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Friday, 3 December 1965

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - Mr. Chairman, I hope that the empty benches on the Opposition side of the chamber do not betoken an entire loss of interest in this matter on their part. I sincerely trust that this is not so. I support the remarks made by my friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), and will vote in support of the amendments that he has proposed. This clause raises, perhaps in not so drastic a form, the question that we shall have to consider when we come to sub-clause (7.) of clause 52, which reads -

Orders of the Tribunal have the force of law.

The honorable member has rightly brought attention to the fact that we in this chamber are now proposing to give away legislative power. There are no guide lines of precedent for the work of the proposed Trade Practices Tribunal. We shall not tell it what principles it is to act on but we propose to give it power to act without its actions being subject to the right of appeal. I again remind the Attorney-General that the operations of the Tribunal under the terms of this clause will be validated by clause 52, and I emphasise the application of the ominous sub-clause (7.) of that clause, the terms of which I have read. Because of the provisions of clause 52, the observations made by the honorable member for Moreton are especially pertinent. It seems to me that there will be very little reason for proclaiming any area less than a State a part of Australia for the purposes of this measure. 1 suggest that the Government might very well accept the amendments which have been proposed by the honorable member for Moreton and in support of which, as I have intimated, I shall vote. I foreshadow a further amendment if the clause is passed in the form proposed by the Government. If that occurs I shall move an amendment designed to ensure that declarations of the Tribunal shall be made by means of regulations laid on the table in each House of the Parliament.

Mr Snedden - Would the honorable member leave that amendment until clause 52 is before the Committee?

Mr WENTWORTH - I would propose it in respect of this clause, too. An amendment of the kind that I have foreshadowed would mean that a determination of the sort that we are considering here would come before this chamber and the Senate for review and ratification. I do not believe that the Parliament should part with its own legislative powers, Sir. I am sure that Opposition members at all events will support the principle that legislative power should not be taken from this Parliament, even if the Government, despite the judgment which has been advanced by the honorable member for Moreton and which I share, considers that this measure should give power to proclaim for the purposes of this clause a part of Australia less than a State. Under the Government's proposal, we shall give away not an administrative power but a legislative power. In my view, the exercise of this kind of power should always be subject to review by the Parliament. That can be ensured effectively if the decisions of the Tribunal come forward as regulations which can be scrutinised by both Houses and, if thought fit, disallowed by the House of Representatives or the Senate. I repeat the point admirably made by the honorable member for Moreton: It is proposed that we give away not administrative power, but, in effect, legislative power. No self respecting parliament should do this. I am not trying to impeach the effectiveness or the principles of the Bill which the AttorneyGeneral has put before us. I shall vote in support of the amendments proposed by the honorable member for Moreton and I foreshadow a further amendment in the terms that I have indicated should the Committee see fit not to agree to the honorable member's amendments.

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