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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1540


Senator PETER BAUME(12.38) —by leave-I move the following amendments to the States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Bill:

(1) Page 49, sub-clause 31 (3), lines 1 to 5, leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

'(3) The provisions of sections 48 (other than paragraphs (1) (a) and (b) and sub-section (2)), 49, 49A and 50 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 apply in relation to directions under sub-section 26 (1), 27 (1), 28 (1), 29 (1) or 30 (1 ) as if in those provisions references to regulations were references to directions, references to a regulation were references to a direction and references to a repeal were a reference to a revocation.'.

(2) Page 54, sub-clause 36 (3), lines 18 to 21, leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

'(3) The provisions of sections 48 (other than paragraphs (1) (a) and sub- section (2)), 49, 49A and 50 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 apply in relation to directions under sub-section 35 (1) or (3) as if in those provisions references to regulations were references to directions, references to a regulation were references to a direction and references to a repeal were a reference to a revocation.'.

(3) Page 60, sub-clause 42 (3), lines 34 to 37, leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

'(3) The provisions of sections 48 (other than paragraphs (1) (a) and (b) and sub-section (2)), 49, 49A and 50 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 apply in relation to directions under sub-section 41 (1) or (2) as if in those provisions references to regulations were references to directions, references to a regulation were references to a direction and references to a repeal were a reference to a revocation.'.

(4) Page 64, sub-clause 46 (5), lines 33 to 35, leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

'(3) The provisions of sections 48 (other than paragraphs (1) (a) and (b) and sub-section (2)), 49, 49A and 50 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 apply in relation to directions under sub-section 46 (2) as if in those provisions references to regulations were references to directions, references to a regulation were references to a direction and references to a repeal were a reference to a revocation.'.

As we remarked earlier, the Bill has been recast and it is therefore necessary to move this amendment four times. This amendment has a single purpose, to which purpose the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Ryan, referred in her remarks in the second reading debate. The purpose of the amendments is to insert in several places a capacity for parliamentary disallowance. Let me argue -I did not put the argument earlier-as to why we are proceeding down this path. The Minister has proposed in this legislation that there should be some new powers to vary certain determinations or grants after processes which the Minister identified in her summing up in the second reading debate. The Opposition has no objection whatsoever to the existence of a power to make variations, for reasons which the Minister has set out. There is some sense in that. We have no objection to the processes of consultation which the Minister has identified as part of that process, but we say that the variations which are proposed here come within that class of action which is properly a matter over which the Parliament should have authority at the end of the day. We have therefore moved in relation to four areas that where the Minister wishes to make such determinations not only must they be placed before the Parliament and not only must we be told about them, but also the Parliament should have the power, however theoretical that power is and whether or not it is used, to disallow.

There are many constraints upon the Government in making variations. The Minister has described some of those constraints. I think she has described them accurately. It is quite unlikely that the Minister would ever want to misuse a power. We agree: We have no argument. It is therefore unlikely that the Parliament will wish to put into force its power of disallowance, but it should properly have that power in a matter of subordinate legislation. The advice of officers that that would make the provision unworkable does not really stand up and we do not accept it. For those who may be listening I just indicate that the first of our amendments, to clause 31 (3), will affect any variations which are made to the recurrent expenditure. The amendment we propose to clause 34 (3) relates to any variations which are made to equipment grants; the amendment to clause 42 (3) relates to variations made to building projects; and the amendment to clause 46 (5) relates to variations to payments to staff at other than recommended rates. Our proposition is not to prevent the Minister from having the power to make these variations. It is to ensure that the proper constitutional proprieties are observed and that the provisions should be subject to disallowance as is other subordinate legislation. I put it to the Minister that whilst the Parliament would be conscious of all the constraints to which she referred in her second reading speech, whatever they are, they do not go to the fact that it is a proper exercise of parliamentary power to make subordinate legislation subject to disallowance as these amendments propose.