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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- I know the fondness of Senator St. Ledger for constitutional discussions. They are like the bread of life to him. I do not blame the honorable senator, because he must make a reputation somehow, and he might as well make it in this way as in any other. No such doubt as the honorable senator has raised exists in my mind, because, on reading the Constitution, I find that, under section 109, where the laws of a State come into conflict with the laws of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth laws are to prevail. If the Commonwealth has the power to impose a land tax, and a State Parliament has the power to impose a similar tax, or to deal with the land in any other way, and State laws affecting land come into conflict with the Commonwealth law imposing a land tax, which is to prevail? Does not the Constitution say that the Commonwealth law shall prevail? If there is a doubt on the question, who is to settle it? Not Senator St. Ledger, thank God, but the High Court. I am satisfied that the High Court will settle the doubt raised in this connexion in accordance with section 109 of the Constitution. I cannot see how it could be settled in any other way. Every one must acknowledge that where the sovereignty of the Commonwealth and of the States come into conflict, one must prevail. Under the Constitution, it is the sovereignty of the Commonwealth that must prevail, and I am quite prepared to leave the decision of the matter to the High Court.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 55 to 58 agreed to.

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