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Wednesday, 25 August 1937

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) . - This amendment is similar to that which I supported last year. That this proposed new sub-section should be inserted, in the bill is of utmost importance. It is interesting to note that at the end of 1936 there were in existence 150 acts under which statutory rules had been made; these rules are still in force. In 1935, 136 statutory rules were passed; in 1936, 166 statutory rules; and up to the 25th August, 1937, 91 statutory rules. Some of them contained as many as 150 and 200 regulations. I previously stressed that it was desirable, especially in view of comments made by certain judges, that this Senate should do everything in its power to ensure that regulations, which form a most important part of our law, approach as closely to perfection as possible. It is disappointing to any member of Parliament to read of a decision of the High Court declaring a regulation ultra vires.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - How often does that happen?

Senator McLEAY - If the honorable senator will consider the cp ses which are heard by the High Court-

Senator Sir George PEARCE - If the High Court saw the certificate of an official of the Attorney-General's Department, would it thereupon decide that the regulation was valid?

Senator McLEAY - That is not the point. We know that in the Broadcasting case the High Court declared that a regulation was ultra vires. When a select committee inquired into the matter, a number of similar cases was cited. The fact must not bc lost sight of that people do not test thousands and thousands of regulations because, even if they did obtain a verdict, they would still lose financially. The defendants in the Broadcasting case had that experience.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - But the regulations are tested by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee?

Senator McLEAY - When we propose to build a parliament house we obtain a certificate from an architect. In my opinion it is fitting and advisable that regulations should be sent to the AttorneyGeneral's Department in order that they may be examined by an expert. In this way alone can honorable senators satisfy themselves of the validity of the regulations, and ensure that they do not exceed the powers conferred upon the Executive. I was gratified to learn that the Government does, now, as a matter of departmental routine, send the proposed regulations to the department for scrutiny and, if necessary, for amendment. If that be a wise precaution, I fail to see why the Government objects to a sub-section to that effect being inserted in the bill.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The Senate refers the regulations to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Why not put that body in the category of the officials of the Attorney-General's Department.

Senator McLEAY - The committee being composed of laymen, would not be able to give a sufficiently legal opinion.

Senator Sir George Pearce - But 'the Regulations and Ordinances Committee did express a legal opinion on these matters.

Senator McLEAY - I dispute that statement.

Senator Grant - I understand that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee was correct.

Senator McLEAY - In the interest of good government the committee is anxious that proposed regulations be submitted to legal experts.

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