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Thursday, 7 December 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - Before I commence the discussion on this matter, I should like to submit what I take to be a proper inquiry to the President as to our standing order. If I am wrong, I hope that he will correct me. I believe that Senator Pulsford gave notice of his intention to dispute your ruling, but that, having resumed his seat, he is not now permitted under our Standing Orders to debate this question any further.

The PRESIDENT - He has the right to reply.

Senator CLEMONS - I think it is as well that that point should be cleared up. It is as well that every honorable senator should remember the position,, so that if such circumstances happen again we may all be aware that if an honorable senator disputes your ruling," and resumes his seat, he will not be allowed, when the. question of the disputed ruling comes up for the consideration! of the Senate, to debate the matter, except by way of reply or by permission of the Senate.

The PRESIDENT - This practice has been adhered to on all occasions.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not dispute that it is in accordance with a proper interpretation of the Standing Orders.

Senator Higgs - I do not think it is a good practice.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not think it is, myself. but I am forced to the conclusion that it is quite in accordance with our present Standing Orders. If I may, with the greatest respect, make another observation, I should say that the very fact that you, sir, have given an amended ruling to-day-

The PRESIDENT - I have not given an amended ruling ; I have simply stated my ruling of yesterday with more particularity.

Senator CLEMONS - You have amplified! your ruling, or. to use your phrase, have re-stated it with more particularity. The very fact that you have done that - and I think it is a good1 thing that you have - emphasizes the point which I wish to put forward merely as my own opinion : That the President should not be necessarily expected by the Senate to deliver an off-hand ruling on an important point. I merely submit that for your consideration, and intimate that, so far as T am concerned.i I shall always loyally support you if you intimate your desire to take time for consideration before delivering a ruling. . It is now unnecessary for me to refer to the fact that you unwittingly fell into an error yesterday in . referring to the

Life Assurance Bill, You have admitted the error. But the point which I wish to emphasize, and which is at the root of the whole discussion, is that you were in error also when you stated that the House of

Representatives had agreed-

The PRESIDENT - I only said that I was so informed.

Senator CLEMONS - I do not say that you asserted it, but you said that you had been informed that the House of Representatives had agreed to the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee upon this subject. You have already ruled - and of course from that ruling no one can differ for a moment - that under our Standing Orders as they exist the Trade Marks Bill could not come before us now. I then ask myself, " How does it come before us ? " The answer is that the Standing Orders Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives have recommended to both Houses that they should adopt a certain resolution. It is a fact that the Senate did adopt the resolution. It is equally a fact that the House of Representatives did not adopt it. I wish to consider first the moral obligation - if honorable senators choose to term it so - that is upon the Senate to adhere to its determination. I say at once that if the resolution put before the Senate in. that way were not in the nature of a joint reference to both Houses, there could be no question that the Senate, having resolved to adhere to it, must necessarily do so. But by far the most important aspect of the matter is that the adoption of the resolution in question is analogous to the case of an agreement between two parties. In this case the two parties are the Senate and the House of Representatives. Under this analogy the agreement has been signed and properly executed by one party, but has not been executed in any way by the other party That is the position in which we find ourselves. To emphasize it, I put this view before the Senate: Suppose that the positions were entirely reversed, and that the other House were now being asked to take up a lapsed Bill under the circumstances that it had agreed to this resolution but the Senate had not. I ask every honorable senator to consider whether, under those circumstances, he is perfectly satisfied that the House of Representatives would not take advantage of that position. Would not the House of Representatives be entitled to say : " It is a fact the Senate has agreed, but we have made no such agreement, and do not consider ourselves bound in any way." If that be so, is it not worth our while to consider how far we are bound by an agreement which the other House has left unexecuted? If the subject-matter of the ruling were a Bill to which none of us attach any immediate importance, we might hesitate for some time before we decided to act on an agreement, when we know perfectly well that the other House had not completed its part. I do not believe that any senator will dispute the accuracy of that position; and it would be a pity if the great importance of this measure were in any way to cloud our judgment on the question before us.

Senator Best - But the other House has not refused to adopt the resolution.

Senator Givens - Have we any knowledge of what the other House has done ?

Senator CLEMONS - Certainly we have. I desire to present this question without any party bias of any kind ; and I point out to Senator Best that, if we revert to the analogy of an agreement, and one of the parties were asked to act with the full knowledge that the other party had not affixed their signatures, he would certainly not ask whether it was known for certain that the other party intended to take that course. My reply would be that I am not in the mind of the other party - that all I know is that the agreement remains unexecuted.

Senator Trenwith - It is not an agreement, but a recommendation, which has been acted upon by one party, and not by the other.

Senator CLEMONS - I am sorry that Senator Trenwith misunderstands the position. A recommendation by the Standing Orders Committee is worth nothing to this Senate, unless the Senate has ratified it. The recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee is worth nothing until the other House agrees.

Senator Trenwith - Surely that is a question for the other House.

Senator CLEMONS - But it certainly concerns us.

Senator Playford - The other House acted on the recommendation, and proceeded with the Bill.

Senator CLEMONS - Senator Playford is entirely in error in assuming that the other House acted on the recommendation.

Senator Givens - The question is: Are wo right in our position?

Senator CLEMONS - I do net desire to discuss this question with any suggestion of animosity. If Senator Givens could remove' from his mind any consideration as to the importance of this Bill, would he think we could immediately act on an understanding that the other House was going to execute an agreement which so far remains unexecuted ? I am merely stating a case, and not attempting any argument ; but that is precisely the position. It is a great pity that this Bill should be one of such great importance, and that in connexion with it we should be compelled to act on the assumption that the other House is going to do what so far they have left undone, but what the Senate has rightly and properlydone. Everything I have expressed represents mv own view, but I take the opportunity to speak, to a considerable extent, on behalf of Senator Pulsford, who. for the reasons I have indicated, is unable to put his case before the Senate.

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