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Wednesday, 17 June 1914

Question put. The Senate divided.

DIVISION:AYES 22 (19 majority) NOES 3 PAIRS 0
AYESNOESPAIRS

Majority ... 19

AYES

 

NOES

 

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Address brought up, and, on motion by Senator McGregor, read by the Clerk of the Senate, as follows: -

ToHis Excellency the Right HonorableSir RonaldCranfordMunro Ferguson, a Member of His Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Council. Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor-General andCommanderinChief of the Commonwealth of A ustralia.

May it please Your Excellency: -

On Friday, 5th June, the Prime Minister made the following announcement in the House o f Representatives : - " A day or two ago I tendered certain advice to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, which hehas been pleased to accept, and I have to announce to the House that His Excellency has decided to dissolve simultaneously both Houses of the

Parliament so soon as the ordinary provision has been made for the conduct of the Public Service during the time of the election," and the Representative of the Government in this Chamber on the same day repeated in substance the above statement.

Subsequently the Prime Minister read a statement to the House of Representatives setting forth the substance of his interview with Your Excellency. The Prime Minister explained that the exact terms of his conversation and Your Excellency's reply thereto were set forth in this statement. The Prime Minister did not supply the House with the reasons advanced by him which induced Your Excellency to accept his advice and grant a simultaneous dissolution of both Houses.

On behalf of his party, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives requested - and Senator McGregor, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, made a similar request of Senator Millen, Representative of the Government in this House - that these reasons, together with all communications between Your Excellency and the Prime Minister and any other of Your Excellency'sAdvisers relating to the provisions of section 57 of the Constitution and any action to be taken thereunder, should be made available. But this the Prime Minister refused to do, on the ground that all communications between the Prime Minister and the Representative of the Crown were and ought to be confidential.

With this view we do not agree. The Prime Minister's contention is not supported by facts. For in this, as well as in other of the selfgoverning Dominions, such communications have frequently been made public; and we respectfully submit a like course should bc followed in the present case.

In support of this request we beg to direct Your Excellency's attention to the cases set forth in New Zealand Parliamentarv Papers 1877- A. 7, 1878- A. 1, p. 3; A. 2, p. 14; New Zealand Cassette 1878, pp.911-14; Rusden, New Zealand, iii. 278 seq. And also to the following: -

In 1896, the Governor-General of Canada addressed a minute to Sir Charles Tupper upon the position in which the general elections had placed his Government, and this as well as the Further correspondence between the Prime Minister and the GovernorGeneral was made public.

In1888, the Government of Sir Thomas McIlwraith (Queensland) became involved in a dilference with the Governor of Queensland on what the latter termed "the question whether the Royal Prerogative is to be exercised by the Governor or by the Colonial Secretary for the time being." It involved the resignation of the Ministry, and all correspondence was placed before Parliament.

In 1904, in Tasmania, the correspondence between the Premier and the Acting Governor, arising out of a request for a dissolution hy the Premier and the reply of the Acting Governor, who went very fully into the reasons which actuated him in refusing to grant a dissolution, were published. Similarly in 1009, the communications between Mr. Earle, the Premier, and Sir Harry Barron, Governor of Tasmania,were published.

In 1907, in Western Australia, the reasons for dissolving the Upper House were embodied in the Governor's Speech, in which the members of the Lower Housewere informed of His Excellency's intention, and relieved temporarily from their duties by prorogation in order that the elections for the Council might take place.

We desire to particularly direct Your Excellency's attention to a long memorandum by the late Governor of Victoria (Sir T. Gibson Carmichael), in which His Excellency sets out in full detail the reasons for his decision (Victorian Parliamentary Papers, Vol. I., p. 211, 1900).

We respectfully submit that these cases, which could be added to without difficulty, bear directly upon the point we desire to make, viz., that there is no rule, as the Prime Minister suggested, which makes communications between the head of the Government and the representative of the Crown confidential; but that, on the contrary, whenever any matter qf constitutional importance or of interest to the people is at stake, publicity is the rule rather than the exception.

The present decision to dissolve simultaneously both Houses of the Parliament, wo respectfully venture to contend, has created a situation in which matters of such grave constitutional and public interest are involved as to justify the publication of the reasons given to Your Excellency in support of the advice tendered by the Prime Minister, on which Your Excellency has been pleased to dissolve simultaneously both Houses of the Parliament, and all correspondence relating thereto - including that relating to section 57 of the Constitution - between Your Excellency and Your Excellency's Advisers.

In support of this contention we desire to respectfully point out that -







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