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Wednesday, 3 October 1906

The PRESIDENT - I hope the Senate will understand that I did not give a ruling on the matter, but only indicated my opinion.

Senator Millen - I quite understand that. I had hoped that, from remarks which you might have made upon this clause, to discover some way in which the Senate could protect itself should Bills be sent up from another place incorrectly drafted. If the decision of the Temporary Chairman of Committees is upheld, it seems to me that the Senate will be absolutely powerless, and will be left without any means by which it can notify another place that it is prepared to resist the practice of tacking. It is immaterial to my argument whether this is, or is not, a tack, but if, at any time, another place does attach to a taxation Bill something foreign to the subject of taxation, what steps will the Senate be able to take in view of your decision not to interpret the Constitution, if it is not competent for honorable senators in Committee to take action to mark their dissent from the course followed in another place? What will the Senate be able to do to safeguard the rights conferred upon it under the Constitution? You have decided that it is not incumbent upon the President to interpret the Constitution, and to take notice of any Bills sent up from another place to which a foreign provision is tacked. It must, therefore, be left to honorable senators in Committee to take some action to inform another placeof the view we take with reference to the extraneous matter. I trust that if, in the circumstances, you feel called upon to support the ruling of the Temporary Chairman, you will, atthe same time, indicate some means by which the Senate will be able to mark its dissent from the course taken in another place.

The PRESIDENT - This is a question that is not new to me. I wrote a paper in reference to it, which, in print covers twelve foolscap pages, and which I laid on the table of the. Convention. It was, to a very considerable extent on the information contained in that paper that the method by which the Senate deals with Bills which are vaguely called " Money Bills " was founded. The paper to which I refer is entitled " South Australia. Powers and Practices of the Houses of Parliament in reference to Money Bills." In South Australia, there was a compact between the two Houses that the Legislative Council should not amend what are vaguely called "Money Bills," "but that they should .make suggestions. It was on that practice that the provisions of the Constitution dealing with the method of procedure by the Senate in reference to suggestions or requests were founded. I wrote -

In practice between the two Houses, the Council has refrained from amending clauses to raise money or appropriate revenue in Bills which are not suggestion Bills except by way of suggestion - " Suggestion Bills " there means Bills which can only be amended by the Council byway of suggestion - but has amended in the ordinary manner clauses in admitted suggestion Bills, when such amendments do not raise money or appropriate revenue. In other words, instead of there being in the Council a distinct line of demarcation between Bills received from the House of -Assembly - on one side Bills which the Council cannot amend at all except by way of suggestion, and on the other Bills which the Council can amend in all parts in any manner - there is no line of demarcation at all, and al! parts of all Bills received from the House of Assembly which do not raise money or appropirate - revenue are amended in the ordinary manner, and all parts of all Bills which ra'ise money or appropriate revenue are amended by way of suggestion.

In this case I am forced to put an interpretation upon the Constitution, because the conduct of the business of the Senate demands that we should have the matter decided, otherwise we could not go on. The paragraphs I have just read throw a light on the subject. This is a Bill to impose duties of Customs, but it contains a clause - clause 4 - .which, according to my interpretation of the Constitution, which may or may not be right, it ought not to contain. It seems to me that section 55 of the Constitution, which provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, requires that the imposition of taxation, and perhaps some small details which relate to the imposition of taxation, are the only matters which ought to be contained in a measure of this nature. Now we have a clause which, under the guise of being a condition as to the imposition of the tax is really a clause to regulate the maximum prices to be paid for stripperharvesters. Is that a proper clause to insert in the Bill ? It does not appear to me that it is. And not being a clause to which the provisions of the Constitution, in respect ' of requests, apply, I think we ought to be able to amend it in the ordinary manner. That is a matter which is of very great importance, because the privileges and powers of the Senate may be challenged by the other House sending up Bills imposing taxation with! a tack to them. Section 55 of the Constitution was made purposely in order to protect the powers of the Senate, and I would ask honorable senators, no matter what they may think of the merits of this particular clause, to bear in mind that if they at once admit the principle of a tack - and this seems to be a tack - they will be placing themselves in a very unfortunate position. Ever since it was inaugurated, the Senate has struggled to maintain its proper powers and position : it has struggled against the Ministry and against the other House; and I 'hope that honorable senators will view this matter from .a broad point of view, and agree that in respect of this clause amendments may be moved in the ordinary manner.

Senator Dobson - May I ask you a question, sir?


Senator Dobson - By agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, did not the Senate practically deside that it is a Bill to impose 'Customs duties only ; and are we not brought face to face with the anomaly that we can amend one- clause, but have to make requests in respect of others?

The PRESIDENT - In South Australia the Legislative Council constantly made suggestions in respect of one part of a' Bill, and amendments in the other parts.

Senator Dobson - That practice is new to me, sir.

In Committee :

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