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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BarkerPostmasterGeneral) . - The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has made a statement concerning the inability of the Government to give instructions to courts of law. I can recall a very interesting evening spent in this chamber during the last period of the session, in debating that very point. It was then shown, by reference to different law volumes, that this Parliament has more than once instructed the courts as to what they should do.

Mr Brennan - I should like to have an instance to prove the correctness of that statement.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - If the honorable member will refer to the debate on the national health and pensions insurance legislation, he will find several such instances cited. Lf I remember rightly, he played a rather inglorious part in that debate in opposition to the Attorney-General .(Mr. Menzies).

The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has made some very pertinent references to political control. I believe that every one who is in opposition to the Government in this matter will concede that one of the objects of this measure is some kind of uniform administration for the benefit of the apple and pear industry. If there is to be uniformity in the administration of the law, it stands to reason that there must be one authority to make decisions. Two authorities are provided for in the clause aa it. stands, first the Apple and Pear Export Board, and secondly, the Minister. The honorable member for Franklin has suggested that any dissatisfied person should have the right of appeal to different classes of magistrates in any State. If there were 24 appeals there might be decisions by eighteen different magistrates, on a variety of grounds, all of which might be wrong. I believe that the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) will concede that there is nothing infallible about the decisions of police and stipendiary magistrates in our courts of law; the higher courts are cluttered up with appeals from their decisions on what ought to be fairly simple matters for determination.

Then there is the manner in which licences should be suspended or cancelled. I cannot understand why honorable mem bers who are in opposition to the Government can read sub-clauses 3, 4 and 5 without coming to one decision. Subclause 3 lays it down that if certain contraventions of the act or regulations take place a fine not exceeding £100 may be imposed. That penalty can not be imposed by either the Minister or the board, but only by a court of law. Consequently, before there can be any question of the restoration of the licence, one of two things must happen - either, the offending exporter must have been convicted in a court of law of some offence against the act or regulations, or - as I have seen in several cases - the person concerned must have admitted to the authorities that he had been guilty of a breach of the act or regulations. I remember a couple of cases in which certain persons had admitted to the Commonwealth that they had offended against the regulations, as the result of which their licences were suspended for a period. There was no question of an appeal to law; they did not want to go into court and have their offence published to- the world. As drafted, this measure provides for a number of contingencies in a manner which will be for the benefit of the exporters; those provisions have not been mentioned by honorable members. As the honorable member for Gippsland has said, we should be well advised not to make alterations to the bill without knowing exactly what might happen.

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