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Thursday, 23 August 1906

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) .- When I read the Bill for the first time, clause 5 appeared to me to be ultra vires, but after listening to the debate I have come to the conclusion that, apparently, we have power to deal with foreign corporations, and trading and financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, but that we cannot deal with individuals who may commit as like offence. Senator Pulsford has attempted to show that legislation of that character - passed in the exercise of a power which we believe we have - is an invasion of State rights. Such a contention is absolutely farcical. We can understand such charges being made by irresponsible persons, but we have reason to pause when we hear them made on the floor of the Chamber. What is the position? It is contended that because we cannot reach one class of individuals we must therefore let all go free. We are not responsible for the drafting of the Constitution. We can do no more than exercise to the fullest extent our legislative power in this regard, and as in the case of the Commerce Act it will remain for the States Parliaments to supplement our legislation. It seems to me that there is a strong consensus of opinion in favour of the view that, constitutionally, we have the right to impose this restraint on foreign corporations, and trading, or financial corporations formed, not within a State, but within- the Commonwealth. The fact that we have no power to place a limitation upon individuals does not appeal to me as a reason why we should not exercise our power in regard to corporations ; and the exercise of the power is not an invasion of State rights, but the mere performance of a duty which is intrusted to us by the Constitution.

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