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Wednesday, 27 April 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - The Minister takes exception to our request that the powers and functions of the .Board should be detailed in the Bill. The same argument could be applied «with equal force and truth to the Public Service Bill, where the functions and duties of the Board are specifically laid down, and cover nearly two pages. Nearly every alternate clause of this Bill refers to regulations or prescriptions, and at .the end of the Bill there are two clauses providing that everything in the heavens above, the earth beneath, and the waters under the earth. and almost in the fires of Hell itself, may be dealt with by regulation. The whole business is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in a Bill. There is one allembracing clause, for fear anything should be forgotten, or overlooked, or miscalculated, and the only thing that is missing is a provision fixing the number of commas, and dots over the " i's," and strokes in the "fs" that shall be contained in the Bill. Surely if anything should be in the Bill it is the powers granted to the Board. Otherwise, we might just as well close the book, and pass one clause to the effect that the Governor-General in Council shall make regulations not inconsistent with the title of the Bill.

Senator PEARCE - The Public Service Bill also gives the power to prescribe.

Senator SENIOR - I know, because it has become a fatal habit with the Government to do everything by regulation.

Senator Pearce - But you hold that Bill up as a bright and shining example.

Senator SENIOR - To be logical, the Minister should wipe out all the duties and functions of the Board as set out in that Bill, and insert a short clause like this one. This is hot legislation by Parliament at all. It means practically giving the naval and military authorities power to do anything irrespective of Parliament. The supreme motive that influences them is that it is much easier to make a regulation than to get a Bill through Parliament. The Minister is giving them absolute power to make regulations irrespective of Parliament, so long as these are not inconsistent with the title of the Bill. If we cannot put in the Bill the powers and functions of the Board, we have come pretty near to the skeleton form of legislation which T described just now. That is, we might as well pass the title and one clause giving the Governor-General power to make regulations and call the measure the Air Defence Bill.

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