Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 22 November 1910

The PRESIDENT - The position, as- I understand it, is that Senator Stewart has moved in connexion with this Bill toinsert in the schedule an item making, bananas dutiable at a certain rate, although there is no reference to the item bananas in the schedule. Senator Millen has argued that the Senate has the right to amend any portion of the Act under review.

Senator Millen - Not the Act, but that portion of it which is under review.

The PRESIDENT - Exactly ; that portion of the Act under review. On the sameline of argument it might be contended that the Senate has the right to move any amendments in connexion with any Act which' a Bill is introduced to amend, although not covered by the amending Bill itself. That has been always ruled to be not in order. We have made special provision in our Standing Orders in reference to cases of that description. We provide that an honorable senator may, after the second reading of a Bill, move that it be an instruction to the Committee to consider certain amendments.

Senator Stewart - Which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.

The PRESIDENT - Which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill; that is to say, which are not included in the amending Bill.

Senator Stewart - But this amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.

The PRESIDENT - This is a Bill to amend the Customs Tariff Act.

Senator Stewart - Schedule A.

The PRESIDENT -But if honorable senators could move amendments upon every item contained in the original schedule, this could hardly be called an amending Bill at all. In the first place, it would open up the whole of the Tariff question, and would be altogether outside the methods adopted on the introduction of this Bill. Apart from that, I consider that the case quoted by Senator Millen applies equally to this Bill as to the Bill which is now the principal Act. Here is a Bill introduced with a certain object, and Senator Stewart endeavours now to include an item which is not in the Bill as presented to this Chamber. That is what wasattempted to be done by Senator Clemons in the case quoted by Senator Millen ; and' in that case the proposal was ruled to be not in order, not because it was not altogether in order under the Standing Orders, but because under the Constitution it was not competent for the Senate to consider a matter of that description. According to section 53 of the Constitution -

The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden upon the people.

Senator Millen - - Might I be allowed to say that that draws a distinction between amend and request? By request, we have practically proposed amendments that would increase proposed charges on the people.

The PRESIDENT - That is so, by request to the House of Representatives. In this matter I shall uphold the Chairman's ruling, because I believe it is in accordance with the practice generally followed, so far as I can gather, by the rulings laid down and the precedents established. I believe that it is in the best interests of the Senate that that practice should be maintained.

Senator Stewart - I move -

That the ruling of the President be disagreed with.

I submit this motion because clause 2 of the Bill says -

Schedule A of the Principal Act is amended as set out in the schedule to this Act.

That, I take it, means that schedule A of the principal Act is on the table of the Senate, and subject to amendment.

Senator McGregor - It is not.

Senator Stewart - The schedule to this Bill contains the amendments desired by the Government of the day, but those amendments may not seem desirable to certain members of the Senate. They may wish to cut out a number of them, to add to them, or to deal with them in any manner they may think proper. I hold that the ruling involves a limitation of the rights of the Senate, to which honorable senators ought not to agree. It is a serious limitation of our powers. If we agree to a thing of this kind, we shall simply place ourselves in the hands of the Executive for the time being. If the Executive say that there are to be no amendments of a particular measure, but such as they submit, and this ruling is upheld, it will simply mean that representative government, as we understand it, is a farce, and we shall have government by the Executive instead of government by Parliament. Every member of the Senate will agree with me that it is government by Parliament that we want. Setting all party views aside, and taking our stand upon the broad principle of representative government, and upon the rights, duties, and obligations of the Senate, I think we can only come to theconclusion that when a particular sectionof an Act is submitted to the Senate for amendment the Senate can make any. amendments in that section which it pleases. If it does not assert its right to do so, I maintain that it will place itself deliberately in hobbles. It will chain itself up.

Senator Givens - Hobble skirts are fashionable just now.

Senator Stewart - That is so, and it would appear that the fashion is to be allowed to invade the sacred precincts of the Senate. That is the position no matter how honorable senators may look upon it,. whether from a party point of view-

Senator O'Keefe - There is no party about this.

Senator Stewart - I am not suggesting anything of the kind in connexion withthe ruling given by the honorable senator.

Senator O'Keefe - It is purely a matterof the way in which we should carry on our business.

Senator Stewart - I quite understand that. I am not suggesting evenparty bias in the mind of the honorable senator. When I say " party " in this connexion, I refer to the probability of honorable senators supporting the Government: upholding the ruling against, it may be, their own interests and their own better judgment.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is taking us down, surely?

Senator Stewart - I have no wish' to take the honorable senator down. If he . does not abrogate his rights as a member of the Senate, I am not going to snatch' them from him, or to attempt to take them away from him. But I say that if the honorable senator upholds the ruling of the President, he will deliberately abrogate a right, a function, and a duty. I am sure that will appeal to him as a member of the Senate.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - - The ruling seems to me to be common sense.

Senator Stewart - Schedule A to the Tariff Act of 1908 is now before the Senate for alteration. I say that, that being the case, every item of the Tariff schedule is open to amendment, and not merely- such items as the Government for the time being choose to submit for amendment. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that on the schedule now before us for amendment we have a choice of two courses. We can confine ourselves to the amendments tabled by the Government, or we can say, as I think we have' a right to say, and ought to say, that, since the schedule to the principal Act is before us for amendment, we shall, if necessary, amend it throughout. I hope that we shall make such requests for its amendment as we may deem desirable from end to end.

Senator Findley - The Tariff is before us only in the form in which it appears in the schedule to this Bill.

Senator Stewart - The schedule merely sets out amendments which are proposed by the Government. I hope that the Senate will assert its rights - that it will not abdicate them in favour of any Government. I trust that it will take possession of the measure which has been laid upon the table for amendment, and that it will amend it according to its own judgment. I move -

That the ruling of the President be disagreed with, because it unduly restricts the right of the Senate to amend the schedule which has been submitted to it for amendment.

Senator Findley - Standing order 424 provides that when a motion of this character is submitted, the debate upon it shall forthwith stand adjourned until the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides that the question requires immediate determination. As this motion requires immediate attention, I move -

Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senator Millen - I feel that there is an obligation on the part of every honorable senator, not merely to assist you, sir, in the conduct of business, but to help the Senate to carefully pick its steps, in view of the possibility of a conflict with another branch of the Legislature. Upon the merits of the general proposition I expressed myself some time ago, and I see no reason for departing from the view which I then held. But still, I am influenced by the fact that you, sir, take a different view of the matter. In the circumstances, therefore, I would suggest to Senator Stewart that he should not persevere with his motion. If we are to enter upon a conflict with the other Chamber we want to be sure that we push our rights only so far as we can stand by them. I should not like the Senate to take up a position from which it might have to retire. As your ruling, sir, has influenced me in this matter, I would suggest that Senator Stewart should allow the matter to drop until it crops up again - as it probably will at no distant date - when we shall he free from the dual difficulty which has been created by your decision and by our Standing Orders.

Senator Givens - Then we shall be bound by this precedent.

Senator Millen - No. On account of the doubt which has been created in my mind, . I would suggest that it is extremely advisable that we should pick our steps warily.

Motion (by Senator Stewart) negatived.

In Committee :Items 71 and 72 agreed to. Item 106a -

Amend, By omitting from the item the words, " including articles cut into shape," and inserting in their stead the words, " including materials made or cut to length or made or cut into shape therefor."

Suggest corrections