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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 906

Senator MISSEN (Victoria) Personally I am not satisfied that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) has shown satisfactorily that this power should be contained in this clause. At the most he has said in general that there should be some kind of supervision, whereas the clause states:

The Attorney-General may give directions to the Commission -

True, it excludes Part VII- and the Commission shall comply with any directions so given.

I take it that that includes the functions of the Commission, the functions in clause 28 and the various functions which are set out earlier. I note that when this clause was attacked in the other place the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby) said it was well known that this provision in the Bill related only to matters of priority and not to anything of a judicatory nature. I do not know what 'priority' means in this sense. I do not think that this clause defines the matter in that way. Today we have had an explanation different from what it was said was intended.

Maybe some supervision is required. But this supervision, as I see it, would include the delaying of rights. It is not satisfactory to say that we can come back here and criticise this clause in the Senate if, in fact, it relates to the exercise of rights, including evidence, hearings and so forth, which have been mentioned in earlier clauses of the Bill. It may be too late for us to come back later and to say: 'You should not have done this', or 'This direction no longer has the approval of the Senate'. It seems to me that this clause is altogether too wide to leave it as it stands here. The explanation today and the explanation which was given earlier indicate to me that at the very least, even if we do not remove the 2 clauses, they ought to be re-committed so that there is a limit on the power of the Minister in relation to the Commission. It is given a lot of functions which are publicly known and which it is expected to carry out. Later, we could find that several of these functions are said to have no priority because the Minister so directs. I believe that this clause changes the Bill substantially and leaves with the Minister a power which should not remain in any Minister's hands.

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