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§ 397. “The Parliament may Provide.”

The Parliament, being a body with purely legislative powers, can only “provide” by means of a law. (See sec. 51—xxxvi.) The power to make this law does not attach until the expiration of the five years mentioned. The section clearly requires, not only that the provision by the Parliament shall not take effect until after that time, but that it shall not be made until after that time. It seems therefore that the Parliament cannot, before the expiration of the five years, pass a law under this section to take effect on or after such expiration.

This disability is intentional. The object of postponing the legislative power of the Parliament until the expiration of five years is that the Parliament should not be empowered to take any action until it has sufficient data and material before it to enable it to fix the basis of distribution. (See Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 1085–9.) The object of the Convention was that the basis prescribed in sec. 93 should remain in force until the Federal Parliament, with five years' experience behind it, should agree upon a better basis. The Convention recognized themselves unable, owing to the absence of data, to determine the ultimate basis, and were careful to ensure that the basis which was to supersede their provisional basis should not be determined upon until the date of five years' experience were available.

Any provision which Parliament may make under this section will not be unalterable, and therefore will not necessarily be final. The legislative power under which any such law is made will continue in existence after the law is made, and will justify different provision being made from time to time as circumstances may demand. It would undoubtedly be undesirable for the financial basis of the Constitution to be frequently altered; but it might be still more undesirable for a financial basis which had been ill-conceived, or had outlived its usefulness, to be made unalterable, except by an amendment of the Constitution.

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