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Thursday, 22 October 1914

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - It has boon argued that we shall have power to disallow any rules with which we do not agree, and that, if there is a failure to frame rules that we think necessary, we shall be able to amend the Act. Such a situation, however, would not be any improvement on that which now prevails. The principal objection that I see to the handing over of this work to the High Court Justices is that Parliament itself ought to exercise, as far as possible, all the functions it possesses in regard to the making of laws. There are occasions when certain powers must be delegated by the Parliament, but in this case the position is different. If we allow the clause to stand as it is, the work will be carried out by a member or an officer of the Government who is with us every day, and over whom we have some control; whereas, if it were handed over to the Justices of the High Court, we should have no control over them, and the only course open to us would be to disallow any rule to which we took exception. We have the power in our own hands at the present time, and we should retain it. Senator Stewart is not the Senator Stewart whom we knew in the last Parliament. He is a changed man. Prom the inception of Federation he has declined to part with a tittle of his powers as a legislator; but he now appears to be ready to hand over to Justices of the High Court the work of this Parliament. He says that the High Court Justices are better versed in legal matters than we are, and that we should, therefore, hand over this work to them. That is not like an utterance of the Senator Stewart of old. Why this change? The honorable senator stopped short when reading the matters in respect of which, under this Bill, rules will have to be drafted. I was following him, and wondered why he suddenly came to a halt. Why did he fail to read paragraph d, which refers to the making of rules, prescribing what fees, or percentages, charges, and so forth, shall be fixed? Imagine a Scotchman missing such a point.

Senator Stewart - The High Court Justices now fix fees.

Senator DE LARGIE - If we leave this power in their hands, very little will remain for the poor creditors after the fees of the lawyers, the Court, and the Court officials have been provided for.

Senator Keating - The reference is to "fees," not "costs."

Senator DE LARGIE - Call it what you will, it means £ s. d.

Senator Keating - Fees are paid by the Government.

Senator DE LARGIE - But the cost of administering the Act will be defrayed by charges on the estates dealt with from time to time by the Court, and the more that is paid away in fees, the less there will be for the poor creditors. I hope that the Government will stand by the clause.

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