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Wednesday, 7 July 1915

Senator MAUGHAN (Queensland) . - Senator Keating has referred fo provisions in various Acts that go towards the goal which Senator Gould and others have in view, and that is to provide for a more definite system of decentralization. I cannot help but think that the provision made in the Land Tax Act of 1910-11 would meet a case of this kind. It is short and to the point. Sections 4 and 5 of the Land Tax Act provide for the administration of the Act and the appointment of a Commissioner. Then section 1 reads as follows: -

There may be such Deputy Commissioners of Taxes as are required, who shall, subject to the control of the Commissioner, have such powers and functions as are prescribed or as the Commissioner directs.

I cannot help thinking that an addition of that kind to the clause now before the Committee would be a material improvement, and would save a great deal of trouble. I move -

That the following new sub-clause be added : -

(5)   There may be such Deputy Commissioners of Insurance as are required, who shall, subject to the control of the Commissioner, have such powers and functions as are prescribed, or as the Commissioner directs.

Senator Keating - Would it not be better to follow the form of the appointment of the Commissioner himself ?

Senator Gardiner - I think it would be more convenient in the form suggested by Senator Maughan.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Who would appoint the Deputy Commissioners ?

Senator MAUGHAN - Who appointsthe Deputy Land Tax Commissioners? The Governor-General in Council would, of course, appoint them. The amendment I have proposed is almost an exact copy of the similar provision in the Land Tax Act.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT"GOULD ,(New South Wales) [4.10].- I am prepared to support the amendment, in default of getting something better, but I should prefer to have the Deputy Commissioners of Insurance placed in a. more independent position than that which they would occupy under it. Nodoubt the Deputy Commissioners would be recommended by the Commissioner, but the powers which it is proposed to intrust to them are . so restricted that I am afraid a very great deal would have to be referred by them to> the Commissioner, which it would be much more convenient that they should deal with themselves. I should like the amendment to be of such a character as tomake it clear that the Deputy Commissioners would be appointed by the Go- vernor-General in Council. They should be given certain definite powers, and should have such further powers as might be necessary, and as might be prescribed^ The amendment might, I think, be improved by the Parliamentary Draftsman, whocould submit it in a form which would better meet the views of honorable senators. I made an interjection concerning, the appointment of officials of the High Court, and in connexion with that I wish to say that no Government would consider themselves in a position to dictate to the bench who their officials should be, though it is true that they must be appointed by the Governor-General, with the advice of" the Executive Council. I have had a little experience of this matter in the conduct of affairs by a State Government,, and I know that the practice invariably has been to have the approval of the Judges for appointments made in connexion with the Courts, although the appointments have, of course, to be made by the Governor in Council. That is what I meant by my interjection. The Judges. of course cannot make appointments quite irrespective of the views of the Government, but Governments are very loth to interfere in the slightest degree, with the exercise of their discretionary powers by the Judges in the making of such appointments. The Vice-President of the Executive Council might permit the amendment to go as it stands with a view to having it referred to the Attorney-General ' later, and, if necessary, to the Parliamentary Draftsman to be put into a better shape to give effect to the views of honorable senators.

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