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Thursday, 10 June 1915

Senator KEATING - Whether formal permission was obtained I cannot say.

Senator Millen - That is my whole point.

Senator KEATING - I know the Bill was drafted and prepared by the Secretary to the then representatives of the Government, who had had some experience of the law of divorce in New South Wales. I know, also, that during the earlier Governments of the Commonwealth the Secretary to the representatives of the Government in the Senate was in the habit of drafting amendments for honorable senators, irrespective of what the views of the Government were with regard to any particular proposal for amendment.

Senator Millen - More often than not when the Government were prepared to extend a friendly welcome to the amendment.

Senator KEATING - When 1 was ia office for over three years the Secretary invariably rendered assistance to private members who desired to move amendments, irrespective of the views of the Government. The Government felt that if a private member desired to submit an amendment, and if the sense of the Senate were with him, the amendment should be placed in the Bill in proper form. It was thought to be in the interests of the Government and the Senate that every amendment to a Bill, even if carried against the Government, should be in proper form. That was the motive underlying the reasons for making that assistance available. I agree with what Senator Millen has said, that this work is properly within the province of a parliamentary draftsman, if we had such an official, but one individual could not be in attendance simultaneously upon both Houses. It so happens that from the first we have made the Secretary 7to the Attorney-General's Department the Parliamentary Draftsman, and he appears in the Estimates as Secretary to the Department and the Parliamentary Draftsman. I have long held the view that Mr. Garran has too much work for any single individual, and it would be desirable if there were a Parliamentary Draftsman's Department, as a sub-Department of the AttorneyGeneral's Department, with the Parliamentary Draftsman in control, and a staff of one or two draftsmen to assist him. We could then have one officer constantly in attendance in the Senate during the session. In the recess the time of these officers would not be fully occupied with parliamentary draftsmanship, but there are other duties in the office of the AttorneyGeneral or Crown Solicitor which they could be called upon to discharge. The officer who occupies the joint position of Secretary to the Attorney-General and Parliamentary Draftsman is subject to an enormous strain, and carries a great responsibility in connexion with other work as well as draftsmanship. He is expected to keep in touch at one time with a variety of different subjects, and I suppose that there is not another official in the Commonwealth whose mind, in the waking hours of the twenty-four during a parliamentary session, has to switch itself on and off such a variety of matters with such rapidity as is the case with Mr. Garran. That we have in him a most efficient officer is undoubted. We have had excellent service from him, and if at any time there has been some suggestion of faultiness in measures submitted, in view of what the Parliamentary Draftsman has been called upon to do, it is not to be wondered at. Considering the vast variety ""of subjects dealt with in our legislation, notwithstanding the limited ambit of our powers, I think the time has arrived when we should have permanently attached to the Senate during the session an officer who would be free to give his undivided attention during the sittings of Parliament to the requirements of honorable senators who desire amendments to measures under consideration to be submitted in proper form.

Senator Pearce - There would not be enough of that work to occupy an officer's undivided attention.

Senator KEATING - I am suggesting that he should give his undivided attention to such matters during the actual sittings of the Senate. It seems to me that an officer of the Attorney-General's Department might be present during sittings of the Senate to give attention to this work. There would, of course, be occasions when measures such as that now under consideration were being dealt with, and in connexion with which it was not likely that any amendments involving a knowledge of draftsmanship would be suggested. A Supply Bill may occupy the time of the Senate for one or two days, and on such occasions the officer would not be required to give his attendance. But as soon as the Senate entered upon the consideration of a measure like the Insurance Bill, or the Bankruptcy Bill, he could be immediately summoned and his services availed of. I think that too much work is cast upon the Parliamentary Draftsman. Had Senator Stewart approached the Secretary to the representatives of the Government in the Senate, the drafting of the amendment he desired to submit would have been facilitated. I have given my experience, and it is that various members of the Senate have been in the habit of availing themselves of the services of the Secretary to the representatives of the Government in the Senate for the purpose for which Senator Stewart sought assistance from Mr. Garran.

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