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Monday, 20 May 1957

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) . - I should like to inform the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) that there is no need to make peace because there has been no war between me and the Government.

Mr Duthie - It was a storm in a teacup.

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - On this side of the House we are allowed to make suggestions.

Mr Calwell - We made the suggestions.

Mr Cramer - But they were not sensible ones.

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - I think that the Government is always ready to consider suggestions. I thank the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) for having had another look at this clause, and for having had this amendment inserted in another place. In thanking the Minister for so doing-

Mr Duthie - The honorable member will get the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on side, yet.

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - There is no row between the Minister for Trade and myself. I think that he made a very wise decision, as a result of which the price of tea has already dropped. Secondly, I want to ask the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) whether the amendment actually has the meaning the Minister implied in his explanation to the House. The Minister said it was recognized that there would be certain people in the prescribed class, or, as he said, certain blocks of registered persons who would be declared exempt. The Minister agreed that it would be only wasteful for a large number of clerks continually to register changes of address and for the registrar to have to issue new registrations.

Section 17 reads - (1.) A person who has registered under this act, not being a person -

(a)   who has commenced to render the service specified in section thirty-three of this act; or

(b)   who has attained the age of twenty-six years, or, being a person included in a class of persons prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) of section twenty-five of this act, the age of thirty years, shall, within thirty days after changing his place of living, notify a Registrar of that change in accordance with the regulations.

Penalty: Fifty pounds. (2.) Upon compliance by a person with the requirements of the last preceding sub-section, the Registrar shall issue to that person a new certificate of registration.

I should like to know what is meant by " a prescribed class of persons ". There is nothing in the definitions section of the act to show what " a prescribed class of person " is. Section 29 reads - (1.) The following persons are exempt from liability to render service under this act, so long' as the employment, condition or status on which the exemption is based continues: -

(a)   persons subject to a prescribed physical or mental disability;

I suppose " prescribed physical or mental disability " must come into the Defence Act. I should have thought that even there it would be better to say " persons who are declared to be medically unfit as determined by the medical board under this act ".

I cannot see anything which defines " a prescribed class of person ". Under section 29 provision is made in respect of persons who are physically or mentally unfit - apparently the mentally unfit as well pre viously had to notify changes of address - and persons who are students of theological colleges, ministers of religion, members of religious orders who devote the whole of their time to the duties of their order, and conscientious objectors. They are all exempt from liability for service, but not from registration. Then, under section 31, this general over-all power is granted to the Minister - (1.) Where it appears to the Minister to be necessary or desirable to do so in the public interest, he may defer the liability to render service under this act of the persons included in such classes of persons as he determines.

Is that the " prescribed class of persons " which is referred to in this particular amendment? If it is, that agrees with what the Minister has said and it will mean that not only every one who is not liable or is exempt from liability under section 29, but also every one whose liability is deferred under section 31, will not have to comply with this requirement of notifying the change of address and will not have to receive a fresh registration certificate. I ask the Minister whether he knows what the " prescribed class of persons " is. That is not in the definitions section of the act. If the prescribed class includes those in section 31, the result will be considerably different from what it would be if it only applied to the people under section 29.

Mr Cramer - The prescribed class is referred to in the sub-section itself and can be dealt with by regulation as prescribed by the Minister. The amendment reads -

Sub-section (1.) of this section does not apply to a person included in a prescribed class of persons.

That is the amendment and that is the prescribed class, which means a class prescribed for the purpose of the sub-section, by regulation.

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - Section 17 deals with the notification of change of address. That will mean that the Minister will have to prescribe persons who are exempt from liability under section 29 or have liability deferred under section 31 separately as not liable to notify changes of addresses. He will have to prescribe them under section 17.

Mr Cramer - In any case, they will be prescribed by regulation. At this moment the Minister is not in a position to prescribe them.

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES - I think I have it now. Under section 17, the Minister will prescribe the class of persons under the regulations who will not have to notify their change of address. Therefore he can make it as wide as he likes.

Mr Cramer - That is right.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.

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