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Wednesday, 27 April 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am heartily in accord with the opposition to legislation by regulation.. During the war wehad an experience which even these honorable senators who supported the Government will never forget. Senator Duncan stated: - may I be permitted to say in his innocence - that nothing can. be done by regulation that is inconsistent with an Act.

Senator Duncan - I am not supporting the principle.

Senator GARDINER - Perhaps not; but no regulation should be passed that does not meet with the approval of those who passed the section under which it is framed.

Senator Duncan - I do not wish to convey the impression that it should.

Senator GARDINER - My experience has been that the Government have, time after time, deliberately introduced and passed regulations framed under Acts of Parliament, which they could not have passed through this Senate or another place even during the currency of the war, because they were an outrage and entirely contrary to the feelings of honorable senators who supported the Acts under which they were framed. But they supported them merely because they thought that, by showing any opposition, they might be taking the business out of the hands of the Government. I believe that on at least six occasions, it may have been more, I have unsuccessfully moved for the disapproval of regulations.

Senator Pearce - Because they were regulations dealing with disloyalty, and the honorable senator could not get any support.

Senator GARDINER - Some of them were, and were passedin a way that even those who supported them will regret all their lives.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They were "dealing it out."

Senator GARDINER - They were. " putting in the boot " to quote a classical term often used by the people whom I represent. They were not only doing it in the name of loyalty, because they were the Minister's chief card, and anything in the nature of a demand for return to common sense was regarded as disloyalty to the Government. The Government kept their majority by such actions.

Senatorde Largie. - Hear, hear !

Senator GARDINER - I am glad the honorable senator bears out my statement. I could mention numerous instances, when regulations have been passed in this way, and if one could estimate the consciences of men by their general conduct, a majority would not be in favour of supporting the Government if it had not been during a trying time.

I endeavour, with the assistance I have, and which some honorable senators do not have, to keep in touch with the Acts of Parliament and. regulations framed under them, but find myself absolutely incapable of doing it. I have done my best, but I find it impossible. To-day we commenced with a Public Service Bill. I believe it is the duty of honorable senators not only to express their own views, but to obtain a general impression of the views "expressed by others. We spent the whole of the afternoon on the Public Service Bill, and at this stage we are asked' to consider in Committee another important measure. Travelling from another State, as I am compelled to, I did not have any sleep last night.

Senator Pearce - I thought there was something wrong.

Senator GARDINER - I did not have any rest, and after a full afternoon's work, we are asked to discuss a Bill the importance of which cannot be over estimated. I am unable to follow the legislation we have to deal with because of the procedure adopted, and the only way to do better than I am doing is to follow the majority and not attempt to take any interest in it at all. Doubtless the Minister will say it is all right. We know he won the war, and, having done that, everything is in order.

Senator Senior - There is only one difficulty, and that is that the honorable senator is not a member of the Government.

Senator GARDINER - I. have occupied the exalted position of being a colleague of the present Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and it is a matter ofregret that I am notin that position to-day; but I am not one who is likely to complain however I may be circumstanced. We have just been opposing one clause in which we were asked to adopt 100 pages of an Imperial Act " as prescribed," although that measure was printed in Great Britain. Surely that is sufficient for us to swallow in one evening, but -now the Minister asks us to adopt what he and his (officers at the Victoria Barracks say shall be prescribed hereafter. We have not even a print of the British Act, and when this Bill is passed through Parliament, the Minister and his officers will go on in the same old glorious way. There will not be an opportunity of discussing regulations framed until after Parliament meets next session. lt is well known that a Minister simply attends a Cabinet meeting, and, after two or three hours' deliberation, announces to his colleagues, in whom he has confidence, that he intends to call a meeting of the Executive Council.

Senator Pearce - And he knows that he is not associated with lunatics.

Senator GARDINER - Some of the greatest injuries to the people of this country have been done by sane men and not by lunatics. I do not wish the Minister to infer from my statement that I think Ministers are lunatics, because I do not hold any such opinion. We are not properly safeguarded, and the Minister for Defence, if he wishes to pass regulations under the Defence Act for instance, may summon the GovernorGeneral and two or three members of the Cabinet to a meeting of the Executive Council and the regulations become the law of the land until Parliament otherwise provides. The Government may "win out" in this way and never realize the evils they have done, but surely there is no valid reason why we should not proceed more smoothly and act candidly in dealing with regulations. No one opposes legislation for the sake of it.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator say that we should put through every Bill (Without providing for the framing of regulations?

Senator GARDINER - I do not say that. But it is just as easy to insert in this measure what we intend to prescribe hereafter as it is to embody in it what already appears there. If the Minister has not had time -to do that, he should certainly take time. It is absurd for us to be worrying over the details of a clause in a Bill which cannot possibly be dealt with by another place for quite four months. I do not think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) will be back from his trip to the Imperial

Conference within that time. I have no desire to weary honorable senators by dilating upon the evils that are associated with legislation by regulation. I suppose that I. have, asked this Chamber to resist more regulations framed under Statute than has any other honorable senator. Yet I was not successful, even upon one occasion, and my want of success was not due to the fact that the regulations were desirable.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator had a bad case, and he could not get support for it.

Senator GARDINER - I had a very excellent case. Of course, we were not able to cope with such practices .as the " buying out " of one senator and the putting of another honorable senator in his place. That is what we had to put up with. Having expressed my opposition to the clause, I am quite prepared to let it pass.

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