Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2250

Senator BROWN (Victoria) - The clause before the Committee at the moment is clause 2. It provides the time at which this legislation will become operative after it has passed through both Houses. I object to the amendment which has been moved by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and the way in which it was moved but what concerns me is the multiplicity of reasons that have been given by the Attorney-General to justify the introduction of this amendment at 3.54 p.m. on Friday afternoon last. It is pertinent to direct the Senate's attention to comments made by the Attorney-General on page 2211 of Hansard. In moving the amendment he said:

As a result of the decision which has been taken it is apparent that this Bill will be sent back to the House of Representatives as a Bill to be amended. That eventuality, although it was always possible, could not really be anticipated until it had occurred. It has now occurred. Accordingly, it is desired to amend clause 2.

Then he proceeded to move the amendment which in part said:

Sections 51 and 68 of this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on twenty-sixth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and seventytwo.

I am not quite sure what he means unless it is that the Opposition, overwhelmingly supported by the Senate generally, opposed clause 12 which dealt with section 16 of the principal Act relating to the salary of commissioners. I ask the Attorney-General: Was that the reason and the justification for moving his amendment when he did? The Attorney-General went on to say on page 2211 of Hansard, and this puzzles me:

The 26th day of May is, of course, today. The matters covered by sections 51 and 68 are the new amalgamation proceedings. These matters were not mentioned in the statement that was made in December by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) but they were raised in the speech which was delivered by the Minister in the House of Representatives on 26th April. It was intended with regard to amalgamations occurring after that date-

And I presume he means 26th April-

.   . that the new provisions would apply, and it is intended to ensure that they do apply as from 26th May, which is today.

Any reasonable person could be expected to conclude from what was said by the Attorney-General in that short statement that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in his speech delivered on 26th April implied or inferred or indicated in some shape or form that the intention was that sections 51 and 68 should have an operative date, namely, 26th May 1972. If the Attorney-General means something different, I ask him to explain to me in due course what he means.

Senator Greenwood - I did mean it differently. I do not want to suggest that the Minister said 26th May. On a fair reading it does not say that at all.

Senator BROWN - It implies it quite strongly and in due course I would like the Attorney-General to advise the Senate of what he meant. I checked through the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service and also went to the extent of checking the report of the Committee stage of this Bill in Hansard, particularly in relation to Part VIIIA which deals with amalgamations of organisations, and I could find no reference by the Minister to the effect that a date would be determined in the course of the debate on this Bill. In other words, he was intending to rely on the ordinary processes for the handling of this type of Bill and on the

Bill ultimately being proclaimed in the ordinary course of events. However, leaving that aside, on page 2211 of ' Hansard the Attorney-General is repotted as having said:

Any valid requests made prior to 26th May will come into operation in the language of section 68 on (he basis of the pre-existing provisions. But any attempts or desires to have amalgamation hereafter will come into effect after 26th May. It was asked: Why is the amendment moved? We on this side have heard rumours-

I know this was raised by my colleagues during the debate last Friday afternoon, but not one of the questions asked by the Opposition has been answered effectively to date. Then the Attorney-General went on to suggest that it was because the Opposition had been filibustering. This has been consistently refuted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). On page 2212 of Hansard the Attorney-General had this to say:

I can only say that if it is not desired that I should explain the reasons because the explanation of the reasons gives offence to honourable senators I am afraid they will be looking elsewhere for an explanation.

Quite frankly, in my view we are still seeking an explanation or any real justification for the Attorney-General moving this amendment after the Bill had passed through the other House and there had been no suggestion by any manner of means by the Minister for Labour and National Service that he would rely on other than the ordinary course of proclamation of this Bill for it to come into effect and for the provisions of the Bill to have legal effect. There was no reference to this amendment then by the Minister. But late last Friday afternoon the AttorneyGeneral gave 2 reasons - probably 3 or 4- which could be held to be justification for the moving of this amendment. I say without hesitation that the AttorneyGeneral has not justified the moving . of the amendment to date and until such time as he does the Opposition is entitled to continue to ask him for the real motivation behind the amendment.

Suggest corrections