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Friday, 28 September 1906


The PRESIDENT - Perhaps the shortest way would be for the Minister to name the Bills in the motion.


Senator Keating - The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill is only a machinery Bill, and therefore it would not have to be submitted to the people.


Senator MILLEN - I am quite prepared to agree to- the suspension of the Standing Orders in relation to the 'Constitution Alteration Bills, with which we are familiar, and if the Minister will ask leave to amend his motion, I shall be obliged to him. '


The PRESIDENT - The Minister can ask leave to put in his motion the short titles of the Bills.


Senator Playford - That would be rather long.


Senator Clemons - Put in " Orders of the Day, No. 1 and No.2."


Senator Playford - I ask leave to amend my motion by omitting " such Bill," with a view to inserting the words " Orders of the Day, No. 1 and No. 2," and by omitting "its " and inserting . "their."


Senator Drake - I object. The PRESIDENT.- Before the ques? tion is discussed I wish to point out that the- motion refers to Bills which have already been reported, ' and therefore it can only refer to Orders of the Day, No. . 1 and No. 2.


Senator Millen - Would it not apply to a Constitution Alteration Bill if it were reported next week?


The PRESIDENT - No ; a similar motion would have to be moved in respect of that Bill.


Senator Drake - I object to the motion on two grounds. In the first place, I submit that the contingency has not yet arisen, because neither Bill has yet been reported from the Committee of the whole.


The PRESIDENT - Yes, each has been reported.


Senator Drake - In each case the order of the day is " Consideration of reported Bill." A motion must be moved that the report on the Bill be adopted. I contend that the suspension of the Standing Orders should be moved after the report has been adopted, because the Bill would then have been reported to the Senate.


The PRESIDENT - No; the Bill has been reported, but the report has not yet been adopted.


Senator Drake - My second objection to the motion, is that, according to your ruling of the 7 th September, it is out of order. On the 5th September Senator Keating had on the notice paper the following motion : -

That standing order No. 233 and also all other standing orders, so far as they require or relate to a call of the Senate before the third reading of any Bill by which an alteration of the Constitution is proposed, be suspended on and after the 1 8th day of September, 1906, for the remainder of this session.

Objection was taken on the 7th September to the motion, on the ground that it did not comply with standing order 435, which provides that -

The suspension of standing orders shall be limited in its operation to the particular purpose foi which such suspension has been sought.

The matter was debated, sir, and, in consequence of your ruling, Senator Keating gave notice for the nth September of this motion : -

That so much of standing order 271 as refers to a period of twenty-one days be suspended for the remainder of the session, for the purpose of expediting the passage through its remaining stages of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Hill.

The Standing Orders were suspended, the Bill was passed through all its stages, and the suspension was practically exhausted by that fact. I need not refer to the debate on the objection to the form in which it was proposed to suspend the Standing Orders on the 7th September. It is sufficient for me, sir, to read your ruling on the subject, and to submit that, according to that ruling, the motion is out of order, on the ground that the proposed suspension of the Standing Orders is not -

Limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which such suspension has been sought.

On page 4240 of Hansard your ruling is reported in the following terms: -

As it appears to me, the question on which I am asked to rule is whether this motion comes within the scope of standing order 435, which reads - "The suspension of the Standing Orders shall be limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which such suspension has been sought."

A similar standing order is, I think, in force in every Stale Parliament in the Commonwealth. lt certainly has been in force in South Australia. The practice in reference to the suspension of standing orders concerning Bills in all the State Parliaments, and in the Senate ever since it first met, has been that each particular Bill shall be dealt with by a particular motion. A contingent notice of motion is given towards the end of a session to the effect that when a Bill comes on for consideration, the leader of the Senate will move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent that particular Bill being passed through all its stages without delay. So that we have in the first place a specific motion foi each particular Bill, and we have no such motion for any Bill other than a Bill that is before us. Now it is sought to extend that practice so that it shall apply, not to a particular Bill, but to a class of Bills, or rather to a number of Bills which have one feature in common, namely, that they propose an amendment of the Constitution. It is not only sought to apply the rule to Bills which are before the Senate, but to Bills which have not yet appeared in the Senate, and which, so far as we are concerned, are yet unborn. Can that be done? I do not think it can. Suppose the notice of motion specified all the Bills which have been referred to, could not any honorable senator claim that it was a complicated motion, and that each Bill must be dealt with separately? An honorable senator might say that he was in favour of the suspension of the Standing Orders to expedite the consideration of one or two of the Bills referred to, but was not in favour of the suspension of the Standing Orders as applied to some of the other Bills. He might, in the circumstances, say, " This is a general motion, and I desire that it should be dealt with as a particular motion applying only to certain Bills." Another point has been very clearly stated by Senator Millen, .and that is, that this motion does not state any purpose at all. I agree with the honorable senator. The words of the motion simply indicate the class of Bill, and then go on to show that the intention is that certain standing orders shall be suspended in reference to that class of Bills. As the Minister intends to submit another motion, I need not further elaborate the point, but I say that I do not think the motion which he has moved is in order.


The PRESIDENT - Perhaps it will save time if I say at once that I agree with the honorable senator. I entirely approve of everything that I said on that occasion, and it is perhaps my fault that the question has arisen. The Minister of Defence had moved in reference to a Bill. I suggested a reference to two Bills. I did it inadvertently. I will put it that the motion of Senator Playford only extends to No. 1 Bill.


Senator Drake - May I continue m\- remarks ?


The PRESIDENT - That is the only point that I can see.


Senator Drake - I desire to submit the point of order in regard to the motion in the terms that I have stated, without any alteration whatever. Perhaps it is not necessary for me at this stage to labour the question of what is a particular purpose, because we had that fully discussed in connexion with your previous ruling. But I submit that the Minister's motion does not comply with the conditions laid down by you in your ruling; because there is no reference in it to a particular Bill. The motion is general.


The PRESIDENT - The Minister had to give his notice of motion in general terms, because he did not know on what particular Bill he might move it.


Senator Drake - But I submit that in consequence of your ruling, the Minister had to give notice of motion indicating the particular Bill. At the time when the notice of motion was given the two Constitution Alteration Bills now in question were on the notice-paper.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator, when Minister of the Crown, moved dozens of times for the suspension of standing orders upon notices of motion similar to the one to which he is now objecting.


Senator Millen - Because Senator Drake did wrong-


The PRESIDENT - That has been the practice of the Senate ever since we have been a Senate.


Senator Drake - And that, no doubt, is why it was attempted to be done on the 7th September. But objection was taken to it, and in consequence of that objection your ruling was given.


The PRESIDENT - I do not think that the ruling goes so far as the honorable senator supposes.


Senator Drake - I submit that the Minister cannot give a notice of motion with reference to any Constitution Alteration Bill unless he specifies the Bill. We have before us at present two Constitution Alteration Bills, which have been reported from Committee, to either of which the notice of motion might apply. The Minister has to give a day's notice for the suspension of standing orders for a particular purpose. His contention now is that he has given the necessary notice. But he has given it in general terms so that it mn<- be applicable to both Bills.


The PRESIDENT - It is a highly technical objection, I think.


Senator Drake - But when we are dealing with a matter of this kind we are entitled to ask for a strict construction of the Standing Orders, especially in reference to a matter that has been discussed so recently as within the last three weeks, and on which you have given a ruling.


The PRESIDENT - I adhere to every word of that ruling.


Senator Drake - I am glad to hear that, but I submit that the motion of the Minister is clearly out of order under that ruling, because he has not stated the particular purpose for which the Standing -Orders are to be suspended. An honorable senator may agree with the suspension of the Standing Orders to facilitate the passage of one Bill, but may not agree with reference to another.


The PRESIDENT - Exactly.


Senator Drake - If it be a correct viewthat notice may be given of a general motion, and that afterwards when the motion is moved the name of a particular Bill may be put in, why, I ask, was npt Senator Keating, on the 7th. September, allowed to amend his motion by putting in the name of a particular Bill ?


The PRESIDENT - I do not think that he asked to do so.


Senator Clemons - I think he did.


Senator Drake - It was made perfectly clear by your ruling that his motion was out of order, and that no amendment that could be made at the moment could make the motion a good one.


Senator Pearce - Can the honorable senator show from Hansard that Senator Keating asked to amend the motion ?


Senator Drake - If I remember rightly he did ask to amend it.


Senator Keating - Not to amend a. motion of the character of which the Minister of Defence has given notice.


The PRESIDENT - -Quite a different motion.


Senator Drake - Senator Keating's motion of the 7 th September was -

That standing order No. 233, and also all other standing orders so far as they require or relate to a call of the Senate before the third reading of any Bill by which- an alteration of the Constitution 'is proposed, be suspended on and after the 18th day of September, 1906, for the remainder of this session.

Objection was taken to that on the ground that it did not state the particular purpose, and you in your ruling upheld the objection.


The PRESIDENT - I know all that, but what has it to do with the question before us?


Senator Drake - Everything, I think. It was a motion moved in general terms to apply to the third reading of any Bill by which an alteration of the Constitution was proposed. You in your ruling stated conclusively that the motion ought to be specific. There ' is nothing in the motion now before us to state whether it applies to one Bill or another. Honorable senators have a right to claim that notice shall be given with regard to a particular Bill. On the nth September, the vice of Senator Keating's motion - that of being too general - was cured bv the Minister inserting in it that the motion was for the purpose of expediting the passage through its remaining stages of the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill. I submit that if the Minister can now move a motion in this form, there will be nothing in the future to prevent a Minister at the commencement of a session from giving notice that upon any Bill of this character being reported from Committee, he will move the suspension of the Standing Orders, and then, when an actual contingency arises, without giving a day's notice, he may at the last moment put in the name of a particular Bill and claim that he has stated the particular purpose. I submit that that is not sufficient. The Senate has a right to discriminate between suspending the Standing Orders to facilitate the passage of one Bill, and doing the same with reference to another. Let me put a case. Suppose that I am inclined to allow the Standing Orders to be suspended with reference to a particular Bill, but am equally determined to make no concessions whatever with regard to another Bill. Suppose that both Bills are on the notice-paper together, and are at the same stage. Have I .not the right to have one day's notice in regard' to each of those Bills so that I may know what business is coming on? When the Standing Orders are to be suspended regarding a Bill that I favour, I may. perhaps, find it advantageous to be present and vote : whereas if it is proposed to take that course with reference to a Bill which I do not favour, I mav be inclined to put myself to kil sorts of inconvenience to prevent the Standing Orders being suspended. Have I not a right, when the Minister seeks to suspend standing orders, to twenty-four hours' notice of his intention ?

The PRESIDE-NT. - The honorable senator has had twenty-four hours' notice, that on each Bill affecting amendments of the Constitution that comes up the Minister will move the suspension of the Standing Orders in reference to the number of days required for a call of the Senate.


Senator Drake - That is a notice similar to the one of the 7 th September.


The PRESIDENT - No, quite different.


Senator Drake - I submit that it is not different. The ground of objection then taken was-


The PRESIDENT - I have heard that half-a-dozen times. I thoroughly recollect the ground on which objection was taken, and I do not think that fresh information can make the point clearer to my mind.


Senator Drake - If the Minister can now give notice in general terms referring to a class of Bills, it is going back to the position that existed before your ruling with reference to Senator Keating' s motion on the 7 th September was given. I claim, under that ruling, that I have a right to one day's notice, specifying the particular purpose for which it is proposed to suspend the Standing Orders. I submit again that the motion should not deal with a general class of Bills, but should be restricted to the particular Bill with reference to which the Minister intends to move.


The PRESIDENT - I adhere to every word that I said on the 7th September. But I cannot agree to the conclusion that what I said on the 7 th September applies to this motion. If I were to do so I should upset the universal practice of the Senate since we have been a Senate, and act contrary to the practice of every State House of Parliament. Senator Drake will see that his arguments, if they are valid, apply equally to the contingent notices of motion which have been given for all Bills. For instance, notice of motion No. 2 is -

To move (contingent on any Bill -

On any Bill - being reported from .a Committee of the Whole), That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent such Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.

Senator Drake,when he was Minister, gave the same contingent notice of motion, and moved it over and over in reference to particular Bills. That has been the universal practice throughout, and I am not prepared to upset it. Senator Drake said that the particular purpose to which I referred to in my ruling of the 7th September was the name of the (Bill, but that is not correct. I referred to the purpose for which the Standing Orders were to be suspended, and not the name of the particular. Bill. If Senator Drake were right, it would mean that no Minister could towards the end of a session give a general notice of motion, but would have to wait for every Bill to come from another place, or for every Bill to be reported, and so on, and then give a particular notice of motion in reference to each Bill. My ruling is that, in accordance with the general practice of Parliament, the Minister may, under this contingent notice of motion, move that the Standing Orders, so far as they refer to a period of twenty-one days, be suspended for the remainder of the session ' ' for the purpose of expediting" - that is the purpose - the passing of a particular Bill through its remaining stages. I agree with Senator Drake so far that Senator Playford cannot move for two Bills at the same time. I think that Senator Playford must first move for one Bill, and then for the other as it comes on. So far. I agree with Senator Drake, but no further; and the Minister is quite in order now in moving that the Standing Orders be suspended in reference to the Constitution Alteration (Special Duties) Bill.


Senator Col Neild - Mr. President-


The PRESIDENT - I shall not hear any more argument.


Senator Col Neild - I wish to inquire as to quite another matter. I conclude, from your ruling, that it will be necessary for the name of the Bill to be inserted in the motion?


The PRESIDENT - That is it.







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