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Friday, 18 June 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Home and Territories) .- I move-

That Standing Order No. 283 be suspended so as to enable a call of the Senate to be made, without the usual 21 days' notice, in connexion wilh the third rending of the following bills, viz., Constitution Alteration (Industry and Commerce) Bill 1926 and Constitution Alteration (Essential Services) Bill 1928.

Although the motion states that it is usual to give 21 days' notice to enable a call of the Senate to be made, on previous occasions Standing Order 283 has been suspended in the same way as is now proposed. On one occasion, a callwas made with five days' notice, and ou another occasion six or seven days' notice was given. Therefore, it has not been usual to give 21 days' notice. On this occasion the Government proposes to give seven days' notice, because to fulfil the requirement of the Standing Order that 21 days should be given would mean the postponement of the date for the holding of the referendum on the Constitution Alteration Bills, a course which, for many reasons, would be very undesirable. This peculiar standing order is provided to give every honorable senator an opportunity to attend when the final stage of a Constitution Alteration Bill is reached ; but I do not think that it can be contended that the notice proposed to be given on this occasion is insufficient. Honorable senators have already, through the progress of the bills in both Houses, had informal notice of the need for their attendance. Consequently, I feel sure that the proposal that I am now submitting will be agreed to, and that a motion providing forseven days' notice of the call of the Senate will also be agreed to. I have been askedwhat would happen if an honorable senator dared to disobey the call.

Senator Needham - He would be shot at dawn !

Senator PEARCE - I do not know what would happen. The Senate has not provided any penalty. Boiling oil and other punishments might be thought of, but none hasyet been suggested. The practice has been that those honorable senators who could not attend explained verbally or by letter to the President the reasons for their absence. In the event of the absence of an honorable senator without good cause being shown, it is competent for the Senate to take what action it thinks fit; but no precedent has been established or practice laid down to meet such a contingency. If the Senate sees fit on this occasion to take action in the event of an honorable senator's absence without showing good cause, it will be obliged to establish its own practice in that regard.

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