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Wednesday, 19 September 1906

The PRESIDENT - I ask the honorable and learned senator not to say it for the fifteenth time.

Senator DRAKE - The point I am trying to make is that we should follow the example of the United States in this matter, and when we propose to amend our Constitution in any particular we should put a clear proposition before the people. We should be able to go before them and say, "It is proposed to amend the Constitution so as to effect this, that, or the other." In a proposition of half a dozen lines we could state much more clearly than it is stated in this Bill exactly what is intended by the proposed alteration of the Constitution. This is the first amendment of the Constitution which has been proposed, and presumably the attempt will be made to make the form now adopted a precedent for the future. If we are to submit amendments of the Constitution in this way by proposing the striking out of some words and the insertion of others, and are to be perpetually tinkering in this fashion with the Constitution, we shall get it into the condition in which the land laws are in many of the States, where they have been amended so often that people do not know what they really provide for. We have had evidence in this Parliament, as well as in the Parliaments of the States, of Acts having been tinkered, touched up, and altered in such a way that it has been necessary to bring in newBills simply because, by reason of the many amendments which have been made in the law it has become unintelligible. In some instances a law has been so altered that even lawyers find it difficult to say what is the meaning expressed by the Legislature in the last amendment carried. Why should we follow such a practice in dealing, with amendments of the Constitution when we might introduce a Bill setting forth in five or six lines, as a separate provision of the Constitution, the alteration which it is proposed to effect. I think this is a real objection to the Bill, and by the fault which apparently the Senate is now going to commit, we shall be setting a precedent for all time which will be of a most undesirable nature. Even at this late stage, the third reading of the Bill, I hope that honorable senators will give careful consideration to this question before the Bill is finally passed.

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