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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Whereas on the twenty-eighth day of July, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one this House resolved that the Government of the Commonwealth be authorized to request and consent to the submission by the Government of the United Kingdom to the Parliament at Westminster of a bill for a statute containing the provisions set out in the Schedule to the Resolution, and the enactment of the said statute:

And whereas it is desirable to supplement the said resolution in the manner hereinafter appearing :

Now therefore this House resolves that the' Government of the Commonwealth be authorized to request and consent to the inclusion in the' said statute of a clause as follows: - " Nothing in tins act shall be deemed to require the concurrence of the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth of Australia in any law made by Parliament with respect to any matter within the authority of the States of Australia, not being a matter within the authority of the Parliament or Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, in any case where it would have been in accordance with the constitutional practice existing before the commencement of this act that Parliament should make such law without such concurrence."

In the drafting of the resolution relating to the statute which was passed by the House of Representatives - on the 28th July last, particular care was taken to protect the rights of the States. The second paragraph of clause 4 was included by the Imperial Conference with this object, and to still further safeguard the States, additional paragraphs were added to the clause while it was before Parliament.

Notwithstanding the provision of these safeguards in the resolution, four of the States made representations to His Majesty's Government in tL. United Kingdom regarding the proposed statute as it was thought to affect them. Con sultation then ensued between that Government and the Commonwealth Government, and between the Commonwealth Government and the several State Governments, with a view to finding a formula -which would afford complete protection to the States, including the protection of their right to secure the application to a State of legislation by the Parliament at Westminster on matters solely within the authority of the States, if the State' so requested. The only suggestion that has been made thai those rights are in any way affected is that the requirement of the consent of the Commonwealth before any law made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom is extended to Australia would hamper a State in asking for British legislation on some matter of State concern. It is hardly possible to conceive that a State would make such a request, but the Commonwealth. Government is quite willing to make it clear that the statute does not alter the status quo m this respect. This motion, therefore, provides that, where the subject-matter belongs exclusively to the States, and where legislation by the British Parliament without the request of the Commonwealth would be in accordance with the present constitutional practice, the provision of the statute requiring the request of the Commonwealth shall not apply.

The clause now included in the motion before the House has been drafted as a result of the discussion that has occurred. When it is included in the Statute of Westminster the fullest protection will have been given to the exercise by the States of all the rights they possess at present.

But we are giving the States still further protection. [Quorum formed.'] Paragraph 7 of the resolution provides that paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 6 of it shall not extend to the Commonwealth as part of its law unless and until they are adopted by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The Government has given) the States- an assurance that it will not introduce any measure for the extension to the Commonwealth of the provisions of the statute, "when passed, until there has been an opportunity for further discussion with the States. It is hoped that as the result of such 'further discussion. all the States will agree to the application of the statute to the Commonwealth. At present, however, whilst New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland accept the resolution, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have not yet expressed themselves as being entirely in agreement with it. I hope this motion will have a speedy passage through tho House.

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