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Thursday, 12 December 1912

The PRESIDENT - I must ask the honorable senator to obey the standing order which provides that no honorable senator shall use offensive words against any member of the House of a State Parliament.

Senator Rae - Permit me to say that Mr. Beeby, having resigned his seat, is not a member of any State Parliament. "'

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I believe the honorable senator is correct. Mr. Beeby has resigned, not only from the Government, but his seat in the State House, in order that his constituents may have an opportunity of saying whether they will return him or not. because he no longer subscribes to the Labour platform. So far as that platform is concerned, he was elected as a straight-out Labourite, but he found it necessary to separate himself from the party in consequence of a difference of opinion regarding this last plank that has been added to the party's programme. Mr. Beeby says this-

Having come into conflict with the Labour party on what I consider to be a matter of supreme importance, and having given expression to opinions which must lead tomy exclusion from that party in the future, the only course open to me was to resign altogether from Parliament, and give my constituents an opportunity of saying whether or not they desire me to continue as their representative'. When the referendum proposals were last before the State they were not included in the Labour platform, and I opposed the amendments of the Constitution which were then submitted. Since then the adoption of these amendments has been placed upon the platform of the party.

I strenuously opposed their inclusion, and urged that an issue of this kind should not be subject to party control, but that every member of the party should have the right to place his own views before the State. This right, however, was refused.

Senator Rae - It was included eleven months- ago. That was his time to get out if he did not agree with it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - - No; his time was to get out when it became an active matter for the public to deal with. Mr. Beeby goes on to say -

T believe that the Labour party has made a fatal mistake in this attempt to subjugate its representatives and supporters into the acceptance nf any amendments of the Federal Constitution which the Federal Parliament might propose.

I have always supported the party in its endeavour to obtain from representatives allegiance to a definite platform of legislation. But during the last two years the tendency has been to. go beyond the original conception of solidarity, and dragoon adherents into the support if matters upon which freedom of thought and action was previously conceded.

The. acceptance of these proposals will have a- disastrous effect on future progress. The government of Australia will become hideously complex. The Federal and State Parliaments will have- concurrent power of legislation in almost every important field. The High Court will become permanently occupied in defining tile; respective functions of the two Governments on all important questions.

Almost every law passed by a State Parliament will become liable -to- review by the High Court, as to whether or not it is inconsistent with a Federal enactment. The interpretation of law will be a subject of perpetual technical conflict. Government will not be simplified, but made bewilderingly complex.

States Constitution, and in every detail the Constitution was framed for a federal government. To-day we are asked to completely depart from the federal conception without refraining the Constitution.

We are asked to go two-thirds of the way to unification without making the necessary corresponding alterations in 'the Parliamentary machine. There is no objection to the supporters of the. referendum advocating unification. But there, is objection to their trying to conceal the effect of their amendments, and claiming that they only amount to a transfer of federal functions..

That", is. only portion of the address which this gentleman saw fit to issue upon his retirement from the Government of New South- Wales

Senator O'Keefe - ls it necessary to give tis that ? We all know Mr. Beeby's views on the. referenda- proposals.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- We all know Mr. Beeby's views, and we all know the views of Mr. Holman; Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales; Mr. Estell, the Government Whip in New South Wales ; and Mr. Flowers, the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council ; in fact, more than halt of the members of the State Government of New South Wales have expressed opinions in opposition to these referenda proposals.

Senator O'Keefe - You are a long way short of a majority of State Labour members in Australia.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I realize that. But I assume that these referenda would not be on the platform of the party unless a majority believed in them. I say that it is unfair to the minority to dragoon them, and say that there can be no room for a difference of opinion upon the question. They may be good and sound men as far as the rest of the platform is concerned, but when it comes to the vital question of destroying much of the autonomy of the States, the Labour party say, "We are not going to allow you to express an opinion." That is grossly unfair. I say that members of the Labour party are not in a position to give a straightout honest vote on this question. Many of them will give a straightout honest vote, but there' are others who will have to give a dishonest vote or lose their position as far as membership of theĀ» Labour party is concerned.

Senator O'Keefe - Some of your party are in the same position.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - None of our party are in the same position. Any member can do what he. likes.

Senator O'Keefe - What about Mr. Irvine and Mr. Sampson?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - They have advanced reasons for holding a different opinion.

Senator O'Keefe - Their reason for their present attitude is that they have to stick to their own party.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No. Yesterday, when Senator O'Keefe was speaking, he said that there was a flagrant party utterance made by a certain individual - that if the powers were necessary it was dangerous to give them to the party in power. The honorable senator referred . to further said that it was dangerous to give these powers to a party in power with the aims and objects which they had in view, and which they wanted to effect by means of this legislation.

Senator O'Keefe - Does not that mean that he would like these powers for his own party if he thought they were necessary ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It is no part of my duty to defend members of the Liberal party ; they can all defend themselves. There is an opportune and inopportune time for doing things, and the wise man takes the opportune, not the inopportune, time to do a particular thing. Honorable senators on the other side say, " The Liberal party say they are coming into power, and why do they not take these powers if they think they are necessary?" We say we do not think they are necessary. We have stated authoritatively that we are prepared to give our consent to any amendment in the Constitution that may be necessary in order to effectively carry out the powers already embodied in the Constitution. We recognise that many powers require assistance in order that they may be carried out effectively. We are prepared to give that assistance but we are not prepared to take away from the States their rights of selfgovernment.

Senator McGregor - Neither does the Labour party. Why do you repeat it time after time, like a donkey braying?

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT(GOULD. - I am addressing senators whose brains apparently require assistance. The Labour party is a party of tyranny and class prejudice. The Vice-President of the Executive Council talked about Unification and the brains which are required to grasp these things. But let me point out the way in which he desires to see the powers of this Parliament exercised. He knows that the interpretation of the Constitution rests with the High Court, but he wants the High Court to be composed of Justices who will see as he sees, and interpret the law as he desires. That is not a function of the High Court. What did the honorable senator say so recently as Friday last? He said -

Some members of the High Court Bench have done all they possibly can to narrow the powers of the Commonwealth, and to conserve or widen the powers of the States ; and if that is notevidence of the State Rights mania, I do not know what is. But I hope the day will come when there will be Australians on the High Court Bench.

Let me remind him here that the High Court Bench has a duty to perform whether it is composed of little Australians, as he chooses to term some of them, or of great Australians; and one duty is to hold the balance fairly between the States and the Commonwealth, to see that neither attempts to intrude upon the province of the tother. To charge the High Court Bench with having done all they possibly could to narrow the powers of the Commonwealth and to conserve and widen the powers of the States, is to make an unwarranted allegation. I have quoted decisions of the High Court which maintained the position of the Commonwealth, and other decisions which maintained the position of the States. The Judges have to hold the balance of power fairly. I believe that they are put on the Bench because they not only have a knowledge of law, but are able to deal with any matter judicially without fear, or favour, or affection towards an individual or an institution. Further on, the Vice-President of the Executive Council said -

I want an interpretation that will be broad and Australian, not narrow and in the interests of the States.

Is that a proper remark to make in regard to the Judges of the High Court?

Senator McGregor - It is.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Again the honorable senator said -

I want the Constitution to be framed, interpreted, administered, and amended when necessary, in the interests of the people of Australia as those interests appear to me, and so does every member of the party to which I belong.

Senator Clemons - In the meantime you want your own party represented on the High Court Bench.

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