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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - As other honorable senators have remarked, this Bill reached us only a few minutes ago, so that we have scarcely had time to peruse it. I do not blame the Minister for that. There are one or two points connected with it which naturally present themselves to one's mind, and with which, perhaps, it would be better to deal in Committee. But if it be possible for us, when we reach that stage, to depart from the usual practice of having only the marginal note of each clause read, I think that it would be wise to do so. For example, it will be necessary for honorable senators to know exactly what is covered by the definition of '? property " under the machinery that is here provided. That definition is con tained in sub-clause 4 of clause 8, and embraces two or three forms of property which do not usually come within our cognisance, even under definitions which are embodied in other Statutes.

Senator Keating - That is what the memorandum read by the Minister was confined to.

Senator SENIOR - Exactly. We are left simply with the explanation given by the Minister--

Senator de Largie - But there is no definition of memoranda here.

Senator SENIOR - There is a definition of property, a precis of which was given by the Minister. But it is not the full definition. Honorable senators will see by looking at paragraph c of subclause 3 of clause S that the estate of a deceased person for the purposes of this Act comprises not only -

His personal property in Australia (including personal property over which he had a general power of appointment, exercised by his will), including all debts, money, and choses in action-

Senator Keating - In the Bankruptcy Bill they are called " things in action."

Senator SENIOR - It was that point to which I desired to call attention. It is an easy matter to enact provisions relating to real or personal estate. But there are other forms of property which do not come under the general definition of property. For instance, a man may have an action at law, and may receive £1,000 by way of damages. In such a contingency those damages would immediately be regarded as property which would be dutiable under this Bill. I regret that so near a prolonged adjournment we should be called upon to deal with matters of this kind when we cannot possibly be afforded an opportunity of adequately studying the Bill, and when, therefore, considerations of vital importance are likely to escape our attention. Like other honorable senators who have spoken, I feel inclined to dissociate myself from any share of responsibility for the enactment of the measure. Hasty legislation of this character usually results in confusion, and almost before the ink upon it is dry, amending legislation requires to be introduced.

Senator Millen - Was not this Bill before the Caucus, seeing that the honorable senator is shirking his responsibility now ?

Senator SENIOR - I do not think that the Caucus has anything to do with the measure. The Leader of the Opposition has Caucusphobia so severely that in his imagination the Caucus crops up at every point. He forgets that there are many things in regard to which the Labour Caucus has no voice. I am ababsolutely surprised that an honorable senator with the standing possessed by the Leader of the Opposition should descend - for it is a descent, and a very great one, too - to a remark which has no application whatever. I do not suggest that proper care has not been exercised in another place, but that circumstance does not relieve us of our responsibility in dealing with this measure. As there is no hurry for the passing of the Bill for at least twentyfour hours, I fail to see any reason why it should be rushed through almost at the point of the bayonet.

Senator Bakhap - The only effective protest we can make is to refuse to pass the Bill.

Senator SENIOR - To my mind, that would be childish. Rather let us take time to consider it. Our Standing Orders are designed to expedite the transaction of business-

Senator Millen - The honorable -senator voted to suspend them just now.

Senator SENIOR - I grant that. But this is an occasion on which the suspension of our Standing Orders is being availed of to rush through an important measure. Senator Millen is blaming me for having adopted a certain course, notwithstanding that he himself remained silent-

Senator Millen - Because I am not pursuing the line of argument that is being pursued by the honorable senator.

Senator SENIOR - Then the Leader of the Opposition agrees with hasty "legislation of this character?

Senator Millen - Agrees with what -the honorable senator is doing, or with what his party is doing?

Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator agrees that this Bill should he passed through all its stages without delay. Surely when he charges me with inconsistency, he forgets that he himself is equally culpable. He has not uplifted his voice to demand that proper consideration shall be given to the measure.

Senator O'Keefe - We have all been doing the same thing for the last fourteen years.

The PRESIDENT - I would point out to the honorable senator that there was a time when he could have objected to the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay, namely, when the proposal for the suspension of our Standing Orders was submitted. The Senate having affirmed that the Standing Orders should be suspended, the honorable senator is now reflecting on its decision, which is entirely contrary to our Standing Orders.

Senator SENIOR - It is not my intention, sir, to reflect either upon you or upon the Senate. The reflection must be on the Ministers who took that course.

Senator Barker - Is that remark in order ?

Senator SENIOR - I say that the reflection must be upon Ministers themselves. They must take the responsibility for their action. However, I shall embrace a further opportunity in Committee of supplementing my remarks on this Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 -

In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears .... " Debts " includes probate and succession duties payable under any State Act, but does not include voluntary debts. . . .

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