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Friday, 10 November 1905

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) - I am astonished that honorable senators should persist in attempting to press the amendment on the ground that it is important. In mv opinion, the clause already does that which Senator Pulsford claims that his amendment is designed to do. It says that the Bill shall come into operation -

On a day to be fixed by proclamation not being earlier than six months after the passing of this Act.

Senator Symonhas clearly shown that the Parliament will be in session before the expiry of that period.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I did not show that. I said that that is what the Prime Minister stated, as reported in the press.

Senator HENDERSON - Why should we, merely for the sake of altering the wording of the clause, delay the consideration of the Bill by discussing an amendment of so little importance as the fixing of the date at the1st July next. It is quite evident that the Bill cannot be brought into operation before that date, therefore to adopt the amendment is merely to change the wording of the clause.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales). - If in the opinion of Senator Henderson the amendment is of little moment, and a. number of honorable senators consider that it is of some moment, then from his stand-point he might well advise the Minister to accept it, and so let us get on with the business. I do not take exactly the view which SenatorSymon takes. He says he doss not see that the Bill can be assented to before the first of next year. But I see the possibility of the royal assent being given at least a month earlier than that date.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I did not say that. I said that a statement had been made that we should be here for five or six weeks.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - When the royal assent is given bythe GovernorGeneral, the Bill will become law. If the Government consider that the amendment is immaterial, and a number of honorable senators think it is material,why should it not be accepted? If Senator Playford, on behalf of the Government, will now give a promise that the Bill will not be brought into force by proclamation before the1st July next, no doubt honorable senators on this side will be prepared to allow the clause to pass as it is.

Senator Styles - I hope he will not.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Why does the honorable senator express that hope? Because he wants the Bill to come into force on an earlier date. In view of the fact that the Bill has been upon the stocks for such a long time, I assume that, once it has obtained the Royal assent, the Government will very quickly advise the Governor-General to issue a proclamation bringing it into force. I can only assume from the interjection of Senator Styles that he would like the Bill to be assented to in the coming week, the proclamation to be issued immediately afterwards, and the regulations to be gazetted two months, possibly three months, before the Senate could have an opportunity of considering them. It would be monstrous to take such a course, and an assurance would be acceptable that Parliament will meet again before the Bill absolutely comes into force. It is only fair and reasonable that the Government should meet the Opposition in a trifling matter of this kind; even the amendment may, by some honorable senators, be deemed unreasonable. When a Government, in consequence, possibly, of the attitude taken by their supporters, decline to give way on minor points, they simply invite opposition, and further discussion. If the Government are prepared to accept the suggestion I have thrown out and to give the assurance indicated, there will, so far as I can see. be an end to the debate.

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