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Wednesday, 3 July 1901
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Senator HARNEY (Western Australia) - I agree with other senators that this paragraph should be struck out. At the same time, Senator Dobson is not quite right in saying that clauses 16 and 17 are not applicable. As they stand, they would not be ; but there has been an amendment made in clause 1 7 making it applicable to private railways, and this paragraph therefore does apply in the case of that clause. Assuming that it does apply we are in this position. We have a clause in one part of the Bill providing that both railway and shipping proprietors may carry mails; and while we have also a provision that the Postmaster-General may enter into contracts with them as regards the price, yet we have a clause here which says that a regulation shall be made fixing the rates. If a regulation is made fixing the rates in pursuance of this clause the rates so fixed are to have the force of law. We have therefore one part of the Bill providing arbitrarily, with the force of law, the fixing of the rates, while we have another clause in the same Bill saying that the rates shall be fixed by contract.

Senator Stewart - The rates will be fixed by a mutual arrangement.

Senator HARNEY - It says the regulation shall fix the rates. It is not a regulation for the purpose of determining how the rates shall be fixed, but a regulation fixing the rates. It has been said, and I daresay it is true, that this sub-clause is aimed at a set of circumstances entirely different from those contemplated in the clauses to which I have referred. Those clauses have to do with permanent contracts for the regular carriage of mails, while this clause has to do with isolated cases where no permanent contract could have been or has been entered into. That may have been in the mind of the draftsman, but it. does not alter the difficulty pointed out by Senator Playford.

Senator Playford - Why did he put in private railways ?

Senator HARNEY - In any way it does not remove the difficulty pointed out by me, for this reason, that when a clause says that contracts may be made, it implies, if we are going to have mails carried in any of these exceptional cases, we must have the rate fixed by contract, and if we have a regulation fixing them anterior to the possibility of any contract, then either the contractual section must go or this section must go. So I think that if we are to give effect to the preceding clause we should strike out this sub-clause. I move -

That paragraph (6) be omitted.

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