13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P.J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
[3.1]. - by leave - In order to enable the Government to prepare the budget, which was not possible before the close of the financial year, it is proposed by the Government to ask both Houses of the Par- liament to adjourn from the completion of the business this week until Tuesday, the 24th July, at 3 p.m., when, it is anticipated, the budget will be introduced in the House of Representatives, and the usual procedure will be adopted in the Senate of laying the budget papers on the table, and moving that they be printed.
– I ask you, Mr. President, as the presiding officer responsible for reports which appear in Ilansard -
– Although, strictly speaking, the occupant of this Chair is not obliged to answer such a question, I recognize that the President has the oversight of reports which appear in Hansard, as well as tables and quotations that may be included for the purpose of making clear a speaker’s argument. But the honorable senator’s questions involve matters which cannot be answered offhand, and, therefore, I shall take an opportunity on another occasion ito reply to the honorable gentleman.
– In view of the fact that you, Mr. President, allowed Senator J. B. Hayes this afternoon, when asking a question of which the responsible Minister asked that notice be given, to read a somewhat lengthy press report containing an expression of opinion, will you now allow me the facilities which YoU denied to me yesterday?
The’ PRESIDENT.- I have a clear recollection that the question which the honorable senator asked yesterday contained a definite expression of opinion by persons outside this Parliament. As he knows, a third party is not entitled to have his opinion recorded or quoted in this chamber in connexion with a question asked of a Minister. The newspaper passage quoted this afternoon by Senator J. B. Hayes did not contain any expression of opinion. Questions couched in such terms have always been allowed.
– Since that is now your opinion, Mr. President, will you allow me to read the question which I attempted to ask yesterday, namely -
Has the attention of the Loader of the Senate been directed to the following press report appearing in the Labor Daily. -
“ARGENTINA IS CUTTING THE PRICES.
The disquieting news that the Argentine has again embarked on a wheat-slashing compaign in the United Kingdom and Eastern markets waa cabled from London on Saturday.”
What is now the position of “the Lyons Government in view of the fact that Mr. Bruce High Commisisoner for Australia in England. signed the International Wheat Agreement on behalf of Australia?
Is it not, in view of the actions of Argentina, a complete let-down for the wheat-farmers of Australia by signing this International Wheat Agreement?
– It must be clear to honorable senators, and it ought to be clear, also, to Senator Dunn, that his question is a complete contravention of the practice laid down in this chamber for the asking of questions. It expresses the view that the action of Argentina with reference to the international wheat agreement will have a depressing effect upon wheat prices in Australia. That is clearly an expression of opinion. For that reason, I ruled his question out of order. I repeat that I cannot allow expressions of opinion by persons outside this chamber, or newspapers, to be quoted when questions are being asked of Ministers. The purpose of a question is to obtain, not to give, information.
– Can the Leader of the Senate say when the Senate will again have an opportunity to discuss private members’ business on Thursdays after 8 p.m. ? For the last six months, the business-paper has contained notices of motion by Senator Bae and myself. I should like to know whether, in this matter, we are under the jurisdiction of the Leader of the Senate or are governed by the Standing and Sessional Orders ?
-I cannot interfere with the Standing and Sessional Orders except with the consent of the Senate. If the notices of motion referred to by the honorable senator have not been proceeded with, the reason is either that the Standing Orders have been suspended with the consent of the Senate, or that the honorable senators concerned have not sought to move the motions when the Senate has been discussing private members’ business.
-Will there be any opportunity to deal with private members’ business during this session ?
– The Standing Orders providing for the discussion of private members’ business have not been suspended.
– Some person or persons unknown have entered the Senate chamber, and, without authority, deposited on honorable senators’ desks a number of phamplets entitled, Has Democracy failed in Australia, issued by the Proportional Representation Society, Victoria, of 105 Collins-street, Melbourne, and signed by James W. Barrett, president, and Royden Powell, honorary secretary, Melbourne. I take this opportunity to warn enthusiastic supporters of the society mentioned and others that they are not at liberty to enter this chamber without first obtaining permission to do so. The vigilance of the officers of the Senate is not questioned; these officers perform ther duties satisfactorily, but they cannot always prevent unwarrantable intrusions.
– Can you, Mr. President, give the Senate an assurance that no members of the Parliamentary House staff will be put off during the period which will elapse between the termination of the present sittings and the re-assembling of the Senate after the elections ?
– As I indicated in reply to an earlier question this afternoon, the Chair is not obliged to answer a question of this nature. The question of Senator Dunn is the first suggestion I have heard that some members of the House staff may be put off. 1 am not aware of any intention to interfere with the staff in ‘the manner mentioned.
Steel Plates for Motor Bodies - Attitude of Country Pasty
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions : -
The Commonwealth Government is not aware of the circumstances to which the honorable senator refers, and is, therefore, not in a position to say whether any action taken by the State is contrary to the provisions of the Wheat-growers Relief Act. If the honorable senator makes specific representations on the subject the Minister for Commerce will consider them.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The Treasurer has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies to the questions of the honorable senator: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Nationality of Cane-Cutters - Ownership of Farms
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minis ter for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorabla senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. The Government will inquire into the position disclosed in the newspaper report in question. It might be stated at once, however, that the Commonwealth did not establish the settlement at El Arish. The Queensland Government did so.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to reply made on the 4th instant to question by Senator E. B. Johnston re the Royal Commission on Taxation - On what basis per day were allowances and fees paid to the members of the commission?
– The Treasurer has furnished the following reply : -
Sir David Ferguson. Travelling allowance ?3 3s. per day when away from Sydney. No fees are being paid; Mr. E. V. Nixon. - Travelling allowance, ?1 10s. per day when absent from Melbourne. Pees. - When in Melbourne ?5 5s. per day; when absent from Melbourne ?5 5s. per day, but fees for days in excess of five in any week only to be payable when the commission is actually engaged on business for more than five days . in that week.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the present great need for more gold, its high price, the well-known richness of the auriferous areas of Western Australia, and the opportunity afforded for placing a large number of unemployed in profitable occupations, will the Government consider earmarking a substantial portion of any future grant to Western Australia for the purpose of -
Re-conditioning existing crushing plants, and
Erecting crushing plants in new areas ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
It is considered that the question of the utilization by the Government of Western Australia, for the purposes mentioned by the honorable senator, of portion of any grant by the Commonwealth is one which should be left to the State Government for decision.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister administering War Service Homes, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Returned Soldiers’ Conference recently held in Hobart passed the following resolution : - “ Congress protests against the eviction of soldiers’ widows from war service homes and urges that the present Federal Government bring in a scheme of reduced payments for soldiers’ widows “ ?
– Inquiries will be made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister administering War Service Homes, upon notice - 1 Is the Government prepared, before the dissolution, to introduce a bill to amend the War Service Homes Act by inserting the following new clause: - “In the event of the death oi a returned soldier who is the purchaser of a war service home and who leaves his widow in necessitous circumstances, the widow shall retain the home free of rent until such time as it can be proved that she is in a position to pay rent or until she remarries”?
– The matter will receive consideration, and the honorable senator will be informed as soon as possible.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McLaghlan) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendment of amendment Ho. 5 made by the House of Representatives.
PROPOSALS FOR Redistribution of South Australia.
Debate resumed from the 11th July (vide, page 370), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That thu Senate approves of the distribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. G. 1*. Howie, J. 11. McN’amara, and G. K. Willson, Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of ..lune, 1934, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report be adopted.
– This motion is of vital importance to South Australia. It proposes a change in the basis of representation of that State in the House of Representatives, and it also implements the provisions of the electoral law, and of the act under which this Parliament is constituted, which require that South Australia, in the present circumstances, shall lose one of its representatives in the other branch of the legislature at and after the next election. South Australia has been represented by seven members in the House of Representatives since the commencement of this Parliament. This is the first time its representation numerically in that chamber has been changed, although the representation of other States has undergone certain fluctuations during that period. This very constancy of the representation of South Australia for 34 years brings out probably in greater relief the calamity which now faces that State in the threatened loss of one of its members. C he position, of course, has been canvassed very considerably since the publication of the census figures first disclosed the possibility thai South Australia would lose one of its seven members in the House of Representatives, and there has been a great deal of kite-flying as well as inspired propaganda in the Adelaide press. I do not know whether the Government or its friends attached to the press were responsible for the publication of the many suggestions that ways and means would be devised, as the result of almost Herculean efforts by the Government, to avoid the loss of this seat by South Australia. We were told that the position was being explored from every angle and that the Government, not content with the opinion of its own legal advisers, had consulted the greatest legal and constitutional authorities of our time, in order to ascertain whether it would be possible by any constitutional means to allow South Australia to continue to return seven members to the House of Representatives. This motion has already been passed by the House of Representatives, and if it is accepted by this chamber it will, of course, become effective and South Australia will suffer the loss of one seat. This chamber is supposed to be the custodian of the rights of the States - a duty that it has fulfilled in many respects - and because of that it is incumbent upon us to examine seriously the position which will be brought about by the motion, keeping in mind particularly that it affects one of the most important principles of the federation, viz., the basis of the representation of the States in this Parliament. We have heard it contended from time to time that the States with the smaller populations suffer disabilities as a result of the preponderating representation in this Parliament of the more populous States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. And in some respects this contention is justified. But there are disabilities which accrue from the desire of Parliament, acting on behalf of the whole of the people of Australia, to do its best for the majority of the people, and they are not necessarily a reflection upon the representatives of the more populous States. It is obvious that legislation which may benefit the more populous States may not be advantageous to the others. However, the fact that some legislation may be somewhat to the disadvantage of the less populous States is not sufficient reason for not passing such legislation if it is forthe good of the greatest number of people in the Commonwealth.
I understand from the speech of the Leader of the Senate yesterday, that the Government has devoted much time to examining the constitutional and legislative position in order to ascertain whether it is “possible to maintain South Australia’s present strength of representation in the House of Representatives, but ] regret that the right honorable senator, when he was submitting this motion, did not give us the benefit of the opinions which, I understand, have been secured from eminent constitutional authorities.
– Although I did not quote the actual opinions, the latter part of my remarks was based on them.
SenatorO’HALLORAN. - I understand that that was so, and I am not casting any reflection upon the right honorable senator. But I would have preferred that he had quoted those opinions and given us the opportunity to find out for ourselves whether they were as conclusive as the Government apparently believes them to be. The representation of South Australia in the Federal Parliament, which is affected by this motion, is governed, firstly, by principles which are laid down in the Australian Constitution, and, secondly, by machinery provisions in the Representation Act and the electoral law. While I do not desire to pose for one moment as a constitutional authority, it does seem to me that the constitutional provisions very definitely require that whenever it is shown by the census and the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer that the populations of the States have substantially altered, the formula provided in the Constitution shall be applied to determine the representation of the respective States in the other chamber of this
Parliament. It is unfortunate that the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer, based on the recent census, has made it mandatory to reduce the representation of South Australia in the House of Representatives by one member. The constitutional provision is definite as to what must ultimately be done; but, as a layman, 1 find it difficult to reconcile my interpretation of the law with the opinion of others that action must be taken within a specified period. I have readthe opinions quoted by the right honorable the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), of Sir Robert Garran, and Mr. Mitchell, K.C, both of whom appeared tobe diffident of expressing a definite opinion that Parliament is bound to give effect within a given period to the constitutional provision regarding the alteration of representation. They made a somewhat guarded reference to the matter, and appeared to suggest that so long as Parliament was honestly acting in accordance with the constitutional provision, it would, for the moment, be safe. If Parliament wishes to conform with the Constitution and the statutes relating to the representation of the different States, it must carefully examine every aspect of the position. I can see the possibility of certain circumstances arising, which might have the effect of postponing a reduction of the number of members for a particular State for a lengthy period, although, of course, it would be impossible to postpone such a reduction indefinitely. When a redistribution is necessary, commissioners are appointed in the respective States to reallocate the boundaries of electoral divisions, and they are required to have regard for certain principles set out in section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. That section reads -
In making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions the distribution commissioners shall give due consideration to -
T« protect the public from any wrongful nsa of power, provision is made for the publication of the boundaries as defined by the commission, and for the public to have the opportunity to protest against the proposed basis of redistribution. If no protest is lodged within a certain period, or if a protest is not uphold by the commissioners, the matter is forwarded to Parliament, when either branch of the legislature may disallow the recommendation. It therefore seems that the Senate must not only satisfy itself that the Constitution requires that the representation of South Australia in the House of Representatives shall be reduced by one mem ber, but also that the redistribution commissioners had due regard to the principles embodied in, the Electoral Act. If the Senate should find that these principles have not been fully observed, it would be justified in rejecting the motion. I intend to oppose the motion, because I do not think that the redistribution commissioners in South Australia paid sufficient regard to the principles contained in the Electoral Act. In dividing South Australia into six divisions, instead of seven as at present, the commissioners necessarily had to make material alterations to the boundaries of the existing electorates, but, in doing so, had to bear in mind the guiding principles in section 19 of the Electoral Act. A study of the proceedings of the conventions held prior to the inception of federation, show that there was a complete insistence that all citizens should have equal electoral rights. The desirability of a property qualification for electors was fully discussed, and there was an overwhelming body of opinion in the Conventions that, in the new charter for the Australian people, all citizens should be electorally equal; that no advantage should be given to those posessing property or living in certain districts. This principle was firmly laid down by the framers of the Constitution and, within prescribed limits, it is also set out in the Electoral Act. The provision in the latter act is a fairly generous one, and was, no doubt, included to obviate the necessity for too frequent redistribution of the various electorates. In order to maintain a degree of permanency in this respect, it has always been understood that the redistribution of the electorates should not be required to meet small fluctuations of population, the allowable margin being one-fifth over or ono-fifth under the quota for the State. As I have explained, this provision was intended to overcome fluctuations of population, rather than as a guiding principle to be observed by the commissioners when making a redistribution of electorates based on the census figures. The commission should have had regard to the basic principle affirmed by the framers of the Constitution that all citizens of the Commonwealth should be electorally equal. They have divided the State, roughly, into three metropolitan and three country districts, which are described as metropolitan and extra-metropolitan divisions. For the three metropolitan divisions of Adelaide, Boothby and Hindmarsh, the average number of electors is 61,498, while for the three extra-metropolitan divisions of Barker, Grey and Wakefield, it is 52,521. The quota of electors for each division in South Australia is 57,003. From this, it will be seen that in respect of the three metropolitan divisions the commissioners have exceeded, substantially, the quota, while for the three extra-metropolitan divisions the numbers are substantially below the quota. Thus we shall have inequality of effective representation.
– The Representation Act makes provision for that margin.
– It does, but the provision in that act was intended to meet fluctuations of population, which must necessarily occur in every State, its purpose being to prevent the too frequent redistribution of electorates. The result of this redistribution is that each of the three metropolitan divisions with an average of 61,498 electors, has, on the average, 8,977 electors more than are contained in the three extra-metropolitan divisions, the average number of electors in the latter being 52,521. This means that 26,000 metropolitan electors will be virtually disfranchised, because it will take that number of additional voters to elect three representatives for metropolitan divisions as against the extrametropolitan divisions. That is flagrantly unfair. Electorally it is a punishment of people who are compelled to live in metropolitan divisions, although, in many cases, their place of domicile may be due to certain conditions over which they have no control. Under the Constitution South Australia is being electorally punished by the loss of one member, and the metropolitan electorates in that State are now being punished by the distribution commissioners.
An examination of the former basis of distribution in South Australia will disclose that in 1922 there were three metropolitan divisions and four extrametropolitan divisions, the average number of electors for the former divisions being 40,621, and for the latter, 33,080, the difference being 2,541. Between .1922 and 1934, there had been, of course, considerable fluctuation in the population of urban and rural areas, the number of people in some electorates having increased substantially, whilst in others they had decreased. But the disparity in the number of voters for the metropolitan and extra-metropolitan divisions, respectively, on the former basis of distribution was almost trifling in comparison with the disparity under the scheme now before the Senate. In 1934, the average number of electors in the extra-metropolitan divisions was 47,436, and the number in the three metropolitan divisions was 50,759, a difference of 3,323.
The Distribution Commission should have had regard to these facts, and, instead of making the difference in the number of voters for the metropolitan and extra-metropolitan divisions 8,977, they could have reduced it to about 3,323, or the nearest practical number to the quote determined for the State under the provisions of the Constitution. This is one reason why I think the Senate is amply justified in rejecting the motion submitted by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). But there is another reason based upon the principle set out in section 19 of the Electoral Act. Under that provision, the commissioners are required to consider community of interest. So far as South Australia is concerned I submit that the commissioners have not done that. For example, the Commonwealth railway employees, of whom there is a considerable number in South Aus tralia, were formerly included within th« division of Grey, the departmental headquarters being at Port Augusta. Now as a result of this redistribution, some are in the division of Grey and some in Wakefield. There is also a considerable area of salt bush pastoral country in South Australia, of which about 90 per cent, was in the division of Grey. Under this redistribution, about one-half of this class of country is in the division of Wakefield and the other half in Grey. Furthermore, large numbers of returned soldier fruit-growers are settled on irrigation areas along the river Murray. Under a proper redistribution scheme, they should have been placed in one division. They are now included in two. One metropolitan division extends seven or eight miles into the country in order to take in a small number of country voters. In my opinion, that was done to counteract the effect of the transfer of voters from an industrial suburb in another subdivision in order to make up the quota. The commissioners were also to take into account the physical features of the country, but this requirement they have disregarded. It would have been possible to make the river Murray the boundary between the divisions of Wakefield and Angas, but that was not attempted. Moreover, the commissioners were required to take into account the existing boundaries of subdivisions as well as of State electoral districts. In this connexion they have made a radical departure from the principle contained in the Constitution, for they have divided, not only federal subdivisions, but also a number of State electoral districts. Their neglect of the requirements of the Constitution in this direction is the more deplorable when we reflect that, without interfering with the State electoral boundaries or disturbing the existing federal subdivisions, they could have obtained a more equitable distribution of the electors and maintained greater community of interest. The possibilities of doing 60 were represented to the commissioners by the honorable member for Hindmarsh in the House of Representatives (Mr. Makin), Senator Hoare and myself. When their first report was published in the Gazette, we forwarded a respectfullyworded protest, in which we pointed out that the State could have been divided in such a way that the average number of electors for the three metropolitan divisions would have been 57,600, and for the three extra-metropolitan divisions, 56,300, thereby giving a more balanced representation, and agreeing more nearly with the quota of 57,003 electors which resulted from the application of the formula set out in the Constitution to the population of South Australia. In addition, protests against the proposed redistribution were made by municipal corporations, district councils, and citizens. I do not know what consideration the commissioners gave to those representations, but in reply to the representations of Senator Hoare, Mr. Makin and myself all wo received was a formal acknowledgment of our communication, which, they said, would receive consideration. I submit that the commissioners should, at least, have replied to us, pointing out in what respect they considered that our proposals were not so satisfactory as their own. The basis of redistribution suggested by my colleagues and myself would have preserved community of interest, and have had regard to means of communication, physical features, and existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions, as well as of State electorates. Our proposals would also have complied better with a principle of the Constitution, that in electoral matters all citizens of the Commonwealth shall be equal. I submit that the case which I have made out is sufficiently strong to justify the Senate in rejecting the redistribution proposals of the commissioners. Should the Government desire an appeal to be made to the people before a fresh distribution could be made by the commissioners, the election could take place on the old boundaries; otherwise, it could be postponed until after a fresh distribution had been made. If the present proposals were rejected, and an election were held on the old boundaries, South Australia would send seven members to the House of Representatives, and after the new Parliament assembled, an amended distribution of the State could be made, and the next succeeding election held on *that basis. I hope that the Senate will reject the motion.
– I have no general criticism to make of the proposed alteration of the boundaries, of electoral divisions in South Australia if any alteration is to be made, though probably no two men would divide the State in precisely the same way. Senator O’Halloran was somewhat critical of the commissioners who undertook the task of preparing a redistribution of South Australia, but, in my opinion, they have done their work well. Complete community of interest is, perhaps, not attainable; but the commissioners have succeeded in obtaining a substantial measure of it. They have provided for three seats which are substantially city seats, and three country seats. With the exception of country towns, the country seats represent country interests. I do not care for the terms “ metropolitan “ and “ extra-metropolitan “ used by the commissioners; I should prefer “urban “ and “ rural “. Of the three city seats, one represents an area of which Port Adelaide is the centre; another, an area with Adelaide as its centre; and the third an area, comprising the eastern and southern suburbs of Adelaide.
I am most pleased with the redistribution as it affects country electorates. In ray opinion, the Commissioners have done an excellent job, in that, for the first time, an attempt has been, made to subdivide the tremendous district of Grey which, although not nearly so large as the Kalgoorlie electorate of nearly 900,000 square miles, covers 340,000 square miles. It may bo contended that senators represent a whole State, and that, therefore, each senator represents an area greater than that of any electoral division in that State; but the average elector regards as his working representative, his member in the House of Representatives, rather than any senator who represents the whole State. Under the new proposal, the district of Grey, instead of comprising the northern portion of South Australia from its western to its eastern boundary, is divided roughly by a north-and-south line, the portion on the left being in the district of Grey, and that on the right in the district of Wakefied. In my opinion, that is a most desirable alteration. When I represented the district of Boothby, I could reach any portion of my electorate in about half an hour by motor car. Conditions are very different in a large district like the electorate of Grey. Any proposal which enables the working representative of the electors more effectively to discharge his function is to be commended, and 1 congratulate the commissioners on their work in this connexion.
I come now to the more important question of the necessity or otherwise for an alteration of the boundaries of the electoral divisions of South Australia. There ought to be no doubt at all in the minds of the electors that the loss of a seat by South Australia is unavoidable under the Constitution. But there is now considerable doubt on that point. Parliament has set out in the Representation Act the method by which the number of members for a State shall be calculated. That act can be amended by Parliament at any time, so long as the alteration does not conflict with the Constitution. Under the Representation Act, an excess of .5 above the quota entitles a State to an additional member. It has been suggested that, instead of .5, the remainder should be .3, and that the divisor should be 72, as at present. On that basis, the House of Representatives would consist of 76 members, South Australia’s representation being seven, as now, and that of New South Wales, one more than at present. Another suggestion is that the divisor should be 73, which is an arbitrary number, and the remainder 25. That would give the House of Representatives 77 members. It will be seen that either of those proposals would increase, instead of decrease, the number of members of the House of Representatives. Through the courtesy of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) I have had the chance of perusing the opinions of the learned counsel, whom the Government consulted on this subject. No one who has studied legal opinions expects counsel to be unanimous on all points; but in view of the divergence of the opinions of counsel in this case, there can be no certainty as to how the High Court will interpret any action which Parliament may take. It is most difficult to interpret the Constitution in advance. Some years ago, we did not succeed in deporting certain persons from this country. Although it was believed that we had taken ail the constitutional steps necessary to do so, the High Court held otherwise. The loss of a seat by South Australia at the present time would be lamentable. That State has been experiencing quite as difficult times as any other State. It has suffered a loss of population to the eastern States, owing to the better conditions prevailing there, which are, to a large extent, due to tariff and other benefits given by this Parliament to industrial populations. The effect of the proposed change would be to allot to South Australia an average population of nearly 97,000 for each seat in the House of Representatives. That would be the highest, by almost 4.000, of any State. It would be nearly 6,000 more than the number in Victoria, and considerably more than double that in Tasmania. I do not cavil at Tasmania’s representation: the Constitution provided that that State should have a minimum representation of five members, and it has always required fully that number to keep its claims before this Parliament. But it seems lamentable that at the present time, when South Australia is in a particularly bad condition, and people are leaving the State in order to obtain better conditions elsewhere, a step should be taken which will give the State less representation in proportion to its population than any other State.
– Are the conditions very bad in South Australia?
– They are a great deal better than they were two or three years ago, but there is still ample room for improvement. They are not so good as those prevailing in the eastern States, which I think have received more consideration, possibly because their voting power in this Parliament is greater.
I approach this motion from the point of view that it is my duty as a senator for South Australia to object to any reduction of the number of representatives allotted to my State, unless it is absolutely clear that a reduction has to be made. It is not within my province, nor, indeed, within that of the Parliament or the Government, to decide the law. If there is some doubt as to the effect of the law, it is not for me as a senator to throw away a South Australian seat. The High Court, naturally, will not pronounce on hypothetical cases and, therefore, the only thing that can be done is to find out exactly what the constitutional position is after the event. I should not object so much if the Parliament had always strictly observed the letter of the Constitution, but I submit that it has not done so. For instance, the Constitution provides for the establishment of an interstate commission. Such a commission was appointed, but it was allowed to lapse, although four sections of the Constitution, provide that there shall be such a body. Mr. Justice O’Connor and Mr. Justice Higgins held that that provision of the Constitution was mandatory, but there is no interstate commission, arid to that extent the Constitution is being definitely infringed. Honorable senators must know of a number of instances in which the Constitution, if it has not been ignored, has at least been twisted and stretched. Take, for instance, the provision in paragraph xxxv. of section 61, in regard to arbitration. Who imagined that under the conciliation and arbitration provisions, wo should have experienced the conditions which have arisen in regard to arbitration ? Who believed, when paragraph ii of section 51 was inserted in the Constitution, conferring taxation powers on this Parliament, that the Commonwealth would enter practically every field of direct taxation occupied by the States? I am sure that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will agree with me that there was no intention, when the Commonwealth was established, that this Parliament should exercise the power of direct taxation except in an emergency. I think that it did not do so until the land tax was introduced about 1909. Then came the income tax, the estate duties, and, eventually, the entertainments tax, which has now been relinquished. These are instances in which, I submit, the intentions and implications, and, in the case of the Interstate Commission, the plain words of the Constitution have been ignored. Now doubt is raised also as to whether section 12 of the present Representation Act conflicts with section 24 of the Constitution. The former section states -
When in pursuance of a certificate under this act an alteration takes place in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in any State, the alteration shall not affect - (a.) any election held before the State has been redistributed into electoral divisions pursuant to the certificate.
It has been suggested that possibly the whole of that section, which has been ia operation for years, is itself ultra vires section 24 of the Constitution, in which case there would be no legal provision at all for the election of representatives of the States. Possibly, all the parliaments which had been elected for some years might be held to have been invalid, but the invalidity would certainly apply to future parliaments. I am not clear as to what extent it would be affected by the alterations in the number of members allotted to the several States in the past. No penalty or sanction is provided in the Constitution for non-compliance, except that imposed by the Parliament itself. The opinions of learned counsel who have been consulted by the Government seem to suggest definitely that in this matter the Parliament will not have its actions inquired into by the High Court. The court will assume that for anything Parliament does, it has good reason.
– Counsels’ opinion goes much beyond that.
– The courts will presume that Parliament will have good reason for its action, and into that they will not themselves inquire. One of the opinions read in the House of Representatives stated that the GovernorGeneral - presumably that is the Government - could continue dissolving successive parliaments until the proposed alteration was effectuated.
– Sir Robert Garran rather suggested the possibility that the Parliament itself might be held to be invalid.
– On that point my view is that merely because of possible invalidity, it is not my duty to deprive my State of a seat, and unless I can be convinced that the election would be invalid if the proposal of the Government were not adopted, I shall not support the motion.
– Mr. Latham refused to give an absolute ©pinion.
– The High Court will presume, according to the opinion expressed, that Parliament had a good reason for its action, and is not the shortness of .the period that will elapse prior to the election which, it has been announced, will be held on the 15 th September, a good reason in itself for postponing the making of this alteration? I am not satisfied that the alteration is unavoidable under the Constitution. It is suggested, in the opinions that have been expressed, that if the Parliament repeatedly took action to maintain the number of members in any State when they might be reduced, that might constitute invalidity. But if there is to be a reduction of the number of members of the House of Representatives to 74, as proposed in this case, why not apply section 24 of the Constitution more fully ? That section, at the very outset, states -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
That provides for a House of 72 members. Of course, provision was made in section 26 for 75 members in the House of Representatives at the outset, but there is no provision that there should be subsequently more than 72 members, other than the words, “ as nearly as practicable “. Surely those words must be construed in their ordinary sense. I’ see no insurmountable reason why there should be more than 72 members. It is provided in the Constitution that each original State must have at least five members. If, therefore, the number of members of the House of Representatives were limited to 72, it would follow that one or two of the other States, other than Tasmania and Western Australia, would have to suffer a reduction of representation. Victoria has twenty members, although it has only 19.824 quotas, while South Australia, with a 6.327 quotient, is now to have only six members. There is a difference between them of over half a member. Victoria will keep its twenty members, yet my State, which has an excess of approximately one-third of its quotient, will lose one. If the total number of members were reduced to 72, the effect, so far as I oan see from these figures, would be that one member each would be lost by South Australia, Victoria, and, possibly, Queensland, and if the Constitution were strictly adhered to, that is what should and would be done. It is practicable for the membership of the House of Representatives to be just twice the number of senators, and, therefore, the total number of members in the House of Representatives should be 72 instead of 75 or 74. If a member is taken away from South Australia, why not also take a member from one or two of the bigger States, which have more representation? Yet this possibility does not seem to have been contemplated at any time.
In regard to the various alternatives that have been suggested, I do not care much for the proposal moved by the Country party in the other House, to provide for the less populous States a smaller margin than that applying to the bigger States. Doubtless there is something to be said for the proposal to allow States an additional member when the excess is .3 instead of 5; it is believed that such a provision would be constitutional.
– That would lead to an increase of members.
– Quite so; South Australia would retain its seventh member and New South Wales would get an additional member, which would mean re-opening the distribution in the latter State. That I do not favour at the moment, but it appears to me that, owing to the briefness of the period remaining before the election, and the difficulty which people will experience in finding out even in what electorates they live, the present is an inopportune time for a redistribution. As to that, this Parliament is the arbiter, and is not likely be to interfered with by the High Court. It has been already decided by the majority of members of the House of Representatives that the proposed redistributions in Victoria and “Western Australia are unsatisfactory, though I admit that those proposals did not involve the same constitutional considerations as arise in the motion now before the Senate. I intend to vote against the motion to reduce the representation of my State in the House of Representatives from seven members to six.
– I have two main objections to this motion, either of which would be sufficient to persuade me to vote against it. The first is that it will weaken the parliamentary strength of one of the three weaker States of the Commonwealth, which is also one of the three States depending almost entirely upon §rim a ry production, and one of the three States which, in my opinion, get all the kicks and few of the halfpence under federation. My second objection to the motion is that it will rob the country districts of a seat. There are now too few country seats in proportion to those allotted to metropolitan areas, and I am sorry this Government has not taken advantage of its strength in both chambers to have a redistribution of seats in each State with a view to giving larger quotas to the populous metropolitan districts and smaller quotas to the rural districts. This Parliament has the power to do this. While the Constitution provides that representatives shall be allotted to the States on the basis of their populations, it does not require that the electoral population in all divisions shall be the same. In Western Australia successive governments, both Nationalist and Labour, have apportioned to the far-flung parts of that State electorates with very much smaller populations than are to be found in the metropolitan and urban areas. I regret that this Government, within the last three years, when it has enjoyed an overwhelming majority over Labour in both chambers, has not taken advantage of the opportunity presented to it to alter the Electoral Act of the Commonwealth in order to give increased representation to rural districts throughout the Commonwealth.
– How are the federal seats apportioned in Western Australia f
– Like those in other States, they are fairly equal in respect of electoral population and we have the anomaly of the Kalgoorlie seat, comprising ll-12ths of Western Australia, which is one-third of the Commonwealth, returning one member. Under the redistribution proposal that was recently rejected by the House of Representatives, it was intended to increase largely the population of that division., although, even with its present boundaries, it cannot be travelled in less than three or four months. Only because of the remarkable energy of the honorable member representing that seat is he able to cover that huge area, and keep in touch with its diverse interests and scattered population. I regret the ever-increasing tendency to favour the stronger and larger States in electoral representation, and I contend that this tendency is one of the greatest menaces to rural industries and primary production in the Commonwealth. This is not in the best interests of the people of the whole of the Commonwealth, because, if the country people are robbed of representation as is proposed in this motion, the rural industries will be detrimentally affected, and the whole of the people of the Commonwealth will suffer. I shall not be a party to taking a seat from South Australia, and, least of all, a country seat.
– The honorable senator will vote with Senator O’Halloran who objects to the motion because it gives greater representation to rural districts.
– The fact that two persons can find such divergent reasons for voting against the motion is proof of how objectionable it is. If the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) approves of taking a seat from a country district, and robbing South Australia of one of its too few representatives, I cannot support him in that regard. I do not mind voting with any member of any party for any course I consider right. It ill becomes the right honorable the Leader of the Senate to taunt us when we happen to vote with members of the Scullin party in a matter vitally affecting rural interests, or, as he did yesterday, when two Lang party senators stood to support Senator Hardy’s motion for the adjournment of the Senate, having regard to the fact that for two sessions his Government passed the main items of the tariff with the help of the Lang Labour party and the Scullin Labour party.
In the House of Representatives last week I heard the speech on this motion of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) for whose legal and constitutional opinions I have a very high regard. He read the opinions of Sir Robert Garran and Mr. Mitchell, K.C., on the constitutional aspects of redistribution, and what impressed me most was the indecision of the learned gentleman. I have heard Sir Robert Garran described as “ the Government niblick “ because of his usefulness in extricating the Government from difficulties. He appeared to be trying, without success, to find a constitutional justification for this motion. At any rate, Mr. Latham made it clear that he was not prepared to give a definite opinion - he used the words “ an absolute opinion “ - as to the validity of the new Parliament if this motion were rejected.
– He went much further than that.
– After listening to Mr. Latham I was in no way convinced that the validity of legislation passed by a new Parliament could be challenged.
– He said that the validity of the new Parliament itself would be open to serious question if the provisions of the Constitution were ignored.
– That is so, but having listened to those three opinions, and remembering how flagrantly all federal governments have ignored the Constitution, at times - how they ignored the provision that there should be an interstate commission, the provision that we should have a session of parliament every year with a proper programme announced at the beginning of each, how federal governments with the backing of the stronger States, have ignored the constitutional requirements, to the detriment of the weaker and smaller States - I, am prepared to risk ignoring for once constitutional considerations, if, by doing so, my action will assist one of the smaller
States of the Commonwealth, and prevent the rural representation from being reduced. For those reasons, but mainly because I object to a reduction of the representation of those engaged in rural industries, I shall oppose the motion.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [4.51]. - The possible invalidity of this Parliament or its legislation if South Australia is allowed to retain its seven members in the House of Representatives does not particularly concern me, because technical difficulties should not stand in the way of any important proposal. I am not given to Constitution worship which is only a form of superstition, and, like all other superstitions, should not be allowed to have much influence on our lives. I intend to oppose the motion, because a clear case has not been made out for a reduction of the representation which South Australia now has in the House of Representatives. I do not profess to understand the merits of the proposed subdivision of that State, but Senator O’Halloran, who has made out a good case, has questioned the findings of the Distribution Commission. For that reason, and because I have a good deal of sympathy with the less populous States, I think that the Senate should run the risk of encountering any legal difficulties. For the present, at any rate, we ought to conserve to South Australia its present representation, but honorable senators are not to infer that I entirely agree with the views expressed by Senator Johnston. There are exceptional circumstances surrounding the vast areas of Western Australia which might justify a departure from the principle of one vote one value with respect to seats in the State Parliament, but in respect of federal representation we should, as far as practicable, elect representatives on that basis. That factor, however, does not enter into this discussion. I intend to support those who are in favour of the present representation of South Australia being maintained.
– Broadly speaking, there appear to be two schools of thought in regard to the attitude that ought to be adopted towards the motion now before the Senate. Some think that we ought not to run the risk, when the matter is doubtful, of allowing the validity of an election to be called into question. Others apparently take the view that we ought to run the risk, unless those advising us are able to say that it would undoubtedly be a violation of the Constitution not to do as the Government has now proposed.
– What authority would be competent to challenge the validity of Parliament’s decision ?
– It could he challenged only by proceedings being taken in the High Court by some person who considered that he was suffeering an injustice by South Australia having greater representation than the Constitution allows to it. It seems to me that the point in dispute in this instance is a narrow one. I dissent entirely from the contention of Senator Johnston that we have the right to consider what the representation of the different parts of South Australia should be under the proposed redistribution. As the case is presented to us we have only one thing to do, and that is to try to settle the matter in accordance with what the Constitution provides. The Constitutional provision is short and simple -
The House of Representatives shall he composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the Senators.
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall until tho Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner: -
Too much stress has been laid upon the words “ until Parliament otherwise provides “. It should be noted that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. Parliament cannot alter that. It is only the method of determining what is the number of the people that Parliament has been allowed to provide. It has so provided in the Representation Act. I do not propose to challenge the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer, based on the census statistics, or the finding of the commissioners who re-distributed the electorates. I accept their recommendations. I take it that they have recommended a distribution in proportion to the respective numbers of the people of the States. We do not need to complicate matters by going further into the Representation Act or Section 24 of the Constitution. We have obtained expert guidance to ensure that the number of members allotted to the State of South Australia is in proportion to the numbers of its people. I do not think that we need to go one iota beyond that. If someone can show that there is something wrong in the calculations made by the Commonwealth Statistician action could be taken only under the Representation Act. The census enumerator and the Chief Electoral Officer have shown that South Australia is entitled to only six members. We all may sympathize with South Australia in that respect, but we have no right to wrest the Constitution from its plain words merely because wc think it is unfortunate that at this time one of the le3S populous States is to be deprived of one of its members. The other question raised by Senator Johnston ib totally different ; it deals with the redistribution of boundaries by the commissioners. I support the motion, not because of any lack of sympathy with South Australia, but because the plain words of the Constitution require that what is proposed shall be done.
– I oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate with respect to the proposed redistribution of South Australia. It would appear that the legal authorities consulted are not prepared to say definitely that South Australia cannot constitutionally retain its present representation, in the House of Representatives. That being so, South Australia should be permitted to retain its present representation, and the matter could later be settled by the High Court.
– It might settle a number of other things at the same time.
– In what way?
– It has been suggested that the Parliament might be illegally elected and that any acts passed by it would be invalid.
– That difficulty could be overcome by holding another election on the boundaries proposed by the distribution commissioners. Although South Australia is at a disadvantage under the proposed redistribution, some other State may be similarly affected when the next redistribution is made. South Australia has few secondary industries, is very heavily taxed, and, generally speaking, suffers greater disabilities than the more populous States of the Commonwealth, and for that reason should he given the benefit of any doubt which may exist. Senator Brennan proposes to vote for the motion because he thinks that a Parliament elected on the existing boundaries would be unconstitutional. If an election is held on the proposed boundaries South Australia will suffer a great injustice. If the objection is merely technical, we should endeavour to make the position legally right. South Australia has suffered many disadvantages under federation. This redistribution scheme is another disability that has been placed upon the people of that State. Senator Brennan quoted a number of legal opinions bearing on the constitutional difficulties that might arise following the rejection of the motion, but his authorities were not sure how the High Court would decide the point. Neither are we. If we reject the motion, South Australia will retain its seven members in the House of Representatives for the time being. If objection is raised later, the matter can be settled by the High Court. Whatever the decision,, I am sure the people of Australia will see that the right thing is done in the future.
[5,5]. - The opposition to the motion appears to be divided into two classes. There are those, who, like Senator O’Halloran, would reject the redistribution proposals because they are desirous of retaining seven members in the House of Representatives for South Australia. The Government, and those who support it, desire that too, if it can be shown that it; will not be an infringement of the Constitution. Strangely enough, those honorable senators who are opposed to the motion would reject it for totally different reasons. Senator O’Halloran and one other, Senator Rae, I believe, object to this redistribution for South Australia, because it gives a preponderance of voting power to rural constituencies. Senator O’Halloran quoted figures to show that the electoral population of the extra-metropolitan divisions will be many thousands below that of the metropolitan, divisions. That margin, I remind the honorable gentleman, is provided for in the Representation Act, which gives the commissioners authority to vary, within certain limits, the quotas for the various divisions. In this case they have done so. That appears to be a ground for objection by Labour senators, who intend to vote against the motion in company with Senator Johnston, who opposes it because it means the extinction of a rural constituency in South Australia. Thus we have the two extremes joined in their opposition to the motion. I cannot see how they can reconcile their differing points of view, but apparently they will when the division is taken. Senator Duncan-Hughes deplores the loss of a member by South Australia. He recognizes that there is some risk in rejecting the redistribution proposals, although he does not, like his colleague, Senator Hoare, jauntily advise the Senate to let the High Court put the matter right. When he came to that part of his argument, the honorable gentleman trod very warily; but like Senator Hoare, he is prepared to risk an invalid election. Senator Johnston said that the AttorneyGeneral, in stating the constitutional objections to the rejection of the proposals, was not very definite. The AttorneyGeneral was not giving- judgment, but I think he was fairly definite. This is what he said -
On the existing figures, it ds not possible to save the seventh member for South Australia, and still observe this provision of the Constitution.
He was indefinite only when he was discussing the possibility of the enforcement of a .penalty, but he stated clearly tha* rejection of the proposals would be in contravention of the Constitution, saying -
Honorable members may ask what would happen if Parliament elected not- to observe this provision. On that point, I am not prepared to give the House an absolute opinion. It is sufficient to say that it is at least open to serious question whether the Parliament would be validly elected if this provision were ignored.
Sir Robert Garran also was definite enough. He expressed the view that the rejection of the proposals would be a non-observance of the Constitution, and there would be doubt as to the validity of the election. Mr. E. M. Mitchell, K.C., expressed a similar view, and his indication of the remedy which might be applied by the Governor-General is enough to give all members of Parliament the cold shivers. The GovernorGeneral, he said, could -
Dissolve Parliament and keep on dissolving Parliament until a Parliament was elected which was willing to obey the Constitution.
That, I remind honorable senators, is the risk Senator Hoare so blithely invites us to take by rejecting these proposals. I, however, suggest that all honorable senators will vote on this motion with tome sense of their responsibilities. Disagreeable as the duty may be - because the carrying of the motion will deprive South Australia of a member in the House of Representatives - they will support the Government’s proposal to comply with the demands of the Constitution.
Question - That the motion be agreed to- put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Questionso resolved in the affirmative.
Proposals for Redistribution ofnew South Wales.
Debate resumed from the 11th July (vide page 372), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions, as proposed by Messrs V. F. Turner, H. B. Mathews, and C. H.U. Todd, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of June,1934; and that the names of the divisions, including the substitution of the name “ Watson “ for the name “ South Sydney “, suggested in the report, be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposals for Redistribution of Queensland
Debate resumed from the 11th July (vide page 371), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions, as proposed by Messrs. J. E. Stewart, J. P. Harvey and R. Anthony, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of June,1934; and that the names of the divisions suggested in . the report be adopted, with the exception that the name “ Griffith “ be substituted for the name “ Oxley “.
Question resolvedin the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 4th July (vide page 151), on motion by Senator Sir Harry Lawson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 verbally amended, and as amended agreed to.
Clauses 32 to 41 agreed to.
Clause 42 (Report of dangers to navigation).
[5.18]. - I ask honorable senators to negative this clause, and insert in its place a new clause which has been circulated. The clause as at present drafted uses the term “ prescribed wireless call “. It has been pointed out by the Board of Trade that the correct description under article 22 of the General Radio-Communication Regulations of Madrid, is “ safety signal “. The clause has been recast accordingly, and the term “ prescribed safety signal “ is employed, instead of the phrase “ prescribed wireless call “.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Habxy Lawson) agreed to -
That the following now clause be inserted: - “42. Section two hundred andsixty-nine a of the principal act is amended - (a)by omitting from paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) the words “the wireless danger call specified in Schedule IV. to this Act, followed, as provided in that Schedule,” and inserting in their stead the words “ the prescribed safetv signal, followed”;
by omitting from sub-section (2.) the words “ wireless danger call “ and inserting in their stead the words “prescribed safety signal”;
by omitting from sub-section (4.) the words “ the wireless distress call specified in Schedule IV. to this Act.” and inserting in their stead the words “any signal of distress by wireless telegraphy.”;and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - (6.) The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters necessary or convenient to be prescribed for the carrying out or giving effect to the provisions of this section and of Articles 34 and 44 (so far as the last-mentioned refers to safety messages) of the Safety Convention and of RegulationXLVI. of the Regulations annexed thereto, relating to the report of dangers to navigation.’ “.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 43 to 45 agreed to.
Clause 46 -
After schedule V. of the principal act the following schedules are added: -
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
[5.22]. - I move -
That all the words after “sea”, first occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following foot-note: -
Note. - This annex to the convention for the safety of life at sea contains the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea, together with the amendments which the contracting parties to the convention agree are desirable (see Article 40 supra). As the amendments have not been made at the date of tha enactment of this schedule, the regulations appearing in Annex II. of the convention are not reproduced.
This amendment provides for the omission of the whole of Annex. II. in Schedule VI. This annex, contains a draft of the international regulations preventing collisions at sea in the amended form suggested by the conference on safety of life at sea. Article 40 of this convention sets out that the contracting governments agree that the alterations of the regulations shown in Annex II. “ are desirable and ought to be made “. It was left to the British Government to negotiate with the other governments which had accepted the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea in regard to the adoption of those suggestions. Their adoption is, however, not mandatory under the convention. It may happen that the amendments to the collision regulations will not be adopted by the nations in the form suggested, and as set out in Annex II. It is therefore undesirable that the draft of the regulations, as amended, should be included ia the act, owing to the possibility that shipmasters and officers will acceptthe text of the regulations, as printed in the act, as authentic. Also, if, as is very probable, there are substantial differences between this draft and the regulations as finally adopted by the maritime powers, such misapprehension might very well affect the proper navigation of shipping, constituting a danger not only to the ship concerned, but also to other vessels moving in the vicinity. It is accordingly proposed that Annex II. be omitted, and that the footnote be inserted. The Imperial Parliament has not included this annex, and it is not desirable that we should insert it in the bill at this stage. Provision can be made for its inclusion later when an agreement has been arrived at.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 11 of 1934 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 12 of 1934 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 13 of 1934 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union ; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 14 of 1934. - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Commonwealth Parliament has now been legislating for nearly 34 years; during that period it has passed 1,304 bills. While a great deal of that legislation is of a permanent and lasting character, obviously much of it is necessarily of a temporary nature. Each year, certain supply acts and appropriation acts, the operation of which is restricted to that particular year, are passed ; and from time to time other legislation which is designed to meet a temporary set of circumstances as, for example, certain of our war-time measures, or is restricted in its operation to a specified period, as are some of our bounty acts, is enacted.For over twelve months, the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department have been engaged on the task of preparing a consolidated reprint of Commonwealth acts, and have noted a large amount of obsolete matter. The issue of a reprint which omitted that obsolete matter, not all of which is readily apparent, would not be a faithful reprint of all the laws in force, whereas to include it would be to militate against the value of the publication. I feel sure that honorable senators will agree that the removal of obsolete matter from the statute-book must necessarily tend to clarify our laws, and make them more readily comprehensible.
In England for many years, it has been customary for the Parliament to pass, from time to time, a statute law revision act to repeal, not only acts which have become obsolete, but also the obsolete portions of acts which are very much alive. The latest of these revising measures passed by the Imperial Parliament is the Statute Law Revision Act 1927, and the general scheme of the bill now before the Senate is largely modelled on that act.
This measure is designed to repeal all acts which have become obsolete; to amend other acts by repealing obsolete provisions contained therein; to make certain consequential amendments which are rendered necessary or desirable either by that repeal or because of the march of events since their enactment; and finally, in a few isolated instances, to correct errors which have inadvertently crept into our legislation. In considering the effect of this bill, honorable senators should keep in mind throughout the provisions of section 8 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1932, which deals with the effect of the repeal of any act. In brief, that section provides that the repeal of any act shall not (a) revive anything not in force at the time at which the repeal takes effect; (b) affect anything done or suffered to be done under the repealed act; (c) affect any right, privilege, obligation, or liability acquired, accrued, or incurred under that act; (d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence against that act; (e) or affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, or liability, penalty, forfeiture, or punishment.
A comprehensive measure such as this is essentially one for discussion in committee. It would be futile to attempt a review of its contents on a secondreading motion. Nevertheless, in view of the somewhat unusual structure of the bill, and the fact that this is the first statute law revision bill ever introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament, I feel that I should briefly explain its arrangement. It is usual when amending an act to provide for the manner in which that act, as amended, may be cited. This bill follows that practice, but as it amends so many acts, the object is sought to be achieved or arranging the acts to be amended in the first coinmn of the npt schedule, anc (specifying thi- new citation in the second column .Subclause (2.) of clause 1 sup plies” the necessary ? enacting words. Clause i in conjunction with the second, third, and fourth schedules comprises iiic greater portion of the bill. All the acta enumerated in the first schedule are to be -open led. These acts are grouped into seven parts solely for the purpose of facilitating their examination and consideration. In part 1 are all the supply au’.s passed by the Parliament up to and including those of last vear. As honorable senators are aware, every supply act contains a section limiting its operation to the period in respect of which the Supply is granted. It would be stressing thu obvious for me to assert, that these arts are obsolete. Part 2 of the first schedule consists of appropriation acts, those in division 1 being the annual appropriations which, by virtue of section 3i3 of the Audit. Act 1B01-.1926, lapse al the end of the financial year in respect of which the appropriation is made. The acts contained in division 2 arc also appropriations though this is not in every instance’ apparent from the short title. Such is. however, the case. Section 38 of the Audit Act does not apply to these acts so as to make the appropriations lapse; but that point is immaterial, for in every instance the appropriation made has been applied in the manner directed by the act. In part 3 are acts,, conveniently headed “ validating acts “ which respectively, validate something done prior to their enactment.’ Honorable senators will note the proviso to sub-clause (1) of clause 2 designed to guard against any possible suggestion that the repeal of the validating acts may affect any act made valid thereby.
The acts making grants to States specified in part 4, are similar to those appropriation acts in division 2 of part 2; moneys were appropriated for the purpose of making grants to specified States and in each instance have been paid to those States. Nothing more remains to be done, and the acts, having served their purpose, may he repealed. Part 5 deals with acts which authorized the raising of loans by the Commonwealth, and appropriated the proceeds for expenditure on certain objects. Tha loons have been raised, and either the money hai been spent or the appropriation has lapsed under subsequent legislation. Nothing authorized by the acts, therefore, remains to be done. AH tha acts in part 6 provided for the payment of a bounty during a limited period which has now expired. Part 7 contains a heterogeneous collection of obsolete acts which cannot be grouped under any of the foregoing heading?.
The portions of the acts specified in the third schedule not already repealed are by sub-clause 2 of clause 2 to be repealed. Prima facie it would appear that all th.->.se acts have already been repealed, but in fact certain formal parts of them have not. I take the first group as an example. Thu Australian Notes Act 1910-1914 comprised the Australian Notes Act 1910 as amended by the acts of 1911 and 1914. When, however, the Commonwealth Bank Act repealed the Australian Notes Act 1910-1914, it repealed the Australian Notes Act 1914 as amended by the two amending acts. But it did not repeal those portions of the two amending acts which did not amend the principal act; for example, the enacting words and the short title and citation sections. Hence the inclusion of the two amending acts in the third schedule.’ So far I have dealt only with acts, the whole of which are to he repealed. The fourth schedule deals with acts which are not to be repealed, but which it is proposed to Amend by repealing obsolete provisions and, in some instances, by substituting other provisions which are necessary or desirable. Opportunity has bean takes also to rectify a few isolated errors. A closer examination of the provisions of this schedule must necessarily remain for the committee stages of the bill. It is believed, however, that “ the fourth schedule proposes to effect no substantive amendment in the law.
The fifth schedule, in conjunction with clause 3 of the bill, proposes to repeal all the annual Income Tax Acts which regularly impose the rate of tax. A suitable proviso is added to clause 3 to obviate any suggestion that the commissioner cannot, by reason of the repeal of the rates acts, now issue an assessment in cases where, but for such repeal, an assessment would have been issued. Clauses 5 to 8 are also designed to repeal obsolete acts, but have been included in the body of the bill rather than in the schedule in order to permit of the insertion of suitable provisos to guard against any effect which may result from the repeal owing to the possibility that section 8 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1932 may not be wholly sufficient. Care is taken by clause 9 to ensure that these provisos shall not be construed as limiting the application of that section. The only other clause calling for special mention is clause 4, the effect of which is readily apparent. It adds to the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913-1920 a schedule which has always been considered to belong to that act, but which, in fact, owing wholly to inadvertence, was left as a schedule to the amending act of 1920, instead of as a schedule to the principal act.
I have no hesitation in commending this bill to honorable senators. I assure them that it contains nothing that can in any way be. regarded as contentious. Indeed, I think I may say that it makes no amendment of the law which may be regarded as of a substantive character. Undoubtedly, it will be necessary to examine the provisions of the measure more closely in committee, and I shall then be happy to supply any information which honorable senators may desire regarding it.I hope that the bill will be given a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Brennan) adjourned.
Motion (by. Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 24th July, 1934, at 3 p.m.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have received a letter expressing the thanks of Mrs.Kneebone and family forthe resolution of sympathy passed by the Senate in connexion withthe death of ex-Senator Henry Kneebone.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1934.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934.
Senate adjourned at5.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 July 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1934/19340712_senate_13_144/>.