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Wednesday, 25 February 1942

Mr BRENNAN (BATMAN, VICTORIA) - The Japanese do not come to this Parliament, and I verily believe that they will never interfere with the functions of this Parliament. But that is by the way. There are matters which might be discussed with advantage by members of Parliament, even in the exceptional circumstances which will largely engage the attention of the Prime Minister and, it may be, other Ministers. After all, though the Government is the selected instrument responsible to Parliament, it is not the Parliament; and with the Parliament, as such, remains the duty of consultation upon matters which Ministers think it right to bring before the Parliament. I take this opportunity to say that my own view is that in these times of great anxiety every elector of every party is entitled to feel that he has a representative who meets daily, or almost daily, at least for a short period, in the Parliament, and who is, therefore, in consultation with his fellow members and in consultation also, either formally or informally, with members of the Government,, and that members of the Government have the advantage of the advice and suggestions, and, possibly, personal information, which may be available, and normally is available, to the rank and file of the Parliament. This is due to the Government, also, because great responsibility rests upon the Government at the moment, and it is not sufficient that Ministers work laboriously and with intelligence, as they do, at their allotted tasks; it is desirable also that they have the support of and consultation with individual members. In that way Parliament, as a democratic institution, should be in constant touch with those who make Parliament and are its masters, as Parliament is the master of the Government. There are matter? which, I suggest, could well have been discussed by this Parliament. Some have been mentioned to-day - regulations, for instance. If this Parliament had been meeting regularly, even for brief periods, certain regulations which now have the effect of law would not have been allowed to have such effect. No intelligent honorable member on either side of the House would have allowed that to happen had the way been open for him to prevent it. We must never, for one moment, whether we be supporters of the Government or members of the Opposition, lose our sense of responsibility for the examination, with the utmost care, of regulations; especially at a time when regulations must necessarily be given the effect of law rapidly, and with very little time for consideration and, consequently, with very little consideration. Because of the need for the careful examination of regulations T suggest that Parliament should sit more regularly. I do not oppose this motion as Ibo Prime Minister has stated that it is important that it should be agreed to. He is the head of the Government, and must have the final decision in such matters.

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