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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- There is much to be said for the argument submitted that it may be necessary to have something entirely differentin our own Act from whatis contained in the British Air Service Act.

Senator Pearce - Would it not be better to consider that phase of the question whenthe Air Defence Bill is under discussion ?

Senator GARDINER - I propose to deal with it now, because we should realize the importance, and even the urgency of allAustralian legislation being restricted to Australian affairs.Only in this evening's newspaper there is a report of a statement made by a Minister in Britain which compares the situation in thatcountry at the presenttime with the year 1914, and suggests that we should all act together to save the Empire. Let us consider the serious position which might arise ifour Acts of Parliament were to be dependent upon Imperial Acts, which may, sooner or later, be administered by a Republican form of government. In such circumstances, we should have to begin all over again, and legislate on new lines, Australia is a great continent, to all practical purposes a nation, and in most instances acting in an independent manner. Is it reasonable to expect that we should hang on to our mother's apronstrings and incorporate in our Bills legislation that is good, bad, or indifferent, merely because it has been adopted by Great Britain?

Senator Duncan - No one suggests that.

Senator GARDINER - That is the suggestion embodied in the definition clause, and it is useless to say that we are not dependent, not on what we are passing now, but on some amendments which may be made hereafter in British legislation. If there are any desirable provisions in British Statutes that could be incorporated in our Acts of Parliament, it would be an easy matter for the draftsmen to submit proposals to the Government for their incorporation. This continual reference to British Acts is very undesirable, and working as hard, I believe, as other honorable senators do, I find it quite impossible to become acquainted with the provisions of the measures we are including in our Acts. I trust the Minister, before the Bill reaches the third-reading stage, will realize the necessity of having at least a purely Australian Defence Act.

Clause agreed to.

Postponed clause 23 (Penalty).

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