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Thursday, 26 October 1905

Senator Givens - I shall challenge them as not being in order.

Senator MILLEN - In that case I shall not waste time at this stage in discussing the first amendment, but will simply move it. It has been circulated amongst honorable senators, and the new clause I propose is intended to take the place of section 13 of the principal Act, and should stand as clause 8a of this Bill. Unless honorable senators wish me to read the amendment, I shall merely hand it in to the Chairman.

Senator Best - The honorable senator might read it.

Senator MILLEN - In a few words I shall tell the honorable and learned senator, who was absent on the previous occasion, what I propose to do. The Act, as it stands, provides for the appointment of a single Commissioner for a State, who, when necessary, has to divide the State into the number of constituencies indicated by the number of members which it is entitled to return, to the House of Representatives. After the Commissioner has prepared his scheme, he considers any objections which have been lodged, and then forwards it to the Minister, who has to place it before Parliament. If the scheme is approved of by both Houses, it becomes law, and the divisions which he has designed stand as the electoral divisions for the State. My proposal is to substitute three Commissioners for the single Commissioner, remove the parliamentary veto, and make the work of the Commissioners final. My proposal will necessitate two amendments, the first of which I am about to submit. Honorable senators will understand that I am submitting the amendments in the order in which they naturally fall, but the real and important amendment is the one which will remove the parliamentary veto from the redistribution scheme. I regret that it is not possible for me to submit my main amendment first, because, if there is . a weak spot in my proposal, it is contained, in that amendment. I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - "8a. (1) The Governor-General may appoint three persons in each State to be Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the State into Divisions in accordance with this Act.

(2)   The persons so appointed shall be respectively a Judge of a Court of the State, the SurveyorGeneral or head of the Survey Department of the State, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for State, unless the Governor-General, by reason of any such persons not being available, or for other reason appearing to him to be sufficient, thinks fit to appoint other persons instead of any of such persons.

(3)   Each Commissioner shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General."

Senator Givens - I submit, sir, that the amendment is not in order. It is a singular thing that an honorable senator who, no later than a few hours ago, voted against any provision being introduced into a Bill which was at all foreign to its subject-matter, should now wish to introduce a new principle which is foreign to all Acts which have hitherto been passed by this Parliament. I need not go beyond what he said when explaining, for the information of Senator Best, the effect of his series of amendments, to show that he seeks to introduce an entirely new principle.

Senator Millen - Knowing that my amendment was going to be challenged, in order to save time I ceased speaking, and formally moved it. Does not thehonorable senator think that he should follow my example?

Senator Givens - I intend to point out why I think the amendment is out of order. I have always been in favour of a Committee having the right to consider an amendment of this kind. But, seeing that ontwo occasions the President has laid it down that such an amendment is out of order, and that Senator Millen voted in support of the ruling, I think it is quiteout of place for him to bring forward an amendment which introduces an entirely new principle. The proposal of the Government contemplated that the scheme of the Commissioner, after it had been revised, should be submitted to both Houses of the Parliament for approval before it could take effect. But in his amendment. Senator Millen proposes to create a board for each State, to be constituted of a Judgeof the State, the head of the Survey Department of the State, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, which shall have absolute power to dividethe State into electorates, and not to allow each House of the Parliament to have any voice in the matter. It comes with exceedingly bad grace from the honorablesenator that, after upholding the President's ruling in the case of an amendment which was not nearly so foreign to the subjectmatter of the Bill as his own amendment, he should take this course. If the President's ruling is to be accepted as a guide, I respectfully submit, sir, that the only course open to you is to rule theamendment out of order.

Senator O'Keefe - I am sorry that wehave been placed in such a position that. Senator Givens should think it necessary to raise this point of order. I believe in the principle of Senator Millen's proposal ; but I hold that above all things we must preserve some consistency in the conduct of our business. It seems to me that if theamendment which the President ruled out of order contained a principle which, if. accepted, would vitally alter the scope of the Bill, this amendment makes a moreviolent departure from a principle. Therefore, I feel bound to support the point of order.

Senator Millen - It is a matter of considerable regret to me that after

I had formally submitted the amendment for the decision of the constituted authority, in view of the previous decision which was arrived at, I should have been subjected to the criticisms of Senator Givens as if I had been guilty of some inconsistency. I have not said a word in support of my view that the amendment is in order. It is well known that it was given notice of long before the decision of the Senate was sought on this point. If honorable senators are not prepared to follow my lead, but wish to open up a discussion I am not going to stand by, when I see an amendment of mine being battered to pieces, without saying a word. I am quite prepared without wasting five minutes over a discussion to take the decision of the Chair on the point.

Senator O'Keefe - It has not been discussed yet.

Senator Millen - Senator Givens was getting very near discussing both the amendment and the mover. Was it pertinent to the point of order to discuss whether my action in moving an amendment, of which notice had long been given, was consistent with the vote I gave this afternoon?

Senator Givens - The honorable senator is attempting to do a thing which he would not allow any one else to do.

Senator Millen - That lis entirely a matter of opinion. If the honorable senator is going to adopt that tone I can turn round and affirm that his objection is not to my amendment, but to my vote this afternoon, that because I did not see eye to eye with him he wants to hamstring my amendment. Are we to conduct our legislative proceedings in that way ?

Senator Givens - I do not wish to see the Senate stultify itself. I am in favour of the Committee having full power to discuss all these matters.

Senator Best - In my judgment, the amendment, in respect of which the ruling of the President was given yesterday, and supported to-day by the vote of " Mr. Negative," was not nearly so strong an enunciation of a principle as is the present amendment. The purpose of the latter is to deprive each House of the Parliament of its present right to approve of the report of the Commissioner appointed to distribute a State into electorates, and to substitute in its place a board of three Commissioners, with plenary power. I contend that in view of the decision which was arrived at to-day, it is incompetent for the Committee to entertain the amendment.

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