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Tuesday, 30 June 1903

Mr HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne) - I do not know whether attention has been called to the fact that there was a clause in the Constitution, as passed in Adelaide and Sydney Conventions on this very matter, but it was struck out by a large majority of more than two to one on my motion in the Melbourne Convention. That was clause SO, which provided -

No person holding any judicial office shall be appointed to or hold the office of GovernorGeneral, Lieutenant-Governor. Chief Executive Officer, or Administrator of the Government, or any other executive office.

It was thought by some of the members of the Convention that the object of the clause, as passed at Adelaide, was obviously to let the President of the Senate be the person who should be nominated by Her Majesty for the office ; and several members were opposed to the clause for that reason.^ The view which I placed before the Convention, and on which there was a division, was that it is our business to leave the Sovereign an absolutely free hand as to whom he shall appoint - that we have no right to dictate as to who shall be the Sovereign's agent for any purpose. It is not a matter within the area of our constitutional rights ; and I find that at first I suggested the milder course of inserting the words " or parliamentary " after the word " judicial." That proposal, however, was not accepted by the Convention, who struck out the whole clause by a majority of 26 to 11, although it had been previously adopted at Adelaide. It is not expedient, in my opinion, for us to dictate as to who shall be the agent of the Sovereign.

Mr. THOMSON(North Sydney).- I raised this question because many honorable members had not considered the matter, and were no doubt taken by surprise. I am quite willing to admit that the Attorney - General has given some reasons for the position he takes up. One reason, especially, satisfies me as to the desirability of accepting his view, namely, that the number of the Judges of the High Court has now been reduced, and that it is desirable that 'the three members of the Court should devote their time to the duties of their offices. All I wished was that the Committee should have an opportunity of hearing the explanation which I thought ought to be given for such exclusion.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with further amendments.

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