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Thursday, 24 September 1936

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) .-Senator Millenconcurred with the mover of the amendment regarding the difficulty of getting both Houses of the Parliament to agree. I remind the honorable senator that the question is not whether one or both Houses should agree. I merely called attention to the fact that the South Australian Law Committee, whose report was quoted by Senator Duncan-Hughes, recommended the striking out of the limitation of time during which a regulation might be disallowed, but required that the disallowance should be by both chambers. Either House of the Parliament now has the power to disallow a regulation which has been laid upon the table within fifteen sitting days after its promulgation. Senator Duncan-Hughes has proposed that that time limit should be deleted, and that Parliament shall have power at any time to disallow a regulation, perhaps after it has been in operation for years. Senator Millen's choice of the waterside workers case as an illustration was an unhappy one. In that case no mistake had been made; the laying of a regulation on the table had not been overlooked. On the contrary, immediately the regulation was laid on the table, notice of disallowance was promptly given.

Senator Millen - In that case, however, the regulation would not have been disallowed if the agreement of both Houses had been necessary.

Senator BRENNAN - I desire to correct a misapprehension that might have arisen from the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes. It would bc an extraordinary power to give to one chamber, that it should be able to upset a law which has been in force, and which has been, apparently, approved of by the people for a considerable time. What would happen if this proposal were carried ? The personnel or the political complexion of members returned to this chamber and to the House of Representatives very often differs. An election takes place, and a party which may secretly cherish a dislike of a particular regulation which has been in force for many years is returned to one chamber with a large majority. By unilateral action that majority may upset a regulation which is a part of a comprehensive scheme, worked out and built up for many years, as is the case in connexion with the marketing schemes. But even then the people are not without resource ; there still remains the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament can still repeal any regulation or act if it so desires, and there is still power left in the Government it self to pass a new regulation superseding one already in existence. The Government is as much concerned with the smooth working of the laws of the country as are the honorable senators who are supporting the amendment. I ask the committee not to accept this farreaching proposal.

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