Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - The Minister was somewhat mysterious when explaining why the word "shall" was substituted for the word " may " in this case. He said that the alteration was the subject of a consultation between himself and the Crown Law Office. But he gave no reason why the consultation was held or the decision arrived at. Since the consultation was upon the change of " may " into " shall " as affecting the issue of a proclamation by the Governor-General, it must have been considered very im-. portant, and the reasons for the alteration ought to be given to the Committee.

Senator Gardiner - Does not " the GovernorGeneral " mean the Cabinet?

Senator ST LEDGER - Exactly ; that is in accordance with the constitutional maxim that every schoolboy ought to know. I like to address the term " schoolboy " sometimes to honorable senators. The Governor-General must act on the advice of his Ministers. The word " shall " is rather an ugly word to apply to the King or representative of the King, and the difficulty is overcome in the use of the word " may " by the fact that if the Governor- General were unwilling to carry out the advice of his Ministers they would at once hand in their resignations to him. In this measure, the words "shall" and "may" are used in different clauses, and the GovernorGeneral might contend that one section is permissive and. another mandatory, and might claim to exercise his discretion in connexion with permissive provisions. Such a thing is not likely to happen, I admit.

Senator Rae - Then why talk about it?

Senator ST LEDGER - Why substitute the word "shall " for the word " may " ? Why not follow the usual verbiage of Acts of Parliament? This provision makes the Governor-General quite ridiculous. We give a discretion to the Minister time after time by the use of the word" may," but it is proposed to use the word "shall" in the references to the Governor-General. In the circumstances, I think we are justified in asking the Minister to tell the Committee some of the reasons which induced the Crown Law authorities to advise the use of the word " shall " instead of the word " may " in this instance.

Suggest corrections