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Friday, 27 July 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I point out, in answer to Senator Millen, that I have referred to the already complicated problem of adjusting the compensation between the Commonwealth and the States for transferred properties. I think that that, in itself, is a sufficient reason for my opposition to the amendment. I dealt sufficiently with the taxing rights, revenue rights, and dominion rights of the States. If Senator Millen will turn to clause 65, he will find that it- provides that -

Any land which, before the commencement of this Act, has been acquired by the Commonwealth from any State or person, or has by virtue of section 85 of the Constitution become vested in the Commonwealth, shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have been acquired under this Act and to be vested in the Commonwealth as if acquired under this Act.

We have a corresponding provision in the existing Act, section 47. Under those provisions, compensation applies in the case of those transferred properties. We have power to legislate that compensation shall be paid to a State by virtue of section 85 of the Constitution, paragraph 3 of which says that -

The Commonwealth shall compensate the State for the value of any properly passing to the Commonwealth under this section ;' if no agreement can be made as to the mode of compensation, it shall be determined under laws to be made by the Parliament.

It will be obvious that the bulk of the land which we get from a State being in connexion with the transferred properties, we should not allow, any compensation for the loss of taxation rights, revenue rights, or dominion rights ; and as to severance, I have indicated that we have adopted the proposed form from the existing Act. Some very solid reason shoul'd be advanced for departing from the existing law in this respect.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [2.0]. - The Minister has pointed out that this provision, is in the existing Act; but honorable senators will recollect that the Act was passed without, in some respects, the consideration which it deserved. I must take some blame for not giving the Act as much attention as. perhaps, I ought, when it came before us as a mere machinery measure. In the second place, the Minister has referred to clause 65, which, however, does not touch the question before us in any way. I quite agree with a good deal of what the Minister has said as to the constitutional position in regard to the acquisition of land. But I point out that this sub-clause is intended to declare that the States shall not be entitled to compensation for the loss of any rights of " dominion, taxation, or revenue." I think it a mistake to have that provision, because it assumes that a State may, under the circumstances, lose the right of taxation in respect of Commonwealth property. That is a question for the Court to determine; and, no doubt, there have been decisions in regard to municipal rights, and so forth. I do not think we are justified in assuming that a State may lose its right of taxation, and in providing that there shall be no compensation for the loss. It is difficult to decide whether a State would lose the right, but', if so, we ought npt to take away the right to claim compensation for the loss of a portion of revenue, which is an asset, small or great, of the State. So far as regards the introduction of the word " dominion, " I do not think there should be any compensation in that respect. I am convinced by what the Minister has said in this connexion, but I feel that we ought' to retain -the provision in regard to taxation or revenue. " Dominion" could not be assessed for damages, except in regard to land taken for the Federal Capital, whereas "taxation or revenue," being money, is susceptible of assessment in some shape or other. With the permission of the Committee, I shall withdraw the amendment, with the view of substituting another embracing simply taxation or revenue.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn-.

Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -

That the words " taxation or revenue," line r3, be left out.

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