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Thursday, 6 May 1920

Mr LAZZARINI (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But this Constitution requirement trusts only a section of the people. It allows of certain interests being so manipulated, particularly in the smaller States, that legitimate desires of the people can be frustrated. We, therefore, stand for the abolition of the Senate and for the abolition of this requirement in the Constitution.

Doubtless everybody realizes the necessity for decentralization. Some of our honorable friends say that the proposals of the Labour party really amount to Unification, and that we want to centralize everything. Analyzed in its fulness, however, our proposal will be found to make not for centralization, but for the best methods of decentralization possible in Australia.. It seems to me that it is unnecessary to have a written Constitution except to guarantee to the people that no Executive Government, and no organization, military or otherwise, shall ever take from them the right of the native-born to exercise the franchise. Beyond protecting and guaranteeing to the people one or two principles of that kind, the Federal instrument of government should be as free and untrammelled as possible. We all know that the High Court, which is part of the Constitution, has involved the industrial world in a lot of trouble. The same may be said of other features of the Constitution. In placing the hoop-iron bands of a circumscribed Constitution around the aims, aspirations, ideals, and ambitions of a young and growing nation, we are playing with fire. When a people cannot get what they want through legitimate constitutional channels, they will take it by other means. That is a consideration that we must always bear in mind. We should have a Federal Constitution under which the Commonwealth Parliament would be supreme in respect of all national questions. We should give the Federal Parliament authority to delegate to provinces created with due regard to community of interests the necessary administrative and legislative powers for carrying out purely local affairs. If the Commonwealth Parliament were given truly national powers, we should have an end to the farcical railway system under which, because of differing State policies, travellers have to step from one train to another on reaching a State boundary, owing to the break of gauge. When the people know that they have constitutional powers to give full parliamentary expression to their hopes, ideas desires, and ambitions, they will become contented, prosperous, and happy, and the foundations will be laid of a mighty nation. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) spoke of trusting the people. We, too, say, trust the people. But to appoint a Convention to deal with the Constitution behind their backs is not to trust the people. The Convention may be composed of legal gentlemen whose proposals for the amendment of the Constitution will be couched in phraseology hardly to be understood by laymen. And then a hundred different interpretations will be given to them on various platforms, and no one will know what he is being asked to vote for.

Mr Austin Chapman - The electors will vote for men.

Mr LAZZARINI - Then the voting will be strictly on party lines.

Mr Jowett - No. Let the electors vote for good men.

Mr LAZZARINI - What the honorable member might consider a good man, politically speaking, I might consider a very bad one. Honorable members have spoken of the undesirability of dealing with the Constitution in a party spirit, but the object they have is to amend the Constitution which governs our political activities, and that postulates a convention composed of men who will approach their task with political prejudice. I urge the House to seriously consider our proposal. If it were adopted, the day would not be far distant when, to use the words of the advocates of Federation, we should, as one people with one destiny, be giving expression to our wishes in one grand national Parliament,.

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