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Thursday, 17 September 1936

Senator ABBOTT (New SouthWales) . - The 'subject-matter of the motion standing in my name was discussed in November of last year, but finality was not. reached and in its then form the motion was discharged from the noticepaper on the 21st May last. It now comes again before the Senate, clothed in somewhat different language, and it is my wish, if the Senate approves, to amend it. In seeking this permission I give honorable senators an assurance that the amended motion is, in substance, identical with that of which notice had been given, but, for reasons which I shall explain, is in slightly different form. The motion as amended would read: -

That the following address he 'presented to His Majesty the King:-

May it pleaseyour Majesty -

We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth, in Parliament assembled, firmly believe that in order to encourage the breaking down of national barriers, to promote the interests of mutual understanding and peace among the nations of the world, and to permit full use of the invention of 'wireless and enable the foundation of an international Public Opinion and Literature, it is imperative that a means of International Thought Exchange be established by a common language agreed upon in conference of the nations, such language to bo compulsorily taught in their respective primary and secondary schools.

We therefore respectfully urge that the nationshe invited by Your Most Gracious Majesty to send their representatives to a world convention.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I rise to a point of order. I am not quite familiar with the procedure, but my impression is that, as Senator Abbott's amended motion proposes an address to His Majesty the King, notice of intention to amend it should have been given. I am fortified in this view by Standing Order 366, which reads -

Whenever itbe deemed proper to present an Address to His Majesty or the GovernorGeneral, the same shall be proposed, except in pases of urgency, on motion afternotice in the usual manner.

The honorable senator is quite in order in proceeding with his motion as it stands on the notice-paper,but I submit that, as amended, it takes the form of an address to HisMajesty the King.

It is different in character from the original motion, the concluding paragraph of which, however, may be construed as an address to His Majesty. I submit that in its amended form the motion is substantially different, and I contend that the Government should have an opportunity to consider the procedure to be followed. The honorable senator informed me only a few minutes before the meeting of the Senate after the suspension of the sitting, of his intention to ask leave to amend, and I should like further time to consider the effect of the alteration. I agree with him that probably the procedure now proposed would be better, but I desire to consult my colleagues in Cabinet on the matter.

Senator Abbott - I admit that it is the duty of the Acting Leader of the Senate to see that all matters brought before this chamber are in order, butI contend that his objection that proper notice had not been given falls to the ground, because my motion has been on the business-paper for several months.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Not as an address to His Majesty the King.

Senator Abbott - Substantially, yes. The Acting Leader of the Senate spoke as if the Senate standing order which he read dealt with the whole matter. May's Parliamentary Practice, at page 602 and subsequent pages, indicates the procedure. It is there clearly laid down that under parliamentary law and practice either chamber of the legislature is perfectly entitled to express its opinion, It is a fact, as indicated in May, that addresses are more generally confined to each House singly, and as is pointed out by the same authority, are " more frequently in regard to matters . . . upon which either House is desirous of making its opinion known to the Crown ".

Again, at page 606, May states -

Another mode of communication with the Crown, less direct and formal than an address, has been occasionally adopted; when resolutions of the House, and resolutions and evidence taken before a committee, have been ordered to be laid before the Sovereign. In such cases the resolutions have been presented in the same manner as addresses, and answers have sometimes been returned.

It is immaterial to me whether the motion is dealt with as such or whether it is amended, as I suggest, to a moro appropriate form. I think, that the Minister agrees with me that the proposed amended form is the better. However I am in the hands of the Senate. It is an axiom of parliamentary law that the House is master of its own business. I -therefore put it that if the acting Leader of the Senate would not oppose the motion in its original form, and if the Senate is willing to give its consent to an amendment of its motion, the alteration does not call for notice.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What has the honorable senator to say about Standing Order 366?

Senator Abbott - That Standing Order deals with the form in which addresses to the King or the GovernorGeneral should be presented. My contention is that notice has been given in the usual manner because, in its amended form, the motion is substantially the same as the one which has been on the business-paper of the Senate for a long time.

Senator Collings - The Senate has given the honorable senator permission to alter the motion, so there should be no occasion for further argument.

Senator Abbott - The Senate has not yet given me permission to amend it to take the form of an address to His Majesty the King, but I submit that notice to amend is not required.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In what portion of the original motion is there expressed an intention to present an address to His Majesty?

Senator Abbott - The intention is stated as clearly as possible in the concluding paragraph -

That this resolution he conveyed to Hia Excellency the Governor-General (or submission to His Majesty with the humble prayer of this Senate that action bo taken accordingly.

That surely is an address to the King in substance and almost in form. The PostmasterGeneral has objected that in its amended form the motion becomes not a resolution but an address to His Majesty. His argument must fail because the Standing Orders are silent on the procedure to be followed on the point which he has raised. It is clearly laid down in May that we have the right to present an address to His Majesty.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My sole purpose is to maintain the privileges of the Senate. Perhaps the procedure would be more correct if the honorable senator were to speak to the motion ia the form in which it appears on the notice-paper, and conclude by asking permission of the Senate to amend it to take the form of an address to His Majesty. Honorable senators will appreciate the dilemma in which I am placed. An address to His Majesty the King is a much more serious matter than the carrying of a motion, such as the one of which the honorable senator had given notice. If he can adopt my suggestion I shall accept his intimation as sufficient notice for this purpose.

Senator Abbott - I accept the Minister's suggestion and shall later ask leave of the Senate to alter the motion. In the circumstances it might be advisable if I speak to the motion in its original form.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I think that would be the better course.

Senator Abbott - The original motion is in substance the same as my proposed amendment, and the procedure would be similar.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the honorable senator will not accept my suggestion, I intend to press my point of order.

Senator Abbott - I have expressed my willingness to' do so, and I asked the permission of the Senate to do as the Postmaster-General suggested.

Senator Duncan-Hughes - I hesitate to intervene in this matter, but it appears that two alternatives are open to Senator Abbott. The request could be cornveyed by means of an address, and if the honorable senator moves the motion in the form proposed, the Standing Orders govern the procedure. He can also move a motion in the form specified in May, in which case the Standing Orders quoted would not apply. The last paragraph of the motion makes it clear that it is to be conveyed to the, Governor-General for submission to His Majesty. Honorable senators know that if the motion is carried, that course will be followed. The motion can be debated, and then dealt with in the manner suggested by Senator Abbott.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch). - Apparently the amended motion does not meet with the approval of the Postmaster-General. In order to facilitate the business of the Senate, perhaps Senator Abbott will agree to the suggestion of the Postmaster-General and move the motion in its original form, and then move that it be converted into an address for presentation to His Majesty.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The suggestion that it should be in the form of an address emanated from Senator Abbott. I agree with the honorable senator that that is a more suitable way in which to deal with the subject. I have no objection to the procedure now proposed.

Senator Abbott - I conferred with the Postmaster-General, and' understood that he would not object to my seeking the consent of the Senate to amend the motion. Had I known that he proposed to take a point of order, I should have moved the motion in its original form and reserved to myself the right to amend it, so that it would be forwarded as an address.

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