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Thursday, 3 November 1910

Senator STEWART (Queensland) - - I must insist, in the interest of good legislation, upon having an explanation in connexion with the matter that I have mentioned.

Senator Givens - No explanation may be possible.

Senator STEWART - It ought to be possible. We have had too much of this slip-shod legislation from every Government, and members of Parliament have sat under it like a lot of sheep.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - With the exception of one Government.

Senator STEWART - I said "every Government;" the honorable senator can make an exception if he pleases. I do not profess to understand the jargon of Acts of Parliament. I think that they ought to be couched in as plain English as possible. I wish to know whether clause 9 comes into conflict with clause 11 as amended. That is a question which a layman may fairly ask.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator surely does not expect any Government to give a candid answer to that question.

Senator STEWART - I should not expect it from some Governments, but I do expect the present Government to be candid and honest above everything. My experience with regard to Acts of Parliament has convinced me that they are drawn up by lawyers in the interests of lawyers, and that nobody else can understand them. Each Act is capable of as many interpretations as a text in Scripture. Accordingly, nearly every section - one might say nearly every phrase in every section - gives rise to numberless opinions, suits, and disputes, and pours out cash and credit for the benefit of members of the legal profession. I desire to do away with that sort of thing as much as possible. I think that lawyers might be far more usefully employed than they are.

Senator St Ledger - They are like kings ; off with their heads !

Senator STEWART - Yes, off with their heads; or, rather, put a plough into their hands and let them till the soil instead of promoting litigation. Of course, if the Government cannot give any explanation I shall have to sit down and be content to let the thing take its course.

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