§ 83. “Dissolution of the Senate.”

The liability of the Senate of the Commonwealth to dissolution, in the circumstances and under the conditions stipulated in section 57, is an important feature in its constitution, which strikingly differentiates it from its great model and prototype—the Senate of the United States of America. It has been said that the American Senate is a continuous body, always in existence, and that its permanency and the length of the terms of its members have given it a dignity possessed by no other legislative body now in existence. (Foster's Comm. I. 493.) The Senate of the Commonwealth has been deprived of that principle of undisturbed continuity. The system of retirement by rotation makes the Senate of the Commonwealth, in theory, a continuous body; but its liability to dissolution is, to some extent, inconsistent with that theory. At the same time, when the conditions prescribed by section 57 and the various safeguards surrounding the exercise of the power therein conferred are considered, it will appear that the dissolubility of the Senate is quite consistent with the teachings of political science and the drift of modern political thought, and that what it loses by an occasional break in continuity it will gain in representative character, public esteem and legislative usefulness.

Rotation of senators.

13. As soon as may be after the Senate first meets, and after each first meeting of the Senate following a dissolution thereof, the Senate shall divide the senators84 chosen for each State into two classes, as nearly equal in number as practicable; and the places of the senators of the first class shall become vacant at the expiration of the third year, and the places of those of the second class at the expiration of the sixth year, from the beginning of their term of service; and afterwards the places of senators shall become vacant at the

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expiration of six years from the beginning of their term of service.

The election to fill vacant places shall be made in the year at the expiration of which the places are to become vacant.

For the purposes of this section the term of service of a senator85 shall be taken to begin on the first day of January following the day of his election, except in the cases of the first election and of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of January preceding the day of his election.

UNITED STATES.—Immediately after they shall be assembled, in consequences of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year; so that one third may be chosen every second year.—Const., Art. I., sec. 3, sub-sec. 2.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—Clause 13, Chap. I., of the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 was substantially the same except that it was provided that the Senators for each State “shall be divided by lot into two classes.” (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1891], pp. 599–603.) At the Adelaide session, 1897, the clause of 1891 was adopted almost verbatim, and in Committee verbal amendments were made. (Conv. Deb, Adel., pp. 676-9, 1190.) At the Sydney session, Mr. Glynn objected to the principle of rotation, as preventing the Senate ever being in touch with public opinion. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], p. 989.) Drafting amendments were also made. At the Melbourne session, Mr. Deakin moved the omission of the words “by lot.” He thought that either provision should be made for the three lowest on the poll to retire first, or the Senate should be left to manage the matter itself. The amendment was carried. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 1928-9.) Drafting amendments were made before the first report and after the fourth report.