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Thursday, 26 November 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) . - by leave - In consequence of the vote carried yesterday, I waited upon the Governor-General this morning, and tendered him the advice contained in the following letter : - 26th November, 1931.

Your Excellency,

I beg to inform youthat yesterday a motion for the adjournment ofthe House was carried against the Government, by a majority of five, bya combination of the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the group led by Mr. Beasley.

I formally advise Your Excellency to grant a dissolution of the House of Representatives.

I may add that, the Appropriation Bill havingbeen passed, financial provision has been made for carryingon the public services for the financial year.

I have the honour to be, Your Excellency's most obedient servant,

J.   H.Scullin, Prime Minister.

His Excellency's reply, which has just reached me, reads as follows : -

Government House, Canberra, 26th November, 1931.

My dear Prime Minister,

In acknowledging receipt of your letter of the 26th November, 1931, I have to say that, in view of the present constitutional position of the Governor-General of a dominion, as determined by the Imperial Conference of 1920, confirmed by that of 1930, I am of opinion, after careful consideration, that it is my duty in existing circumstances to accept the advice tendered by you and accordingly to grant the dissolution asked for. I note that parliamentary provision has already been made for carrying on the necessary public services.

For the principles upon which I act I make reference to various works by Professor Berriedale Keith, in which passages occur relating to the duty of a Governor-General in such a case as the present. In his Responsible Government in the Dominions (1928), at pages 147 and 148. there is a passage beginning: " Mr. King then very properly advised Lord Byng . . . ", and ending with the words " political realities ". In his work, The Sovereignty of the British Dominions (August, 1929), I refer to pages 244-246, and especially to the passage on page245 beginning: "There is, in fact, no dominion tradition comparable . . ", and ending, " conform to British practice". Lastly, in, I believe, his latest work, Dominion Autonomy in Practice (September, 1929), there is a passage at page 5 where, afterquoting the resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1926, the learned author says: " The essential result of this pronouncement, which is inapplicable to the States or Provinces, is to require the GovernorGeneral to assimilate his official action to that of the King in the United Kingdom. It does not mean thathe is deprived of all authority to refuse to act on ministerial advice, for if, for instance, after oneunsuccesful dissolution Ministers asked him to grant another,he would clearly be bound to refuse thus to violate the Constitution. But it means thathe should, save in extreme crises, accept the advice of Ministers, as readily as did the King in 1024, when he dissolved Parliament at the request ofMr.Ramsay MacDonald without trying to find an alternative government ".

Even apart from the practice recognized by the Imperial Conference of1926, there are considerations in the known circumstances which tend to support the acceptance of the advice tendered to me. They are such as the strength and relation of various parties in the House ofRepresentatives and the probability in anycase of an early election being necessary.

Yours faithfully,

Governor -General.

Mr LATHAM (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) - I take it that eighteen senators will also retire, and an election will be held to fill their places.


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