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Friday, 27 October 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - I do not know what Senator Millen proposes to do, or whether he is ready to do what I think he should, but after inserting new clause 8A it seems to me that it will not be proper to allow the preamble to clause 9 to remain. Instead of improving the Bill, it will create confusion if it is not altered.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - I fail to see how any confusion can arise. Clause 9 says -

For the purpose of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States, the following procedure shall be followed :

The new clause which has just been inserted simply affirms that the Chief Electoral Officer shall ascertain the quota, in the manner afterwards set out.

Senator Keating - I thought that the honorable senator intended to attach paragraphs a and b of clause 9 to his new clause.

Senator MILLEN - Clause 9 sets out the manner in which the quota is to be ascertained, while the new clause simply indicates the officer by whom it shall be- ascertained.

Senator Clemons - In view of the fact that the procedure is set out in paragraphs a and b of clause 9, would it not be better to leave out the preamble?

Senator MILLEN - The words of the preamble may be surplusage to that extent, but certainly their retention will do no harm.

Clause agreed to.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - We have provided that the Chief Electoral Officer shall determine the quota, and created the machinery by which it shall be determined. I want the Committee to insert a clause which will require that officer, after he has determined the quota and the number of members to which each State is entitled, to issue his certificate to that effect. Therefore I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - ,, The Chief Electoral Officer shall forthwith, after he has determined the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States, in accordance with this Act, make and forward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States."

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 (Power to make regulations).

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - This clause gives too much power to the Executive in so important a matter as the conduct of elections. For some time Parliament has been delegating a great many of its powers to Ministers, and we ought to be very careful in this connexion. It ought [not 'to- be open to 'Ministers, without the control of Parliament, to issue regulations within a certain period of a general election, if such action may have party results. It would be well to provide that no regulations shall come into force except those approved by Parliament.

Senator KEATING(Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - It is absolutely necessary for the proper working of a Bill of this kind that there should- be very adequate provision for the making of regulations. The difficulties and dangers which Senator Pulsford foresees are obviated by subsequent clauses. Instead of the usual safeguards provided by the Acts Interpretation Act in the matter of regulations, it is provided in this Bill that no regulations shall have any force until they shall have been laid before both Houses of Parliament for thirty days, and that they shall be inoperative if within that time a resolution shall have been passed disapproving oT them, or until such resolution shall have been disposed of. Ordinary regulations take effect if no resolution to the contrary be passed, but in the present instance, the absolute duty of approving is thrown upon Parliament. Regulations are necessary in order to deal with matters which only experience can disclose, and their operation will be practically dependent upon the approval of both Houses.

Clause agreed to. Schedule A.

5.   The following percentages shall be added to the numbers of persons departing by sea from the several States as shown by the information received, to allow for unrecorded departures by sea : -


Senator CLEMONS(Tasmania).- Provision is here made for adding certain percentages to the number of recorded departures, and the percentage in the case of Tasmania is largest of all, though no provision is made for any addition to the number of unrecorded arrivals. The percentage in trie case of Tasmania is 12 \, and I am at a loss to understand why there should Be such a great distinction made between that and' the other States. In the case of Western Australia, the percentage to be added is 5, and I am afraid that I cannot agree with the proposed arrangements, even though thev are submitted on the authority of eminent Statisticians.

Senator Pearce - Has the number of ports of departure nothing to do with the matter ?

Senator CLEMONS - The number of ports of departure are necessarily identical with the number of ports of arrival. Why are we to assume that the recorded list of arrivals is correct, while the ascertained list of departures is faulty? I also desire to know why there is the proposed discrimination between the States. In the case of New South Wales and Victoria, 9 per cent, is added, while the percentage in the case of Queensland is 10, 7 in South Australia, 5 in Western Australia, and 12^ in Tasmania. I cannot consent to this schedule unless some clear explanation is forthcoming.

Senator KEATING(Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - When I first read the schedule the same considerations appealed to me as now appeal to Senator Clemons, but on making inquiry I ascertained that it had been drawn up in accordance with a scale agreed upon at a conference of the Statists of the six States. I presume that the Government Statist for Tasmania, who is an eminent authority, knew well what he was doing when he agreed that .12 J per cent, should be added to the recorded departures from that State. I cannot say why no provision is. made for some addition to the recorded arrivals. I have not gone behind the findings of the Statisticians, who were charged with the responsibility of preparing a scale of the kind ; and I think we shall be well advised in acting upon their suggestion. So far as I know, there is no other body of experts in the Commonwealth to whom we could appeal for any revision of the scale; and unless some honorable senator can show solid reasons to the contrary, we ought to hesitate before rejecting the findings of a body of specialists.

Senator Dobson - Has the Minister any report on which this schedule was founded ?

Senator KEATING - There is a report, but I have not got it by me.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - The Minister asks us to bow to authority rather than be swayed by fact or reason, and has not disclosed a single fact to remove the doubts expressed by Senator Clemons.

Senator Playford - These Government Statists are experts. ยป

Senator MILLEN - Is Senator Playford prepared to take the word of experts on any and every subject? It is possible, however, to suggest an explanation why an allowance is made for departures and not for arrivals. We know that the arrivals at all the ports of Australia exceed the departures, and it is clear, that if there be leakage on both sides the leakage in departures will exceed that in arrivals! If there were 100 recorded arrivals and only 90 departures, it is clear that the difference- of 10 per cent, must be allowed on one side only, because, if allowed on both sides, the discrepancy would remain. At the same time, the Committee is entitled to definite information before agreeing to a schedule which is to determine the proportionate representation of the States. Perhaps it would be advisable to postpone the consideration of schedule A.

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