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Friday, 27 October 1905

The CHAIRMAN - In view of the ruling given by the President in regard to Senator O'Keefe's proposed amendment - a ruling which was sustained by the Senate - 1 must rule Senator Millen's amendment out of order. I think it is a far-reaching proposal ; and if the amendment of Senator O'Keefe did not come within the scope of the amending Bill, Senator Millen's amendment would appear to me to be outside its scope, as not Being relevant to the subject-matter of the amending Bill. Take, for example, section 20 of the principal. Act, which Senator Millen proposes to repeal. That section provides that the report of the Commissioner, together with the map - shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament within seven days after its receipt, if the Parliament is in session, and if not, then within seven days after the commencement of the next session.

It is also proposed to repeal section 22, which gives both Houses of the Parliament power by resolution to approve or disapprove of any proposed distribution. I consider that Senator Millen's amendment does not come within the scope of the work of this Committee - that is to say, provided that The practice of the Senate is to remain in accord with the principle of taking out of the hands of the Committee any proposal similar to that moved by Senator O'Keefe some days ago. Therefore I rule the proposed amendment out of order.

Senator Millen - I beg to intimate that I dissent from your ruling.

The CHAIRMAN - My ruling having been dissented from, I shall report to the President.

In the Senate.

The Chairman of Committees. - When clause 12 of the .Bill to amend the Electoral Act was under consideration in "Committee, Senator Millen proposed to insert certain words, and to repeal certain sections, of the principal Act. The sections affected are Nos. 20, 21, and 22, which give to the Houses of Parliament certain powers.. Senator Millen's proposal takes away from Parliament those powers which it now possesses. It seems to me that the amendment is outside trie, scope of the Bill. I ruled in that way, and Senator Millen has intimated his dissent from my ruling, as follows : -

I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that an amendment of section 12 of the Bill providing for an amendment of sections 20, 21, and 22 of the Act, so as to make the report of the Commissioners appointed to divide a State into electorates final, instead of being subject fo Parliamentary veto, is not in order, on account of such clause not being within the scope and purpose of the Bill.

Senator Millen - I wish to point out what appears to me to be the vital difference between the amendment which I have submitted and the amendment upon which you have previously ruled. So far as I understand your ruling, it laid down this broad line of demarcation - that the Bill with which we are now dealing was exclusively a machinery Bill. I wish to point out wherein the amendment which I have moved is of a character entitling it to be incorporated in the Bill, if the Committee sees fit to pass it. If you will refer to the sections of the Act which I propose to amend you will notice that Part III. is headed " Electoral Divisions." You will find that, so far as there is a principle in that part of the Act, it is embodied in Mie first section. Section 12 states - each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions equal in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen therein, and one member of the House of Representatives shall be chosen in each division.

I say that it is entirely a matter of machinery as to how the principle is to be given effect to. What is that machinery? Having laid it down first of all that ai State shall be divided into equal electoral divisions, the! Act goes on to provide by whom that division shall be carried out, and the principles which are to guide the Commissioner intrusted with the task of designing, the subdivisions. All that I seek to do is to alter the constitution of the body empowered to design that scheme. The mere question of whether my amendment takes away some power of Parliament is altogether outside the issue. For this reason: that already Parliament has parted with some portion of its power in appointing one Commissioner under the Act to divide the States into electorates.

Senator Guthrie - Subject to parliamentary veto.

Senator Millen - Subject to parliamentary veto, it is true. But still, under the law as it stands to-day, Parliament delegates a portion of that work to somebody outside Parliament. All I am seeking to do is to provide that Parliament shall delegate, not a portion of its work, but the whole of it. (

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - And leave it to a body outside Parliament. Surely that is a principle?

Senator Millen - How can it be held to be a principle whether Parliament delegates a portion of its work or the whole of its work? It appears to me to be wholly a question of machinery as to whether Parliament will intrust a man to do certain work, and accept his work, or say that it will not necessarily accept his work. It is simply a question of the extent to which Parliament will delegate its duty to somebody outside. If you, sir, will turn to clause 14 of the Bill, you will find that that is an attempt to disturb the machinery by which the States are divided into electorates. In' clause 12 also there is a direction disturbing the machinery as it now exists.

Senator Givens - But not taking away the power of Parliament.

Senator Millen - I have pointed out that Parliament has already decided to delegate a! portion of its work to an outside Commissioner, and all that I am proposing to do is to go a little further and delegate the whole .of the work. It is not a question of principle, but of degree.

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