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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr HASLUCK (Curtin) (Minister for Territories) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill does not raise any new question of policy. The need for it became urgent as the result of a recent advising by the law officers of the Commonwealth that the procedure which had been followed since 1915 in regard to the commencement of ordinances made for Norfolk Island might be open to question. The purpose of the bill is to place beyond doubt the validity of ordinances that have been brought into force in the past, and to simplify the procedure for bringing new ordinances into force in the future. In explaining the bill, I direct attention to section 8 of the Norfolk Island Act 1913-1935 - the act at present in force. That section gives the Governor-General power to make ordinances for the peace, order and good government of Norfolk Island. It provides that ordinances so made shall be published in the manner directed by the GovernorGeneral, and shall come into force at a time to be fixed by him, not being before the date of their publication in Norfolk Island. In accordance with these provisions, the then Governor-General, in 1915, made an ordinance entitled the "Interpretation Ordinance 1915". Section 5 of that ordinance provided, that every ordinance shall, unless the contrary intention appears, commence and take effect on the day on which a copy thereof is affixed by order of the Administrator on or near to the Court House, Norfolk Island. Since 1915, all ordinances have been deemed to have commenced in accordance with that provision.

The Attorney-General's Department now takes the view, Mr. Speaker, that, as the law stands at present, every ordinance must be brought into force by the GovernorGeneral fixing the date of commencement, and that the Governor-General cannot delegate the power exercisable by him in pursuance of that provision to the Administrator of Norfolk Island. Our law advisers take the view also that the power of commencing the operation of an ordinance is exercisable by order in council, not by ordinance. The opinion of the law officers is that section 5 of the Interpretation Ordinance 1915-1940 is probably ineffectual in the light of those views, since what that section purports to do should, in their opinion, be done by order in council in pursuance of the Norfolk Island Act. It seems, therefore, that no ordinance made since 1915 has been properly commenced. Accordingly, it becomes necessary first, to validate the ordinances made in the past, and, secondly, to set out clearly the method for the commencement of the ordinances made in the future. This bill is intended to achieve those two purposes, and it does not attempt to do anything else. I commend it to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.

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