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Thursday, 27 September 1906


The CHAIRMAN - The title of a Bill has not so much to do with a point of order of this kind as its subject-matter. I have to take into consideration what is the subject-matter of this Bill. Section 87 of the Constitution says: -

During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise, not more than onefourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure.

To that provision Senator Stewart proposes to add the words - other than expenditure for a national scheme of old-age pensions.

I am of opinion that, while the subjectmatter of the Bill contemplates expenditure - and I think the common-sense interpretation is that it does - it is within the power of the Committee, if it wishes, to restrict that expenditure The money to be raised by the imposition of the special duties might be used for all kinds of purposes. I take it that, by his amendment, Senator Stewart wishes to restrict the use of the money, and therefore I rule that it is in, order.


Senator Drake - With great regret, sir. I dissent from your ruling.


The CHAIRMAN - Senator Drake has handed in the following objection to my decision : -

I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that the amendment of Senator Stewart is in order.

In the Senate.

The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report, sir, that in Committee on the Bill for -

An Act to alter the Constitution with respect to the appropriation of special duties of Customs and of Excise,

Senator Drakeproposed the insertion of the following new clause: -

The Constitution is altered by the addition of the following section : - "The Parliament of the Commonwealth may for a special purpose impose duties of Customs or Excise upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the first day of January, 1907, and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.

Senator Stewartmoved to amend the proposed new clause to insert after the word "by" the following words: -

Inserting after the word "expenditure" in section S7 the words " other than expenditure for a national scheme of old-age pensions."

Senator Draketook the point that the amendment to his amendment is not in order, because it is not within the subjectmatter of the ! JB i 1 1 . It is not for me to decide what the object of Senator Stewart is. He may wish that the money to be expended for that or any other purpose shall be taken, out of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which is now handed back to the States. It is not my duty to interpret his object. I can only take into consideration the words of his amendment. If it is not in order, I fail to see how the following words of Senator Drake's proposed new clause are in order: - and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.

Senator Stewartproposes to provide that it may be expended for a national scheme of old-age pensions. I think that the subjectmatter of the Bill, while it contemplates the appropriation of the revenue derived from special duties, may be held to contemplate the expenditure of that revenue, and that is why I ruled the amendment of Senator Stewart in order.


Senator Drake - I recognise that the point of order has been very clearly put by the Chairman of Committees. No objection has been taken to mv amendment on the ground that it is out of order. We are dealing with a Bill which has to do with the appropriation of the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise. It proposes to amend the Constitution in such a way as to make that revenue subject to a different law from that which governs the revenue now derived from duties of Customs and Excise. At the present time the Commonwealth has power to raise revenue from such duties to any extent, provided that three-fourths of it shall be given back to the States in which it has been collected. The Bill deals with a different subject, and that is the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise which are not to be subject. to that provision. My amendment, which I submit is strictly in order, simply proposes to put clause 2 of the Bill into a different form. It deals with the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise to be imposed for and devoted to a special purpose.. But Senator Stewart, by . his amendment, wishes to alter the law in regard to the treatment of the revenue from ordinary duties of Customs and Excise. He proposes that in future the whole or any part of the Customs and Excise revenues raised may be devoted to the payment of old-age pensions. So far as his amendment would have any effect, it would take the revenue derived from Customs and Excise out of the operation of section 87 of the Constitution. The objection that I have to it is that this .Bill deals with special duties of Customs and Excise, and that we cannot in a Bill of that nature, the second reading of which has been passed, introduce an amendment in Committee which deals with ordinary duties of Customs and Excise.


Senator Trenwith - I think that the point urged by Senator Drake is sound. The Bill before us is one to alter the Constitution, so as to empower the Federal Parliament to raise special duties of Customs for a special purpose. We have not that power now. We can raise duties through the Customs, but we are limited by the Constitution as to how we shall use them. One-fourth of the revenue may be devoted to the services of the Commonwealth, and at least three-fourths must, under the Constitution, for a certain period, be returned to the States. Senator Stewart's amendment, instead of providing for dealing with special duties, which is the object of the Bill, seeks to divert the ordinary duties into another channel. That appears to me to be outside the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, cannot be accepted as an amendment.


Senator Clemons - I should like to put the facts of the present case as I under- stand them. The Bill has been introduced for a definite object - the appropriation of special duties of Customs and Excise for purposes that are left undefined. The amendment of Senator Drake would also have the effect of appropriating special duties for special purposes. But the effect of Senator Stewart's amendment is that, instead of appropriating special duties for an indefinite purpose, there shall be an appropriation from the general threefourths of Customs and Excise revenue for n special purpose.







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