Chapter 13 - Financial legislation

Requests and section 57

Section 57 of the Constitution, which authorises the simultaneous dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament by the Governor-General in prescribed circumstances of disagreement between the Houses (see Chapter 21), refers to the Senate rejecting, failing to pass or passing a bill with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree. It is a significant question, which has not been considered, whether the Senate in making or pressing requests for amendments to a bill could be said to have failed to pass it within the meaning of the section. In that circumstance the Senate has not passed the bill with amendments. Certainly if the Senate makes or presses requests it cannot be said to have failed to pass the bill until the House of Representatives has definitely rejected the requests and the Senate has then had an opportunity to reconsider them. In that respect the government appears to have been in error in declining to consider the Senate’s pressed requests in relation to the Sales Tax Amendment Bills (Nos 1A to 9A) 1981 (see SD, 22/10/1981, pp 1547-8, particularly the statement by Senator Harradine that the action taken by the government in the House of Representatives “was not only unconstitutional but also ... ensured that the time clock for action to be taken under the dissolution provisions of section 57 of the Constitution could not run”).

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