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Thursday, 29 April 1965

Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) (Leader of the Opposition) .- The Minister has moved that the Committee do not insist upon the proposed amendment. We will oppose that motion by our vote. The amendment which is the subject of the message arose in the Senate on 1st April at the instance, not of the Opposition, but of a Government senator, Senator Wright. The amendment that he proposed was criticised as to form by the Opposition. The amendments which were contemplated by the Opposition were adopted by Senator Wright, so that a composite amendment is now the one before the Committee.

The Committee addressed itself to this matter at considerable length when we debated it on 1st April. I know I addressed myself to it at some length. I do not propose to go over the same ground today. I merely take the opportunity at this stage to traverse one or two of the points that the Minister made in his speech to the Committee. He indicated that the Government's view was that the act of declaring classes of persons as approved lenders was a purely administrative act in relation to a commercial aspect of the scheme, and that if the matter had to be attended to by regulation it would not be easy and there would be long delays. I think that was the argument he put. That induces me to revert to the theme of the delay that would be involved.

If the Minister is merely to declare the classes by instrument under his hand, that, of course, can be done rapidly. It can be done in a moment. It can be varied in a moment. It is open to the objection that the Bill does not propose that any publication should be given to the decision. There is no provision in the Bill that any publicity shall be given to an administrative act of very great significance in this field. That is a second objection which I state because we are on the subject now.

As to the matter of time, the making of a regulation involves the making of a regulation by the Governor-General in Council. What does that mean? It means that the Minister draws up a regulation and signs it. It is then sent to the Governor-General. Any two members of the Ministry sitting with the Governor-General constitute the Governor-General m Council. Regulations are not read at such a meeting. Only the titles of the regulations are read. In my experience there normally is a long list of regulations, which the clerk of the Executive Council reads. The Governor-General asks whether there is any objection and, there being no objection, he signs all the regulations. At such a meeting no consideration is given to the contents of the regulations. They may have gone through Cabinet; they may not. The particular regulations may have been considered in detail; they may not. I suggest that in a case of emergency the necessity to have a regulation promulgated involves a delay of not longer than one day. It takes very little time. The regulation has to be promulgated in the " Gazette ", but I have seen a regulation drawn, put through the Governor-General in Council and promulgated in the " Gazette " all on the one day. I attribute no merit to the argument on that point which the Minister has put to the Committee.

Senator Wrightstated the reasons which actuated him in proposing the amendment. He was supported by arguments from this side of the chamber. Those arguments are no less valid today than they were when they were uttered on 1st April. Certain of my colleagues wish to advance more detailed arguments on the matter. I content myself at this stage with merely indicating to the Committee that we of the Opposition will oppose the motion which the Minister has proposed.

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