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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) . - While I agree that section 31 deals with deferments, it deals only with classes of deferments and not with the individuals within those classes. When the Minister has decided the classes, he will still come up against the problem of the selection of individuals within those classes. Although I am grateful to the Minister for having gone into this question thoroughly with the staff, I must confess that I consider the bill to be most shockingly drafted-

All sorts of principles which should be in the bill are omitted. It lays down that certain classes shall be exempt and then, later, says that the Minister may exempt such classes as he determines. I have had a fairly long experience of bills and have rarely raised objection in committee to the way in which they have been drafted, but this measure does not appeal to me from any point of view. In view of my criticism of draftsmanship, it may be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black, I cannot see why it would not be possible to put in something like this -

The number of persons to be called up from time to time shall be as determined by the Minister. Unless the call-up for service is within 20 per cent, of universality- or whatever percentage might be agreed upon - the method of call-up shall be by ballot.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - How are defaulters to be dealt with under that arrangement?

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - A special clause deals with defaulters.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - They will not be included.


There is a special clause to the effect that defaulters shall be called up irrespective of the ballot. It is simple enough to put a new sub-section into that clause. I am not certain that I agree that defaulters should go in, but I do not see any other way of getting around it at the moment. I hope every honorable member realizes that there is nothing in the bill as it stands, or in the principal act to prevent a Minister from using any method of selection that he may consider desirable. To go to the point of reductio ad absurdum, there is nothing to prevent him from saying, " I will select them all from one area ". That is not the proper way to frame bills of this nature, affecting as they do a large number of people. We might just as well bring in an act stating that every one between certain ages shall register and be liable for national service training, and that the Minister shall have power to make regulations to carry this into effect. What is an act of Parliament for, if not to state major principles? I do not think that it is fair either to the Minister or to the community to leave such an important decision to the Minister of the day.

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