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Tuesday, 29 July 1902

Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania) - There was to my mind, and I think also to the minds of every honorable member present, only one issue in the last division. The committee divided upon the question, whether these election petitions should be considered by the Supreme Court or by a committee of the House. Having decided that they are to be heard by an Elections and Qualifications Committee, there is to my mind an end of it, and we have now nothing to do with any of these clauses dealing with the High Court.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to put everything on one side by a wave of the hand, and create all manner of con- ' fusion. The right honorable gentleman is wrong when he says it was clearly and distinctly understood by the vote taken that the alternative was to be an elections and qualifications committee selected from the House by the Speaker. There was nothing of the kind submitted or suggested. On the contrary, one or two speakers very strongly referred to the South Australian method, and one or two also referred to the Queensland method ; and the honorable member who moved the amendment submitted to myself a proposal that was a composition of both. I think that under these circumstances it is anything but clear that by the amendment just carried it was decided that a certain course is to be pursued. I desire to know really what course the committee wishes to follow. I can easily have prepared and submitted a proposal for an Elections and Qualifications Committee on the lines hitherto adopted in New South Wales and Victoria. In New South. Wales the course adopted has been for the Speaker, within a certain time after the meeting of Parliament, to nominate so many members as members of an Elections and Qualifications Committee - I forget whether the number is seven or nine. His warrant lies upon the table for three days, and if it is not taken exception to within that time, it has the force of law for the rest of the Parliament. I presume that some such course has been followed also in Victoria. I wish now, really, to ascertain as far as possible what was the decision of the committee in the last vote taken, because it is by no means clear yet. If I am to understand that it is the pleasure of the committee that an Elections and Qualifications Committee should be resorted to, that is all I care about ; but I do not wish to bring up two or three alternative proposals, and have them debated for a day or so longer. I desire to have the matter settled now. I am quite agreeable to meet the views of the committee as far as possible, but their views were certainly very vaguely indicated by the vote which has taken place. If it is the intention that we should have an Elections and Qualifications Committee, I can easily have clauses drafted for the purpose, and as I have no wish to delay the matter further, I move -

That clauses 198 to 211 inclusive be postponed.

Sir Edward Braddon - I do not believe that is a desirables course to follow.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Then the right honorable gentleman had better come and sit in my chair. If the committee follow the right honorable gentleman he will very soon have an opportunity of sitting in my chair if he desires to do so. I intend to postpone these clauses ; that is what I am going to do, or I shall go no further with the Bill.

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