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Friday, 21 September 1928

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) (5:15 AM) . - This is the operative clause of the bill. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) manifested so fine a sensitiveness about it that I feel obliged to say a few words upon it. The question has been raised whether the regulations made under this measure will be subject to the same conditions as apply to other regulations, and whether the Acts Interpretation Act will be applicable to them. Section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904 reads -

Where an act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -

(b)   take effect from the dateof notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations;

(c)   be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.

But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulations such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.

If the regulations made pursuant to this clause must be laid before both Houses of the Parliament, it is obvious that they cannot be reviewed until early next year. It may be safely assumed, however, that the object of the Government in submitting this measure for consideration at this stage is to make regulations under it to meet the circumstances of an existing industrial dispute, which will have ended before Parliament meets again. It is, therefore, so much affectation and camouflage for the honorable member for Fawkner or any other member to pretend that the regulations will be less objectionable for all practical purposes because they will need to be laid before Parliament when it meets next year.

But if the English language still retains any clear meaning the object of the Government in using extraordinary, instead of the ordinary, language in this clause, is to remove every possible restriction and formality from the immediate application of these regulations. There is no ambiguity in this clause. It is quite clear that the regulations will take effect immediately they have been gazetted. Otherwise the words, " Notwithstanding anything in any other act," can have no meaning. The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral both ignored the request for information on this point. The fact is that we are being asked in the dying hours of this Parliament, to grant unprecedented powers in an unprecedented way, although the Government knows very well that we can never call upon it to answer for the manner in which it may use them. The clause may provide matter for some interesting arguments for legal gentlemen whose business it is to pick constitutional flaws in the legislation that we pass. But the Government will have to take the responsibility for that. The clause is vicious in every sense, but apparently the docile followers of the Government do not mind that. We, on this side of the chamber, feel it necessary to point out that before Parliament will have an opportunity to consider the regulations the mischief will have been done. We enter our protest against the clause, and must let it go at that.

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