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REFERENDUM (CONSTITUTION ALTERATION) AMENDMENT BILL 1983

The Senate, according to Order, resolved itself into Committee for the consideration of Message No. 183 of the House of Representatives.

In the Committee

Message read. SCHEDULE OF THE AMENDMENT MADE BY THE SENATE TO WHICH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS DISAGREED No. 4-Page 4, after clause 5, insert the following new clause: ''5A. Section 6A of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: '(3) No moneys shall be expended by the Commonwealth in respect of the presentation of the argument in favour of, or the argument against, a proposed law other than in respect of- (a) the publication of the pamphlet referred to in this section and any translation into other languages which may be authorized and advertised by the Chief Australian Electoral Officer; or

(b) meeting travelling, accommodation or other ordinary expenses of members of the Parliament, including Ministers, that are lawfully payable by the Commonwealth.'.''.

Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to Senate Amendment No. 4 Amendment 4 is not acceptable because, subject to very limited exceptions, it would prevent the expenditure of any public moneys in respect of the presentation of arguments for or against any proposal put forward to amend the Constitution.

In the case of the proposed alterations to the Constitution now under consideration it is proper for the Government to expend public moneys to provide positive support for the proposed laws which is supplementary to, and not in substitution for, the formal 'yes/no' pamphlets to be distributed by the Australian Electoral Office. The proposed laws embody changes- which have both Government and Opposition support in the Parliament;

which have been supported unanimously or by significant cross-party majorities in the Australian Constitutional Convention.

An additional reason for not agreeing to the amendment is that no comparable limitation applies, or is proposed to be applied, in relation to expenditure of public moneys by any of the States in respect of the presentation of arguments for or against proposed laws to alter the Constitution. The amendment in question would prevent any response at the Federal level to correct or answer arguments publicly funded from State sources.

The Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) moved-That the Committee does not insist on the Amendment of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.

Debate ensued.

Question-put.

The Committee divided-

AYES, 25

Senators- Bolkus Button Childs Coates Coleman Colston Cook Crowley Elstob Evans, Gareth Foreman Georges Giles Grimes Hearn Jones (Teller) Maguire Primmer Ray, Robert Reynolds Ryan Sibraa Tate Walsh Zakharov

NOES, 29

Senators- Archer Baume Bjelke-Petersen Boswell Carrick, Sir John Chaney Chipp Collard Crichton-Browne Durack Evans, Jack Guilfoyle, Dame Margaret Hamer Harradine Hill Jessop Kilgariff (Teller) Lajovic Lewis Macklin Martin Mason Messner Missen Reid Scott Townley Walters Watson And so it was negatived. Amendment insisted on accordingly. Resolution to be reported.

The President resumed the Chair; and the Chairman of Committees (Senator Hamer) reported that the Committee had considered Message No. 183 of the House of Representatives with reference to the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Amendment Bill 1983 and had resolved to insist on the Amendment of the Senate to which the House of Representatives had disagreed.

On the motion of Senator Gareth Evans the Report from the Committee was adopted.