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Monday, 21 March 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- I am sorry, Senator Duncan, that you are in the chair while this clause is under discussion, becauseI believe that, if given the opportunity, your voice would be heard in opposition to it. It is not usual to discuss the first clause of a bill, but this is such a most unusual measure that I wish the committee to consider the advisableness of making some alteration to the title.

Senatorkingsmill. - Short title.

Senator FINDLEY - As a rule, the title of a bill clearly indicates its purpose, but this title is misleading. It would convey the impression that the Government proposes to grant financial assistance to the several States of the Commonwealth. That is not the purpose of the bill, so the title should be altered. Western Australia and Tasmania will receive grants under this bill, but no other State will be in that position. The committee would be well advised to give this clause careful consideration, because, if it is passed in its present form, itwill not be so convenient to alter subsequent provisions of the measure.

Senator Payne - What is wrong with the title?

Senator FINDLEY - There is nothing right about it, because the bill does not propose to grant financial assistance to States other than Western Australia and Tasmania. Of course, one would not expect Senator Payne to be perturbed about the title of the bill. His State and Western Australia will benefit financially under it, but other States will have payments taken away from them. I suggest that the Government should agree to a postponement of the clause until the other provisions have been dealtwith. Before the motion for the second reading was carried I heard strong opposition voiced by certain honorable senators opposite to the title of the bill. I hope, therefore, that the committee will not hastily pass this clause. Therewould be more prospect of harmonious discussion at the proposed conference between the Commonwealth and the States if the title were altered. Harmony at that gathering would be most desirable, because, if one may judge from assurances given by the responsible Ministers, the conference will pretty well settle the problem of the per capita grants, if not for a considerable length of time, then at least for the lifetime of this Government.

Senator Ogden - Cannot the honorable senator suggest a desirable amendment of the short title.

Senator FINDLEY - I rose without having a definite proposalin my mind, so that I shall be glad to receive suggestions from honorable senators. Like me, they are unable to do it on the spur of the moment. It is a matter that requires thinking out. The probabilities are that the framers of the bill expended a lot of time onthe decision of its title. Those gentlemen have been born and reared in a legal atmosphere. It is their business to give appropriate titles to bills. They have an intimate knowledge of draftsmanship. Since the inception of the Commonwealth they have been responsible for the submission of innumerable bills, each containing a short title. In 99 cases out of 100 the title suggested is agreed to with little or no discussion.

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