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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2431

Mr EDWARDS (Berowra) - The amendment to be moved to this clause relates to some following amendments to later clauses which have a similar import. In my second reading speech I expressed some concern as to the size of this Commission in relation to the potentially vast range of inquiries and matters that it may be required to encompass.

I do not want to traverse too much ground which properly should be covered when we deal with a later clause of the Bill. Having such a small number of Commissioners to consider such a vast range of matters will potentially require the development of a vast bureaucracy. I want to underline the concern about that matter which has been expressed by a number of my colleagues from the Australian Country Party. They expressed concern about reducing the number of members from

I I in the case of the Tariff Board to 9 in the case of the Industry Assistance Commission. It is to be a comparatively small Commission with considerable powers apparently vested in the Chairman. I now come directly to the subject matter of our amendment. Without suggesting that there is any explicit intention in the Bill to the contrary, we believe it is important to maintain, and important that there is seen to be maintained, the concept which I think is appropriate in this context, namely, of the Commission as a body comprising a number of independent Commissioners of generally equal status. We believe that recommendations on assistance to industry and tariff policy should be a matter for the meeting of several minds, so to speak, with members of the Commission meeting as a group to determine matters of policy and other very important matters. The Commission should consist of a number of independent Commissioners meeting together and policy should thus be in their hands rather than potentially in the hands of one man should the situation emerge of there being a particularly dominant Chairman. Therefore I move:

Omit the words ', as far as practicable,'.

Clause 9 (2) (a) and (b) sets out the powers of the Chairman to convene meetings and so on. The Bill as it stands provides that that power shall be exercised 'as far as practicable' only after consultation with the Commissioners. Surely the Chairman will be in constant, perhaps almost daily, contact with his Commissioners. It is difficult to see why there should be this qualification' as far as practicable'. We suggest therefore that the clause should more appropriately provide that the Chairman's powers be exercised only after consultation with the Commissioners.

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