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Thursday, 24 June 1937

Senator GRANT (Tasmania) . - I intend to support the bill, but I should like a further explanation of clause 19. which reads: -

19.   - (1.) The Governor-General may cause any report made under paragraph (a), (b) or(c) of sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section to be laid before each House of the Parliament and shall, before any proposedlaw relating to the subject of the report originates in the Parliament, cause the report tobe laid before each House thereof.

That provision in the bill states that the Governor-General " may " cause the report to be brought before Parliament. These reports may relate to investigations carried out by the commission with respect to anomalies, preferences or discriminations in connexion with InterState commerce, alleged contraventions of the Constitution, or applications by a State for a grant of financial assistance. Such reports should automatically come before the Parliament for discussion and decision. The word " shall " should be substituted for the word "may" in the first line of sub-clause 1, otherwise a government which regarded a report or recommendation unfavorably, might with- hold it and decline to give Parliament an opportunity to consider it.

Senator Sir George Pearce - There is the same phraseology in the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act.

Senator GRANT - That does not remove my objection to clause 19 in its present form.

Senator Sir George Pearce - There is a very good reason for the language employed in that provision.

Senator GRANT - If that be so, I shall be glad to hear the Leader of the Senate on that point. As to the personnel of the commission I should have preferred a provision that the chairman of the commission should have been a Justice of the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, instead of the requirement that " one member " should have had judicial experience. It is most desirable that the chairman should be a man possessing sound judicial knowledge and capable of conducting the proceedings of the commission in the proper manner. I do not know why clause 6, which deals with this matter, was inserted in its present form. I disagree with Senator Allan MacDonald with reference to the tenure of the proposed commission. Appointment for seven years is, I think, quite long enough, but that is the term prescribed by the Constitution. An appointee who was 60 years old at the date of appointment, would be 67 years of age at the end of his term. There should be some time limit governing appointments, otherwise an appointee may be well over 60 years of age at the date of appointment, and although he may be in complete physical and mental health at that time, seven years later he may not be fit physically or mentally to discharge his duties.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Such a personcould resign if he were in ill health.

Senator GRANT - My experience is that if a man holds a lucrative position, he is reluctant to resign!

Senator Sir George Pearce - He may be removed.

Senator GRANT - Only for proved misbehaviour or incapacity, and incapacity, as the Leader of the Senate well knows, is difficult to prove. We have had experience of one gentleman who should have been removed from a Commonwealth board many years before he retired. Eventually he was forced to resign, on account of ill health.

Motion (by Senator E. B. Johnston) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

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