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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Senator MAUGHAN (QUEENSLAND) - You do not suggest that there is passion behind these referenda proposals, do you?

Senator KEATING - I am saying that in these matters we do not appeal to the passions of the people, but to the constitutional tribunals. I am saying that because some honorable senators sometimes seem to be impatient in regard to the High Court, if its decisions show that we have exceeded the limits of our legislative power.

Senator Maughan - We never used words towards the High Court such as some Liberals used towards Mr. Justice Higgins.

Senator KEATING - It will be for that constitutional tribunal to determine the meaning of these amendments should they pass into law. Now these amendments, as I said last night, would have been drafted by a responsible officer to the Minister; in all probability the same draftsman who drafted the legislation which Senator Findley last night said has been successfully called into question in the High Court. If that be so, I think we cannot do better than, in applying ourselves to the amendments of the Constitution, to take it up as a national work, and not as a work of a party. If we cannot have a Convention, first of all, to ascertain and report to this Parliament, I think this Parliament should devote a session to this important work, freed from any other matters, and if it finds that it can see the means of doing so legitimately, it should even invite to its assistance outside authority of a competent character. I have nothing more to say in regard to these amendments, except to thank honorable senators for their courtesy and attention in listening to me.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Will you tell us exactly what the position would be if sub-clause 2 of proposed new section 51a were eliminated from the Bill relating to the nationalization of monopolies.

Senator KEATING - I do not think, if it were eliminated, the authority of the State to exercise' what has been called the power of eminent domain would be affected. I do not think that any of the amendments will touch that. It is a power inherent in the States, and it will remain whether the amendments are made or not.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That means, then, that it does not matter whether it is left in or taken out?

Senator KEATING - No; that amendment does not cure the position, but, if anything, it strengthens a position such as that of New South Wales.

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