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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) .- Nothing I have heard this evening will make me vote differently from the way I voted when the bill was previously 'before us. The Minister said that a certificate from the AttorneyGeneral's Department would not be any guarantee of the validity of a regulation. That is perfectly true, but it would be a guarantee that care had been taken in the framing of the regulation. I cannot accept the explanation that members of the public would be misled by the certificate into believing that a guarantee of legality had been provided. Does the honorable senator say that the public will read the certificate? Will the public even see it to be misled by it?

Senator Brennan - I should think that it would be attached to the regulation.

Senator ABBOTT - The only object of this clause is obviously to ensure that the public will have a guarantee that care has been exercised in the framing of a regulation. A very strong case was made out on a previous occasion, when this bill was before the Senate, to show that in the past there has been a good deal of slipshod work in drafting and promulgating regulations. The people would not even consider the certificate, nor would they be interested in it. Our only desire is to give some assurance to the people, but not an absolute guarantee, that a regulation is valid and that due care has been taken in framing it. The Minister went on to point out that the courts are, in the long run, the interpreters of the law : that is perfectly true, but I do not think that that acids very much weight to the honorable gentleman's argument.

Senator Brennan - The AttorneyGeneral in the House of Representatives, and I, in this chamber, have given an assurance that all precautions will be taken.

Senator ABBOTT - That is the final point with which I wish to deal. No one would be more ready than I to accept the assurance of both the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) ; that assurance carries the greatest possible weight; but I remind the honorable senator that neither he nor the Attorney-General is going to live forever. To-night we are engaged in framing an act of Parliament, in which we are putting not the assurance of even the most honorable and trustworthy and believable gentlemen in the Ministry, but something that will be in the law for future years. I always feel in this matter of legislation - and I have felt it in other legislatures in which I have had the privilege to serve - that this assurance should not be put forward, as it were, as part of the legislative machinery. I accept the Assistant Minister's sincerity and that of the Attorney-General, but I do not think it bears upon the matter at all. I ask honorable senators to re-affirm the vote given on a previous occasion.

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