Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 29 April 1942

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - I second the motion. Although I have never belonged to the Boy Scouts movement, I think this is possibly one of the occasions in my life when I have, perhaps subconsciously, obeyed the scout's dictum to do one good turn a day. When I look across the House and see the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), for the second time during the period that he and I have been in this chamber, expelled from his temporal and spiritual home, the Labour party, I feel that I should come to his assistance and support him. With his usual eloquence, good sense and sound logic, he has put his case against Statutory Rule No. 77. I have not studied the rule as much, perhaps, as some of my friends have, but I have neverthless noticed one or two things about it.

Before I proceed to discuss the regulations contained in it, I wish to make some general observations upon what I believe to be the principles that should govern the making of regulations under the National Security Act and certain other acts. The purpose of the regulations is to give effect to the National Security Act, and any regulation made under Statutory Rule No. 77 or amending Stautory Rule No. 169, should first be intelligible to the recipients of it. Secondly, the regulation should be capable of achievement by the person to whom it applies; and, thirdly, it should be capable of attaining the object which the Minister, or his satellite, or substitute, sets out to achieve. Furthermore, the regulation should be a timely regulation - that is to say, the recipient should have time to do the things that the Minister or the substitute thinks he should do.

To my mind there is something familiar in this rule. My thoughts went 'hack to the Crimean War, and Tennyson's The Charge of the Light

Brigade.What the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) tells us is, " Theirs not to reason why, theirs not to do justice". I am rather taken aback - I will not say shocked, because shock might kill me - that the Labour party should have brought in a rule of this description and should expect Parliament to adopt it. I am obliged to ask whether the real objective is a national or a party one. There is too much party flavour in the National Security regulations that have been placed on the table of the house during the last few months. There is too much of a tendency - it is more than a tendency, for it appears to be a deliberate policy - to achieve certain objectives of the Labour party under the pretext of giving effect to war-time organization and administration. In that, of course, I do not agree with the honorable member for Bourke.

Mr Calwell - Forget that!

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) might like to forget it, but his memory is too good for that. There are other members on the Government side of the House who would like to forget many things,but there are in Hansard passages that cannot be expunged, passages of which nasty fellows like me will remind government partisans from time to time. This rule, which is the subject of the motion, cannot be considered by itself, but must be read in conjunction with Statutory Rule No. 169, which is an amendment of regulation 4 of Statutory Rule No. 77. I think that rule No. 169 is even more remarkable in some of its provisions, and in some of the powers it gives to the Minister, than even the parent regulation. The children are becoming more hideous the more numerous they are.

Now let me consider the individual regulations under the rule. The purpose of regulation 3 is -

To enable the Commonwealth, during the present war to use, for the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth and its Territories and the more effectual prosecution of the war, the services and property of all persons and companies within Australia and its Territories.

That is all very well on the surface, but the regulation does not say what it means, nor does it mean what it says. It does not give to the Minister power over the services of all the people in the country. There is a definite limit imposed in section 13 of the National Security Act, and until that section is expunged, regulation 3 of Statutory Rule No. 77 cannot mean what it says. So far as concerns the prosecution of this war, the organization of forces and the placing of the armed forces of this country in the places where they can do most damage to the enemy, the regulation does not mean what it says, and, therefore, should not stand. Regulation 4, which has been amended, says - (1.) A Minister, or any person authorized by a Minister to give directions under these regulations, may direct any person resident in Australia -

(a)   to perform such services as are specified in the direction;

(b)   to perform such duties in relation to his trade, business, calling or profession as are so specified;

(c)   to place his property, in accordance with the direction, at the disposal of the Commonwealth.

Any regulation which delegates the authority of a Minister of State is bad. A Minister of State takes a certain oath to administer the laws of this country in such a way that all subjects of the King shallbe on an equal footing. To delegate that authority to an unknown person who is not under that obligation is absolutely wrong. The person to whom authority is delegated might be any sort of person. For instance, the Minister for Labour and National Service has rather unorthodox tastes in regard to the appointment of persons, and he might appoint Miss Cashman to direct all sorts of things. God only knows what a gentleman who could appoint her as the employers' representative on a wages board could do ! He might even appoint a well-known former member of this House, Mr. Garden, to give oral instructions. An interpreter would be needed to accompany him, because he speaks a dialect intelligible, perhaps, to the Minister for Labour and National Service, but to no one else.

Mr Falstein - I thought the honorable gentleman was Scotch, too.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I am highland Scotch. Remembering an important appointment by a previous

Minister last year, and not being sure whether the Government is serious, I say that it is possible for Lieut.-Colonel Jim Gerald to be given the job of giving instructions under these regulations.

Mr Calwell - Lieut.-Colonel Jim Gerald was appointed by Lieut.-Colonel Spender.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is also on the Advisory "War Council. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) said that no man in the history of this country had been clothed with the powers contained in these regulations. This is a very serious matter even in time of war. Time after time we have been told in this chamber that certain extra powers were necessary, but that they would be the very coping-stone, and that no more would be necessary. Particularly in view of Statutory Rule No. 169, some unknown gentleman might be appointed to give orders and directions under these regulations, and we might not even know that he had been appointed. The fact that his appointment must be notified in the Gazette is nothing. The Gazette, which is published in Canberra on a Thursday, might not arrive in Perth until a fortnight later. Arrangements can be made by telephone for certain people to do things under these regulations, but my constituents in South Australia and the constituents of other honorable gentlemen in Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania might be receiving orders from some persons whom they would have to take on trust. Their only means of checking the authority of those persons is laid down in Statutory Rule No. 169, and the Gazette might not come to their possession for a fortnight. That is extraordinary. There is a procedure under which orders are given - that is quite well understood - but it is not carried out here. The power to give oral orders, notwithstanding that they may be confirmed in writing afterwards, is a dangerous power to give to unknown and unauthorized people in this country. The regulations should not stand.

Statutory Rule No. 169, which amends regulation 4 of Statutory Rule No. 77, says that any person who may be appointed by the Minister may order a person - to do or refrain from doing such acts or things as are specified in the direction.

That is either a written or verbal direction. It is a very difficult thing to accept, especially when one reads further on and finds -

Where any direction given under these regulations is published in the Gazette, the direction shall be deemed to have been sufficiently served upon, or brought to the notice of all persons concerned or affected thereby.

I do not think that there is anything more sweeping than that in Germany, or even in Russia. Before and since the war broke out, the right honorable member forFremantle, as Leader of the Opposition, sought to curb the powers of the Executive to make regulations. I said time and time again that for the Labour party to occupy the treasury bench it would completely have to reverse its attitude to the war. It has done so, but there was no need to go so far as this. Everything necessary to be done could be done without these regulations. From a Gazette notice it is only a step further to say that the direction shall be deemed to have been sufficiently served upon or brought to the notice of all persons concerned or affected if it is nailed to the door of a church. A lot of people would not see the notice if it were placed there. The Government may amend the regulations again and say that the notice shall be sufficient if it is nailed to the door of Parliament House. A lot of people would not see it there. It could be nailed to the doors of the Trades and Labour Council chambers. How could the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and I be expected to see it there? These matters must be dealt with reasonably, sensibly and practically. The Gazette is not a widely-read journal, but the things which appear in it vitally affect the lives, fortunes and futures of the people, and there should and can be a much better and more practical method of giving instructions and orders to people affected by the war-time necessities of the Government of the Commonwealth. It is up to the Government to provide it.

I have noticed the peregrinations of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) on the coal-fields. I saw that he was to arrive in Melbourne the other day and did not arrive, and that he was to arrive there later and still did not arrive. As every dairyman knows, you have to go for the cows yourself; they seldom come home. Here is a case where the cow did not come home and the dairyman did not go to get it. They were brought together by accident rather than by design in this city a day ago. While the Minister for Labour and National Service was producing on the coal-fields the harmony which one quite expects to follow in his train, and was saying that so far as he was personally concerned Statutory Rule No. 77 would not be applied to the workers of this country, the Prime Minister had already been to the Trades and Labour Council and said that the trouble on the coal-fields was owing, not to the bosses, but to the other side. I did not hear that on the wireless, but I read it in the press, and it was not repudiated. We have the head of the Government and the other extremity of the Government talking at cross-purposes on what is a very important subject. If the honorable member for Bourke looks at the table he may see Tovarich Ward. I may see Fuehrer Ward. What we see is not the same in name, but it is in effect. There is an old Chinese proverb which talks about that which has the teeth of the tiger and the tail of the rat. There again it is just a pointof view. I say very seriously and deliberately that these regulations should not be allowed to stand. They are regulations for which this Government will be extremely sorry. They will not produce peace and harmony in this Parliament, in the country, or in the Government. I had occasion the last time we sat to refer to the conflict between the opinions expressed publicly by the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister. That conflict of opinion has broken out again over these regulations. The Prime Minister intends to administer them as all regulations should be administered, without fear or favour, affection or illwill, or goodwill for that matter, to all classes of the community, irrespective of rank, wealth, title, or anything else. The Minister for Labour and National Service cannot accept that policy. We see the unwelcome spectacle of a responsible Minister at variance with the head of the Government on what must be a part of the major policy of the Curtin Government. That is something which will be raised, no doubt, at a meeting to-morrow which I am debarred from attending. The honorable member for Bourke spoke about this regulation being in the uncontrolled discretion of the Prime Minister. No member on this side has any fearof the discretion of the Prime Minister - but we do fear the uncontrollable discretions of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Therefore, we say that these regulations must go.

Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Mr Harrison - The Prime Minister promised that these matters would be disposed of.

Mr Curtin - I said that I wanted the business determined in the order in which it is listed on the notice-paper. A motion for the disallowance of a regulation has been moved and seconded.

Mr Archie Cameron - And supported on both sides.

Mr.Curtin. - It is extraordinary that the head of the Government should be expected to continue this debate without having had an opportunity to consider the two speeches which have been made to-day in regard to this matter. I am ready to go on if necessary, but I remind honorable members opposite that when I made a statement on the international situation this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) asked for an adjournment of the debate andI granted his request. Apparently honorable members opposite are prepared only to deal with matters in the manner that pleases them and when it pleases them. If they want to tip this Government out, or to tip me out, then let them do it.

Suggest corrections