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Thursday, 2 November 1905

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia) - I hope that Senator Pulsford will not press his amendment. The provisions of the Bill should not be made too rigid. Senator Millen said that it was becoming recognised throughout the civilized world that the 31st March should be the day for taking the census. There might be a conference of Statisticians held in Europe, at which it might be decided, for reasons of which we would not be aware, that the date for taking the census should be altered. We might then be requested by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to adopt the altered date. It will be admitted that it would be of great advantage if we were in a position to synchronize our census with that taken in 'other countries. In such a case, if this amendment were agreed to, it would be necessary to pass a Census Act Amendment Bill.

Senator Keating - In, Canada the census is taken at the beginning of the year.

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH - We all recognise the advantage of having the -census taken at the same time throughout the different countries of the world. To enable that to be done, so far as we are concerned, the fixing of the date should be left to the Executive. If the particular date referred to in the amendment had been actually fixed by other countries as the date for taking the census, there would be no great objection to the amendment ; but in all the circumstances it is better to leave the fixing of the date to the Executive than to fix it absolutely in this Bill.

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - I have not heard a single argument that has any weight against the amendment I have proposed. The reason why it should be accepted is that it would take the matter out of the control of the Minister. I have repeatedly pointed out that government by regulation " has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished." If Parliament has an opinion of its own on any subject, it should embody it in a Bill when opportunity offers. If some wonderful events were to occur, necessitating a change of date, there would be no difficulty in passing an amending Bill. I object to give even the purest of Ministries the power to decide important matters like this. It is the right of Parliament to fix the day when a census is to be collected.

Senator O'Keefe - Surely the party element could not come into the matter.

Senator PULSFORD - It might. In 3 9 r r there might be a Government in power who would feel that it would not suit them to have the census taken on the 31st March, and they might decide to take it at the end of June. It might affect the question of representation. I am aware that Ministers would prefer that the power which ought to be exercised by Parliament should be left to them. I protest very strongly against empowering Ministers to do that which Parliament ought to do itself. Therefore I ask the Committee to accept the amendment.

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