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Wednesday, 3 July 1901
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The PRESIDENT - I do not think that is a question with which I have anything to do. The Chairman of Committees has brought up a point of order. I am not supposed to know what has taken place in committee. The Chairman is the proper 'person to decide the point of order, if it is a point of order, now raised by the honorable senator.


Senator McGregor - I ask the Chairman of Committees- through you, sir, was the point of order put in writing by Senator Harney prior to-


The PRESIDENT - -That objection ought to have been taken in committee before the Senate resumed.


Senator Pearce - As there is a question of fact mentioned in that statement, sir, I would like to ask the Chairman of Committees was not the voting .equal. It is a statement of fact, sir, that it was equal.


The PRESIDENT - I know nothing about it except from the statement handed in to me by the Chairman of Committees. We must decide one point of order at a time ; we cannot decide half-a-dozen points of order.


Senator De Largie - Can the Senate take any notice of a casting vote, seeing that our Constitution does not recognise such a thing ?


The PRESIDENT - That is another point altogether.


Senator Harney - I take it that under section 23 of the Constitution every senator in the Chamber would, in the absence of anything overruling that section, be entitled to exercise one vote. Accordingly, Senator Best, when in the chair, would have been entitled to vote ; and if he had voted the result would have been fifteen senators on the one side and fourteen on the other But, apparently, according to the standing orders, the effect of a member of the Senate being in the chair is to deprive him of a vote, because the standing order which has been quoted, says - '

In case of an equality of votes the Speaker shall give a casting vote, and any reasons stated by him shall be entered in the votes and proceed,ings

Then rule 385 says -

Every question in committee shall be decided in the same manner as in the House itself, the Chairman having only a casting vote.

I take it that the meaning of that standing order is this : Had we no standing orders, the mere fact of the Chairman being in the chair would not have deprived him of his deliberative vote. But we have adopted the South Australian standing orders, and the effect of those standing orders is that when the Chairman is in the chair he has only the character of vote that arises out of the performance of his functions in the chair, namely, a casting vote. Accordingly, when Senator Best gave his vote On this occasion he must have given it as a casting vote ; otherwise he must have disobeyed the standing orders. He could not have given it as a deliberative vote. If Senator Best had stated that he gave his vote as a deliberative vote the only question, as I take it, for you to decide, Mr. President,' is whether he lost his deliberative vote by sitting in the chair. If Senator Best had stated in the chair that he gave a deliberative vote, the first and only question for you to decide would be - did he lose his deliberative vote by sitting in the chair? But Senator Best has assumed that he lost his deliberative vote. He has made the declaration that the voting was equal. Senator Best having made that declaration, we must come back to the Constitution. The voting being declared to be equal the question should have been passed in the negative. How are we to know when the votes are equal ? By the declaration of the Chairman and by nothing else. We must take the votes to have been equal ; and the question is, the vote having been equal, was it open to any one under our Constitution to determine the question by a casting vote and not pass it in the negative ? There are two very important' points that arise. The first is - does the Chairman of Committees lose his deliberative vote by virtue of the standing orders ? If he does not lose his deliberative vote, is he bound like every other senator by his own declaration that the votes are equal? If he is bound' by his own declaration that the votes are equal, can he determine the question in any other manner than that set forth in the Constitution Act, namely, that the question passed in the negative ?


Senator O'Connor - I submit that there is no substance in this point of order. I take it that the principle which will guide you, Mr. President, in determining the question is ( this - it is clearly intended by the Constitution of this Senate, in which the States are represented, that every State in every division shall be represented by its full number of members if they are present, and that no State shall be deprived of its representation by reason of one of its representatives being in the chair. I take it that that is the principle which is embodied in section 23 of the Constitution. I take it also that in deciding this matter, you will look at what took place substantially. What took place was this : - The Chairman sitting in the chair declared that the votes were equal. He then gave his vote. It must be quite clear to all senators who have had Parliamentary experience that Senator Best's vote was a deliberative vote.


Senator Millen - Why is it not in the division list then ?







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