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Thursday, 14 May 1931


Senator DALY (South Australia) . - I understand that the question before the Senate is the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce). It is to the wording of the amendment that I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators.


Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - What does it mean?


Senator DALY - That is the point. We may be able to reach a decision on the motion ; but if it is desired to keep the prestige of the Senate upon the high plane that senators wish it to be kept, the amendment needs a good deal of recasting. I propose to show the Senate the ridiculous position in which it will be placed if the amendment is adopted. It was evidently drafted in a hurry, handed in in its present form, and accepted. I hope it will not be passed by the Senate in a haphazard manner. The motion reads -

(   1 ) That in the opinion of the Senate the Government should take steps immediately to provide adequate funds for the construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard of three vessels for the purpose of establishing a continuous steamer service between Tasmania and the mainland.

(2)   That in preparation for the foregoing, designs for the proposed vessels should be drawn up and laid before Parliament before the close of the present session.

The Leader of the Opposition has submitted an amendment in this form -

That after the word "immediately" the following words be inserted: - "to lease the Cockatoo Island dockyard to a person or company who could carry out work at the dockyard which cannot, under the judgment of the High Court, be undertaken by the Government, and would be able among other things ".


Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - The honorable senator should read on.


Senator DALY - That is what I propose to do. If the amendment were adopted the motion as amended would read -

That in the opinion of the Senate the Government should take steps immediately to lease the Cockatoo Island Dockyard to a person or company which could carry out work at the dockyard which cannot, under the judgment of the High Court, be undertaken by the Government, and would be able among other things to provide adequate funds for the construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard of three vessels for the purpose of establishing a continuous service between Tasmania and the mainland. . . .


Senator J B Hayes - That is what we want.


Senator DALY - If such a resolution were carried by the Senate it would be easy to understand why the people have lost confidence in parliamentary institutions. The proposal embodied in the amendment is that the dockyard shall be leased immediately to a company for certain purposes, included among them being the provision of funds to build a number of vessels. Moreover the Opposition, which believes only in the most limited form of regulation of private enterprise, is prepared to impose on private enterprise a condition that the designs for the proposed vessels shall be drawn up and laid before Parliament before the close of the present session.


Senator E B Johnston - If the amendment were carried, that portion of it could afterwards be struck out.


Senator DALY - At the moment I am not concerned with the merits or demerits of the motion. I appreciate fully the point raised by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) regarding the difficulty which the Government would find in financing the proposal, even if the original motion were carried. But before honorable senators agree to the amendment, I ask them to study its significance.

Senator Johnstonsaid that if it was carried, the second paragraph could he struck out later. The amendment suggests nothing of the kind.


Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator suggest that another amendment could not be moved?


Senator DALY - I am now speaking to the amendment which has been moved. If the Opposition believes that effect should be given to the principle embodied in the amendment, I appeal to it, for the sake of the dignity of the Senate, to recast the amendment. We on this side of the chamber do not wish to be held responsible in any way for a resolution couched in the language of the amendment. I admit that the motion could be further amended if this amendment is agreed to. If the Opposition feels that the contest should be between the principle enunciated by Senator Dunn and that which apparently is in the mind of Senator Pearce, I suggest that the amendment be re-cast so that the two proposals can be discussed on a proper basis. I venture the opinion that not one member of the Opposition is prepared to allow a resolution to go forth from the upper chamber of the Federal Parliament in the form that this motion will take if the amendment is agreed to. The amendment proposes that the dockyard should be leased to a company which will, among other things, construct three vessels for the service with Tasmania, and provide the funds for their construction, and that in the preparation of the foregoing, the designs shall be submitted to Parliament before the close of the present session. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) should re-cast his amendment so that a decision can be arrived at between the relative merits of his proposal and that of Senator Dunn.







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