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Thursday, 24 September 1936

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) . - Clearly the Leader of the Opposition does not appreciate what lies behind the amendment moved by Senator Duncan-Hughes.

Senator Collings - I hope I have made that plain.

Senator McLEAY - All that the amendment proposes to do is to ensure that regulations framed by a layman shall be scrutinized by the AttorneyGeneral's Department in order that they will be legally correct. It is obvious that that is the desirable course to take. I understand that most Ministers comply with that practice, but that in some cases regulations drafted by laymen have not been examined by responsible legal officers, and have subsequently been declared by the courts to be ultra vires. On several occasions decisions with costs have been given against the Commonwealth because regulations have failed to withstand challenges in the courts. It is in the interests of good government that all legislation and regulations shall be as near to perfection as is possible, and in order to attain that ideal it is desirable that the amendment be agreed to. Citizens have the right to be protected in the future against a repetition of the injustices that have occurred in the past as the result of faulty regulations, and it is the desire of those who support this amendment that this protection should be afforded.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The honorable senator should credit the Govern- ment with the same pure motives.

Senator McLEAY - I certainly do. The right honorable gentleman should not object to this amendment because it is an earnest attempt to improve statutes and regulations in the interests of good government and the public weal.

SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria- Assistant Minister) [3.45]. - Senator DuncanHughes said that the amendment which he has moved was drafted by the Attorney-General's Department. That is literally true, but his statement is capable of conveying a wrong impression. All that the legal department does in such circumstances as this is to learn what is desired to be expressed or amended, and then take it in hand as a mere matter of courtesy so that the proposed amendment shall at least be correctly drafted. That is all that the department has done inthis case, but one might have thought from the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes that the department approved of his amendment. As a matter of fact, the department does not approve of it. There is a great deal to be said for the criticism directed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) against the course taken by Senator Duncan-Hughes. A very undesirable position will be created if letters from officers of the Parliament are to be used in support of acase submitted by an individual member. In other words, it is undesirable to have such communications used in an attempt to influence the Parliament. At first sight the observation contained in the letter that more than halfof the regulations were seen by the department makes it appear that many of the regulations that are issued have not been drafted under legal supervision.

Senator Collings - That is the direct inference.

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