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Tuesday, 31 October 1905

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) - I am induced to speak mainly by Senator Millen's contention that if Senator O'Keefe' s proposal had been introduced into the Bill certain machinery would have been required to give effect to it.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator means that no additional machinery! would have been required.

Senator HIGGS - I mean that no machinery whatever would have been required.

Senator Millen - Surely machinery would have been wanted ?

Senator HIGGS - No.

Senator Millen - No additional machinery wouldhave been wanted, but there must be some machinery.

Senator HIGGS - Senator O'Keefe proposed to omit half-a-dozen words from the Act, which provides that a man shall vote for the full number of candidates ; and not another clause would have been required to carry that proposal into effect.

Senator Millen - Because the machinery is already in the Act.

Senator HIGGS - I confess that the proposal of Senator Millen, while radical, is one which the Committee might well undertake to' consider. While I am of that opinion, I do not agree with Senator Millen and others who think that there is no important principle involved in the amendment. It would be possible for the suggested Commissioners to absolutely take away from a certain body of electors the value of their franchise. The Commissioners who divide the State into electorates have to take into consideration community of interests - they have to take into consideration the pastoral, agricultural, dairying, mining, iron, and other industries, and group them as justly as they may, in order to secure fair representation throughout the Commonwealth.

The PRESIDENT - Is the honorable senator not discussing the effect of the amendment, if carried, rather than the motion before the Senate?

Senator HIGGS - I do not think so. I desire to show that the proposal of Senator Millen is not a mere question of machinery, and, as I have said, that it is work which might be undertaken by the Committee. I do not very well see how any honorable senator could get a proposal' of the kind considered without introducing a new Bill, if this amendment be ruled out of order. It seems to me, however, an important and radical alteration to take out of the hands of Parliament the powers now possessed by us, and hand them over to an outside body, over whom Parliament would have no control. The difficulty in the minds of honorable senators has been pointed out by Senator Millen. If honorable' senators believe in your ruling, they must uphold it, and take other steps if they think the former ruling, with regard to Senator O'Keefe's amendment, was wrong. The matter has presented to me considerable difficulty. If, for example, Senator Millen's proposal is not in order, now is Senator Millen to get it considered, unless he introduces a new Bill ? If the amendment is out of order, it is so because it does not come within the subject-matter of the Bill as passed at the second reading, and, therefore, he cannot move that it be an instruction to the Committee to consider it. I believe this is work the Committee might do under the circumstances, and I hope that Senator Givens, after he replies, will withdraw his motion.

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