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Wednesday, 5 September 1906

The CHAIRMAN - T think the arguments of the honorable senator might be more appropriate when we are considering clause 3.

Senator MILLEN - With all due deference, I point out that we were dealing originally with the effect that this Bill will have, in view of the last words of paragraph d of clause 2, if the word "January " be omitted, and I am referring to clause 3 only as illustrating what might happen if we approve of substituting July for January. I do not desire to discuss clause 3 ; but the whole of my argument is intended to show that the substitution of July for January will have the effect that, while it alters the times for the commencement and the ending of the term, it leaves a period from the ist January until the 30th June, when there will not be the full number of senators. I hope I have made it clear that there is an absolute defect in the Bill, and my present purpose is to arouse rather a thin Committee to a recognition of what appears to me to be the patent fact that there is some necessity for amendment. If I were not convinced on that point there would be no possible object in occupying time over a measure of this kind. If there is any doubt in the minds of honorable senators', I appeal' to them to obtain from the Government, by an expression of opinion, some assurance that an amendment will be submitted. I propose in clause, 3 to insert at the commencement the words " Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 7 of the Constitution." That will make it clear that, while the Constitution limits the period to six years, it shall be six years and six months in this special instance.

Senator Givens - That is already provided in clause 3.

Senator MILLEN - As I pointed out before, clause 3 says nothing about six years and six months, and I take it that the object of the Bill is to extend the term by six months.

Senator Mulcahy - Only temporarily.

Senator Lt Col Gould - The Constitution says that the period shall be six years altogether.

Senator Givens - We are seeking to amend that.

Senator MILLEN - I hope that Senator Givens is speaking seriously. Whilst an honorable senator may see a defect in a Bill, and feel some responsibility to point it out, he is, I think, under no obligation to immediately draft an amendment to a document designed to amend the Constitution. I have not the slightest doubt that

Senator Givens,and, possibly, some other members of the Committee, can throw off amendments ad infinitum at a moment's notice ; but I admit that I cannot do so. Whilst there is nothing in this Bill to provide that a senator shall have a term of office of six years and six months, there is an absolute prohibition in the Constitution against the term being extended to more than six years. All that this Bill does is not to make the six years' term six years and six months, but to provide that, instead of starting on the ist of January and ending on the 31st of December, it shall start on the ist of July and end on the 30th of June. I think that is not what is wanted. Honorable senators who are convinced that there is substance in my contention will support my request to the Government, and honorable senators who are in some doubt on the subject, will, I hope, determine that the matter to which I have referred shall be placed absolutely beyond doubt before the Bill is passed.

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