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The transfer of British New Guinea to the Commonwealth, effected towards the close of 1901, is interesting, as the territory possesses great, though almost undeveloped, resources, while in connection with Commonwealth defences, the position may prove of strategic importance.

One of the disabilities under which the Commonwealth laboured during the first months of its existence was the absence of a Federal Judicature to deal with cases arising out of the administration of the Federal laws. In some instances, of course, the State Courts were appealed to, but there was some doubt as to whether the Commonwealth itself could be sued under the existing legislation. To obviate in some measure this inconvenience, the State Laws and Records Recognition Act and the Service and Execution of Process Act were introduced at the beginning of the session, and the Punishment of Offences Act was also passed to provide that offenders against the Commonwealth might be dealt with by State laws. It was recognised, however, that a Judiciary Bill and High Court of Procedure Bill were still urgently needed. The second reading of the former was moved on the 18th March. This Bill provided for a High Court, with one Chief Justice ind four other justices ; the principal seat of the Court to be at the Federal capital. Power is given to appoint a judge of the Supreme Court of any State as a judge of the High Court sitting in Chambers, in order to enable the initiatory steps to actual hearing to be proceeded with prior to the visit of a High Court judge. The measure also allots certain Federal jurisdiction to State Courts, and allows the transfer in certain instances of cases from the State Courts to the High Court. Subsequently the Bill was shelved by the Government until a more favourable opportunity presented itself for its discussion.

During 1901 etforts were made, both in Parliament and by public men outside, to have a site fixed on for the Federal Capital. Several localities were suggested and discussed, and the Gorernment of New South Wales obtained reports as to their suitableness, but it was not till 1902 that any definite move was made by the Federal Parliament. In February certain members of the Senate made a tour of inspection to several of the suggested sites, while members of the House of Representatives were given a similar opportunity in May. Both excursions were of necessity somewhat hurried, but they at least served the useful purpose of giving members some knowledge as to the localities suggested. The sites visited included Albury, Tumut, Dalgety, Wagga, Yass, Goulburn, Orange, Cooma, Bombala, and Armidale. Towards the close of 1901 a commencement was made with the laying of a Pacific Cable, the Australian terminal of which is at Southport, in Queensland. From this point the line runs to Norfolk Island, thence to New Zealand, to Fiji, to Fanning Island, and to Vancouver. The cable was completed and opened for business in November, 1902. During the adjournment at the end of 1901 the Premier received a request from the Imperial Authorities for 1,000 troops for service in South Africa. This contingent was made up of 348 men each from Viotoria and New South Wales, 116 each from Queensland and South Australia, and 116 from Tasmania and Western Australia combined, the united forces being known, at a later date, as the Australian Commonwealth Horse. When the House met after vacation, the Premier took occasion to refer to the charges made against the people and army of the Empire, and moved resolutions expressive of the determination of the Commonwealth to give all the assistance in its power to His Majesty's Government with a view to a speedy termination of the war. On the 20th January the Government sent another contingent of 1,000 men, and in March a request was received for 2,000 additional troops, and these were also despatched.

At one time it seemed as though the new legislation of the Commonwealth would involve the Federal Government in international complications. By the operation of the Customs Act it was provided that deep sea vessels should pay duty on all stores consumed by passengers and crew during the period between their first touching at an Australian port until they finally left the coast. When a mail steamer arrived at a Western Australian port, therefore, a Customs official boarded the vessel, superintended the removal of sufficient stores to last till the next port of call, and sealed up the storeroom. If on arrival at the next port these seals were found to have been broken, prosecution followed. The first case occurred in connection with an English mailboat, and the Full Court of Victoria decided in favour of the Commonwealth. The owners of the vessel pleaded that, as they were on the high seas between the ports, the Commonwealth had no jurisdiction. When the law was enforced with reference to the German vessels, the matter was taken up warmly by the authorities in Germany, and representations were made to the British Government on the matter. An amicable settlement was, however, arrived at, both English and foreign steamship companies agreeing to the payment of the duties until the matter had been decided by the Privy Council.

Universal regret was expressed throughout the Commonwealth when it became known in May, 1902, that the Earl of Hopetoun had resigned his office as Governor-General. Lord Tennyson, Governor of South Australia, was appointed to the position in November ; but, in accordance with his wishes, will hold office for a period of twelve months only.

In June an Imperial Conference was held in London, the Hon. E. Barton being delegated to represent the Commonwealth of Australia. The subjects for discussion suggested by the Commonwealth included (1) Army and Navy supply contracts ; (2) Ocean cables and purchase thereof; (3) Imperial Court of Appeal; (4) Mutnal protection of patents ; (5) Loss of most favoured nation treatment if preference given to British manufacturers; (6) Imperial stamp charges for colonial bonds. The decisions of the Conference will be brought before Parliament on its re-assembling. In August the Tariff Bill was again under consideration by the Senate. After some three or four months spent in revising the Bill as passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate sent down requests for 103 amendments to be mude. Of these 51 were acceded to by the Lower Chamber and the remaining 52 were rejected. The Senate pressed for consideration of its requests, and the Lower House proving obdurate, it was feared that a deadlock would ensue. The conciliatory attitude of both Houses after maturer consideration happily averted this crisis, the Lower Chamber agreeing to a number of the Senate's proposals, while the two Houses compromised as to the main points at issue. The Bill finally became law on the 10th September, a little over eleven months after its introduction.

The important matter of re-arranging the electorates of the Commonwealth was dealt with at the close of the session, and a Commissioner for each State was appointed. The duty of the Commissioner was to divide his State into electorates embracing, as far as possible, equal numbers of electors, deviations from equality on account of special circumstances detailed in the Federal Elections Act being permitted within certain specified limits. The total number of members to which a State is entitled is determined by section 24 of the Constitution Act, which provides that the population of the Commonwealth shall be determined according to the latest statistics, and a quota thereof ascertained by dividing that population by twice the number of the Senate (72). The number of representatives to which a State is entitled being determined by dividing the population by the ascertained quota, any remainder on such division greater than one-half of the quota is taken as entitling a State to one more member. In reckoning the number of people, aborigines are to be excluded as well as all persons of any race disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of Parliament.

This last provision is an extremely important one. It will be found on reference to the Acts governing the exercise of the franchise that several states have an alien exclusion provision; thus Section 6 of the Queensland Act of 1885 provides that “No aboriginal native of Australia, India, China, or of the South Sea Islands shall be entitled to be entered on the roll except in respect of freehold qualification."

The question arises whether it can be said that all persons of any race are disqualified from voting in view of the exception in regard to a freehold qualification. The matter was submitted to the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, who decided that the provision of the Queensland Act does disqualify all persons of the races named within the meaning of Section 25 of the Constitution, and persons of those races cannot therefore be reckoned for electoral purposes as people of the Commonwealth. This decision affects Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia only, as the laws in force in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania do not exclude "all persons of any specified race.

The persons disqualified under the various State Acts are the aboriginal natives of India, China, and the South Sea Islands, by Queensland ; the aboriginal natives of Asia and Africa, and persons of half-blood, by Western Australia ; and the immigrants under the

“ Indian Immigration Act, 1882,” in the Northern Territory of South Australia.

In establishing a quota it will be necessary, therefore, to exclude from consideration the aliens disqualified by state electoral laws, and, making this exclusion, the population of the Commonwealth on the 30th June, 1902, was 3,827,859 persons, distributed as follows :

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State.

A quota is 53,165, and the number of members which the various. states will be entitled to return at the next election is therefore New South Wales

26
Western Australia

5 Victoria

23

Tasmania .... Queensland

9 South Australia 7

75 The representation at present existing will therefore remain unaltered.

If no regard had been paid to the operation of Section 25 of the Constitution, the population of the Commonwealth, at the 30th June, 1902, exclusive of aborigines, was 3,832,468, distributed as follows :

Population (exclusive

of Aborigines). New South Wales

1,391,822 Victoria .....

1,206,478 Queensland

509,585 South Australia

363,686 Western Australia

208,325 Tasmania

172,572 On the basis of the foregoing figures a quota is 53,506, and the representation of each state in the House of Representatives would be the same as already given, except that Queensland would be entitled to 10 members—that is, 1 more than at the present time.

It may be mentioned that if the alien races disqualified by the electoral laws of Queensland or Western Australia had also been disqualified in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, the number of representatives already existing would still remain unaltered.

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274

CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH.

WH

HEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South

Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, bave agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established :

And whereas it is expedient to provide for the admission into the Commonwealth of other Australasian Colonies and possessions of the Queen:

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows : 1. This Act

may
be cited as

“ The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act."

2. The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

3. It shall be lawful for the Queen, with the advice of the Priry Council, to declare by Proclamation that, on and after a day therein appointed, not being later than one year after the passing of this Act, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, and also, if Her Majesty is satisfied that the people of Western Australia have agreed thereto, of Western Australia, shall be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of “ The Commonwealth of Australia.” But the Queen may, at any time after the Proclamation, appoint a Governor-General for the Conmonwealth.

4. The Commonwealth shall be established, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth shall take effect on and after the day so appointed. But the Parliaments of the several Colonies may at any time after the passing of this Act make any such laws, to come into operation on the viay so appointed, as they might have made if the Constitution had taken effect at the passing of this Act.

5. This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Common. wealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the Courts, Judges, and people of every State, and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State; and the laws of the Commonwealth shall be in force on all British ships, the Queen's ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.

6. “The Commonwealth” shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act.

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