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Wednesday, 1 October 1958

Dr EVATT (Barton) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I, also, would like to say a few words. I congratulate the members of the Constitution Review Committee, representing all parties and both Houses, for the constructive job that they have done in their study of the existing

Constitution and on their proposals for the improvement of the Constitution. It is really a unique event in parliamentary history that so important a work should be continued over a long period - I think nearly two years. The time taken was certainly not too long. The problems that the committee had to face were extremely difficult. They were problems affecting the people of Australia that had baffled the legal profession and the High Court judiciary.

I have had great interest, pleasure and excitement in reading the report. I was not able to take a day-to-day interest in the proceedings of the committee, but my colleagues on the Opposition benches in both Houses have treated this mission that they have carried out as a very important one. The committee has discussed section 92 of the Constitution and the need for further powers, or the qualification of powers, for the protection of the States and the development of new States- All these great questions have become the subject of table discussion and gossip in the precincts of the House. I know what a great job the members of the committee have done. I pay that tribute, not only to Opposition representatives on the committee, but to the representatives of both parties supporting the Government.

I want to emphasize that the job to which they have devoted themselves is, in itself, a job of extreme difficulty. The elements of these great constitutional problems are really philosophical questions involving the basis of political philosophy, the structure of the States, and of the federal system. They are subjects to which great minds have devoted themselves for many years. I think this report is a very important contribution to the solution of those problems, and I would like to congratulate all concerned.

I agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that those who advised the committee have been most helpful. I support the motion that the report be printed. It will be the basis for action in the future, I have not the slightest doubt, in quite a few respects. The powers that have been delimited and recommended, and the careful qualifications which have been put upon them in cases requiring democratic procedures of a special character are all very important. It is a great job which has been well done, and I congratulate my colleagues and all others who have been associated with them. I refer, last of all, to Mr. Richardson, whose work the Prime Minister commended on the legal side. It was a first-class job.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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