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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) . - I do not feel disposed to allow what the Minister ("Mr. Archie Cameron) has said to pass without comment. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has suggested, in his amendment, the only way in which the position can be safeguarded. He desires the exporter to have the right of appeal to a magistrate, in the event of the board refusing or failing to recommend that a licence be issued to him. According to the bill, a licence can be granted only on the board's recommendation.

Mr Archie Cameron - The Minister could refuse a licence, even after the board had recommended the granting of one.

Mr ROSEVEAR - The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who lias had experience in these matters, said it was unthinkable that the Minister would do such a thing. I repeat that a licence could not be originally issued without the authority of the board, and, having been taken away on the board's recommendation, it could not be re-issued without the board's authority. The amendment would make possible an appeal to override the decision of the board. Not one member who has spoken has disagreed with the view that there should be a right, of appeal; the difference of opinion is only as to the way in which that right should bc exercised. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) said that the exporter could appeal to the Minister. I point out that, according to sub-clauses 4 and 5, an appeal could be successful to the Minister only if the board had made a recommendation accordingly.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Anybody could approach the Minister.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Of course, but the bill does not give the Minister the right to act on his own initiative. Sub-clause 4 provides that if the Minister is satisfied, " on report by the board that the holder of a licence has contravened, or failed to comply with, the prescribed conditions, the Minister may suspend or cancel the licence; but, first, a recommendation to that effect must have been received by the Minister from the board. Sub-clause 5 states -

Where the Minister is satisfied, on report by the board, that any person whose licence under this section has been suspended or cancelled .... the Minister may, on the recommendation of the board ....

It is perfectly clear that only on a recommendation being made by the board can the Minister act in the matter of granting or re-issuing licences. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) suggested that the difficulty _ could be got over by leaving out the words " on report by the board," and by allowing the Minister to exercise the right which the honorable member for Barton assumes he already has. The honorable member for Gippsland thought that, if the Minister had the right to veto a decision of the board, it would give rise to the suggestion of political interference; but, even if the Minister acted with the consent of the board, political control would be possible. The decision would ultimately come from the Minister, although as the result of a recommendation by the board. Regulations are made by the GovernorGeneral, yet, in practice, the Minister would act on the recommendation of the board in framing the regulations, and probably 90 per cent, of them would originate from the board.

Mr Archie Cameron - But the Minister might not, accept the board's recommendations.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Undoubtedly, a very large proportion of the regulations would be based on the board's recommendations to the Minister. The board would decide whether an offence sufficient to warrant a cancellation of a licence had been committed, and, in the event of an appeal against such a cancellation, the Minister would have no voice in the matter until the board had reversed its own previous decision. The honorable member for Gippsland regards it as unthinkable that a recommendation of the board would not be acceptable to the Minister, because the board is to be representative of the growers; but I think that the honorable member will admit that the all-important question of export quotas is of vastly greater moment to the growers in the various States than is the withdrawal of a single licence. And provision is made in sub-clause 6 for reference to an arbitrator where the board is not unanimous in its decision regarding quantities and quotas for export. This seems to undermine the idea that the board would be infallible. The only appeal provided in the bill for a person who may have been victimized is one from Caesar to Caesar, and I claim for the grower elementary justice. As the honorable member for Franklin pointed out, the holder of a licence might be a grower and an exporter who depended for his livelihood entirely on the production of fruit for export. If he were denied the right to export his produce, we might as well drive him off his orchard. Even a person who is fined 5s. in a police court or is ordered to be imprisoned until the rising of the court, for drunkenness or riotous behaviour, is not denied the right of appeal against his conviction. Therefore, in a matter in which a fruit exporter's whole livelihood is at stake, he should not be denied the right of appeal against the cancellation of his licence. Every honorable member who lias spoken admits the simple justice of this contention, and the honorable member for Franklin merely asks that an outside authority, with no axe to grind, such as a police, .stipendiary, or special magistrate, should be called in to adjudicate in the event of an appeal. Yet, on n far more important matter, that of quotas, an outside arbitrator is to be appointed. Surely, if it is right that in respect of the great body of growers the right of appeal should he recognized, the same measure of justice should not be denied to the individual grower who may fall foul of the board.

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