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Friday, 3 August 1906

Mr DEAKIN -The procedure, although it may appear to be purely formal, is rather important, because it arises out of a very extraordinary attempt on the part of a municipal body to establish a political precedent of a most improper character. The right of criticism exists in every citizen of the Commonwealth, and no meeting, however small, which has representations to make, either as to the conduct of Federal business or the administration of the Federal Departments, is unworthy of notice. On the contrary, it is entitled to consideration. But when a number of citizens, who are appointed under State laws for the transaction of municipal business, meet, not simply as citizens of the Commonwealth, but as a municipal council, they are, in my opinion, disqualified while discharging those functions from expressing any opinion upon the administration of the Public Service. If that were not so, not only would the municipal council be justified1 in criticising the Public Sendee of the State, but, naturally, the State Legislature would l» entitled ' to express an opinion as to the manner in which the council treated its employes. In the same way, if the Municipal Council of Fremantle were to bc permitted to criticise the Public Service of !he Commonwealth, we should lie justi fied in criticising their methods of discharging their municipal functions. Under such conditions, we might 'have a number of bodies, large and small, neglecting their own business for which they were elected in order to devote their time to the discussion of each other's methods, without my advantage to the public. Therefore, whilst we recognise the fullest right of criticism on the part of every citizen of the Commonwealth, we cannot admit any right in a municipal body, as such, to review the policy of the Commonwealth or the administration of its Departments in any particular. We are responsible only to the electors, and not to such of them as happen to bc municipal councillors. There is some legal connexion between the State Legislature and the local bodies which arc brought into being under legislation passed by it ; but between these creations of State laws and this Legislature there is no possible relation, and no possible scope for mutual criticism. I did not desire to treat the resolution passed by the Fremantle Municipal Council contemptuously, and, therefore, wrote, in the first place, simply acknowledging the communion lion, and on the second occasion setting it aside. I had hoped that the resolution had been passed merely by accident, and that, upon reconsideration, the Fremantle Council would desire the matter to rest. Inasmuch, however, as it h-ss now been brought before Parliament, T trust that it w'11 bc recognised that the Commonwealth. although it owes the fullest responsibility to all its citizens, can acknowledge none to municipal councils, as such, nor to arnot her bodies constituted for local government purposes, nor even to the State Legislatures creatin.11 them.

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