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Wednesday, 25 August 1937

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - As a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I am pleased that its action has caused the Government to alter the bill from the form in which it was originally introduced. Certain amendments with which I agree have been embodied in the measure; I refer especially to that dealing with retrospec tive regulations. Proposed new section 48 (2) provides that -

Regulations shall not tie expressed to take effect from a date before the date of notification in any case where, if the regulations so took effect-

(a)   the rights of a. person (other than the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth) existing at . the date of notification, would bc affected in a manner prejudicial to that person;

When this matter was before the Senate on a previous occasion, it was pointed out. that certain workers in London, who had been paid sums of money, might be called upon to refund such moneys unless the regulations were made retrospective. To the extent that the present bill removes the danger of retrospective operation prejudicial to the interests of individuals, it is a step in the right direction.

Senator Duncan-Hughes - In that respect the bill is in the form in which it was passed previously.

Senator BROWN - This afternoon I asked a question relating to what was described in a newspaper report as " naked Hitlerism " in the Federal Capital Territory. The answer given to me by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) suggested that I was wrong, and ail so that the son of William Morris Hughes was wrong. Having listened to Senator DuncanHughes, I realize that the Leader of the Senate misled me in that he omitted something which Senator Duncan-Hughes has since mentioned. It is amazing that such an ordinance should have been promulgated by any government in .a British community; it certainly justifies the caption " Hitlerism." As a result of the publicity given to this subject in the newspapers of the Commonwealth, the Government decided to amend the ordinance, so that it shall apply only to places within 100 yards of Parliament House. Some time ago, at the request of the unemployed of Canberra, I agreed to address a meeting outside Parliament House. On that occasion, my action was not illegal; but, should I again address such a gathering, I could be arrested without warrant, irrespective of whether the assembly were for the purpose of airing a grievance, preparing a petition or memorial, or advocating the planting of more roses and tulips in the Parliament House grounds. Were I to be arrested, it would not be my first such experience, for I have been arrested on numerous occasions for asserting the right of free speech.

Senator Abbott - The honorable senator has lived that down.

Senator BROWN - I am proud of my record. I regret that Senator Pearce did not give to me a full explanation; but, unfortunately, that is a habit with leaders of governments. Evidently, they think that some political advantage accrues to them, by withholding information from others. I am pleased to know that certain officers in the Attorney-General's Department have been specially deputed to study regulations and ordinances with a view to deciding whether or not they come within the ambit of the acts under which, they purport to he made. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee can take credit to itself for having forced the present reactionary Government to adopt that reform.

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