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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) - - I appeal to the Committee not to make the proposed alteration. Obviously, if the amendment be merely a drafting amendment - and that is the plea which has been put forward - if it be opposed by the Minister who is in charge of the Bill, honorable senators ought to pause.

Senator Rae - He agreed to the amendment.

Senator PEARCE - I understand that he is opposed to it. The Minister in charge of the Bill is opposing the amendment on the advice of his draftsman. Surely honorable senators ought to accept that advice rather than the counsel of others who cannot be so fully in touch with the draftsmanship of the Bill as are the legal officers of the Department.

Senator Sayers - That is a nice statement to make.

Senator PEARCE - I expressly limited my remarks to an amendment which is put forward as a drafting amendment.

Senator Millen - There is much more than draftsmanship involved.

Senator PEARCE - This Bill conforms to the practice which has been adopted by the Parliamentary Draftsman in Bills dealing with similar matters.

Senator Sayers - Give us a case.

Senator PEARCE - The same practice was adopted in the Patents Bill, the Trade Marks and Designs Bill, the Navigation Bill, the Quarantine Bill, and the Lighthouses Bill. Indeed, in almost any Bill that the honorable senator chooses to look at, he will find that a similar practice is followed. Senator Millen' has stated that if this definition be deleted the administration of the measure will come automatically under the Minister of External Affairs. It is quite accidental that under the regulations which were gazetted the administration of the Territories of the Commonwealth was put under that Minister. But if this definition be left out it will be quite competent for the Government from time to time to alter that arrangement as they think fit.

Senator Millen - That is just what we want to enable them to do.

Senator PEARCE - The mere designation " Minister for External Affairs " does not mean that certain matters shall come under his control. It is wise in this measure to decide which Department shall administer the Northern Territory. That course has been pursued in practically all the legislation which we have passed. Why should we begin to adopt a new system of drafting at this juncture? No reason has been given why a departure should be made, and I therefore appeal to the Committee to give to the Minister the benefit of any doubt they have.

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