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Tuesday, 28 May 1968

Mr BURY (Wentworth) (Minister for Labour and National Service) (12:56 PM) - The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) referred to clause 21, even though we have not yet reached it. The power to question any person has been in our national service legislation since 1951 and it has taken the Australian Labor Party 17 years to realise this. The world has suddenly woken up to what could be read into the legislation, though this is not to say that it has operated that way. When this was pointed out, the Government proposed amendments accordingly. Similarly, after much discussion with many parties, the Government now seeks to delete clause 22. If the Parliament is to do ils work, it is proper that it should examine representations that are made to it, particularly in respect of complex legislation like this, and give proper attention to them. Throughout the preparation of this Bill I consulted all kinds of parties. If the Parliament itself or the Opposition takes the view that amendments in line with representations made should be forgotten and brushed off, this Parliament will cease to be a useful institution. In this case I have had many representations, as have other members of the Government, and 1 am not ashamed to make alterations if 1 agree with what has been pointed out to me. We would be very foolish if we did not adopt this approach. If we did not allow any amendments whatever the Opposition would say: 'You are arrogant and impossible people'. If Parliament is to do ils work the only way to proceed is to allow amendments whenever they are necessary.

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