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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- We object strongly to this clause, which provides that the qualification of a member may be determined by the council itself, without reference to the Supreme Court. The council may refer the matter to the Supreme Court on its own resolution. But I should imagine that if any question arises regarding the qualifications of a member of the council it ought, without qualification, to be determined by some independent authority. It cannot be argued that the council itself is an independent authority. I should imagine that other considerations could enter into the decisions of the council apart altogether from the merits of the case under consideration. The Supreme Court would be an independent authority. Evidently the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and the Government recognize that some avenue ought to be open to the Supreme Court to determine this matter, but in my opinion the Supreme Court should determine qualifications without any decision or resolution of the council at all.

What is the Supreme Court of a territory for, but to decide such matters? Surely, when the qualifications of some member are in question the matter should not be determined solely by the council. It should go to the Supreme Court which is the proper body to consider such matters. I cannot understand why the Minister has inserted this provision. It would be most unlikely that the council would not say, in any circumstances, "We are competent to decide this matter ". It would then decide it on the basis of numbers in the council rather than on the merits of the matter. Therefore, I submit on behalf of the Opposition, thai the qualifications of a member to sit on the council, if ever challenged, ought to be determined by the Supreme Court and not by the council itself.

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