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Thursday, 26 October 1905

The CHAIRMAN - It may save time if . I say that, in view of the decision of the Senate this afternoon, I cannot do other than rule Senator Millen's proposed amendment out of order. I have no doubt that the principle that he wishes to embody in the Bill is a more radical one than the proposal of Senator O'Keefe which was ruled out of order to-day.

Senator Millen - I desire to dissent from your ruling, and I hand in a written objection.

In the Senate -

The Chairman of Committees. - I haveto report that Senator Millen has dissented from a ruling given by me, in these words -

I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that a new clause, providing for the appointment of three Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the States into divisions, is not in order, on account of such clause not being within the scope and purpose of the Bill.

The proposed amendment, if carried, would render unnecessary - in fact, would strike out - section 13 of the principal Act, which says -

The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner Tor the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.

The Bill, comprehensive as it is, and covering so much of the principal Act as it does- - even dealing with Part III. - does not contemplate any alteration of section 13- As I took the proposed amendment to involve a more radical alteration than theamendment of Senator O'Keefe, which was ruled out of order, I thought that it would' be merely taking up the time of the Committee unnecessarily if I did not rule Senator Millen's amendment out of order forthwith.

Senator Millen - I should like to add' a word or two to .what has been said. The Chairman of Committees has very fairly indicated what is the purpose of the amendment now in dispute. It is only right that you, sir, should know that it is an important amendment, which would, as the Chairman has indicated, remove the parliamentary veto which at present exists over the scheme of distribution prepared by the individual Commissioner now appointed by law. " I do not know whether it will bepossible for you to have regard to the fact that this amendment, if carried, is to be followed by another, _and that it is reallyan introduction to a modification of tha- present system. So far as the amendment itself is concerned, it affects section 13 of the main Act, which says -

The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.

My amendment provides that the GovernorGeneral may appoint three persons in each State to be Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions, and indicates the persons to be appointed. My contention is that what I am proposing to do is entirely a matter of machinery, and that, therefore, the amendment is distinctly marked as different from the matter previously submitted to your judgment.

Senator Givens - I contend that the amendment which Senator Millen seeks to introduce into the Bill involves an entirely new and foreign principle. It seeks to deprive Parliament of a power which it has at present. It is, therefore, a very far reaching principle indeed. Senator Millen has indicated that the amendment, if carried, will be followed by another, which is consequential on the amendment now before us, giving the Commissioners he desires to appoint supreme power, so that the division of a State which they made would not be subject to review by Parliament. The original Electoral Act provides that any division made shall be subject to review by Parliament. The Bill introduced by the Government does not propose to disturb that arrangement in any way. It does not propose to take away from Parliament the right to say finally whether the divisions made by the Commissioner shall or shall not stand. I contend that Senator Millen's amendment introduces a new and entirely foreign principle, which goes to the length of taking away from Parliament a power which it possesses, and which the amending Bill does not propose to take away. I therefore maintain that, in view of the ruling which you have given on two other occasions during the consideration of this Bill, the amendment is entirely out of order, and cannot be put from the Chair.

Senator Pearce - I think that Senator Millen's amendment is one that ought to be capable of being moved in Committee; but in view of the ruling that has been given and maintained, I submit that it cannot be moved. In the Bill before us, there is no mention of the number of Commissioners. It is not mentioned whether there shall be one or a dozen Commissioners to determine the boundaries.

Senator Millen - There is a reference to the quota.

Senator Pearce - But not to the appointment of Commissioners. So far as the Bill is concerned, Parliament is the only body which is indicated as having anything to do with divisions. Section 13 of the principal Act reads as follows: -

The Governor-General may appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.

Senator Millen'samendment does not interfere with the amending Bill in the slightest particular. It interferes with a section of the principal Act, which is not touched in the amending Bill. If ever there was a case which is certainly connected with the principle laid down by the President in the last two rulings he has given on the point in dispute,, this is one; and while, as I have said before, I think that the amendment is one that it ought to be within the competency of art honorable senator to move, in view of the President's decision, Which has been upheld by the Senate, I cannot see how it can be moved.

Senator Best - The proposal now before the Chai'r practically is one to repeal two sections of the existing Act. It is clearly new and foreign to the Bill. The sections are numbers 20 and 21. Under them Parliament has the ultimate power of dealing with any proposed distribution. Senator Millen's proposal is that instead of Parliament taking the responsibility of giving approval, a new and foreign body shall be appointed for that purpose. That body is to consist of three persons, who are named. After they1 have made a report, the GovernorGeneral, quite irrespective of Parliament, has to make a proclamation.

Senator Millen - That is the same as the provision of the existing law.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The GovernorGeneral is really the Executive.

Senator Best - But under this amendment it is on the report of three Commissioners - a foreign body - that the GovernorGeneral has to make the proclamation.

Senator Millen - The proclamation by the Governor-General is just the same in either case.

Senator Best - In the one case the proclamation is consequent upon the act of the Parliament, and in the other case it is consequent upon the report of a foreign. body. This introduces a new and serious principle, and I submit that your ruling certainly does apply to the amendment.

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