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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2087


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneralMinister for Customs and Excise) - I am approaching this matter in the most constructive fashion that I can. I am not seeking to cause any difficulties for Senator Wright. I am trying to help the Senate. Some of what I have said has come to my mind only in the course of this afternoon. It troubles me. To explain what I mean I shall read section 49 of the Constitution which states:

The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.

I do not know why in this Bill there has been a shift in the language from 'powers, privileges and immunities' to 'powers, privileges and authorities' and a restriction of the Parliament, when the general and extremely important provision on which the whole operation, a few trifles apart, of this Parliament depends is these words in section 49 of the Constitution:

The powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House . . .

Senator Wrightsays that it does not matter; that we do not have to refer to the members and we do not have to refer to the committees. I am not at all sure that someone at some stage will not measure this Bill against that section of the Constitution and say that there was a deliberate departure and a leaving out of the privileges of the members and the committees, particularly in the area outside of those grounds.

I simply say that this is a matter which should call for caution. It may well be that in a few days something can be done to put both clauses 5 and 6 into a form in which everyone will be satisfied with them. But I am not satisfied. Frankly, as I start to consider the matter, I am simply not satisfied that the Bill is in the form in which it ought to be. As to clause 6, 1 am not merely not satisfied, I am quite disturbed at the reach of that clause. I am disturbed that we may be doing something which we will very seriously regret. In view of the enormous importance, I suggest again that it should be given some little time for consideration. If this matter is treated as a nonparty measure and it goes elsewhere, there is no certainty at all that what is in this clause might get through the House of Representatives and become law. We will not know what we have done, and at some stage we may discover to our very great regret what we have done. I think it is very dangerous to proceed. I feel that this matter should be considered, say, next Thursday, and I should like to move that the Committee report progress.


Senator Withers - Senator Wrightis prepared to move that.


Senator MURPHY -Out of deference to Senator Wright, I invite him to move that the Committee report progress and ask for leave to sit again.







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