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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I have listened very carefully to Senator Keating's remarks. They go to show that his main objection is not to being asked to vote for the Bill introduced somewhat hurriedly, but to the manner in which it has been introduced. As a layman, I am unable to see that he has put forward any solid reason why a short statement summarizing the main contents of the Bill read by Senator Pearce is in any way unusual. As a matter of fact, the practice saves time, and in a brief way conveys to honorable senators what the purport of the Bill under consideration is.

Senator de Largie - And Senator Keating, as a Minister, often did the same thing.

Senator Keating - Never once; nor did any colleague of mine either.

Senator FINDLEY - One would think that such a course had never previously been followed in the Senate, but, so far as I can recollect, nearly every Minister, in introducing measures, has from time to time relied to a certain extent upon his departmental officers for explanatory notes in regard to intricate provisions of a Bill. I do not think that I need make an exception, even in the case of Senator Keating.

Senator Keating - I never did it once; nor did any colleague of mine when I was a Minister.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator and his colleagues were wonderful men. I remember the three colleagues of a one-time Liberal Government in this Senate. They did, of course, what the members of no other Government did. They introduced measures without any reference to notes from departmental heads.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! I find no reference to the matter the honorable senator is discussing in the Bill now before the Senate. If the honorable senator desires to speak on the second reading of the Bill, he should confine himself to its subject-matter, and should not refer to the practice adopted by the Courts in the interpretation of Statutes.

Senator FINDLEY - Senator Keatingendeavoured to show that what Senator Pearce did was something unusual, and he made a protest against it. He expressed the hope that the practice would not be followed in the future. Becoming retrospective, a moment ago he said that this had never been done in the past by himself or his colleagues.

The PRESIDENT - I allowed Senator Keating to make a very lengthy reference to the subject with which he dealt, although I did not consider it exactly relevant to the Bill. I have permitted Senator Findley to make a reference to the same matter to an extent I considered warranted by the latitude allowed Senator Keating. Beyond that, I say that the discussion on the Bill should proceed in the form of a debate as to its merits or demerits. Honorable senators have complained that they have not sufficient time to discuss the Bill ; but, instead of utilizing the time they have for the purpose, they are wasting time, and squabbling amongst themselves about the practice adopted by the Courts in the interpretation of Statutes.

Senator FINDLEY - I am glad, sir, that you read the " Riot Act " to Senator Keating before I rose. My only reason for rising was to refer to the attitude adopted by Senator Keating, and his objection to the reading by Senator Pearce of a summary of the contents of the Bill, prepared, probably, by one who is thoroughly familiar with its provisions. Speaking seriously, with regard to the honorable senator's second protest, I agree that it is regrettable that at the eleventh hour of the session a Bill containing so many important provisions should be introduced, as honorable senators have not the time to give them the serious consideration they deserve.

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