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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Senator SPICER (Victoria) .-I make no apology for indulging in an attack upon regulation 27b. The Senate, in days such as these, has a very important and responsible job to perform in supervising regulations which the Government enacts. The Government has been given the widest possible powers in order to enable it effectively and rapidly to enact laws for the prosecution of the war effort. Any regulation which it introduces and which, in my opinion, is designed for that purpose, will always have my support. But when I find that the Government's power is being exercised unjustly or in circumstances which suggest that it is being used for political purposes, I shall oppose such regulations. The Leader of the Senate must excuse me if I am a little suspicious of this particular regulation. I am suspicious as to the reason which actuated the form which it takes. The suspicion arises from the fact that this statutory rule deals with two offences of an exactly similar character. Regulation 27a says to the owners, " You shall not, without the consent of the commission, fail to keep the mine open ".

Senator Collings - The Opposition has not moved for the disallowance of that regulation.

Senator SPICER - I do not object to that. This regulation does not provide that an employer shall keep a mine open if the Employers Federation or the directors of a mining company say that he shall do so. The obligation is upon him to keep the mine open, and the only way in which he can escape that obligation is by obtaining the consent of the commission. I do not disagree with that. All i suggest is that what is to be found in regulation 27a applied to the owners should also be found in 27B applied to the employees.

Senator Collings - It is.

Senator SPICER - I disagree. The honorable gentleman says that it provides exactly the same thing.

Senator Collings - No. Both regulations discipline the respective parties to the industry.

Senator SPICER - The Leader of the Senate asked us to make suggestions;I shall take him at his word. I am prepared to make a tangible suggestion for an. amendment of this regulation, and. if it be adopted, to withdraw my opposition to it. We want a provision along these lines : " When a coal-mine is open for the purpose of its operation in the manner in which it is usually operated and the commission has directed, instructed, counselled or otherwise advised the members of the organization to work then they shall he liable to a penalty if they do not work ". What is wrong with that?

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