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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 912

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - Mr Chairman,I feel that I should answer that argument. There is a great fallacy in what has been put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Greenwood). If there were in such areas clear rules there would be no problem at all; but there are not clear rules. Where one has functions such as engaging in research there are no clear rules. If there are rules then they ought to be observed, whether by the Trade Practices Tribunal or anybody else. Certainly there ought not to be any kind of dispensation with the law. But we do not have that. We have functions being given in a broad way. There seems to be something inherent in what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that persons are to be entrusted in some uncontrolled way; that it is perfectly all right to establish some independent authority, as the Opposition calls it, to set up a commission that can do what it likes and virtually to remove it from parliamentary supervision and ministerial responsibility. So it is perfectly all right for the person occupying that position to do just what he likes and to be subject to no kind of supervision or direction. Here the direction which is sought to be given is to be given by some public person, a Minister of the Crown. The political affiliations of that person will vary from time to time, but at least he will be responsible. If he gives a direction it will have to be publicisedmade known to all- and he will be answerable for it. The Opposition is suggesting that not even that reserve power should be able to be exercised but that instead a commission should be able to exercise all those functions and virtually be able to thumb its nose at any government which felt that it was necessary to give it some kind of public direction. I do not think that viewpoint would assist in the better maintenance of our system of parliamentary democracy and supervision over those who are exercising quite important administrative powers.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Greenwood's amendment) be left out.

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