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Wednesday, 29 November 1944

Dr EVATT (Barton) (Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs) . - I think that the objective of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) can be attained if the bill is left as it is. This is a clause in a Commonwealth law. The schedule to the bill is an agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania. The object of clause 9 is to prevent the Executive Government of the Commonwealth from consenting to the sale of any part of this undertaking without reference to this Parliament. Similarly, the power of the Executive Government of Tasmania to consent to any such disposal should be conditioned by the necessity to obtain the consent of both Houses of the State legislature. If the honorable member will look at the clause, she will see that there is a condition against the sale or disposal of any part of the undertaking. It cannot be effected until approved by both Houses of the Parliament. That does not mean that it could be disposed of without the consent of the Parliament of Tasmania.

Mr Menzies - The Commonwealth will have a majority on the commission. Could not the commission itself dispose of the asset?

Dr EVATT - The commission's power to sell is conditioned by the necessity to obtain the consent of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. It seems to me that the appropriate place to insert the words suggested by the honorable member for Darwin is in legislation to be massed by the Parliament of Tasmania. But I have no objection to the amendment. Indeed, I should like to see it incorporated in the bill.

Mr Menzies - I thought that the right honorable gentleman's point was that the effect of clause 9 was to impose a limit on the power of disposal. Otherwise, that power would be vested in the commission on which the Commonwealth Government would have a majority of members. Therefore, this limitation of the power of the commission is a limitation referring only to the Commonwealth authority. Why should there not be a provision that the consent of the State Parliament also must bo obtained before any sale can take place?

Dr EVATT - I appreciate the point which has been raised. In effect, it would create the same position as a law passed by the Parliament of Tasmania on the matter. I should imagine that under Tasmanian law a similar result could be achieved. I repeat that I arn sympathetic to the object which the honorable member for Darwin seeks to achieve.

Mr Menzies - I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should look at the amendment overnight, and. if he finds that there is substance in it, the matter can be dealt with later.

Dr EVATT - I am agreeable to that. If I can do so, I shall include the words suggested by the honorable member for Darwin because I agree with the object which she seeks to achieve, namely, the prohibition of the disposal of any part of this undertaking by the commission except with the consent not only of the two governments but also of the two pa r li a m ents affected .

Clause postponed until after consideration of Schedule.

Clause 10 postponed until after consideration of schedule.

Clauses 11 to 15 agreed to.


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