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Wednesday, 7 July 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I listened to Senator Greene in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), and I wish to repeat, with emphasis, what Senator Needham said. The Government is adopting an extraordinary procedure in respect to this bill. I was a member of this Chamber in 1903, and for some years afterwards. On that occasion, although we passed the first Commonwealth tariff, we were not asked subsequently to deal with it in this way.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It would have been an advantage had that course been taken.

Senator FINDLEY - Compared with the principal act, this is only a minor bill.

Senator Crawford - The amendments are merely formal, and will not in airy way alter the tariff.

Senator FINDLEY - If, as the Minister has said, the amendments are merely formal, why were they not detected when the schedule was being passed, either in this Chamber or in another place. If informalities are likely to escape notice in tariff bills they are likely to appear in any bill.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell -They do.

Senator FINDLEY - This is an extraordinary procedure, and I enter my protest against it.

Senator Crawford - This procedure is provided for in the Constitution.

Senator FINDLEY - No doubt that is because the framers of the Constitution feared that an unbusinesslike Government such as we have to-day would be in charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth. There appears to be no finality in the business which this Government introduces, because much of the time of Parliament is occupied in amending its measures and correcting its mistakes.

Senator Crawford - Much of the time of every Parliament is spent in amending acts.

Senator FINDLEY - The Government is so anxious to end the session that it does not give proper attention to its measures, and the committee should register its disapproval of this procedure. 1 attach no blame to departmental officers. I know that, in the main, they are very painstaking and thorough in their work. I wish I could say the same about members of the Cabinet.

Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And what about members of the Senate? They are primarily responsible for these errors.

Senator FINDLEY - Members of this Chamber cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Government.

Senator Pearce - Sometimes amendments which render necessary other consequential amendments of a measure are inserted at the instance of an honorable senator who is not a member of the Government.

Senator FINDLEY - Then the Minister should see to it that Government supporters do their work properly, and thus avoid this unnecessary waste of time and expense.

Senator McLachlan - These are only trifling amendments.

Senator FINDLEY - If they are trifling, why should the time of Parliament be occupied in this way?

Senator McLachlan - If the honorable senator had not intervened, the whole of the amendments recommended would have been disposed of by this time.

Senator FINDLEY - That is not a reason why I, as a member of the Opposition, should not protest against this unbusinesslike way of conducting the affairs of the Senate. The tariff was exhaustively discussed iri another place before it reached this chamber, so before it reached its final stages it should have been as nearly perfect a's it was possible to make it.

Senator McLachlan - In some Parliaments it is the practice to send bills back to the draftsmen before they are finalized.

Senator FINDLEY - I am not concerned with what is done in other Parliaments. I hope that this will be the last time that we shall have a bill brought before us so often before it is finalized.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL (South Australia) [3.25]. - I cannot allow the absurd, ridiculous, and extravagant statement made by Senator Findley to pass without some comment. He charges the Government with want of care and attention in connexion with this bill. One might just as well charge honorable members of the Opposition in this Chamber with the same dereliction of duty. These formal errors would not have occurred had members of the Opposition been alert, so they are just as much to blame as are members of the Government. It is absurd for the honorable senator to say that this procedure is extraordinary. It is taken in connexion with many bills in all Parliaments.

SenatorFindley. - Can the honorable senator mention a similar instance in this Chamber ?

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL -I do not know if this procedure has been followed previously in the Senate, but it is frequently adopted in other Parliaments to correct formal errors in a bill. It is as well that we have in the Constitution provision for this procedure, so as to clear up all informalities before a bill is finally disposed of. It is ridiculous for members of the Opposition to charge the Government with want of care and attention without shouldering some portion of the blame themselves.

Motion agreed to.

Item 84 - Bennett.

Recommended Amendment.- Before subitem (b) insert "on and after 23rd March, 1926."

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