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Thursday, 30 November 1911

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - May I suggest that if the pressure of public business prevents Senator O'Keefe from proceeding with this question during the present session, my honorable friend should endeavour to obtain from the Government (an assurance that their sympathy io in favour of his motion, and that they will take action in .the matter? lt that were so, the Government might at the next election submit a referendum question to the electors for an alteration of the Constitution to enable Parliament to legislate. The exact form in which the question should be submitted might be safely left to the Government. Having once obtained the power, Parliament could exercise it if and as it chose. I venture to say that if the motion were pressed to a division, that there would be but one opinion as to making some such provision as that moved for. If the Government would give Senator O'Keefe an assurance that they are willing to take the course that has been indicated, he would achieve his object, no matter if the pressure of business crowded out a further discussion of the subject this session. As Senator O'Keefe has said, in reply to interjections, he is not so much concerned about the exact form in which the constitutional amendment is framed, believing that the subject can be safely left to the Government and the Crown Law officers to draft what is required in proper form. They would know exactly what was aimed at. If the people of Australia approved of an alteration of the Constitution, it would be for Parliament to determine what subsequent action should be taken. I agree entirely with Senator O'Keefe's object. The amount granted to widows might be a pittance in the sense that it would be a small sum; but at the same time it would not be a matter of charity or sympathy. Widows would be treated exactly as the Commonwealth now treats invalids and persons of old age.

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