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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr CLARK (Darling) .- Members of the Australian Country party have indulged in a good deal of " piffle " in regard to this clause. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) worked himself into quite a frenzy in his attempt to make out a case in opposition to it. It is time that its actual intention was realized. The simple purpose of it is to extend certain powers to the board, subject to the direction of the Minister. The objection to the amendment is that it proposes to set up a dictatorial authority or to take power from the Parliament and the people. Even the Russian practice ha3 been mentioned.

Mr Scully - The omission of the words I am moving to insert was a typographical error when the clause was drafted.

Mr CLARK - The Government is not prepared to hand over the power of the Parliament to any board or other outside authority. The purpose of the amendment is merely to enable the Minister and the Parliament to retain the power to deal with the matters mentioned in the clause. The Minister will always be subject to the direction and control of the Parliament. The board will not be subject to such direction, except through the Minister.

Mr Scully - The public purse is involved.

Mr CLARK - That is so. It is a general principle of government, and the policy of the ministerial party, that the whole of the administration of this country shall be under' the control of the Parliament through responsible Ministers. That is not a departure from established practice. The Minister would be lacking in his duty if he did not ensure to the Parliament the power to control activities for which the Parliament is responsible. The clause provides that the board may engage in a variety of activities. It may sell or otherwise acquire any wheat, wheat products, corn sacks, jute or jute .products. It may sell or dispose of any of those products. It may grist or arrange for the gristing of any wheat, and sell or otherwise dispose of the products of the gristing. It may carry out certain functions at some times and not at other times. It will merely discharge such functions, as the Minister may, from time to time, direct. We offer no apology for the retention by the Minister of the power to deal with such matters, because by that means the Parliament will retain control and it will not be given to any board which may become a dictatorial authority.

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