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Wednesday, 9 November 1910
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Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I do not think there is anything in the honorable senator's objection. It will not necessarily follow that this provision will determine the administration of the Northern Territory for five years. In all probability the development of the Territory will not be so rapid that we shall be unable for much more than five years to do without an official in the position of Administrator. The argument of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, that we could not obtain the services of a good man unless we offered him an appointment for a definite term, is a reasonable one. The Administrator is to carry on his work, not only according to the terms of his Commission, but " according to such instructions as are given to him by the Minister." That does not mean that all his instructions are to be given to him when he first takes up the duties of his office. The instructions to be given to him will vary in accordance with the legislation passed, and the decisions arrived at by the Parliament as to the proper government of the Territory. While in connexion with the previous clause I was anxious to vest the Government with more power, in connexion with this clause, it occurs to me that they ought rot to have so much power. Instead of the Administrator of the Northern Territory being appointed on the approval -of the Government, I think he should be appointed on the approval of Parliament.


Senator McGregor - All officers are appointed subject to the approval of Parliament.


Senator RAE - But to impeach a Ministry before an appointment has been made is a very different matter from impeaching them after it has been made. I recollect that some years ago the claim was strongly urged by the Labour party that certain proposed appointments should be submitted to Parliament. In my judgment, we should make the clause as broad-based and democratic as possible by providing Lhat the Administrator shall be appointed on the recommendation of Parliament. To this end I suggest that after the word "may" the words "with the approval of Parliament " be inserted. Parliament would hesitate very much to condemn a Ministry because it did not approve of the man who had been appointed to the office of Administrator. It would hesitate to cause such an officer to resign his position, notwithstanding that if it had been afforded an opportunity of doing so, it might have made a very different selection. Consequently, I suggest the insertion of the words which I have indicated. Parliament would then have an opportunity of considering who should be appointed to this important office, lt is a position which the occupant is likely to fulfil for a very much longer period than five years.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator might just as well move for the omission of the words " Governor-General," f=o as to make the clause provide that Parliament shall appoint the Administrator.


Senator RAE - But the appointment will be made, under Executive act.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator seeks to destroy Executive authority.


Senator RAE - I do not. We know that when a Ministry accept office, they are nominally appointed by the GovernorGeneral. If the party opposite me were in power, its leader would select his colleagues, and submit their names to the GovernorGeneral for his approval. It is true that the Governor-General might object to them, but as a matter of fact we know that he never does adopt that course. If the Labour party has a majority the whole of its members select the Ministry. Consequently, it is a complete farce to argue that the Governor-General has anything to do with the formation of a Ministry.


Senator Gardiner - But he has the power to discharge them to-morrow if he thinks fit to do so.


Senator RAE - [f he attempted to do anything of the kind, we know that he would very soon have to sail across the ocean.


Senator St Ledger - He has to act constitutionally all the time.


Senator RAE - Exactly. If we provide that the Administrator shall be appointed on the recommendation of Parlia- ment, the Ministry will not dare to advise the Governor-General in the matter, until their recommendation has been approved by the Legislature. I move -

That after the word " may," line 1, the words "with the approval of Parliament" be inserted.







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