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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

Mr McEWEN (Indi) (2:27 AM) .The bill is now in a form in which, no doubt, having regard to the numerical strength of the ministerial party, it will be passed and submitted to the people. This is probably the first occasion on which a proposal will be submitted to the people for an alteration of the Constitution in a form which, if- it be carried at the referendum, is certain to result in appeals to the court in respect of its interpretation. Therefore, I take this opportunity to protest against the action of the Government in attempting to write such a proposal into the Constitution. A statute is comparatively easy to amend, but it is notoriously difficult to alter the Constitution, because such alteration can only be effected after, the proposal in question has become a great public issue. As this proposal is drafted in ambiguous language, or language calculated to invite challenge, it is certain to result in a number of challenges which we know are extraordinarily expensive to engage in. I believe that towards the conclusion of the debate in committee, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) was endeavouring to meet the objections raised 'by honorable members on this side with respect to interpretation.

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