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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2689

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - I move the following amendment:

Omit the clause, substitute the following clause:

17.   The Minister for Urban and Regional Development may, after consultation with the appropriate Minister of the State concerned, approve an organization or body that represents, or acts on behalf of, the local governing bodies established in a region as an approved regional organization for the purposes of this Act or revoke or alter such an approval.'.

I have moved the amendment because during the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) on Wednesday afternoon last he put to me that it should be possible for the Parliament to review the approval which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development could give for a single local governing body to be regarded as a regional organisation. Clause 17 of the Bill as introduced makes it possible for the Minister to do that. Perhaps I might quote exactly what the Leader of the Opposition said on this matter. He said:

I do not want, and I am sure the Prime Minister in no circumstances would want, some future government to use this Bill as an instrument for patronage to individual municipal councils. It does have in it that capacity. For instance, an approved regional authority, while it is a body which represents or acts for a group, can under the terms of clause 17 of the Bill be a single municipal authority. It would therefore be possible to pick out municipality XYZ and the Minister, whoever he may be at the time, could by instrument in writing, make it an approved regional organisation and then give it patronage for political purposes. I put it to the Prime Minister that the correct way in which this should be done is in such a way that it has the supervision of Parliament. With the supervision of Parliament the correct way is to do it by way of regulation and there would be a capacity for debate and it could be argued that it is being done for patronage if that is what some future government - and I am sure it is clear to the Prime Minister-

I intervened:

I accept that.

The Leader of the Opposition continued:

I appreciate that. It will be moved by somebody on this side of the House that the wordsby regu lation be substituted for the wordsby instrument in writing.

I then said:

The consequence being that if either House objected to the regulation it could be disallowed.

The Leader of the Opposition then said:

That is right. I thank the Prime Minister for that interjection.

Pursuant to my response to the Leader of the Opposition I seek to substitute the clause 17 I have just moved for the clause 17 as it appears in the Bill. It will be noticed that the clause I have now moved omits reference to single or, to use the term of the Leader of the Opposition, 'individual local governing bodies'. I do not demur to those bodies being included in regulations so that either House of the Parliament could disallow them. In that case the proper place to enact a provision regarding regulations is in the clause of the Bill which deals with regulations, namely, clause 27. Accordingly, I forecast that if the Committee approves the amendment I have now moved, I shall move that we go to clause 27, a new clause which will cover the situation of single or individual local governing bodies which the Minister would like to have regarded as regional organisations for the purposes of a hearing by the Grants Commission or recommendations by it.

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