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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4170

The SPEAKER (12:02): It is my duty to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the Senate amendments conveyed by this message raise an important point of constitutional principle.

The amendments propose to amend the definition of 'Northern Australia' in the bill. Such change in the definition would change the destination of the appropriation in clause 41 of the bill.

There is doubt that the Senate may proceed in such circumstances by way of amendment because of the requirements of section 53 of the Constitution. Among other things, this section prohibits the Senate from amending a bill so as to increase 'any proposed charge or burden on the people'.

The matter for consideration is not so much one of the privileges and rights between the two houses but of the observance of the requirements of the Constitution concerning the appropriation of revenue.

I am advised that the view has been taken, where expenditure is appropriated in these circumstances, section 56 of the Constitution requires that the proposed appropriation be recommended by a message from the Governor-General. I understand that such a message has been obtained in this case.

If the House wishes to entertain the proposal reflected in the Senate’s proposed amendments, the House may choose to proceed by alternative means.