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Thursday, 26 March 1942

Senator MCBRIDE - That is only the Minister's interpretation of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition.

Senator COLLINGS - I do not suggest that the Leader of the Opposition used those words. He said that he would give the Government all the assistance and power that it required, but, when moving for the disallowance of these regulations, he said that he did not like them. Apparently if we amend some of these regulations to suit the honorable senator the promised assistance will be forthcoming. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that it is the Government's intention to obtain all the power and assistance that it requires without asking the honorable senator if ho proposes to back it up. This is -the first honest attempt that has been made to say to honorable senators opposite, "Now your friends haveto make their contribution to an all-in war effort, because we are determined that our friends shall do so also ".

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Government has not been able to make its own friends do soup till now.

Senator COLLINGS - I am exceedingly pleased that the honorable senator has made that interjection. In a few minutes the Senate will suspend its sitting for a function which I am sure that all honorable senators wish to attend, but I shall have an opportunity to continue my remarks when the Senate resumes its sitting at a later hour. I point out to honorable senators that these regulations give the Government power to control man-power. Without that power our activities would not amount to even a reasonable war effort, quite apart from an all-in war effort. The regulations also give to the Government power to control property, whether it be of bricks and mortar or any other material.

Senator Gibson - Nobody objects to that.

Senator McBride - We are all for it.

Senator COLLINGS - I remind honorable senators that this is a serious matter. Surely they are not serious when they make interjections such as some we have just heard. In the words of " Ginger ", of radio fame, I say to honorable senators who have just interjected, " Don't give me that stuff ", because I am too old to be trapped in that way. It is obvious that, honorable senators do not like the power that is conferred upon the Government by these regulations, despite the fact that their leader has stated that the Opposition would give the Government all the assistance and power that it requires. These regulations give the Government control over man-power, property, material and equipment.

Senator McBride - The Government has that power already.

Senator COLLINGS - It has nothing of the kind. It is true that under military control we could impress whatever material we required, butwe had to get it piece-meal. With all respect to honorable senators opposite and without attempting to be dictatorial, I say that we intend to have these regulations.

Senator McBride - In their present form?


Senator McBride - What does the Prime Minister say about it? Who is the Government spokesman now?

Senator COLLINGS - I am, as Minister for the Interior and Leader of the Government in the Senate. There is no mystery on this occasion. I admit that 1 was "caught out" earlier in the day in regard to a certain debate which was subsequently adjourned, but I have discovered since that the trouble arose not because of any action by the Prime Minister, but because of action taken by some body whose authority is still being inquired into.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8.15 p.m.

Senator COLLINGS - Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was prepared to discuss this motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942. No. 77 very thoroughly. However, in view of what I have heard since then, I consider that we need not debate it any further. I was surprised to learn that certain action which was taken in the House of Representatives was so satisfactory to all parties thatagreement was reached and no further discussion took place on the subject in that chamber. In reading the statutory rule, I understood that regulation 2 meant exactly what it states. It reads as follows: -

These regulations shallbe administered by the Minister ofState for Defence Coordination.

Apparently, it was considered by some honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives that regulation 4 contained a generalization which had dangerous possibilities. The Leader of the Opposition referred to that in his speech. However, the Prime Minister has given a definite assurance that no action has been taken under this statutory rule except at his instigation, as Minister for Defence Co-ordination, and that, in every case, direction has been given by him in writing. Nothing has been done orally. The Prime Minister assured the House of Representatives last night that nothing would be done in future except at his instigation. That statement is accepted by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and if honorable senators opposite are prepared to accept it, I suggest that the matter be allowed to drop. I assume that the Leader of the Opposition, if he is satisfied with this assurance, will withdraw his motion.

Senator McLeay - That suggestion is acceptable to me.

Motion - by leave - wi thd ra wn.

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