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Recommendation of money votes.

56. A vote, resolution, or proposed law257 for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated258.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—The provision in the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 was:




  ― 680 ―

“It shall not be lawful for the House of Representatives to pass any vote, resolution, or law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of the produce of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to that House by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution, or law is proposed.”

This provision was taken from the Constitution Acts of the several colonies; see, for instance, Constitution of New South Wales, sec. 54.

The draft Constitution as settled at the Adelaide session restricted the exclusive originating power of the House of Representatives to Bills whose “main object” was to appropriate money or impose taxation. It was then seen that bills for the appropriation of revenue or moneys, but whose “main object” was not such appropriation, might be introduced into the Senate, and would require a message; and consequently the clause as drafted at Adelaide provided that it should not be lawful for “the Senate or the House of Representatives” to pass a vote, &c., for appropriation without a message. It was pointed out that this would involve a message to both Houses in the case of every appropriation Bill; and the clause was therefore altered to read as follows:—

“It shall not be lawful for the Senate or the House of Representatives to pass any vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or moneys to any purpose which has not been first recommended to the House in which the proposal for appropriation originated by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution, or law is proposed.” (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 616, 1200)

That was the second stage in the evolution of the message section. At the Sydney session the clause relating to the origination of Money Bills was altered by the omission of the “main object” limitation, and the substitution of the provision that a Bill should not be deemed an Appropriation or Tax Bill merely because it provided for fines or fees. This took away from the Senate the power to initiate that large class of Appropriation Bills contemplated by the Adelaide clause; but the Chairman, Sir Richard Baker, thought that the decision to allow the Senate to initiate Bills imposing and appropriating fines and fees would still necessitate messages to the Senate; and, therefore, suggestions made by several of the Houses of Legislature, to require a message to the House of Representatives only, were not put from the chair. (Conv. Deb., Syd., 1897, pp. 540–1.)

At the Melbourne session, the words “for the Senate or the House of Representatives” were omitted by the Drafting Committee before the first report, and the clause then read as follows:—

“It shall not be lawful to pass any vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or moneys to any purpose which has not been first recommended to the House in which the proposal for appropriation originated by message of the Governor-General in the session in which the vote, resolution, or law is proposed.”

This was the shape in which the clause was debated in Melbourne, after the second report. The first point discussed was the meaning of the words “it shall not be lawful.” They apparently amounted to a prohibition, any breach of which would render the law, even if passed, invalid, thereby enabling the courts to enquire into the question whether an Appropriation Bill had been recommended by message or not. (See Todd, Parl. Gov. in Col. 2nd ed. p. 637.) Mr. Reid pointed out the undesirableness of this; and to prevent any difficulty arising from the circumstance of a preliminary vote being taken on an Appropriation Bill before the necessary message was brought down to the House, he also suggested the omission of the word “first,” so that the clause should read “which has not been recommended to the House.” With this alteration it would only be necessary that the message should reach the House before the Bill was passed by the House. The Drafting Committee subsequently gave effect to these suggestions by omitting the words “it shall not be lawful,” and the word “first,” and re-casting the clause into its present form. Mr. Isaacs moved to substitute “House of Representatives” for “House in which the proposal originated,” on the ground that the Senate, under


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sec. 53, had no power to originate a “proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys” within the meaning of the Constitution. This was negatived by 26 votes to 17. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 2096–2104, 2451)

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