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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1488

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I simply state in very brief terms that what the Government seeks to do here is to replace the words 'Industrial Registrar' with the words Attorney-General' in the financial provisions sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In 1972 the Parliament agreed to make the Attorney-General the person to whom applications for financial assistance were to be directed in place of the Industrial Registrar. Clauses 57 and 58 of this Bill seek to revert to the earlier position. The Opposition desires to maintain the position that applications be made to the Attorney-General. Very shortly, the reason for retaining that position is that the AttorneyGeneral is the ministerial head answerable in public in the Parliament to any accusations that financial assistance has not been given in accordance with the criteria laid down in the Act. If it is left to an officer such as the Industrial Registrar or to any other officer who is named then, of course, there may be accusations, either well founded or ill founded, that there has been a denial of legal aid, and because of the way in which things naturally develop the discretion of the officer is not open to challenge within the Parliament. We believe that the pressure of public opinion can be brought to bear if a person who has the responsibility is in fact required to justify, and can be made to justify, publicly a decision which he has made in a particular case. For those reasons we oppose clauses 57 and 58.

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