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Friday, 4 November 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second lime.

Although the Bill bears the name of the Minister of Defence, it is really connected with one of the Departments represented here by myself, and the reason for it appearing in his name is that on Friday last I had to go away before the message from another place was dealt with. For years it has been argued, and also felt, that the legislative powers of this Parliament were greatly hampered by the limitations placed thereon by the Constitution. Even before it was adopted members of the party supporting the Government were earnest in their advocacy of less limited powers than were granted by the Convention. Although there are honorable senators on the opposite side, and people outside of Parliament, who are continually declaring that this proposal is an attempt on the part of the Labour party to bring about Unification, I give to that statement an emphatic denial.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Deny it as much as you may, that will be the effect of it.

Senator McGREGOR - So far as the Government are concerned there is no intention of talcing any step in the direction of Unification. The obtaining of extended powers for the Parliament does not involve Unification. I have heard opponents of the present Government in both Houses of the Parliament contending in public that the Commonwealth is over-governed. I have heard them talk about fourteen Houses of Parliament, and a number, of other things of that kind. Such utterances have a greater tendency to bring about Unification than anything which appears in a Bill of this description.. I am amused at some sections of the press, which are continually reiterating the statement that Australia is over-governed, and talking about six Governors . and a GovernorGeneral, and fourteen Houses of Parliament. Yet, when it suits them, they attribute all steps towards Unification to. the party which is supporting the Government at present. The placing of themselves in a position of that kind shows how ridiculous they must appear to each other when they come to closely consider the question. As. regards this Bill, honorable senators on this side have always contended that where the central authority has the power to impose taxation in the way of Customsand . Excise duties, which so materially affect the industrial and commercial conditions of the country, it ought to have greater power in. connexion with the control of commercial and industrial matters.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - Why not support Mr. Bamford's Bill at once?

Senator McGREGOR - It is not before the Senate.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. -Why do not the Government support it in the other House ?

Senator McGREGOR - It is not before the Senate, and has not been made-

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - - A Government measure yet.

Senator McGREGOR - It has not been made a caucus question.

Senator Vardon - That accounts for it.

Senator McGREGOR - It has not been made a caucus question, and consequently every member of the party supporting the Government has a free hand.

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