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Thursday, 9 August 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) - As I said before, both in speech and by interjection, I think that the clause without the words sought to be deleted would be quite sufficient to give to these conveyances and assurances the effect which we desire to give to them. But, so far as the existing Act is concerned, there is, and has been, a doubt in the minds of certainresponsible officers of the States. I think, and I believe that Senator Best also thinks, that it empowers the States to dispose of these lands, regardless ofany conditions which might attach, to them in the case of private disposal. Still a doubt exists, and it is most likely that in the absence of these words a question would be raised as to the effect of the provision.

Senator Best - Butno words in the existing Act are so strong as the proposed new clause with these words deleted.

Senator KEATING - That may be. Still, what we want to do is to obviate the chance of any possible doubt arising. In my opinion, honorable senators will be well minded if they assist me to retain the words.

Senator Best - Although the honorable senator does not think that they are of any value ?

Senator KEATING - I think that with the words no doubt could be raised.

Senator Drake - That is. if they will take the opinion of this Parliament.

Senator KEATING - If, relying upon our own opinion that the clause would be sufficiently strong, we left out the words, still we should have to depend upon State officers in responsible positions adopting our opinion. If we retained the words-

Senator Drake - It would be an expression of the opinion of this Parliament.

Senator KEATING - Decidedly not.

Senator Drake - The retention of the words would give no additional force.

Senator KEATING - I think it would, because it makes our provision directly inconsistent with the provisions of the States laws. I appreciate Senator Best's statement that, so far as the rest of the new clause is concerned, it is intended to effect the object which we all have in common, and meets his wishes, as it is not worded like the original provision which, to him and others, seemed offensive. If we retain these words, then there can be no possible doubt raised as to the intention of this Parliament that the laws of the States, so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of our Lands Acquisition Act, shall not haveany application when lands are being disposed of by way of private agreement by the State to the Commonwealth for a public purpose.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [7.51]. - I entirely agree with the view that Senator Best has expressed. Without the words which he seeks to delete the clause would be absolutely clear and effective. It is a matter of, so to speak, constitutional conveyancing. We are putting in, not by virtue of our powers simply as the Parliament of the Commonwealth, butby virtue of the Constitution, a new clause whichsays that when an agreement is made between the Governor of a State and the Governor-General of the Commonwealth for the acquisition of a piece of land on the execution of the assurance or conveyance the land shall absolutely vest in the Commonwealth. What more is required?My honorable friend says that the retention of these words might indicate the intention of this Parliament. The intention ofthis Parliament is nothing. The force of the new clause will be derived from the Constitution, which says-that we can enact a provision of this kind. If there is any law of a State inconsistent with our. provision it must give way. We cannot make that provision in the Constitution stronger or weaker.

Senator McGregor - Why notsay so?

Senator Sir; JOSIAH SYMON - This Parliament has no power to repeal State laws, or to say that anything shall be done notwithstanding a State law. It has power to say that certain things shall be done, and, if there be an inconsistent1 State law, then, under the Constitution, it will be set aside. ' We cannot qualify or lessen the force ofany State law. I think that Senator Keating would be well advised to accept the amendment. I should have been disposed to go further, and eliminate the words " bv force of this Act," because the provision could only have force b> virtue of the Act. It is not worth while troubling about that, and if the Minister is pleased I am satisfied.

Amendment of the amendment negatived.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Bill reported with a. further amendment.

Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to-

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would preclude the Bill from being passed through its remaining stages without delay.

Report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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