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Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr HASLUCK (Curtin) (Minister for Territories) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill does not raise any new question of policy but seeks to modify the provisions in the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1954, relating to the qualifications of members of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea.

As honorable members are aware, there is a Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea, composed of both nominated and elected members, and the qualifications of members are set out in the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1954. In this respect, the act follows very closely the models established in this Parliament and other Australian parliaments and among the disqualifications from membership is a provision that a person who has an interest - other than as a member, and in common with other members, of an incorporated company of more than 25 members - in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Commonwealth or the Territory, is not qualified to be elected or appointed or to continue as a member of the council.

Recently, occasion arose to seek legal advice on the exact effect of this disqualification, and the legal officers of the Government have taken the view that the disqualification is not limited to cases in which a person supplies goods or services.

Mr Thompson - I rise to order. I understand that there is a bill before the House, which is being discussed. The

Minister has not explained why we have not been given copies of the bill. I would like to know how we can discuss a bill which we have not seen.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I have just made some inquiries. It appears that stocks of the bill, which were expected, have not yet come to hand from the Government Printer. I had previously made a copy of the bill in draft form available to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is a matter of the convenience of the House - whether members prefer to take the bill to the second-reading stage, as the Minister is now doing, when the debate will, of course, be adjourned to a later date, or to defer the measure now until copies of the bill are received. It is a matter for the House to decide.

Mr Thompson - 1 object to this practice being introduced and I object to the Minister continuing his speech.

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