Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - I am at a loss to understand why certain members of the Opposition should impart so much heat to the discussion of this matter. When later in this week or next week the regulations are laid on the table of the Senate, honorable senators will be given an opportunity to express their opinions in respect to every question that appears on the census papers. When questions concerning the matter were asked me, as the representative of the Minister of Home Affairs in the Senate, I told honorable senators that there was no desire on the part of the Government to prevent a discussion of the matter. A few days ago I laid on the table copies of the forms proposed to be used in connexion with the collection of the census. Some honorable senators contend that the attitude of the Government in this matter is somewhat extraordinary. But really it is their own attitude that is extraordinary, because, if the subject had been discussed in connexion with the papers laid on the table, no matter how much honorable senators might have been opposed to the questions proposed, no action could have been taken to alter them, and the discussion must have keen fruitless. The Government are proposing now to give the Senate the opportunity which some honorable senators say they desire, to take action which may have some result.

Senator Chataway - They never offered that opportunity.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator will pardon me. Last Friday afternoon, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, Senator McGregor, as Leader of the Senate, told honorable senators plainly that it was the intention of the Government to withdraw the papers which had been laid on the table, and to table regulations under the Census and Statistics Act, and that when they were laid on the table, an opportunity would be given to honorable senators to discuss them. Section 27 of the Census and Statistics Act reads -

The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all acts and things which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

Under that provision, full power is given to the Government of the day, whoever they may be, to prescribe regulations under the Act. Then section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act points out the way in which individual senators may proceed when regulations are tabled of which they disapprove, and which they might desire to amend. The section provides that -

Where an Act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -

(a)   be notified in the Gazette;

(b)   take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations ;

(c)   be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.

But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.

What further power does any member of the Senate require? Why this motion has been submitted in the circumstances I cannot understand.

Senator Chataway - Because the honorable senator did not make any explanation when he withdrew the census papers.

Senator FINDLEY - That is an unfair statement to make. I do not think that it is necessary that members of the Government should be getting up day after day to repeat whathas previously been said. I informed the Senate only a moment ago that Senator McGregor on Friday afternoon last explained that the Government intended to withdraw the census papers, and later to lay regulations dealing with the matter on the table of the Senate.

Senator Sayers - Why did the Government withdraw the papers?

Senator FINDLEY - I am telling the honorable senator why. It was in order that the Senate might have a full opportunity of discussing the regulations.

Senator Vardon - Nonsense; that is not the reason at all.

Senator FINDLEY - That statement is unjustifiable, and uncalled for. I hardly expected such a statement from Senator Vardon who, as a rule, is very fair in any statement he makes. The Government have no desire to withhold anything from the Senate, and let me repeat again that honorable senators will be given the fullest opportunity to discuss the regulations when they are laid on the table, and they may amend any question proposed in any way they think desirable.

Senator Lynch - Before they are included in the regulations?

Senator Sayers - No; that is the whole point.

Senator FINDLEY - There is no point. Surely the Senate must have something to discuss.

Senator Chataway - We had something to discuss last week, but the Government would not permit us to discuss it.

Senator FINDLEY - If honorable senators had discussed the matter on the occasion referred to until the .track of doom it would have had no effect upon the Government, and no useful result of any kind. Under the course we now intend to follow, the Senate will be given an opportunity to amend any of the questions proposed, if a majority of honorable senators believe that to be desirable. In the circumstances, I think that the motion for the adjournment of the Senate is altogether unnecessary, and to discuss it is only taking up time unnecessarily.

Suggest corrections