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Wednesday, 19 May 1965

Senator WOOD (Queensland) .- I am very pleased that Senator Wright has brought this matter forward. There appears to me to be a definite trend developing in the legislation coming before this House in which we find the edict of the Minister or someone whom he chooses rising paramount to this Parliament. To my mind it is an indication that the people who draft this legislation, or the members of the civil service acting behind them, are determined to see that they, and not this Parliament, will have the power. We do not need to be very intelligent to know what goes on. Quite frequently members of the civil service have stated that they do not like Parliament being the controller of legislation in this country.

As Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee I am aware that certain sections of the civil service are very resentful of the vigilance of that Committee which supervises the regulations and ordinances issued by the various Ministers and their departments. It is, therefore, very important that this Parliament should be vigilant to see that the rights of 'Parliament are protected and are kept paramount to anything else in this country. Only two or three weeks ago we had before us the Housing Loans Insurance Bill. I spoke in the same tenor on that occasion when we found an attempt to get around the necessity of having regulations expressed in the Bill. The Senate amended the Bill and sent it to another place. It was returned to us, but the Senate did not support the amendment that it had made.

Senator Hannaford - The honorable senator will not get any support from the other side of the chamber on this occasion.

Senator WOOD - I am not concerned with whether 1 get support from the other side or from this side of the chamber. We very seldom get support from the Government side although it is a standing committee. If it were not for members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee from the other side of the chamber, it could not act as a standing committee of Parliament. I do not expect honorable senators to rush in to support my view, although I strongly support the rights of the Parliament. I believe that Parliament is the focal point of democracy. Honorable senators should be protectors of the interests of Parliament and should ensure that the country is run by Parliament. Honorable senators should not try to tell me about this matter. I know that members of the civil service resent the vigilance exercised by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee which is charged with the duty of ensuring that Parliament runs the country, and not the civil service.

Senator Wrighthas pointed out ; and I support him - that the edicts of the Minister or someone appointed by him do not come before Parliament. Parliament has no authority in those matters. While this may not be a very important point, as I have mentioned on previous occasions, principles are involved. The rights of Parliament are being eaten away. If the Senate is not vigilant the trend will become more and more evident. It has been stated quite openly by members of the civil service that the procedure proposed would be used more often if it were not for the alertness of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Senator Anderson is attempting to interject. I know that we have never received his support.

Senator Anderson - I do not like accusations being made against people unjustifiably. The honorable senator has made a bald statement which takes away people's characters.

Senator WOOD - I do not think that the Senate Standing Orders Committee has once received the support of the Minister. But whenever a former Leader of the Government in the Senate wished to comment upon the good work being done by the Senate, always he first referred to the work of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Very seldom has the Government supported that Committee. The Government takes the credit for the work it does but does not support it.

I have noticed a trend developing in legislation. The powers of Parliament are being eaten away and the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is circumvented, which is the wish of certain people. Unless members of this Parliament are vigilant, they will find that before very long there is not much democracy left here. I therefore support very strongly the point brought forward by Senator Wright. I make no apology for standing for the rights of Parliament.

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