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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - It seems to me that the arguments of Senator Gould would apply against any power that it was proposed to take by Statute. It may be said with regard to any proposed power, " Oh, you may use it wrongly." That is the whole substance of the honorable senator's argument. He does not even assume that it is at all probable, but that it is possible, that the power will be wrongly used. There is no power that may not be abused.

Senator Lt Col Gould - I ask the Minister of Defence whether, as a matter of fact, there has not been a recommendation to take a portion of the Centennial Park Sydney, for military purposes?

Senator Playford - Not that I know of.

Senator TRENWITH - If there were such a proposal, and it was undesirable, I do not think that this Parliament would permit the Ministerto do it.

Senator Macfarlane - We could not stop it.

Senator TRENWITH - I venture to say that we could.

Senator Best - On the principle that the Government is responsible to Parliament.

Senator TRENWITH - Decidedly. If the Minister of Defence actually consummated the administrative act of taking land and issuing the Gazette notice, this Parliament could1 still prevent the actual acquisition, or restore the land if it could be shown that there was an equally useful piece of land available elsewhere.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator is ignoring party considerations altogether.

Senator TRENWITH - I have never known party considerations enter into a national question of this character.

Senator Millen - I have never known party considerations absent in any vote.

Senator TRENWITH - I have no hesitation in saying that Parliament would not submit to the cherished sentiments of any of the States being needlessly outraged. There is no danger whatever of public reserves being taken away by the Commonwealth, unless, under some peculiar circumstances, they are proved to be an absolute necessity in the public interest. Whenever those peculiar circumstances do arise, the interests of the particular locality must take second place. If we carry this amendment we shall certainly entail on Parlia ment the necessity of carrying, not one, but innumerable Acts of Parliament for the acquisition of public property.

Senator Drake - Is it proposed to take so many reserves as that?

Senator TRENWITH - No ; but, as will be readily seen, there are many cases in which it could be represented that it was in contemplation to reserve the land, and so forth, and thus innumerable difficulties could be created. With the development of governmental control. Parliaments everywhere find the time at their disposal insufficient for their legitimate work.

Senator Stewart - We sit only half the year.

Senator TRENWITH - Any Parliament which sat all the year would do less than we do. who sit only half the year. We do our work much more efficiently and expeditiously because we have some time to devote to it, apart from the actual sittings. As a matter of fact, in every session of every Parliament of which we have any knowledge, many measures, admitted to be of importance, have to be deferred owing to want of time ; and yet this amendment proposes to burden Parliament with the consideration of innumerable Bills for the acquisition of land.

Senator Millen - If there are to be innumerable Bills, there must be innumerable resumptions.

Senator TRENWITH - The Commonwealth Government administers three very important Departments, in connexion with which - and I speak of the Post and Telegraph Department particularly - there must be innumerable acquisitions of land for the purpose of providing accommodation for public servants.

Senator Millen - Is all the accommodation to be provided by the acquisition of public reserves?

Senator TRENWITH - Anything we do to render it imperative to pass Acts of Parliament, except grave necessity compels is unwise. While we. have a responsible Government, and an Executive completely under our control, it is much more expeditious and convenient to permit the Government to move and act until they do so contrary to the will of Parliament, rather than to put the cumbersome machinery of Parliament into operation, on each occasion. The amendment creates a condition which would practically invite objections to proposed resumptions. I cannot help using the term introduced by

Senator Millen,and saying that it is fantastic to conceive of the Commonwealth Government goings out of its way to look for some means by which it might injure some of the States. Surely the Federal Executive, living, as it does, upon the will of the representatives of the States-

Senator Millen - On what?

Senator TRENWITH - On the will of the representatives of the States.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator not mean the will of the representatives of the constituencies of the Commonwealth? The representatives of the States iii the Senate can rarely affect the Executive. That is no reason why this power should be given.

Senator TRENWITH - There is no reason why the Senate should place hobbles on the Executive.

Senator Millen - Unless on the honorable senator's own showing, he having contended that we have power to deal with the Executive if it does wrong. My interjection was in correction of that statement.

Senator TRENWITH - I spoke of Parliament, which has the control of the Executive. Although the Senate has not the control of the Executive, in the sense that we can displace the latter, we have considerable control, which gives the States, as States, greater power than their numerical strength would warrant. Our duty is to see that no Act of Parliament prejudices the interests of the States. This Chamber was created as the bulwark of States interests and rights, and therefore we ought not to pass this amendment, which, if it were carried, would outrage the Constitution. Subject to the conditions being just, the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth may acquire land for public purposes; and this amendment proposes that, by our own act, we shall restrict our powers. The amendment is extremely unwise in itself, and it is injudicious from the point of view that it creates more legislation! for Parliament, which already has little enough time for its own work.

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