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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1541


Senator MACKLIN(12.43) —The amendments moved by the Opposition relate to various clauses of the Bill, which, as the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Ryan, indicated in the second reading debate, were dealt with in the report of the Senate Standing Committee on the Scrutiny of Bills. In the Committee's estimation they constitute an undue delegation of powers to the Minister. I think the proposition that the Minister raised in her second reading speech is a very important one. She said that some of the institutions may feel constrained not to use the money that she provides in her determination at any time because in doing so they may very well be committing themselves to new staff and equipment or to modifications to their curricula activity that may at a later stage-it could be a very late stage-be taken away. I acknowledge that point. I say on behalf of the Australian Democrats that that would certainly never be our intention.

One sees from the history of the operation of the Senate in relation to its regulation that it is very rare indeed for the Senate to reject a regulation. Indeed, in going through the whole process the Senate is mindful of the problems that can arise if it rejects a regulation. I suggest that the concern raised by the Minister really ought to be put to rest. The various institutions need merely to look at the way in which the Senate has responsibly conducted itself in relation to all of its legislation, and delegated legislation in particular. In this regard it is probably less a matter of technical detail although I understood the Minister to say that she wished to raise some technical problems, and I certainly would not want to pre-empt her position. On the basis of the fact that the Australian Democrats have always supported the notion of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee regarding the undue delegation of power, we will support these amendments unless there are technical problems concerned with them , to which the Minister said she wished to refer in the Committee stage.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.