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Thursday, 23 August 1906

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - I can quite understand a member of the Committee who is disposed to think that the clause ought to be retrospective opposing this amendment, but I cannot understand a senator who does not adopt that view objecting to the insertion of a word which makes it perfectly clear to what extent the clause will operate. It may be urged, and I suppose it has been urged, that the insertion of the word " hereafter " is unnecessary, and that the clause as it stands is quite sufficient. I can quite understand a lawyer - if honorable senators can find such a man - who thought it desirable that Acts of Parliament should be passed containing provisions so ambiguous and doubtful in their meaning that they would give him an opportunity of getting some work, voting for such a provision. That, I think, would be the result if this clause were allowed to remain as it stands. Putting my own personal interpretation upon it, I should say that it is extremely likely that it will have a retrospective effect. I understand that Senator Playford has expressed the same view. I do not wonder at any man, applying the light of common sense to the clause, saying that it is possible that it may be retrospective. Whether it is desirable to make it retrospective or not, is a different question. But if there are members of the Committee who think that it ought not to be retrospective, I should say that we, as a revising chamber, if we are nothing else, should insert words to make our meaning, perfectly clear. Even if we do make the clause slightly redundant, it is better to do that than to let it remain ambiguous. It is better to express in the clearest language exactly what we mean, even if we have to put iti one additional word in about 100, than to allow a clause to go the meaning of which is doubtful. Because, after all, the insertion of the word " hereafter " would not add very much to a clause of this length. It is very undesirable that we should pass a clause which has a retrospective effect. I shall certainly support the amendment, or some such amendment. Whether we insert the word "hereafter" or whether - if we wish to make the phraseology uniform - we adopt words which I notice are fairly common in this Bill, and say ,r after the commencement of this Act," is not material. At any rate, " hereafter ' ' means the same thing.

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