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Thursday, 1 August 1946

Mr SPENDER (Warringah) (2:39 AM) . - This is a matter of principle, upon which we should like to hear the views of the Government. The only arguments advanced by ministerial supporters have related to the production of coal. We do not dispute the' propriety of including coke in the definition. There must be some reason for the addition of the words " and such other byproducts and derivatives of coal as are prescribed ". It is obvious that many by-products and derivatives could be prescribed by a Minister, and having been prescribed they would cope within the scope of this legislation. I need mention only a few industries which, by the stroke of a pen and without any argument 'being adduced to this Parliament, could be brought within the operations of this very drastic measure. They are : synthetic resin, explosives, chemicals, creosotes, road tar, pitch, motor spirit, plastics and gas. We do not dispute the need for some control of the coal industry. But no case has been made out for the control of the chemical industry. If I may say so, with a great deal of respect, the honorable member who spoke about by-products "going up the flue " has no knowledge of the matter. The chemical industry is one of the most efficient industries in this country. It is well to observe the powers that are to be conferred by clause 13. At the second-reading stage, the exceedingly extensive character of those powers was stressed. The Parliament is entitled to know why such wide authority is to be given to the Government. I am not prepared to give it. The Government has been telling the people for a. considerable time that, the war being over, there is to be an end of regulation; yet here is one of the worst examples of regulation. By a mere order signed by a Minister, control may be obtained over an industry in respect of which no case for control has been made out. This is a further example of the way in which the Parliament is being by-passed. Yet members of the Labour party remain dumb in their seats, and are not prepared to defend the rights of the Parliament. If the Government were genuine in its professions, it would say that if it wanted to obtain control of an industry it would place the matter fairly and frankly before the Parliament and have legislation enacted in respect of it. It is saying one thing and doing another. With deliberation I say that I do not trust the Government when it announces that' it proposes to consult the Parliament. To ask for such a wide authority is to insult the Parliament. In all the circumstances, we should resist this attempt to obtain control of a number of industries.

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