mere grant, for it fixes an obligation upon the people. This Bill not only imposes an obligation, but imposes it directly upon the people’s money, and under the standing orders of the House of Commons, if there is any motion for a public aid, or charge, it has to be referred, on a future day, to a Committee of the whole House before any resolution, or vote of the House shall pass therein. If we go to parliamentary authorities, parliamentary, procedure, and parliamentary nomenclature, we find the exact words adopted in our Constitution, “ a charge or burden on the people.” It was so regarded at the Convention. I have happily very little more to say on the proposition which, I venture to consider, has been made perfectly clear that charges or burdens on the consolidated revenue must mean exactly the same thing as charges on the people. Not merely in common usage, but in all constitutional and parliamentary text-books they are interchangeable terms. In Cox’s Institutions of
Government, which is looked upon as a students’ book, grants in Committee of Supply are spoken of as charges on the people. The grant is made on a message from the Crown ; it is sanctioned in Committee of Supply, and embodied subsequently in a Bill to which the assent of both branches of the Parliament is required. The question of taxation is a comparatively subsidiary one, and only arises if the consolidated revenue made up from existing taxation and other sources is insufficient to meet the obligation which has been placed on the people in Committee of Supply. I have pointed out that the confusion - perhaps not an unnatural one - has arisen from reversing the whole order of procedure. The constitutional method is first to impose the charge or obligation on the people, and then in Committee of Ways and Means to provide the means of defining it. If we keep in mind that cardinal principle and old accustomed practice, it is impossible that we can go wrong. In Committee of the Whole we first impose the obligation or the charge on the people, which is a grant, theoretically, to the Crown, whose hand disburses the money for the particular purpose intended. The question of taxation does not arise until subsequently. I shall only trouble the Committee with one other quotation from a work by a gentleman, who in Victoria, held a deservedly high position as a constitutionalist, and has certainly an Imperial reputation. In his book on The Government of England Professor Hearn puts a proposition which is really the key to the whole difficulty, and which has been forgotten throughout the earlier stages of the discussion, resting, of course, on our modern system of government. As I said, hundreds of years ago the situation was different ; the King spent money as he pleased. Parliament reversed all that, and said to the King, “ We shall not impose any obligation on the people, except that which you distinctly specify. Having imposed that obligation, if there are no funds already available we shall see whether fresh taxation is necessary.” So Professor Hearn says, at page 378 -
Parliament has in .matters of supply a double function. It both makes the grant and provides the funds for its payment. The grant, as we have seen, is made upon the request of the Crown. But the ‘ ways and means by which the amount granted is raised are exclusively a parliamentary question.
It is the obligation which is the burden. Until it is repealed the Sugar Rebate Act imposes a burden on the people which has to be satisfied in some way. If there are sufficient public funds there is an end of it. If there are not sufficient public funds the people have to be taxed further.
– T - There is a liability on the Government and any one could sue us?
– That is an illustration, but whether that is so or not this proposed law clearly imposes an obligation on the people. If the Commonwealth funds are not sufficient to defray it there will have to be fresh taxation. An increase of Customs duties is unthinkable because we have such a big revenue from that source that nearly £1,000,000 more than the Commonwealth is obliged to return to the States is paid back. That does not lessen the obligation. If the bonus were not enacted instead of having, say, £1,000,000 to hand back to the Statesthat is to return to the pockets of the people who paid the money - we might have another £250,000. So that we have only to consider the matter from that point of view to see what the burden is. Professor Hearn goes on to say -
I have alreadysaid thatat the present day the official statement by the Grown of the wants of the public service invariably meets with a ready response….. But the form and the incidence of the taxes by which that money must be raised are matters on which wide differences of opinion may prevail, and which are not included in the policy of the Crown.
For instance, take New South Wales, which has a very large territorial revenue. Suppose that an obligation of this kind were placed on New South Wales. It might be paid out of that portion of her Consolidated Revenue Fund. Of course that is not done. It is many years since in England they said that in order to maintain the control of Parliament over the public purse every shilling of money, no matter from what source it came, must go into the consolidated revenue, and be treated really as the people’s money, and charged with whatever grants might be made out of that fund. At pages385 and 386, Professor Hearn follows that up in the clearest possible fashion, showing exactly what the constitutional procedure is. If the position is that a grant of money in a Committee of the Whole upon a message from the
Crown that it is wanted, is the imposition of an obligation or liability, how can any doubt arise that a charge or burden on the people is an obligation ? But if there were any doubt on that point, what have we in Todd’s Parliamentary Government in England? At page 765 he uses the very words which are now called in question, and which are said not to mean that when we charge the consolidated revenue we impose a charge on the people. He says -
Independently in the first instance of the Committee of Supply there is another mode of initiating proceedings for the grant of public money,
This is what might happen in the case of a Railway Construction or Public Works Bill- namely, by the introduction of Bills for the construction of public works, the establishment of new institutions, or for other purposes that necessitate new charges upon the people.
What can be clearer than that ? There you have exactly the expression which we have heard used. An excellent illustration of the meaning of the expression is, as I have said, to be found in the debates of the Adelaide Convention, where this question was first raised, when it was proposed to strike out the words - “ having for their main object,” so as to deprive the Senate of the power of initiating proposed laws in any way appropriating public revenue, which, of course, might have given rise to very serious conflict, because it would have been open to dispute where a Bill had for its main object some other purpose than the imposing of a charge upon the people. At page 468, Sir George Turner gave an illustration which is an exceedingly good and very homely one -
We know that the Senate orthe States Assembly, as it is called, will be anxious to initiate Bills, and in many cases they will bring forward measures which will contain appropriations. They will argue at once that the Bill is brought in for a certain purpose - take for instance the building of baths - and they will say - “The main object of the Bill is to provide bathing accommodation for the people, and it is true that it is necessary to spend money, but the main object of the Bill is not for spending consolidated revenue, and we had a perfect right to initiate it” and that might mean a heavy expenditure.
That is exactly what is meant by Bills appropriating revenue which are the subject of this paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution -
Ordinary Appropriation Bills are provided for. Bills imposing taxation are not to originate in the Senate. As regards all these Bills, the powers of the Senate to amend are specifically set out. We cannot amend the Bill, but we can request amendments. There are other Bills, such as a Public Baths Bill, which appropriate money, and place a charge or burden on the people, and as to which we are in exactly the same position, only that we can amend down, but not up. Almost a better illustration is given in the part of the debates of the Adelaide Convention, which has been referred to by Senator Baker when it was sought to insert the words “ of Representatives” after the word “House” in clause 56, with a view to preventing any doubt as to what the meaning of that provision would be. It would have been a monstrous thing to insert the words after the proviso to clause 53 had been passed. In advocating the amendment, Mr. Isaacs quoted from page 547 of May a passage which he said was the foundation of Standing Order 273 of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. If honorable members will listen to the extract they will see that the very words “ charges imposed upon the people “ are used, not even’ in the large sense in respect of general appropriations of the revenue for public works, buildings, and institutions or bonuses, but in reference to that petty and minor kind of appropriation referred to in the proviso to section 53.
Relaxation Of Commons’ Privileges. - The claim to exclusive legislation over charges imposed upon the people was formerly extended by the Commons to the imposition of fees and pecuniary penalties, and to provisions which touch the mode of suing for fees and penalties, and to their application when recovered ; and they denied to the Lords the power of dealing with these matters.
In that standing order we have the sense in which the Convention understood and used the expression “ charges or burdens on the people.” But the whole thing may be summarized as I summarized it before. This is a Bill to charge the consolidated fund with the payment of certain bounties. It is admitted that the amendment will increase that charge. Is that a “ charge or burden on the people “ ? Who have to pay it ? That is the question. The plain, commonsense meaning of the words is surely that it would be a charge or burden. An obligation to pay, whether it is upon an individual or a Commonwealth, is exactly the same, and is a “ charge or burden “ in ordinary speech.” I have shown that it is also the expression that is used concerning a grant or an obligation of this kind upon the “ public revenue,” interchangeably with the expression “the people.” I have also shown that that is the sense in which these constitutional and parliamentary writers use it. We had a very excellent test put by Senator Baker in his first speech on the subject, when he said that; - “ A charge or burden on the people must mean on the people of the Commonwealth, and not the people of any particular State.”
Does this Bill not answer that best ? Is not this a “charge or burden” on the whole of the people of the Commonwealth ? Undoubtedly it is. It would be unlawful and unconstitutional if it were not ; because we are prohibited from discriminating in the matter of taxation. It is a charge, if anything, on the whole people, and therefore the amendment increases that charge. Then comes ths paragraph of the Constitution -
If the clause in question involves a “charge or burden “ we cannot amend it. What is a “charge or burden?” This is the whole kernel of the contention that has been put forward, and has resulted in our sending down this amendment and assuming a position from which it appears to me that we should retire with the best grace we can. ! think the pluckiest course is to do the right thing if we are satisfied that it is right, and not to pursue a conflict because we have previously expressed an opinion. It is said that this is not a “ charge or burden “ on the people within the meaning of the Constitution, because “ charge or burden “ as there used means direct taxation on the people. The quotations which I made earlier in my observations to-day show that that was the first contention of Senator Baker. But at the end of his first address he pulverized that argument absolutely, and showed that the contention could not be supported because of the language of the Constitution itself. He proved in the passage I have quoted that if the paragraph means anything or refers to anything, it means an appropriation of public revenue. That is what I say it means, and that is what this Bill is. That argument of Senator Baker, as I say, upsets any doubt as to whether “ charge or burden “ is limited to taxation. He says, as I also think, that unless we say that “ charge or burden “ means an appropriation of revenue, that paragraph in the Constitution is useless. But Senator Baker, at a subsequent stage, made a suggestion - it is not more than a suggestion ; it is not an argument - that the words may refer to loans.
– Somebody else said that ; Senator Baker quoted Sir John Forrest.
– Senator Baker only quoted what Sir John Forrest said as an authority for his own conclusion. His own statement was -
Looking further .to the debate in the Convention, I have come to the conclusion that those words refer to a class of Bills that have not been mentioned at all in this debate - Loan Bills.
He quoted the passage I have referred to, and need not refer to again, in the speech of Sir Edmund Barton, in which he made some remark about the power of amendment, and interrogatively Sir John Forrest said “ Loan Bills “ ? There is a mark of interrogation in Hansard. Sir Edmund Barton did not say “Yes,” but used the words “ It may be.” He did not say that the paragraph exclusively referred to Loan Bills, but that it included Loan Bills. So it does, undoubtedly. But if it included Loan Bills, it is not pretended that it means such -Bills” exclusively. Even Senator Baker admitted that that suggestion of his, founded upon that remark in Hansard, did not dissipate the doubt .which he had expressed throughout. How can we think of inaugurating a campaign founded upon such a flimsy authority as that, expressed in a chance remark reported in Hansard, and surrounded by all the doubts which we have before us ? Is that the kind of authority upon which we should challenge the other House to a constitutional struggle? But if the paragraph meant Loan Bills exclusively, what would be the result ? We cannot increase the amount of a loan by a single sixpence, but we may increase a bonus by a million pounds. Could such a suggestion be said to be founded upon the ordinary constitutional principles by which we should be guided 1 I therefore say that I adopt what Senator Baker said in that regard - that paragraph 3 of the section in question includes and refers to appropriations, and was not intended to mean loans exclusively, though loans may be included. But the paragraph refers to all measures that may involve a “charge or burden on the people.” This, then, is a proposed law for that purpose - that is, for the purpose of imposing an obligation to pay a bonus. ‘ If so, then the paragraph applies to this extent - that we cannot amend but we may request. It all comes back, therefore, to that position which really gives us quite sufficient scope for maintaining the dignity and strength of the Senate. If there is any constitutional right on the part of the Senate to take a particular course of action that can be established with clearness, I am certainly one of those who would stand by it. But in this particular I think we have no right. I am affected by no” misgivings on the question, or as to the meaning of “charge or burden” on the people. I think I have shown, so far as any source of information to which we can have access goes, that the view taken by the Chairman of Committees is that which is most consistent with parliamentary usage, and with the obligations of our Constitution. I have detained the Senate longer than I had intended to do, but this is the first occasion on which I have addressed myself to this question. That is not exactly my fault. I am sorry that I was not present on the former occasions when the question was discussed. It is a matter of very grave importance, as we all admit. No one can recognise more than I do the ability and attention that have been devoted to it,, and which have led to a considerable amount of constitutional research by all of us - I am sure with a desire to do our duty upon a question that affects us as a part of Parliament so nearly as this does. It is a new field. It is one that has many fascinations for constitutional inquirers, and one which of course involves grave questions affecting the position of the Senate. No one who knows the action which I took throughout the Convention in endeavouring by all means, in season and out of season, in common with others, to magnify the position of the Senate, and to increase its powers in connexion with Money Bills and other matters, would doubt for a moment that, if I felt that we had a right, which right was even remotely infringed, I should be standing firm for its assertion and vindication. But I am satisfied that there is no right involved in this particular question, and under this particular Bill, and I feel that we shall be doing our best for the Senate in getting ourselves out of the difficult position in which we are placed as readily, and as easily as we can. I stand by the rights of the Senate, but in this particular instance I can find no right. I feel that we have made a mistake, and the sooner we retrace our steps the better.
– We have had a very long speech from Senator Symon - undoubtedly a speech that will be valuable in the other branch of the Legislature, for those who wish to quote authorities against the legitimate powers of the Senate on every convenient occasion. Authorities which our Constitution was so framed as to enable us to ignore, have been cited ad nauseam, and the question has been brought before us practically as if we were not interpreting our own Constitution, but sitting as a Court of Appeal on Constitutions affecting other portions of the British Dominions. From 1891 until the end of the Convention which framed the Constitution, we had these practices and usages under the British Government fully before us and fully understood. We drafted the Bill of 1891, and the Constitution which is now the law of Australia, thoroughly understanding everything in reference to English procedure, and intimating by the clearest words we could think of that we did not intend to follow that procedure. The fight all through the Convention was practically between the representatives of Victoria and the representatives of the smaller States. I mention the representatives of Victoria particularly, because the representatives of New South Wales took little part in the controversy, and the conflict was practically one between the representatives of Victoria as against the representatives of the smaller States, with a view of bringing the two Houses of the Commonwealth Legislature into substantially the same relation as the Houses to which they had been accustomed, namely, the Houses of Assembly and Legislative Councils. In 1891 we did not get our own way entirely, but we got a good deal of it. If the Bill drafted by the Conference of that year had been ‘ carried, the Senate would have been in a different position from what it is now. Every’ matter affecting it was thoroughly threshed out. We started at the second Convention with the Bill of 1891 before us as a basis. Practically what we did in the end was, to recognise that, for purposes of finance, it would be inconvenient that the ordinary Appropriation Bill for the year - not Appropriation Bills generally, but the Bill appropriating revenue for the ordinary services of the year - should be subject to amendment. There are two Bills - the Appropriation Bill and a Taxation Bill - which we may not amend, but there is not a single word in the Constitution which prevents our amending Bills which only incidentally appropriate revenue. I shall keep my remarks within as brief a compass as possible, and, without display of any recondite learning, deal with the Constitution simply as it is. First I shall deal with the words in section 53 of the Constitution -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation shall not originate in the Senat’e
It is perfectly clear, as Senator Symon has pointed out, that a message could not be sent to the Senate in regard to, and that we could not originate such Bills as are here meant. But when it is contended that an amendment with a view to altering Bills so as to increase an appropriation amounts to an origination, I must enter an absolute denial. We cannot originate such Bills, but we can amend them so long as we do not infringe some other provision of the Constitution, which must be read as a whole. I do not stand here as an advocate of claims which the Senate is not entitled to make ; my wish is to see the Constitution preserved in its integrity, so that the rights we possess shall not be frittered away. Proposed laws appropriating revenue do not originate in the Senate, and, therefore, any question on that point does not arise. I leave out the remaining part of the first paragraph of section 53, because it has no bearing on the present subject, the appropriations there contemplated being such as may be considered without any message. The section goes on to provide -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
These words are clear enough - no words could be more unmistakable. Then comes the debatable paragraph -
– Seeing that the Senate cannot ‘ amend anything else, what does that paragraph mean ? ‘
– I will tell the honorable senator what it means in half a second.
– Senator Downer said the last time the matter was before us that a direct tax on the people is meant.
– And that is so. The meaning is that we may not amend a Bill the only object of which is to impose charges or burdens on the people, but that we may amend Bills which incidentally contain some proposal for imposing burdens on the people.
– For imposing taxation t
– For imposing some charge or burden on the people.
– But the honorable and learned senator says that means taxation.
– And that is what it does mean. We have had so many constitutional authorities hurled at us by Senator Symon, that I thought my friend had a brief for the other side ; he showed wonderful research:
– The honorable and learned senator regarded that as a “ charge or burden.”
– It will prove a burden if it has the effect of diminishing the constitutional rights of this’ Chamber. The paragraph of the section which I last quoted must mean that if a Bill incidentally imposes taxation, that particular part of the measure can be amended by the Senate so as to increase the charge or burden.
– The Constitution forbids tho insertion of any other proposals in a Taxation Bill.
– That is not forbidden by the Constitution.
– Indeed, it is.
– The paragraph of the section can refer only to taxation of some kind, either direct or indirect. But I contend that there is nothing to prevent us from dealing with a proposed law for . a special appropriation of revenue so as to enlarge as well as to lessen that appropriation. That was the intention of those who framed the Constitution and of those who adopted it - that the only measures on which the Senate should not exercise the power of amendment were an Appropriation Bill for the ordinary annual services and a Taxation Bill, the right of amending a Bill specially appropriating revenue being reserved to the Senate. It is to this point that section 56 applies. Although the Senate cannot originate laws appropriating revenues or moneys or imposing taxation, still, when such laws do come before us, we may amend them, so as to increase the appropriation. The machinery for the exercise of this right by the Senate is given in section 56, under which a message may be brought down. We can alter a Bill so long as it is not a Bill for an appropriation for the ordinary services of the year, and if a message be required in consequence of our alteration, a message may be brought down. Senator Baker has given us great assistance in this matter, and I should think it is the peculiar duty of the President to advise honorable members on such questions.
– Only when he is asked. What right had Senator Baker to challenge the Chairman’s ruling ?
– I should say it is undoubtedly the duty of the President and the Chairman of Committees to be both thoroughly conversant with the practice of the House, and to give honorable senators all the assistance they can. The more assistance those officers give us the more we should be obliged to them ; and no honorable senator should -occupy an hour or two with a discourse which has not so much to do with’ the subject before us as with the object of controverting the arguments of the President. Senator Symon from time to time spoke of Senator Baker as being my “ leader.” But Senator Baker is the leader of us all.
– Not on this question, surely ?
– On all questions connected with the standing orders and procedure.
– Not at all.
– At all events, Senator Baker has devoted much time to the study of this matter, and personally I feel exceedingly obliged to him for the assistance he has rendered.
– But Senator Downer resented my observations as offensive to himself.
– I do not want to be described as a subordinate.
SenatorSir Josiah Symon. -i said nothing of that kind. Senator Downer regarded it as offensive for me to say that Senator Baker was his leader.
– In my opinion the remark was meant to be offensive, and my opinion is not changed. Two Bills have been sent to us, and one of these is now, I believe, awaiting its third reading. Those two Bills would have been included in one if it had not been for provisions in the Constitution which were carefully framed in the interests of the Senate, and not in the interests of the House of Representatives, in order to prevent the latter Chamber lumping a lot of Bills together and setting us at defiance. The view of those who adopted the Constitution was that the House of Representatives should not be able to send to the Senate a Bill which it could not amend, and defy theSenate to. pass it. These provisions were carefully inserted with the assistance of Senator Symon, who claims to be such a keen supporter of the Constitution, not for the purpose of reducing the rights of the Senate to nothing, but for the purpose of making our rights as extensive as possible. These two Bills both relate to the future. At the present time there is a burden on the people in the fact that they are compelled to pay a duty of £6 a ton on imported sugar ; £3 excise on what we may call “ black “ sugar ; and £1 excise, practically, on what may be described as “ white “ sugar. That is the present position. The Bill before us is one which is not intended to bring a single penny more into the revenue, but the object of which is simply to collect money as before, with the difference that the manufacturer of white sugar will pay £3 excise, but will have returned to him a bonus of £2.
– I do not think that can be found in the Bill. One is only a repealing measure.
– Undoubtedly, that is the effect of the two Bills taken together. Instead of having a rebate the manufacturer of “ white “sugar is charged £3 per ton, and is paid £2 per ton ; and I should like to know where is the difference. The President has told us that in this connexion no burden is imposed on the people. There is a different allocation of distribution afterwards, but the burden on the people remains identically the same, though we call it by a different name. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that we ought to try and meet the other House. It would appear from the honorable and learned senator’s general point of view, that wherever there is a doubt we ought to give way, and that wherever there is a probability the probability should be considered in favour of the other House.
– That is what the honorable and learned senator said during the Tariff debate also.
– I absolutely contest such a proposition. I think it would be destructive to us, if at this early stage, when an important question comes before us affecting our rights, we should fail to assert them from mere complacency, or that we should allow ourselves to be affected by any argument, that if we will be good enough go sacrifice our rights the other House will assent to our requests. Supposing, for instance, it were represented to any honorable senator that if he altered his position, and instead of insisting upon his amendment he were willing to put it in the form of a request, it would, if put in that form, be carried in another place, that would be, to my mind, offering a premium to that honorable senator to betray the Constitution under which he lives. Although I am entirely against this Bill, and every part of it, I supported Senator Glassey in this matter, because I believed that when the Senate carried the honorable senator’s proposition as an amendment, it should go as an amendment to another place. To my mind, the question then ceased to be one having referenceto the Sugar Bonus Bill, and it became a question of the Constitution, on which, I think, we ought to hold our ground. I hope the Senate will do so, in spite of all the precedents submitted to us from otherplaces, and which, in. my opinion, we passed our Constitution in its present form expressly to do away with. We should look at the words of our Constitution and ask ourselves first of all whether we accept the contention that we cannot amend, not only the ordinary Appropriation Bills and Taxation Bills, but any Bill which incidentally appropriates revenue. The third proposition I distinctly deny. I say that except it be an ordinary Appropriation Bill, there is do Bill which incidentally appropriates revenue that we cannot alter, and that the Constitution intends that we should not have the right to alter. I say that this Bill does not come within the third paragraph of the section as a Bill imposing a charge or burden on the people. What is proposed here is really a diminution of the revenue that would ordinarily be collected. It is certainly not an increase. It by no possibility can be called an increase of revenue which the Commonwealth will be able to collect. It may be a diminution, but it cannot be an increase, and there being no increase of revenue proposed, there is no additional burden imposed on the people. The £2 per ton, which used to be called a rebate, is under this Bill to be called a bonus, but the amount is £2 still, and so far as the revenue is concerned, it remains in the same position. That is the view I take of the matter, and I do not propose to discuss it further.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).Before I proceed “to deal with one or two arguments advanced this evening, I should like to answer an interjection made several times during the course of the debate, and more recently by Senator McGregor. The honorable senator asked a question which has been presented by other honorable senators as to the interpretation which is to be placed upon that paragraph of section 53, which states that-
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so us to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It is contended that as that follows a prohibition against the Senate amending any proposed law imposing taxation, it must therefore apply to an appropriation of revenue. 1 think there is another interpretation to be placed upon it, and it is this : Honorable members will be aware of a practice which has prevailed in at least some of the States Parliaments of dividing a proposal for the imposition of such a tax, for instance, as a land or income tax, so that one Bill is sent up dealing entirely with the machinery and another Bill levying the tax itself. If a practice of that kind were in view when the framers of the Constitution drafted these two paragraphs of section 53, I think it is possible to argue that the first paragraph, providing that the Senate may not amend any proposed law imposing taxation, was intended as a prohibition against the Senate interfering with the Taxation Bill itself, and the other paragraph, providing that the Senate may not amend any proposed law so to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, was intended to be a prohibition against the Senate widening the area of taxation under the machinery Bill. In my own State it has been a common practice to give effect to a taxation proposal by means of Bills of the character I mention. Honorable senators will see that it might happen that in a machinery Bill of that kind the Senate might seek to lower the amount of exemption in dealing with the sum upon which a citizen was to be liable to pay income tax, or to reduce the area of land proposed to be exempted from’ land taxation, and whilst in no way touching the Taxation Bill such amendments of the machinery measure would increase the charge or burden on the people. Like other speakers, I must admit that in dealing with this matter I have had some little doubts regarding it. I desire, first of all, to say that I regret very much that the leader of the Government in the Senate should, on a question which is a purely constitutional one, appeal to honorable senators on grounds’ of expediency.
– It was not an appeal ; it was only a statement of fact.
– That may be so, but I say that there was no necessity, in dealing with the constitutional point, to press the matter on our attention on grounds of expediency.
– W - We cannot deal with it as an academic question. We must deal with it in relation to facts.
– The peculiar thing which strikes me in regard to this matter is, that this appeal on grounds of expediency should be made in the Senate alone, and not in the other House. Surely it is as much incumbent upon members of the other branch of the Legislature to consider the expediency of proposed legislation as it is upon us 1 But not one word was said elsewhere upon grounds of expediency. This little lecture, if I may so term it, has been reserved for the members of this Chamber. I say that there never has been a happier opportunity presented for considering a question of this kind than is presented to us to-night. This matter is entirely free from any party significance ; there is no evidence of an illfeeling between the two Houses, nor can it be fairly said that a charge is alleged against either House of attempting to encroach upon the privileges of the other. Until the VicePresident of the Executive Council made a speech suggesting what might happen to this Bill in certain circumstances, there was nothing in the political atmosphere to lead us to believe that the ultimate fate of the measure would be affected by any course which might have been adopted here tonight. Surely there is nothing in the Bill itself to prevent it being revived in some other form, according to the fate which the motion submitted to us may meet with. I was, therefore, surprised into using the word “ threat” when the Vice-President of the Executive Council told us that the effect of a refusal to agree to accept his motion would be the loss of the measure. I submit that it was hardly correct for the Minister in charge of the Bill to speak in that strain. I desire now to deal with the question before the Committee. I must say at once that I see practically little if any difference between the power to request and the power to amend. I quite agree with the remark of that gentleman whose name is so well associated with the movement for Federation, that “ A strong Senate would insist on its requests, while a weak one would lose its amendments.” I am, therefore, not so much concerned about that. The point to which I desire to address myself is this : It has been contended that a tax and an appropriation are not under the same limitations. It does not appear to me to be necessary for the purpose of discussing this matter to consider whether they are or are not. It is admitted on all sides that the effect of Senator Glassey’s amendment would be to divert a larger portion of the public revenue than would have been diverted had the Bill remained untouched. That brings me to this question : Has this Senate the right by amendment to secure a larger appropriation than would otherwise have taken place? That, so far as I can understand the position, is the entire question before us. It has been affirmed by Senator O’Connor that the Senate has absolutely no power to propose anything which would mean an appropriation larger than that in the Bill presented to us. I cannot assent to that proposition at all. I admit that it is extremely difficult to draw the line and to say how far the Senate may go and where it ought to stop, but I shall put this proposition as showing that there may be certain Bills providing for an appropriation which the Senate would have a perfect right to amend. Assuming, for the sake of illustration, that the Treasurer, at the end of a financial year, had a surplus - that rarest of things in the experience of Australian Governments - and assuming that the GovernmentbroughtinaBillprovidingforthe distribution of that surplus per capita, could that be called a charge or burden on the people? It would clearly be an appropriation. That is a case of an Appropriation Bill which might come to us, and which I contend we could deal with as we chose. It would be an Appropriation Bill to all intents and purposes, but one the effect of which would be to give back to the people a sum of money contributed to the revenue.
SenatorPlayford. - But if the surplus were £1,000,000 we could not increase the amount to be distributed to £1,500,000.
– I ask the honorable senator whether such an Appropriation Bill as I suggest would be a charge or burden on the people?
– It would if we proposed to increase the amount.
– The honorable senator evidently declines to answer the simple question I am putting him. I am dealing now with the right of the Senate in connexion with such a Bill. I contend that a Bill which proposed to distribute a surplus in the Treasury amongst the people at so much per head could not be considered as imposing a burden or charge on the people.
-If -If the money had to be appropriated out of the consolidated revenue it certainly could.
– Then I am prepared to have a burden or charge of that kind imposed on me at any time.
– T - The honorable senator must see that if it were not appropriated in that way the money would be available for the next year’s services, and if it were so appropriated other money would have tobe voted instead of it.
– I can quite understand that, but no one will seriously contend that if a Bill were passed tomorrow giving £5 to every man, woman, and child in the community out of Surplus moneys in the Treasury, that would be a burden or charge on the people. I can imagine the wild rush that would take place to the Treasury on the part of people willing to take up such a burden and to share such a charge. I have mentioned that as an illustration, not because I think it is ever likely to happen, as in my experience Australian Governments are better acquainted with deficits than with surpluses, but in order to show that an Appropriation Bill need not necessarily involve a charge or burden on the people. In this particular case I am quite prepared to meet on their own ground those who will say that this is a charge or burden. “Whilst I think that there may be Appropriation Bills which, as’ in the illustration I have given, cannot be regarded as imposing a charge or burden on the people, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the. Constitution itself places a bar upon the Senate originating an appropriation. If that is so, and I gather that it is generally accepted that that is the correct reading of the Constitution, I have to. ask myself : Can the Senate do indirectly that which the Constitution prevents it from doing directly ? I am endeavouring, to the best of my ability, to consider this matter fairly, and I am driven to the conclusion that if we cannot directly originate an appropriation, we cannot originate one indirectly. That would mean that we could not increase an appropriation. I am prepared to go as far as that with the leader of the Government and those who share his views. To that extent I am inclined to think that the Senate has taken a course which is perhaps a little injudicious. But I am confronted with a difficulty which will compel me to vote against the motion. If we are barred, as Senator O’Connor would have us believe, from making an amendment, I think it is not difficult to show that we are equally barred from making a request.
– A very different thing.
– The honorable and learned senator appears to have altered his opinion since he last spoke. I express no great surprise at that. I am rather glad that he interjected, because I quite overlooked the fact that he was amongst those who shared my opinion on this point.
– I think not. It is a good retort, but it has no basis.
– I do not wish to turn up Hansard ; but if the honorable and learned senator persists in his denial, presuming that the Committee credits him, I shall have to do so. It will be remembered that Senator Drake expressed a doubt as to whether or not the Senate could make a request, and an amendment in respect of the same Bill, and he held that opinion so firmly that he voted with the majority to make an amendment.
– I voted against both.
– That is quite true. I am not challenging the vote of the honorable and learned gentleman, but I wish to point out that he held the opinion which I am now expressing. The Chairman referred to the matter, and whilst I do not gather from the report of his speech that he expressed any conclusive opinion, it shows that he had a doubt in his mind. The paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution dealing with this matter is, I think, remarkably plain. It reads in this way -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senatemay not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
It seems to me to be abundantly clear that the only class ofBills in regard to which the Senate maymake a request is that which it is forbidden to amend. The Sugar Bonus Bill has been amended by the Senate, and except in one instance our amendments have been accepted by the other House. In what position should we find ourselves if, having made amendments in a Bill which clearly we had the right to amend, we requested an amendment? The constitutional objection would be taken at once in another place that we were attempting to make a request in respect to a class of Bills which we had the right to amend. It is as well to bear in mind that we are supported by a pronouncement on the part of the Prime Minister in the other House.
– And the Postmaster-General said it here.
– Yes. If the view which I have expressed which the PostmasterGeneral shares or did share, and which the Prime Minister shares or did share is correct, then I warn honorable senators that the only possible chance of getting theBill passed as it stands - whether they gain their object by request or by amendment - is by rejecting this motion. If we pass the motion and send down a request we shall be immediately met by the other House with the objection that we have exceeded our power.
– They have invited us to make a request, notwithstanding the supposed inconsistency.
– I heard that, too ; but I have no official pronouncement on the point ; nor do I see how we can get one.
– We had one from Senator O’Connor.
– We had a statement from Senator O’Connor that he is prepared to support a request, but can he say that when it reaches the other House, the Speaker, as the custodian of what he conceives to be its rights and privileges, will not direct attention to what he will consider the unconstitutional aspect of our action.
– He will not do it.
– How does the honorable senator know that 1
– From a conversation with him.
– Honorable senators may know it in that way ; but they will recognise that officially we know nothing, and can only deal with .the matter as it is. If 50 Houses of Representatives were to tell me that they were prepared to accede to a request for an amendment in a Bill which we had the right to amend, I would not help them to do so, because it would be against the law of the Constitution. If the other House, in order to obtain what it may regard as a triumph over the Senate, is prepared to strain the Constitution, I am not .prepared to become a party to the act. The course which it is open to us to take seems to me to be a simple one. If the view which I have expressed is correct, the measure ought to be divided into two parts - one which we can amend, and one in regard to which we can request an amendment ; and then, if a request is not adopted, we shall not be caught in a difficulty. It would be a simple thing for the Government to take this course, which has been taken times without number in State Legislatures. Where the Legislative Council has made amendments which the other House could not accept, or where the difficulty to which I refer has cropped up, the Government has divided the Bill into two parts, and all difficulty has been avoided.
– T - That would have to be done in every case where there was an appropriation of money other than an annual appropriation.
– I cannot help that. The Constitution is responsible for the position.
– T - The Constitution points out two cases only in which nothing but taxation and appropriation shall be contained in a Bill.
– Surely it is plain enough that we can only make a request in respect of Bills which we cannot amend. It would be utterly absurd to suppose that the Senate is to be compelled to deal with measures without having the right to make known its wishes regarding them. We may as well abolish the Senate if it is merely to register the wishes which have been crystalized into a Bill by the other House. If I thought that that was the position which the Senate was going to take up, I should not for five minutes continue a member of a Chamber so impotent as it would then become. So far as this measure is concerned, it would not matter very much whether the alteration was obtained by way of request or by way of amendment. But in view of the declaration by Senator O’Connor this evening, which, I think, he would now probably qualify - that we could not make an alteration in a Bill, the effect of which would be to increase a charge on the revenue-
– I - I was referring then to cases in which the Bill makes an appropriation. Of course, if the Bill does not make an appropriation, we can do any thing we like with it.
– I anticipated that the honorable and learned gentleman would qualify his remark in that way. Unimportant as this matter is now, it is desirable to start a sound practice for the future. If we are to have any trouble about provisions in respect of which we may request amendments and provisions which we may amend, it would be better, as far as possible, to introduce the practice of having machinery Bills apart from what may be called Money Bills. It would prevent a great deal of possible conflict in the future, and would tend, I think, to smooth and expeditious transaction of public business, because it only requires very little foresight to perceive that before very long Parliament must be confronted with measures which will bristle with difficulties of this kind. Seeing the view which is taken up now by the other House, it is marvellous to me that the difficulty has not arisen before. The Senate has been allowed to make amendments in Bills to all intents and purposes the same as this Bill, and our action has never been challenged by the other House.
– I - In what Bill 1
– Several Bills have been mentioned.
– N - Not one instance has been given.
– In the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act a distinct appropriation is made as soon as the purchase money is determined. I shall quote the provision directly.
– I - In none of these Acts will there be found an authority for the money to be paid out of the Treasury until an appropriation has been made.
– The Public Service Bill as regards the minimum wage.
– It may be said, at once, that merely because that amendment in the Public Service Bill passed unnoticed in the other House, therefore it is not a recognition of our rights. Having regard to the attention which is being directed to this matter by the discussion over this Bill, it is quite clear that, in future, measures passing between the Houses will be subject to closer ‘ scrutiny, and for that reason it is desirable, once and for ail, to establish a practice which, being sound in itself, will lead to the expeditious transaction of public business. I regret very much that it is not possible for me to bring forward a motion which would give honorable senators the opportunity of voting on the question whether the Bill should not be sent back with a request that it should be sent up in two parts. As I cannot take that course, the only thing which remains for me to do is to vote against this motion, because 1 can see that, unless it is defeated, we shall run the risk of losing the chance of giving effect to the wishes which the Senate has crystallized in the amendment of Senator Glassey.
– It has been stated by Senator Millen that we cannot make a request for an amendment in a Bill which we have the .right to amend. I understand that that point has been raised in another place. But I take it that the honorable senator lias forgotten that we have an inherent right to request an amendment in a Bill. If we should ever receive a Bill in which,- because it cannot be amended, we cannot request an amendment, we shall have the right to put it in the wastepaper basket. But, instead of doing that, 6 s 2 we have an inherent right to send a message down to our sister Chamber, as it has been called, requesting an amendment, and, if it does not care to concur in the request, we can drop the Bill. When my honorable friend contended that, because we have the right to amend a Bill, we cannot request an amendment in a clause which we cannot amend, I think he forgot the inherent power oi any legislative chamber.
– The Senate has no powers except those which are derived from the Constitution Act.
– We certainly have the power to lay the Bill aside, but instead of doing that Ave take the courteous course of sending back the Bill, whether we have a right to make a request or not, and letting the House understand that if it insists on the Bill remaining in a particular shape we shall not pass it, but that if it accedes to our request we shall pass it. Surely there is no power on earth to prevent our adopting that course.
– Does the honorable and learned senator see the disability which he places on the Senate? He throws the onus of rejecting the Bill on the Senate instead of on the other House.
– No; we make known to the other House our view, and it either sends back the Bill,” and gives us’ the opportunity to carry out our view, or it does not. In that respect the onus is thrown upon the other House. I do not pay very much regard to the question of throwing the onus on one House or the other. It always comes back to the question of which House is doing right, and if we have public opinion at our back I do not care two straws where the onus of putting the Bill in the waste-paper basket is placed.
– My honorable and learned friend does not care whether he is right or not, so long as he has the voters behind him.
– No ; my honorable friend is rather, stretching my argument. He has tried very wisely to get rid of the word “ any “ in the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution -
The Senate may n’ot amend any proposed law so as to increase a charge or burden on the’ people. ‘
My honorable friend seems to argue that that’ requires that there shall be two Bills such as an Income Tax Bill of two or three clauses and a machinery Bill of 100 clauses for the collection of the tax. I do not think that he can cut down the word “ any “ to meet such a case. He ought to remember that although section 53 is divided into certain paragraphs it is all one provision. That section places certain prohibitions upon the Senate. We may not originate laws “appropriating revenue or moneys,” and we may not originate “ laws imposing taxation.” We may not amend laws imposing taxation or appropriating revenue. The very next paragraph provides that -
It appears to me that the plain meaning of that paragraph is that the word “any,” as there used, refers, and must refer, to all that has gone before.
– The general contention is that it does not.
– The obvious meaning is that there are two sets of laws referred to. Another paragraph provides that, in dealing with any proposed law, the Senate may not increase any proposed charge upon the people ; which must refer to the two provisions that have gone before. My honorable friend, Senator Millen, rather surprised me by admitting - as I think every one is bound to admit, though, from the President downwards, they do not seem to do so - that to appropriate revenue is not to impose a burden on the people.
– I do not admitthat except in this particular case.
– The honorable senator has admitted it as concerns the Bill before us, and has therefore admitted the whole contention. He has given his whole case away by admitting that, if we do increase an appropriation, we are increasinga tax or charge on the people. That being so, it appears to me that the Senate will have to hark back and make a request to another place, instead of making an amendment. I should like to say a word or two aboutsection 56, which, I must “say, has given me some little trouble. The only explanation of a satisfactory nature that I have heard is that which I read as having been made in another Chamber, and which was brought before the Committee to-day by Senator Symon. I cannot conceive how section 56 can be read in any other way, so as to be absolutely consistent with section 53, unless we give to it the meaning which Senator
Symon attaches to it, namely, that under the first paragraph of section 53, we may have a law appropriating fees for licences, or fees for services rendered, and so forth, and it might be held that before we could amend such a provision, we should have to have a message from the Crown. It seems to me that section 56 obviates that necessity, and that is the only meaning I can give to the section.
.- Section 56 negatives that idea.
– T - That is the explanation given in Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution, and I think it is probably right.
– The contrary explanation would imply that theSenate wasintended to be equal with the other place, and that we could have the Governor-General sending down to us messages enabling us to originate taxation. But section 56 says expressly that we cannot do that. If that explanation be not the correct one the section should not be there at all, and its inclusion in the Constitution is a blunder. But I think that the interpretation given to it in another place and by Senator Symon today is the correct one. I shall be glad if the President will point out to me what other possible meaning the section can have. On any other explanation than that which I accept it looks to me as though the Senate were not intended to take an inferior place with regard to money Bills, but that we could receive messages from the Governor-General giving us authority to initiate money Bills, whereas, as a matter of fact, we can do nothing of the kind. I might point out that Mills has distinctly laid it down that a Bill prescribing fees and licences and fees for services rendered, is an appropriation of revenue. But section 53 provides that -
A proposed law shall not be taken to appropriate revenue or moneys, or to impose taxation by reason only of its containing provisions for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment, or appropriation of fees for licences or fees for services under the proposed law.
So that in framing the Constitution the makers of it have had to have regard to the technical meaning ofcertain words and phrases, and have distinctly stated that although the imposition of fees and licences may technically be appropriations, yet they are not to be taken as appropriations so far as our Constitution is concerned. In every other Constitution they would be so taken. I think that the only way to construe a difficult section of this sort is not, as some honorable senators have suggested, to throw overboard absolutely the technical meaning of words which have been handed down for centuries, but to go back to them and see > “what meaning is attached to them. What are we to do otherwise1! I quite understand that the exact words of our Constitution must be read by themselves, but if we cannot gather the exact meaning of any part of the Constitution from its internal language to what ^sources are we to go except to the constitutional authorities of the grand old mother country, from whose Constitution ours has to some extent been taken, as well as from the Constitution of America? I understand my honorable’ “friend, Senator Millen, to admit that we cannot amend a provision so as to increase a charge on the people.
– My argument y-as that “the Senate could not originate appropriations, and that to the extent to which this amendment increases a charge or burden it is an origination.
– Then the honorable senator does contend that Senator Glassey’s amendment is an increase of the burden on the people ?
– No ; an increased appropriation.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that it was an increase of an appropriation, and, therefore, an increase of a charge. There is only one other point I wish to make, and that is one which has been raised by the President and by Senator Downer.. The argument is that we have levied- an excise duty of £3 per ton upon sugar, and that we are now going to give certain growers of sugar, by white labour a bounty of £2 a ton ; and that to the extent to which we encourage the production of sugar by white labour, we are relieving the taxpayer of the payment of £6 a ton excise duty. To that extent, therefore, it is contended that this may be called a Bill for reducing taxation. I cannot see the sense or the wisdom of that argument. I would ask Senator Millen to consider what ‘is the difference between using the word “Bill,” and the term “proposed law.” I can quite understand a large Bill being introduced containing a considerable number of clauses one of which appropriated a small proportion of revenue. Under the Constitution would it not be quite competent to speak of that particular clause as a law imposing taxation, and of the other clauses of the Bill as not being laws imposing taxation? I understand that the word “Bill “was especially left out of this Constitution, and the term “proposed law “ substituted, to meet cases of that kind. What I understand to be the practice - though I cannot find an authority for it - is this : That when we are discussing a particular clause of a Bill we have only to look at the Bill itself to see whether a particular provision of it increases a charge upon the people. Unless we do that we may get into financial chaos. An honorable senator might argue - “It is true that I am going to increase a burden on the people by an amendment in clause 2, but in reality I am not going to increase a burden, because when we get to clause 10 I am going to reduce some charge. Therefore the total effect of my amendments will be to reduce the charges upon the people instead of increasing them.” I understand, however, that parliamentary practice absolutely precludes us from taking any such view. We cannot go into a supposition that in certain events which may or not happen what we propose to do will not increase a charge. We have to look at the exact amendment before the Chair at any particular time, as affecting any particular clause before us ; and if that amendment or clause increases the burden on the people, we are doing something which our Constitution says we can only do by request and not by amendment.
– I had not the advantage of listening, as a member of the Convention, to the debates in which the question of the relative powers of the two Houses was fought out, but I have derived this information from the speeches delivered here - that there was a great contest between the representatives of certain States as to the powers which should be conferred upon the Senate. It was made perfectly clear that the object of a majority of the members of the Convention was to make the position of the Senate as strong as they possibly could, with the intention of creating a really coordinate body for dealing with legislation or matters affecting the interests of the States. There were two exceptions, which have been indicated in the course of this debate. The first is that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not Originate in the Senate.
The second is thai; -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for- the ordinary annual services of the Government.
I think that in those two provisions the whole intent of the framers of the Constitution may be found. It is true that there is a further proviso that -
We recognise that under that paragraph arises the difficulty with which we are now confronted. We are working under a Constitution, the various parts of which must be considered, in order that the Senate may work harmoniously with the other branch of the Legislature, whilst at the same time securing to the representatives of the States in the Senate the full rights which it was intended should be conferred upon them. In dealing with this matter, we must be very careful that we do not lay down or consent to any principle which will impair the value of the Senate, or materially impair the great benefits which the smaller States expected they were to secure from our Constitution. The Vice-President of the Executive Council/ has not burdened us with a number of quotations from textbooks, probably recognising that text-books would, not be a very valuable guide to us for the reason assigned by Senator Downer, that the clear intention of the framers of the Constitution was to get rid of the decisions and precedents laid down by different and conflicting authorities. But the Prime Minister in another place built up his case on such authorities as Bourinot and May. We know perfectly well that the practice of the Parliament of Canada and of the Parliament of Great Britain do not affect our Constitution. In the Canadian Parliament the second Chamber or Senate has no such power as we have in regard to dealing with money Bills.. It has been alleged that the Constitution of Canada was imposed upon the people of the Dominion by means of a trick, and that they never intended to assimilate their Constitution to that of Great Britain. When honorable senators quote Bourinot they must recognise that they are citing an authority which is not applicable to the position that faces us to-day. It has been very truly said by Senator Baker, that our Constitution is altogether different from any Constitution in any other portion of the world - that in certain respects it departs from the ordinary procedure adopted with regard to second chambers. Whatever the decision on the question before us may be, I am anxious that we should realize its importance to-day, and what it may mean in years to come. Senator O’Connor in the early portion of his remarks alluded to what he conceived would be the result if we adopted a particular course, and argued from that point of view that we ought, to a very great extent, to give up the more important matter of the constitutional rights of this House. But the question of the Sugar Bonus Bill is neither here nor there, as compared with the importance of the interests involved in the point at issue. If we make up our minds that we have gone astray and that we ought to abandon our amendment, we must remember that we are creating, a precedent, not inadvertently, but with our eyes open, after having on a previous occasion debated the matter for nearly two nights, and that in the future we shall have to deal with measures as we are dealing with that before us. The precedent will operate under all sorts of conditions when we are attempting to legislate in the future ; and it does not indicate the course of action which has been adopted by the Senate so far. Some reference has been made to what has been done in the case of previous measures, and Senator O’Connor challenged honorable senators to find a provision virtually amounting to an appropriation which had been dealt with by the Senate as it is proposed to deal with this Bill. The Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act was introduced in the Senate, and was passed during last session, providing for the acquisition of ploperty from the various States. That Act provides the way in which the compensation is to be ascertained, and section 20 is as follows : -
In all cases where compensation is awarded or costs are adjudged to be paid by the Commonwealth, the amount thereof shall be paid to the party entitled thereto or to his agent duly authorized in that behalf, within one month after such amount has been determined.
Provided that the party claiming payment shall first be bound to make out to the satisfaction of the Attorney-General a title to the land or interest in land in respect of which he claims.
There is a provision that compensation shall bear interest at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum, until payment of the sum is made by the Commonwealth to the claimant, or until it is deposited in the Treasury. Under the section I have read there is a clear appropriation of public money - a clear determination to make “ a charge or burden on the people “ in the most unmistakable terms possible. No subsequent legislation is required ; the money is payable, and if the Crown sees fit to neglect payment, it cannot excuse itself to the vendor by saying that the money has not yet been voted by Parliament; and the vendor has a right pf action against the Commonwealth. If there ever was “a clear case of the appropriation of public money, it appears to be in the Act dealing with the acquisition of public property. I think it has been said in the Senate that if we pass this amendment, the individual will have a right of action against the Government. Under the Act I have quoted there is, as I say, as distinct an appropriation as can be made in express terms, for the purpose of making payments to the individual ; and so. far as example is concerned, the course there laid down by the Senate was accepted by the other House without any demur or objection. I am not prepared to go through jail the various^ Acts and show other cases which have been dealt with similarly by the Senate. So far as my recollection goes, the question has never been raised here ; but when a measure has come before us we have dealt with it by giving it the direction and character which we thought fit. When the question of the minimum wage Came up it was fought out in t this Chamber, and a clause was inserted.
– No ; that was done by the other Chamber.
– I speak subject to correction. At any rate, I have shown honorable senators the position which we have taken up in the past.
– I think the Senate extended the minimum-wage provision from the clerical to the general division of the public service.
.- We will let that matter pass ; but we have a clear example before us of the course which should be adopted. Senator O’Connor suggested that our better course would be to accept his motion, and then to submit a request. That request, if submitted at all, must be made by virtue of the Constitution. If it be a request, as suggested by Senator Dobson, that one Chamber may make to another, I reply that neither the standing orders nor the Constitution makes any provision enabling the other Chamber, after having put the Bill through all its stages, to go back and consider and give validity to a request by inserting a proposed amendment in the Bill. When the Constitution provides for a request, we must submit a request ; and it should be remembered that a request is invariably submitted when the Senate is dealing with the matter in Committee, and the Senate does not permanently go out of Committee before the request goes to the other Chamber. The House of Representatives, taking the Constitution, says, “ We will assent if we think fit to the request you have made.” If we do not make the request by virtue of the provision which is given us under the Constitution, the other Chamber will be met by the practice of the House of Commons, which is applicable there. When a Bill has been dealt with - when the three reading stages have been gone through the only way in which it can’ be further dealt with then is to consider the amendments of the other Chamber. They accept the Bill with certain amendments, but not subject to certain requests, and they are in a difficulty as to getting back into position. But where we have a section we must be guided by its wording. Section 53 provides -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions contained therein. And the House of Representatives may if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments with or without modifications.
The House of Representatives must deal with the requested amendments in a proposed law which the Senate may not amend. Senator O’Connor expressed the opinion that the Senate may amend downwards, but not upwards - that the provision that the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to in- crease any proposed charge or burden on the people, gives the Senate power to amend by decreasing the charge or burden. If that view is accepted by honorable senators, then the argument of Senator Drake, and the remark made by Sir Edmund Barton, in reply to Mr. Joseph Cook, shows clearly that that is the opinion held by the Prime Minister. This Bill, therefore,- becomes a Bill which the Senate may amend, and does not come within the proviso that the Senate may request an amendment by message. It must be abundantly clear, I think, that the proviso applies only to Bills which the Senate may not amend. Personally, my intention’ is to vote against the proposal not to insist upon the amendment, and I shall equally deem it to be my duty, assuming the Government are victorious, to vote against any request being sent down to the other House. I have come to that conclusion because I regard the course proposed by the Government representatives as absolutely unconstitutional. I believe that the other House, if it think fit to take the point, will throw the Bill out at once ; but I am told that Senator O’Connor has promised that, so far as the members of the Government in this Chamber are concerned, they will assist in getting the request assented to. If they be successful, the assent will be given as a matter of expediency, and in clear violation of the Constitution. If we are not empowered to amend, what will be the position of the Senate? We shall ‘in effect-. Sa)’ that we are giving way on ‘ this matter, because we think the House of Representatives will give way in another matter, and we shall be put in an inferior position with regard to requests for amendment. Honorable senators have asked what is the difference between a request and an amendment. It is true that- a strong Senate, in making a request, may say’ to the House of Representatives - “If you do not agree, you shall not have your Bill.” But if this Chamber has the right to make amendments, the other Chamber will have to take the responsibility of putting the Bill on one side, whereas in the other case, we have to take the responsibility. So far as I can judge that appears to be the difference between a request and an amendment.
– If we make a request in regard to one clause, we may have to make requests throughout the whole Bill.
.- But the other Chamber may accept the position that we have the right to suggest amendments, but that we have no right to make amendments in an upward direction. The argument of Senator O’Connor to-night is that we may make amendments in a downward direction,, and the admissions in the other Chamber, together with the contention of Senator O’Connor show that this is not a Bill in regard to which the other House can constitutionally assent to our request. How can it be said that we may make an amendment downwards, but that if the alteration be in an upward direction, there must be a request ? Suppose, for the sake of argument, there were two clauses in a Bill - one of which we wished to amend in a downward, and the other in an ‘upward direction. In such a. case we should have power to amend .one clause, but should have to send a request in regard to’ the other. The position amounts to a monstrous absurdity; arid with all due respect to the opinions which have been expressed, I say that such a course cannot constitutionally be taken. When I heard the position which Senator Drake had taken up the other night, I thought there must be some mistake. It was not until I noticed how the debate had gone in another Chamber that I began to realize the necessity for looking very carefully into the clause, and finding out what the position really was.”
– What is the meaning of the word “ law “ 1 Does it necessarily mean the whole of a Bill ?
.- I take “ proposed law “ as meaning a Bill.
– The other House has. construed the word differently; and while they allow the Senate to amend some clauses, they say we must make requests in regard to other clauses.
– I have already read the paragraph of the section dealing with that “point, and the honorable senator will see its application.
– The other Chamber has practically admitted our right to amend and to make’ requests.
.- Where have they done that ?
– Those are the circumstances as they come before us.
– Not at all, as the honorable and learned senator will find if he takes the trouble to read the message which has been returned with the Bill. I find that the message reads, thus -
The House of Representatives returns to the/ Senate the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act to. provide for a Bonus to Growers of Sugar-cane and Beet,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has disagreed to Amendment No. 3 made by the Senate, for the following reason : - Because the Bill is a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, and Amendment No. 3 is an infraction of the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, or from amending any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people ; and the House of Representatives -does not deem it necessary to offer any further reason, hoping the above may be sufficient.
The House of Representatives has agreed to all the other amendments made in the Bill by the Senate.
There is not one word in that message which bears out the suggestion of the honorable and learned senator. “
– It is in the debate.
– I do nob think the honorable and learned senator will find it even in the debate.
– The Prime Minister said that we could not request because we could amend.
.- I see that one honorable member in another place said -
In any event they have the power to request.
And Sir Edmund Barton replied -
Only where they cannot amend. They have power to amend this Bill, but not to make an amendment of this kind.
If any words could be clearer as to the opinion of the Prime Minister I should like to hear them quoted. He says that we can only make a request where we cannot amend, and that we have the power to amend this Bill but not to make an amendment of this kind. That is to say, we can make an amendment to reduce the amount, but we cannot make an amendment of this kind, and according to the opinion of the Prime Minister we cannot make a request in this case because this is a Bill which we can amend. Mr. Higgins, Mr. Glynn, and other honorable members in another place raised the question and put the matter very clearly. We come now to this position: that the Government have introduced a measure here which we can amend in some respects, but upon which we are precluded from offering an opinion upon the most vital portion. I do not say that it has been done intentionally, but I say that the Senate has not been treated fairly with regard to this measure. When under the Constitution it was provided that in imposing taxation or appropriating revenue only the one matter of the imposition of taxation should be dealt with in the Bill introduced for the purpose, it was intended that the Senate should have an opportunity at all times of expressing an unfettered opinion in regard to the legislation proposed ; in some cases by making requests and in all other cases by inserting the amendments they desired in the Bill itself. I say that in this Bill the Senate is not being treated in the way in which it ought to be treated. We shall, in a few days, have under consideration a Bill which is already on our business-paper, dealing with the High Court. In that Bill provision is made for so many Judges, and that the salaries to be paid to them shall be of a certain amount.
– We ought to throw it out.
– That is another question which cannot be debated now. What I desire to point out to honorable senators is that if we think four Judges should be appointed, or that pensions should be paid to the Judges of the High Court, we shall have no power even to make a suggestion to that effect. The very argument which has been raised in another place only shows the impotent position in which we will be placed if we accept what is now proposed. This shows that even a measure of that kind ought to be divided, and we should have one Bill providing for the whole procedure, and another providing for the salaries and pensions of the Judges and the expenses of the court, in connexion with which we could make requests if we considered them necessary. We had a case a little time ago referred to in connexion with the Western Australian railway, and it was pointed out that if the proposal were made in another place that that railway should be a narrow gauge railway, the’ Senate would be debarred from insisting upon a broad-gauge railway, and would have either to accept the narrow gauge or no railway at all. Is that treating the Senate properly as co-ordinate with the other branch of the Legislature and elected” by the same people ? Is that carrying out the compact made originally that the Senate should be debarred only from originating laws imposing taxation or amending Taxation Bills, and. the annual Appropriation Bill introduced from time to time? I hope honorable senators will realize that the question before us at present is one of no light importance. If we are to have a Constitution in accordance with the intention of the framers, where we find there is any difficulty or trouble, it is not our part, merely because honorable members in another place think we have made a mistake to back down immediately without some very good reason. I could well imagine if the Senate had dealt with this matter in the first instance without having considered it at all, it would have been very much more open for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to come here and say - “You seem to have made a mistake here, and I ask you not to insist on what was evidently a mistake made through inadvertence.” The fact is that the Senate debated the whole of this question deliberately, and came to a certain conclusion a week ago. Now the Senate is being asked to swallow its previous opinion, and we are being asked to say - “We did not understand the matter, we did not know our own minds, we did not know what we were talking about, and therefore we humbly beg the pardon of honorable members in another place, and withdraw from the position we have taken up.” We shall never maintain either our rights or our prestige by adopting a course of that kind. We should be at all times ready to stand up for our rights and our privileges. We have been told that we should wait to do so until the matter which has arisen is so manifestly clear that there can be no mistake about it. But if we are to wait until then we shall have no contest at all. It can only be in connexion with some sections of the Constitution which are somewhat obscure that a difficulty can arise, and it is in connexion with such cases that we shall have to mould our Constitution in accordance with what we believe will be best in the interests of this great Commonwealth. I can well understand honorable members in another place being determined not to allow any of -what they suppose to be their rights and privileges to be invaded. I remind honorable senators that nearly all the strong men in the other Chamber are men who fought very hard in the Convention against giving the Senate any more powers than are possessed by the House of Lords or a Legislative Council of a State Parliament. It is only natural that those honorable members should endeavour to secure for themselves as great powers as they possibly can. We cannot blame honorable membersin another place if they seek to acquire all the power they possibly can for their House. It is only human nature that they should do so. We shall always have to fight against a’ natural tendency on their part to assert that their House is of the first importance, and that they have the right to determine all money matters that may requite to be dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament. But we are trying to get away from the old principles and old ideas that existed in this connexion. I therefore hope thathonorable senators will not give way upon a question of such magnitude and importance as that which is now before us. When speaking the other night I expressed theopinion that we are clearly within our rightsin amending this Bill as we have done. I think we are not dealing with an appropriation or creating a charge or burden on thepeople of the country. That has already been done by the Excise Tariff Act. Although there may be a little jugglery in theway in which the matter is proposed to be dealt with it is’ left pretty much the same aswhen we had the excise and the rebate provisions. The men who will pay the exciseare still the same, and the men who will get the bonus will still be the same men as thosewho would have got the rebate. There can never be a bonus paid until £3 per ton excise duty has been paid on the sugar. We can never overrun the amount of revenue we are going to derive so far as the sugar bounties are concerned. There will be an excise duty of £3 on every ton of sugar grown in the country, and in the case of every ton of sugar grown by white labour it is proposed to give back tothe growers £2 of that excise duty. I admit that the excise duty of £3 has now been thrown into the consolidated revenue, and the rebate of £2 now proposed as a’ bonus is to be paid from the consolidated revenue. I do not use the term in any offensive way, but I say that is nothing but a bit of jugglery. The money, instead of being put into one drawer is put into another, and we take it out of No. 2 drawer to pay the bonus instead of out of No. 1 drawer to pay the rebate as heretofore. I have pointed out that this is a. Bill which we can amend, and if we agree to the motion, and the other House graciously consents to overlook our alleged breach of the Constitution they will only be placing us in a more subordinate position than it was ever intended we should occupy, because we shall then be legislating by grace of the other House. If there is to be a breach of the Constitution in any way, and if this is to be considered a breach of the .Constitution, I say at is much, better that the breach should be committed in this direction than that it should be committed in the other direction by belittling our powers and position. Honorable senators must see what is going to happen if we insist upon this amendment. The other House will probably still adhere to their opinion, -and will put the Bill under the table. Bat we know quite well what honorable members in another place will do then. They will introduce such a measure as will enable the matter to be dealt with in accordance with the desires of both Houses of the Federal Parliament. They will, if necessary, introduce two Bills, because .in any case the Government are pledged to the growers of white sugar in Queensland to extend the time within which they shall bo entitled to come in and claim the £2 rebate or bonus. Tt will be their *tv if they find there is a conflict between the two Houses to submit a measure in such a way as will carry out the promise of the Commonwealth Government, and will, at the same time, make it unnecessary for either branch of the Legislature to give way upon this particular- point. We shall adhere to our -opinion, and members inanother place will adhere to theirs. I know of no tribunal that can decide a question between the two Houses. .Koch House must be its own judge in the matter, and determine what it may do, and neither House can coerce the other in any legitimate way. It may be that by accepting the present proposal of the Government we shall get the measure through, but if we are going to try to get our measures there at the expense of our rights, or what we believe to be our rights, we shall make a fatal mistake. Last session the Senate showed that it had a certain amount of power, prestige, determination, and force of character, and that it was going to stand up and maintain its rights steadfastly and strictly. What are we asked to do now ? We are being asked to depart from the position we have previously taken up and to leave the Senate absolutely at the mercy of tho other House with regard to all Bills in connexion with which a question of taxation ia raised, or in connexion with which a question such as that which we have now before us arises. If we accept this proposal, we shall take away from the Senate the great and important powers which the Constitution intended to be given to it. I say that the moment we accept the motion submitted by the Vice-President of tho Executive Council, we shall lay down a precedent which will make clear our utter powerlessness to deal with any matter which the House of Lords or the Legislative Council of a State Parliament would be debarred from dealing with. We shall lower our status as compared with the other Chamber, and we shall not have one whit- more power than have the Houses to - which I have referred. I say it would have been far better if the Constitution had said that we should have no more power than the Legislative Council of a State Parliament than that after the Constitution has given us much greater powers, we. should be so craven and so recreant to our trust as to give up the powers and privileges conferred upon us. Another Senate may arise years hence and take the view that it should go back to those rights. The law of precedent will have been laid down; -and the Senate will have the greatest difficulty in the world to get over the position. It would be a mistake to create a precedent, and therefore I hope that honorable senators will not take up -that position. I have not attempted to follow out the arguments which have been adduced at such great length as to what is -a charge or a burden on the people. We have had some learned dissertations and a great many quotations from the discussions in the Convention, but I am perfectly prepared to accept the intention of the Convention to give us those rights and powers. If the Constitution is not so clear as one could wish, nevertheless we should do what we can to mould it in a direction which we believe to be consonant with its spirit, with the intention of its framers, and of the people by whom it was accepted. If that course is not taken, all I can say is that honorable senators will find that the Senate is very much Weaker than many of them believe it to be at the present moment.
Senate adjourned at 9.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030722_senate_1_14/>.