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Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) . - Ministers have my sympathy in this matter. At first the regulations were claimed to be without any flaws at all, but now it is admitted that leases were intended to be covered.

Senator FRASER (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Whether the regulations are defective in regard to leases is a matter of interpretation.

Senator LECKIE - The judge who gave a decision on the matter to-day declared that if the Government meant leases to be covered, it was not so stated in the regulations. Since Ministers now admit the possibility of the need for slight amendments of the regulations, I suggest that it might be better to postpone the discussion until to-morrow, so that further consideration may be given to the matter. When the first appeal has been determined, the lower courts are invariably guided by the decision, and thus uniformity of judgment is secured throughout the Commonwealth. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) claims that the Opposition has been wasting time by unnecessary discussion, but I 'ask him -why the Parliament has been called together, if it is not entitled to submit suggestions to the Government for the improvement of legislative machinery. Regulations of this kind are not considered in detail before they are promulgated, as are the various clauses of bills, and therefore the Opposition is well within its rights in offering suggestions for the improvement of regulations, yet Ministers declare that the Government is always right and that parliamentary discussion results only in a waste of time.

Senator Collings - Oh, no!

Senator LECKIE - Because the Opposition suggested amendments, the Leader of the Senate accused us of wasting time at a most critical period of the war. Immediately regulations are criticized, the cry comes from Ministers opposite, ' " Look at the dreadful war in which we are engaged ! " It is unfair for Ministers to accuse the Opposition of wasting time. If the Government has no legislative programme to submit to the Senate, it, and not the Opposition, is guilty of wasting time in calling the Parliament together. In the House of Representatives, Ministers who realize their responsibility, and have some appreciation of the meaning of words, have recognized the necessity for slight amendments of regulations when defects have been pointed out by the Opposition; but in this chamber the Leader of the Senate claims that no regulation submitted by the Government can possibly be wrong. When the Opposition in this chamber points out the weaknesses of slip-shod regulations promulgated by the Government, all that the Leader of the Senate can say is, " The Opposition is wasting time ".'

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