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Wednesday, 19 September 1906

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - After the very full discussion there has been, I cannot understand this request for a recommittal..

Senator Clemons - Was there full discussion in Committee? Was there, for instance, any opportunity to discuss clause 3 ?

Senator TRENWITH - There was very full discussion in Committee, -and I do riot know what obstruction there was to the discussion of clause 3. Apparently honorable senators did not care to discuss the clause. I am opposed to the Bill, and will endeavour to defeat it on the third reading ; but. at the same time, I feel that the discussion has been not only full, but unduly extended. So far, Senator Clemons has presented only one reason for the recommittal, namely, that he desires to provide that South Australia and' Western Australia shall bear the cost of the survey. But that idea has been presented to honorable senators not once, but probably a hundred times.

Senator Clemons - Was any opportunity .given in. Committee to vote for such an amendment ?

Senator TRENWITH - It seems to me that if there had been a genuine desire to test the opinion of the Committee on that point, an opportunity would have been presented. And, further, if there had been a .general desire to carry such a provision, the Bill could never have been carried so far, because it provides that the cost shall not be borne by Western Australia and South Australia, but by the whole of the Commonwealth, and a recommittal could not lead to any amendment of the kind suggested. I do not know that Senator Clemons has any other reason for desiring a recommittal.

Senator Clemons - I certainly have.

Senator TRENWITH - When we are asked to recommit a Bill reasons for the recommittal should be presented ; we should not merely be told that an honorable senator desires that a. measure shall be recom.recommital, Senator Clemons says that he has other reasons, but we ought not to be expected to recommit a Bill simply because an honorable senator has unexpressed reasons in his mind. Senator Clemons' reasons, if presented, might induce us to pass the motion ; but a recommittal for the reason he has advanced would be useless, because the whole principle of the Bill is that the Commonwealth should bear the expense of the survey.

Senator Clemons - No; the principle of the Bill is that a survey shall be made.

Senator TRENWITH - The principle is that a survey shall be made by the Commonwealth : and it is a principle that was not adopted without ample warning. Sena- tor Styles, myself, and others presented with as much force as we could- we were even charged with exhibiting bitterness - the view that, if this survey is so desirable in the interests of South Australia and Western Australia, and, seeing that the latter State, with its prepondering adult population, is so wealthy, the cost ought to be borne by the two States. But to recommit on a question which has been so thoroughly threshed out, would be to reduce our legislation to a farce.

Senator Clemons - We did not discuss clause 3 in Committee.

Senator TRENWITH - Not on any specific amendment.

Senator Clemons - Practically, we never reached clause 3, which was passed without (any honorable senator saying a word.

Senator TRENWITH - That is to say, no honorable senator desired to make an amendment. If I had desired an amendment in clause 3 I should have taken advantage of the opportunity then presented.

Senator Clemons - - Why did the Government accept our previous amendment ?

Senator TRENWITH - Because, I suppose, they thought it a desirable one.

Senator Clemons - The honorable senator knows the reason.

Senator TRENWITH - 4 do not. If that amendment had not been accepted I should have voted for it on a division.

Senator Clemons - But the honorable senator ought to know why. there was no further debate in Committee.

Senator TRENWITH - I really do not.

Senator Clemons - Them JI think ihe honorable senator is the only one who does not know.

Senator TRENWITH - I can only gather that there was no desire to say anything about the clause. Whatever was the reason it has not now been presented as one why we should recommit. Unless there is great necessity it is undesirable and inconvenient to recommit Bills. Our forms provide the most ample opportunity for discussion, and it cannot be said that advantage was not taken of the opportunity on the second reading. Then the Committee stage occupied more than one day, if not several, and in the case of a Bill of three clauses that shows that ample 'use was made of the convenience presented by the Committee stage.

Senator Clemons - Bills are often recommitted.

Senator TRENWITH - Only for urgent reasons. I am anxious that we should reach . the third reading stage, because I have some reasons to urge which I think may induce honorable senators to refuse to take the Bill further. But I object to the waste of time involved in a recommittal.

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