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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator FRASER (Western Australia) (Minister for External Territories) (1:22 AM) . - I said earlier that this bill was drafted while the last Government was in office, and that statement was contradicted. As a matter of fact, the bill was drafted in 1934, when the LyonsPage Government was in office. It was handed to various Ministers from time to time, but it was never brought before Parliament. Senator A. J. McLachlan was a member of the Government in power at the time the bill was drafted, and he agreed to the incorporation of the clause which to-night he so strongly attacked.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I have never seen it before.

Senator FRASER - Then the honorable senator did not do his job very well.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not care what government was responsible for it; it is wrong.

Senator FRASER - I have pointed out that the Minister already has power in certain circumstances to cancel or suspend a certificate issued overseas, and this clause merely provides that the Minister shall enjoy similar power in respect of local certificates. I have yet to learn that any Minister ever abused the power conferred by sub-regulation 1 of regulation 5 under British Statutory Rules, No. 1288, of 1923, which is as follows : -

Where an Australian certificate has been cancelledor suspended the Minister, if in his opinion the justice of the case requires it, or, where the certificate has been cancelled or suspended in some part of His Majesty's dominions outside Australia, if he is so requested by the competent authority in that part of His Majesty's dominions may return or re-issue the certificate which has been cancelled or suspended or shorten the time for which it is suspended or grant in place thereof a certificate of the same or any lower grade.

The explanation that I have given should convince even the Opposition. The last bill which was before the chamber contained a clause giving certain power to the Minister for Trade and Customs, but Senator McBride so objected to it that he forced the committee to divide.

Senator McBride - That is not correct.

SenatorFRASER.- That bill contained a provision empowering the Minister to adjust the cost of living figures as they apply to widows' pensions. Senator McBride opposed that proposal. The reason for the opposition to this bill is that it has been introduced by a Labour government. In 1934, when Senator A.J. McLachlan was a member of the then government, a similar bill to that now before the committee was drafted, yet the honorable senator and his colleagues object to this measure. Not one reason for that opposition has been given.

Senator McBride - The Minister has not given any reason for the Government's proposals.

Senator FRASER - The present Government is as worthy of the trust of the people as was any of its predecessors.

Senator J B Hayes - Why not tell the committee why these powers are needed ?

Senator FRASER - Nothing that I could say would convince honorable senators opposite.

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