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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - As one who was conscripted to serve oi.\ the committee - I did not seek appointment to it - I desire to speak to this motion. When I was told that there wai. a job for me to do I, as a lawabiding citizen, accepted the position, and, as & member of the committee, I have endeavored to do my duty. In the task of studying ordinances and regulations, which is both irksome and monotonous, the chairman set his fellow members an example of intelligent enthusiasm. Only a lawyer could show enthusiasm for such a job. As a member of the committee I may, perhaps, be pardoned if I say that it has done good work, although I regret that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) appears to be not too pleased with its report. Nevertheless, the findings of the committee have been commended by the press of Australia. Throughout the Commonwealth there is a well-founded belief that Australia is governed too much by regulations. Rather than call Parliament together to deal with the affairs of the country, the Government prefers executive rule. Hence the large volume of regulations and ordinances with which the committee has to deal. In every democracy there is a tendency to govern in this way, and probably that is why the system has reached such dimensions in Australia, which is sometimes thought to be in the vanguard of democracy. Twenty years ago, I said that Australia was in the guard's van, and I see no reason to alter that opinion.

Senator Hardy - Jack Lang broke all records when he was in power.

Senator BROWN - Jack Lang is not on this committee, but he is a nightmare to some people. The " Cromwell of the Riverina" ought to be for ever grateful to Jack Lang, for without that gentleman's existence he would probably not be a member of the Senate to-day. I draw attention to paragraph 10 of the committee's report -

The committee refers again to two mutters mentioned in its earlier reports, viz.: -

1.   The lack of an adequate act covering the air defence forces (mentioned in the committee's second report presented w the Senate on the Sth December, 1933). The present act (No. 33 of 1923) consists only of three sections applying portion of the Defence Act and regulations: otherwise all provisions governing the air defence forces are prescribed by regulation ...

It is not right that such an unsatisfactory state of affairs should continue. It would be easy for the Government to call Parliament together to consider legislation governing the air force. Had the committee not done more than call attention to the fact that this growing section of our defence force is practically governed by regulation, it would have justified its existence, and proved worthy of the commendation of all who believe in democracy rather than Fascism. I hope that the Senate will carry the motion, and that the committee will continue its good work.

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