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Wednesday, 12 September 1906

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that on a previous occasion I moved an amendment to the effect that the Bill be not further considered until the consent of South Australia had been obtained to the construction of the railway. It will also be within their knowledge that the Constitution Act only empowers the Commonwealth to acquire or construct a railway with the consent of the State through which it passes. We have obtained the consent of Western Australia to build the portion of the proposed railway which will be contained in that State, but we have not yet got the consent of South Australia to build the remaining portion. -

Senator Playford - We have got the consent of South Australia to the making of a survey, and that is all we are asking power to do in the Bill.

Senator GIVENS - Would any State be so foolish as to refuse the expenditure of Commonwealth money within its territory without committing the State to anything? I defy the Minister, as a representative of South Australia, to say that it will give its consent to the construction of the railway.

Senator Pearce - Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in discussing the question of the consent of South Australia, which is not mentioned in the clause, until he has moved an amendment to that effect ? If the honorable senator can speak at length on that subject, merely by indicating that he intends to move an amendment, it will be possible for an honorable senator to discuss any subject under the sun by promising at the conclusion of his remarks to move an amendment, and then changing his mind.

Senator Givens - I submit, sir, that after indicating my intention to move an amendment, it is quite within my province to speak at length on its subject-matter, But apart from that consideration the whole question is involved in this clause, and I am entitled to discuss the attitude of South Australia, inasmuch as its consent would be necessary to give full effect to the Bill, even if I did not move an amendment.

Senator Clemons - Every honorable senator heard Senator Givens say that he intended to move an amendment dealing with the question of the consent of the two States concerned, and mention that on a previous occasion he had moved a similar amendment. It has been the universal practice for the President, as well as yourself, sir, to allow an honorable senator who has indicated his intention to move an amendment to speak thereon without compelling him to state its exact terms. But apart from that practice, sir, I submit that Senator Givens, whether he indicated that he intended to move an amendment or not, was conforming to the Standing Orders. He did not utter a single word which was not perfectly relevant to the clause, whether he concludes his speech with an amendment or not. I therefore submit, sir, that there is no point of order involved.

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