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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2240

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I shall not take up the Committee 's time except to make one or two brief comments. It is implicit in the Minister's reply that my question was answered in the affirmative- that clause 8 is the clause that provides for the appointment of ad hoc commissioners for the purpose of a specific industry reference. Honourable senators will notice that subclause (3) prescribes:

Subject to this part, an Associate Commissioner holds office on such terms and conditions as the Minister determines.

Subclause (2) provides that an associate commissioner shall be appointed either-

(a)   for such period not exceeding five years, as is specified in the instrument of his appointment;

Subclause (4) provides:

An Associate Commissioner shall be deemed to be a Commissioner for the purposes of the exercise of any powers, or the performance of any functions or duties, of a Commissioner in relation to an inquiry and report by a Division of the Commission of which the Associate Commissioner is a member, . . .

That is a roundabout way of expressing the meaning that I expressed when I referred to an ad hoc appointment for the purpose of an industry reference. I have raised this matter by way of comment only; I have no amendment and I am not opposing the clause, which Sir John Crawford has recommended. However, it has always been my understanding that the independence of the Tariff Board is based upon the security of tenure of its members. If the situation is reached where only the nucleus of a committee or a board of reference has security of tenure, and there are two persons sitting on each side of him- one may be in a particular section of the industry under reference and the other in a different interest, sectional withal in the same industry- the Government may be creating the shifting sands of subversion of the independence of this Commission.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 9-

(   1 ) The Governor-General shall appoint a person who is, or is to be, a Commissioner to be the Chairman of the Commission.

(3)   A power of the Chairman under paragraph (2) (a) or (b) shall be exercised, as far as practicable, only after consultation with the Commissioners.

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