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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) . - As to the draftsmanship1, the bill has been prepared by the draftsmen who regularly prepare the legislation which comes before this Parliament. I do not claim to be a draftsman. Neither would any of my parliamentary colleagues. The very able officers who translate our policy decisions into legislative form have employed themselves as assiduously upon this bill as upon any other. I do not think it is any better, or any worse, from the drafting point of view, than we could ordinarily hope for. Certainly, the drafting officers had no instructions from me that they are not to translate into legislative form anything that can reasonably and practicably be so translated.

As to the suggestion that selection may be left to the prejudice or caprice of a particular Minister, I point out that this legislation contains rather more safeguard against the ill effects of an individual Minister's decisions than most measures. At least three other Ministers are directly concerned even after the Navy and the Air elements of the services have been removed from the picture. My department has a purely machinery function in this matter. It tries to organize the registration of the trainees so as to provide the requisite number for the particular service. The policy aspect is the particular concern of my colleague, the Minister for Defence, and, in this case, of the Minister for the Army also. Therefore, I would think that if the Minister for Labour and National Service embarked upon some frolic of his own as to categories, or anything of the sort, he would soon find himself in trouble with the Ministers for whom he merely acts as agent. While there may be some doctrinal force in what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) is submitting, there are some very practical safeguards against that kind of thing happening.

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