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Thursday, 29 April 1965

Senator HENTY (Tasmania) (Minister for Civil Aviation) . - The proposition put to us in this amendment is that a class of lenders must be declared toy regulation - a regulation which can be disallowed by either House of the Parliament within 1 5 sitting days, after the meeting of the House. Assume that the Minister has before him a company which he would be willing to approve as a lender. The board of that company says: " We have a sum of money coming due from certain sources in two weeks' time. We are prepared to lend this money under the Government's housing proposals as contained in this Bill, but we would like to be informed within a fortnight whether we are approved lenders. If we are not to be accepted as a lender, we will channel this money elsewhere. We are not prepared to hold it for some weeks; we will invest it elsewhere. Our board has a duty to invest this money on behalf of its shareholders in a fortnight's time. If you can give us an answer within two weeks, we will channel it into housing loans; if not, we will channel it elsewhere." The Minister would then have to say: "You are a class of lender of which I would approve, but 1 cannot give you a definite answer because. I have to do it by regulation, and the regulation can be disallowed by either House of the Parliament ".

Senator Willesee - The Minister does not understand regulations.

Senator HENTY - A regulation can be disallowed. It does not take a committee of the Parliament to disallow it. It needs only one person in the Parliament to rise and move that the regulation be disallowed. If the Parliament votes against it, the regulation is out.

Senator Willesee - That could be done six months later.

Senator HENTY - The arrangement was made under a regulation which was disallowed and therefore it is not valid. You cannot give any undertaking to this type of person.

Senator Murphy - Will the Minister check that at lunch time?

Senator HENTY - I checked it with the Treasury before I made the statement, and that was the position. If the Minister had power to give authority in writing, the money would be available for housing within a fortnight. Senator Willesee made the rather infantile statement, if I may so describe it, that we do not know the regulatory process of this House.

Senator Willesee - I did not realise how right I was until the Minister started to speak.

Senator HENTY - We know the regulatory process. I recall an experience I had in this House which is rather interestingand illustrates how the regulatory position has been prostituted by the Opposition.' The Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which I hold in high regard, recommended' against the adoption of a regulation on censorship which I had before this Parliament. The matter was debated in this House. Honorable senators opposite had told me that they approved of the regulation. However, at the caucus meeting on - the Wednesday morning they were told that they had to vote against it. I do not believethat such an occurrence as that is conducive to the operation of this House as a House of Parliament. When the Regulations and Ordinances Committee brings a proposal to this House, members of the Labour Party vote as they arc dictated to by caucus.

Senator Murphy - That is not true.

Senator HENTY - The honorable senator was one who did this. He told me that he was in favour of the regulation. What is more, he did not speak on it but withdrew his name from the list of speakers until Wednesday, after the caucus meeting, so that he would know what the ' Labour Patry told him to do.

Senator Willesee - I think the Minister is talking nonsense.

Senator HENTY - No. I am right. The basis of my objection to the regulatory process in this House is that it is reduced to political policy of the lowest ebb. Honorable senators opposite, whether they agree or not, must abide by a caucus decision. The matter should be thrashed out on a fair dinkum basis and every senator should say what he thinks. But honorable senators opposite make it a party matter. They are directed by caucus and although they may agree on a certain matter, they are directed to vote against it. I ask honorable senators to recall the debate on the regulation relating to censorship.

Senator Willesee - I recall the Minister's performance in it, too.

Senator HENTY - I gave the honorable senator a- compromise which he was very glad to accept. It did not mean a darn thing but it let the honorable senator out and allowed him to save face. It did not mean anything, but the honorable senator gladly accepted it. Many honorable senators opposite told me on the Tuesday that they were in accord with the regulation, but on the Wednesday, after the caucus meeting, they came back to the Senate and said: " We are sorry. We have to vote as caucus told us." If this represents proper conduct in relation to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I am very surprised. 1 say that it is not.

Senator Ormonde - Come back to the point.

Senator HENTY - The whole point is that a regulation can be disallowed on a party basis in this House.

Senator Wood - The Government is conducting it on party lines.

Senator HENTY - Have we ever told the honorable senator how to vote at a meeting of this Committee?

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