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Tuesday, 29 July 1902


Mr CROUCH (Corio) - I was very much affected by the speech delivered by the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, to whom, as an old parliamentary hand, I was justified in paying considerable attention. He mentioned certain disputed parliamentary elections with which he was acquainted, but the instances in question comprised rather ancient history. I was surprised to find that, in its original form, the Constitution Bill, as passed by the Adelaide convention, provided that the Senate and the House of Representatives should decide disputed elections relating to their respective houses. I was still further surprised to discover that the right honorable member for Tasmania, who has been talking so much against degrading parliament by relegating the settlement of such questions to outside bodies, when speaking in the Adelaide Convention, is reported to have said -

It is almost essential to my mind that these questions, more especially the question of disputed returns, should be determined by the Supreme Court and not by the Senate.


Sir Edward Braddon - I have since had practical experience of the courts.


Mr CROUCH - The right honorable member continued -

We have found out from practical experience the necessity of malting this change, and submitting these questions to the Supreme Court, and I hope that in making this great and high departure, and forming a .Federal Parliament, we shall not run into any errors which will necessitate any changes whatever in the early stages of our Federal Government. I shall move " that the words ' High Court' be substituted for Senate.'"

I also find that, on the 22nd April, 1897, the right honorable member said -

I will ask Mr. Barton why, in the case of elections to the Senate, the dispute shall not be heard by the Supreme Court of the State where the ease arises.

I am quite ready to accept the former opinion of the right honorable member, as against that which he now entertains ; then he was the adviser of a continent ; now he is the acting leader of the Opposition and is trying to oppose all Government proposals. On the general question, however, I should like to quote the views of men who, in parliamentary matters, are sometimes accepted as leaders, and who have had a large experience in connexion with electioneering affairs - I refer to the leader of the Opposition and to Mr. B. R. Wise. Mr. Reid, in speaking at the Adelaide Convention, said -

It might happen that some great struggle might be determined in the Senate of 3(i members, according to the decision of a political committee, as to whether a certain return was valid or not. I think the time has come when we should alter this clause. I am perfectly sure, that if it is left to the Federal Parliament, that Parliament will never do it.


Mr Barton - It is done in England.







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