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Tuesday, 30 May 1939

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- Now that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has succeeded in establishing his point, which is all to the good so far as it goes, I ask why the significant 'Dower conferred upon the Government respecting the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions is limited to that one matter. No one knows better than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, as he has shown in the faint praise with which he has damned this bill, that noobligation rests upon the Government or upon any body to limit profits. The honorable gentleman has succeeded in ensuring that inquiry into profits will be definitely part of the activity of this new department if and when it operates, but he is well aware that thewhole of the remainder of the " functions of department " are subject to directions of the Governor-General. These directions may change from day to day, and even from hour to hour, for this is a changeable Government. Why should not the clause state definitely that the powers listed in paragraphs a to / shall definitely be " the matters to be administered by the department" ? Why is the whole clause, with the one exception to which I have referred, left to " directions of the Governor-General " ? I know that we shall be dealing with the regulationmaking power later, but it seems to me to be most unsatisfactory to establish a new department and then state that its functions shall be exercised only " subject to the directions of the Governor-General ". Is that not an insult to our intelligence and that of Parliament ? Surely the Assistant Minister (Mr. Holt), who is a lawyer, realizes the difficulties that may be incurred in consequence of the presence in the statute of a provision of that description. I have had a long experience of statutory enactments and I cannot remember a previous occasion when we had inserted a phrase of that kind. In effect, what the clause provides is that the matters covered by paragraphs at,of shall be administered by the department " subject to the direction of .the Governor-General ". Why was not the definite power set out in the new paragraph made to apply to all the paragraphs? It is curious that the Government informed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that not only would it accept his amendment, but it would also tighten it up to make it more effective. I hope the Assistant Minister will explain why the special provision applies only to the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the

Opposition and not to other provisions of the clause.

Mr Holt - I shall explain if the honorable member will give me an opportunity to do so.

Mr BRENNAN - I shall be delighted to hear this enthusiastic young Assistant Minister explain what a veteran Minister has declined to explain, and I sit down fairly glowing with the joy of expectation.

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