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Wednesday, 14 July 1915

The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator must not allude to the proceedings of another House.

Senator KEATING - I did not intend to allude to them. They were introduced by others.

The PRESIDENT - However they are introduced, their discussion is disorderly.

Senator KEATING - When the time and place are convenient I shall be prepared to discuss them.

Senator Lynch - You forget that your party was asked to suggest a via media, and failed to do so.

Senator KEATING - The Liberal party in another place offered amendments when the proposals were put before them in 1913, and their suggestions were absolutely turned down.

Senator Long - Are those suggestions of theirs in print?

Senator KEATING - They are in the records of another place. My honorable friends are asking me a number of questions with regard to the actions of others. I have always taken, and will take, in regard to the Constitution, the course that commends itself- to me. I have differed before from others in different parts of the chamber with regard to amendments of the Constitution. Substantially these amendments were submitted to the people for the first "time in 1911. I opposed them then from the platform in Tasmania.

Senator Guy - All of them?

Senator KEATING - Yes.

Senator Lynch - I think you voted for one of them here.

Senator KEATING - I did. What I voted for here was the submission of that proposal to the people, and I addressed the people upon it, giving them the reasons why I was voting against it at the polls. I spoke, not in association with anybody else, but entirely on my own initiative.

Senator Watson - Why cannot the honorable senator trust the people now ?

Senator KEATING - I can trust them.

Senator Watson - The honorable senator does not want these proposals to go before them. That is a declaration to the opposite effect.

Senator KEATING - I am merely pointing out that the proposals contained in these Bills ought not to be embodied in our Constitution. I do not think that they will meet the requirements of the people or of the Parliament.

Senator Guthrie - Can the honorable senator suggest anything better ?

Senator KEATING - Perhaps I can, and there are other honorable senators who perhaps can suggest something better. That is why I think the procedure that is being followed in this all-important matter is wrong. No matter what Government may be in power, who prepares any proposed constitutional amendments ? Nominally, the Attorney- General, but as a matter of practice they are prepared by an officer of his Department. Then they are submitted to the Cabinet, which naturally and properly leans very much on the recommendation of its chief legal adviser. The amendments thus become the amendments of the Cabinet, and pass into the House of Representatives, where they become the amendments of the Labour party, or of the Liberal party, as the case may be. There is no round-table discussion of them, as there would be if a convention were held for the purpose^ of framing them. What I have suggested in that connexion is that the functions of my proposed convention should be limited to a consideration of the provisions of section 51 of our Constitution. In relation to these particular amendments, I took my own platform-

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