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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

The PRESIDENT - Senator St.Ledger lias raised the point as to whether the amendment is in order, and has quoted the Statute which empowers the Government to appoint Commissioners, which sets out their duties, and also the way in which the proposed electoral divisions of the States may be dealt with by the Senate. Now, in the first place, it is not usual for. the Chair to interpret the law, and no President, I suppose, will ever take upon himself the duty of attempting to define exactly what the Statutes mean, so far as matters which come before this Chamber are concerned. His principal duty is to be guided by the Standing Orders which govern our procedure, and standing order 135 reads -

Every amendment must be relevant to the question to which it is proposed to be made.

Now, the proposal of the Minister of Defence is that the report of the Commissioners be adopted, to which it is competent for any honorable senator to move an amendment disagreeing with it. Senator Henderson's amendment seeks to affirm, in accordance with section 22 of the Electoral Act, that the distribution be disapproved and referred back to the Commissioners. In addition, he asks the Senate to say that certain things which should have been done 4>y the Commissioners have not been done by them. Therefore, I must rule that the amendment is strictly in order.

Senator VARDON(South Australia) £9.5]. - I confess that I have no knowledge of the conditions which prevail in Western Australia, and, therefore, I cannot controvert the report which has been presented *by the Commissioners, nor can I verify anything that Professor Henderson has said in regard to this matter.

Senator Needham - Professor Henderson?

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