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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - If we can deduce anything from the Minister's statement, it is that in the British act there is a provision which corresponds to this provision, and that in Great Britain there is an appeal to a higher court. If that be so, the case made out by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) is all the stronger, because the British Board of Trade is entirely independent of the Government of Great Britain, and. sits as a quasi-judicial body. I do not know the reason for this provision, but it may be that it is needed in certain urgent cases. Even if that be the reason, the principle is wrong. The provision would be less objectionable if the power were vested in the Director of Navigation instead of in the Government. This is important legislation, and we do not want to make a mistake in it. It would be a mistake to allow the executive function to obtrude on the judicial function. That danger has been obviated in Great Britain. My desire is that this legislation shall harmonize with the legislation existing in the Mother Country and in the other dominions, but this provision is out of step with that legislation. I urge the Minister to let this matter stand over until to-morrow, so that it can be examined in the meantime. "When this provision is analysed, it will probably be found to constitute a most serious blunder. The Minister tells us that the British Board of Trade has certain functions which in Australia are performed by the Minister, but he does not say what those functions are. A big principle is involved in this matter, and therefore I again urge the Minister to let this matter stand over, so that overseas legislation may be studied and the Minister be given an opportunity to consult with his advisers with a view to giving to the committee some reasons for the inclusion of this provision.

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