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Thursday, 13 September 1906

Senator DRAKE (Queensland) .- It seems to me that the ruling of the Chairman, and consequently the ruling of the President, is right. I am sorry we have not had an opportunity to hear Senator Clemons. While the balance of convenience may be in favour of having the whole of the debate at the same time, I think that literally the reading of the standing order is against that course. However, we shall have an opportunity to hear Senator Clemons in reply; and I shall endeavour, as far as possible, to keep an open mind. At present it appears to me that the whole issue is whether the subject of a survey for a railway route can be kept separate from the question of the construction of a railway. If these two subjects can be dealt with separately it is clear that the amendment is not relevant.

Senator Trenwith - Is there not another question, that is, whether the subject of the construction of a railway is -relevant to that of a survey for a railway ? Obviously the two subjects can be dealt with separately ; but the question is one of relevancy.

Senator DRAKE - The question is whether the subjects can be dealt with separately ; and, if they can, then the introduction of one subject into a Bill dealing with another is not relevant. While I am not sure that a railway could not be constructed without a survey, I am perfectly certain that a route may be surveyed and no railway constructed.

Senator Playford - There are dozens of such instances in Victoria.

Senator DRAKE - Up to the present point the Government and Parliament have desired to treat the two matters separately and to deal in the first instance only with the matter of a survey. Can an honorable senator thrust in an amendment which would compel the two subjects to be united in a Bill, in which the Government and Parliament desire to have them kept separate? I think not; and, therefore, in my opinion, the ruling by the Chairman and the President is quite correct.

Senator Stewart - This is mere hairsplitting !

Senator DRAKE - Not at all; it is most important. The illustration cited by the President is quite to the point. If in a Bill' dealing with one subject, an amendment relating to another subject may be introduced, then there is no limit to the number of subjects which may be dealt with in a Bill. If, as a condition in the Bill before us, there can be introduced a reference to a subject not connected with the subject-matter of the Bill, we may introduce references to any subject whatever. Therefore, I think the President is quite right in saying that if the proposed amendment is relevant, it would be quite competent to impose a condition that the survey should not be made unless South Australia agreed to some arrangement with regard to the transfer of the States debts; in each case matters would be introduced foreign to the subject-matter of the Bill.

Senator Stewart - What has the States debts to do with the subject of the Bill ?

Senator DRAKE - Nothing, and neither has railway construction.

Senator Stewart - What is the object of the survey?

Senator DRAKE - Never mind what the object is.

Senator Stewart - When we sow seed, do we not expect to reap the harvest?

Senator DRAKE - That does not always happen. There may often be surveys without railway construction ; and the Government and the Senate are quite justified in dealing with the two matters separately. The Bill has been introduced to deal with nothing but a survey, leaving the question of construction for the future.

Senator Fraser - Does not the survey partially commit us to the construction?

Senator DRAKE - I do not think so, because no one in supporting this Bill woul'd be committed to the construction of the railway. The very object of the survey is to ascertain whether the construction would be justified ; and the question of the construction may or may not be submitted afterwards, and must then be dealt with as ai separate subject. If my contention is correct, that the two subjects are separable, then the President and the Chairman are quite right in ruling that the amendment is not relevant. It would have been quite different if the amendment had dealt with the matter of the route - if, for instance, the amendment had provided that the Minister, having obtained the consent of the Governments of the States interested, might do so and so - but the very fact that the mover of the amendment has been compelled to introduce words relating to railway construction is some evidence that his proposal is not relevant. If the amendment were relevant, it would not be necessary to mention any subject not included in the subject-matter of the Bill-.

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