The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Wednesday 25 October 1865
THE COUNCIL AND THE ASSEMBLY.
On tho 3rd instant, in the Legislative Council, Mr. Sladen moved a series of resolution, affirming the expediency of referring the differences which have arisen between the two Houses of Parliament, on the interpretation of tlie Constitution Act, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Mr. Cole
opposed the motion, which was supported by Mr. Fawkner, Mr. Haines, and Mr. Strachan ;
opposed by Mr. Murphy; and ultimately agreed to. On the motion of Mr. Sladen, a message was ordered to be transmitted to the
Legislative Assembly requesting their concurrence in the resolution.
In the Assembly on the same evening, the message having been read, Mr. McCulloch said-I am sorry that I cannot ask the House
to adopt the suggestion thrown out in this message. No doubt the other House believe that they are in the right in this case: but, however that may be, it is not for this House
to refer any of its privileges to the decision of any other body. There is no doubt whatever that we hold precisely the same position
as to privilegea as tho House of Commons, and we should not expect the House of Commons to be asked to refer any question as to ita privileges to any other body,
and abide by the decision of that body. To apply to the Privy Council would be to give up, to a great extent, our privileges and our
views of the rights we possess. I do not believe we have the right, and that we should be betraying the trust committed to us if we were to confer with any other body as to
what our privileges are. I do not think that even if a decision of the Privy Council were given on the points of difference, that that
decision would be binding, at all events on future Parliaments. There is no doubt nay, there is almost a certainty-that the same question a would arise for decision, and we should be constantly referring matters to the Privy Council. I believe that this House has powers which render it quito competent to decide the matter-with the aid of
tho people of this country. I am sure, whatever may be the decision arrived at by the House, the people of this country must be appealed
to, and they must give expression to their feeling as to what are the rights and privileges of each House respectively. There is no doubt that the exercise of the privileges and
rights of both Houses must depend on the way in which those rights are carried out.
It is quite true that the House of Lords has the power to reject appropriation bills. It can do so, but it never has done so. On
more than one occasion it has stood out against the wishes of the Commons, and the House of Commons has then distinctly intimated that, unless the Lords
gave away, it would be competent for thom to pass measures without the legislative assent of the House of Lords. That was stated by a celebrated English statesman (Sir James Graham) some time ago, when the House of Commons was going to pass a certain measure, not so important as that of finance.
Then Sir James Graham said that, while the House of Commons wished to observe the privileges of the House of Lords, unless that
body gave way it would be the duty of the Commons to dispense with their assent.
While we regret the differences that now exist between the two Houses here, and observe the importance of the position in which matters are now placed, it is wise that we should maintain and adhere as strongly as ever to the position we have taken up as to the privileges of this House that the taxation of the people of this country rests solely and entirely with this branch of the Legislature. While, however we maintain that, it is our wish, and I am sure that of hon. members generally, that we
should if possible come to some understanding with the other branch of the Legislature ; and therefore if they are prepared to meet this House in a fair and just spirit, and if they desire to have this difficulty removed out of the way by the appointment of a committee to confer with a committee of this
House, the Government will be prepared to ask this House to appoint such a committee.
Under these circumstances, I beg to move the following resolution, as a reply to the message from the Council: –
” That, while the Assembly desire that the differences between the Houses should be determined as speedily as possible, they are
of opinion that it íb inexpedient, under any circumstances, that such differences should be referred, as proposed by the Legislative Council, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ; but that, if the Council see fit to invite the Assembly to confer upon
the subject generally, the Assembly are prepared to appoint a committee to confer with
a committee of the Council.”
Mr. Higinbotham seconded the resolution, which was agreed to.
On the 4th, in the Legislative Council, Mr. Jenner moved
“That a conference be invited with the Legislative Assembly to consider the respective privileges of tho two Houses of Legislature in relation to bills of finance, and to
recommend any measure which may have the effect of adjusting the differences of opinion which at present obstruct tho legislation of the colony.”
The motion was opposed by Mr. Haines, and negatived by fifteen to five.
On the 10th, in the Legislativo Council, Mr. Cole moved a resolution to the effect, that the Legislative Assembly, having communicated their willingness to confer generally with the Legislative Council on the
differences existing between the Houses, the Assembly be invited to confer accordingly, and that a committee be appointed to represent the Council in the conference.
Mr. Follows contended that the Council were precluded from inviting a conference so long as the Assembly retained on their journals a resolution declaring that they
would not consider any bill for appropriating supplies until the Council had accepted the
Appropriation and Tariff Bill. The hon. member proposed an amendment to that effect, which Mr. Sladen seconded. The
House divided, and the amendment was carried by 12 to 9.
On the 12th, Mr. Henry Miller gave notice in the Council that, ” at the next sitting, he would move a resolution to the effect that,
in the event of the Legislative Assembly thinking fit to appoint a committee, with Parliamentary powers, to confer with a committee of the Legislative Council on the
points of difference between the two Houses, the Council would be prepared to meet the Assembly on the subject.” This motion was
debated last night, with a result which will be found in another column.