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Wednesday, 17 June 1914

(   1 ) A precedent has been created by Your Excellency which must most seriously affect the future position of the Senate, and we submit that the electors and this Chamber should know upon what representations it has been thus summarily dissolved, although one-half of the senators were elected by the people only some twelve months ago, while eleven out of the eighteen senators thus elected belonged to the Labour party, and a majority of the electors voting at the election for senators voted for the senatorial candidates of that party.

(2)   The decision of Your Excellency appears to be fatal to the principles upon which the Senate has hitherto acted, which, we submit, are in strict accordance with a truly Federal interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution deliberately created a House in which the

States as such may be represented, and clothed this House with coordinate powers (save in the origination of Money Bills) with the Lower Chamber of the Legislature. These powers were given to the Senate in order that they might bc used; but if a Senate may not reject or even amend any Bill because a Government chooses to call it a " test "Bill, although such Bill contains no vital principle or gives effect to no reform, the powers of the Senate are reduced to a nullity. We submit that no constitutional sanction can be found for that view, which is repugnant to one of the fundamental bases of the Constitution, viz., a Legislature of two Houses, clothed with equal powers, one representing the people as such, the other representing the States.

And we respectfully submit that the dissolution of the Senate ought not to follow upon the mere legitimate exercise of its functions under the Constitution, but only upon such action as makes responsible government impossible, e.g., the rejection of a measure embodying a principle of vital importance necessary in the public interest, creating an actual legislative dead-lock and preventing legislation upon which the Ministry was returned to power. These conditions do not exist in the present case.

The measure upon which the Prime Minister advised Your Excellency to grant a simultaneous dissolution of both Houses is one which, in our opinion, the Senate had constitutional authority to reject, and was amply justified in rejecting. Its passage is not necessary to give effect to the policy of the Government, because the Government has already given effect to the principle contained therein, and by administrative act prohibited preference to persons employed in the service of the Commonwealth. If the Bill became law, no change would be effected. How then can the rejection of such a measure affect the policy of the Government as declared to the electors at the last election, and create a deadlock within the meaning of section 57 of the Constitution?

(3)   The "dead-lock" under section 57 of the Constitution ought, in our opinion, to be a real dead-lock. It ought not to be deliberately created by the introduction of measures which both Houses are invited to reject. We desire especially to draw Your Excellency's attention to this point, which, in our opinion, is in itself fatal to the contention that the rejection of the Preference Prohibition Bill by the Senate is sufficient justification for dissolving the Senate.

The so-called "dead-lock" was deliberately created by the Government for party purposes. There is not, nor has there been, any dead-lock caused by the action of this Chamber. In proof of this, we respectfully call Your Excellency's attention to the following statement : -

 

 

Holding these opinions, and in view of Your Excellency's decision and the gravity of the constitutional and important public issues involved, we venture to respectfully beg that Your Excellency will allow immediate 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.

Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -

That the Address, as read by the Clerk, be adopted.







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