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Thursday, 17 September 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- At the outset this afternoon I felt the possibility that the Government, was right in bringing forward this legislation, but as the debate has proceeded I have felt a doubt. Strange to say, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) was the man who implanted that doubt. He did so when he said that if a large sum. of money were involved in retrospective regulations they should be validated, but that if the amount were only small it would not matter. As a matter of fact; his attitude is this: "If it is murder we shall validate it, but if it is petty larceny it does not matter".

Senator Brennan - That is hardly a. correct summary of the views of the Leader of the Senate.

Senator LECKIE -It is very near to it. The right honorable senator pointed out that if the sum involved were large the position would be serious for the Government.

SenatorGrant. - He' said that if it were a large amount the Government would not pay it back.

Senator LECKIE - That is so.

Senator Arkins - He said that it would not. if the Government were beaten on a technicality.

Senator LECKIE - Who is going to say whether it. is a technicality or not? Before I make up my mind on this matterI shall listen to the Minister's reply.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) put up a case that the Government should take practically supreme power in regard to the making of regulations.- That is a very surprising statement to come from a man who notoriously and constantly upholds the rights of Parliament and of individuals It makes me think that if you scratch a socialist you find a Hitler. I do not. know if I understood correctly, but I formed the impression that Senator Duncan-Hughes and the Leader of the Senate came to a conclusion that, amongst the reasons for the introduction of this bill, were the activities of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate. If that be so we can only blame Senator Duncan-Hughes.

He has beenworking too hard. It is not often that that charge is made against members of the Senate, but I am afraid that Senator Duncan-Hughes must take some of the blame for the introduction of this bill because he and his committee are too energetic in looking after the rights of Parliament. If this bill is a " slap " at the committee to prevent it from carrying out its duties, I think that we should be told directly that that is so. It is rather Gilbertian to appoint a committee for the better supervision of the work of Parliament, and then bring in a bill to suppress it.

Senator Duncan-Hughes - The committee was appointed by the Senate, but the bill was drafted by the Government.

Senator LECKIE - Yes, but when this debate started this afternoon I had the feeling that the bill was absolutely necessary. I now have my doubts, and the Minister has something to answer.

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