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Thursday, 19 March 1931

Senator DALY (South Australia) . - I am endeavouring to ascertain the real purpose of this motion for disallowance. The mover has disagreed with the procedure adopted in making certain regulations relating to halfcastes without the Senate having an opportunity to disallow them, and the attack of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and Senator McLachlan, was, in the main, limited to section 16 of this ordinance, which purports to give the Government Resident power to make regulations. It reads as follows : -

10.   The Government Resident may make regulations, not inconsistent with this ordinance, prescribing all matters which by this ordinance are required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this ordinance, and for prescribing penalties not exceeding twenty pounds for any breach of the regulations.

So far as I could follow him, Senator Colebatch had no complaint to make about the substance of this particular ordinance, except that he thought that it was really an extension, amounting almost to an abuse, of the power of a government to make regulations by inserting such a provision as section 16. He mentioned that during the period in which I had the honour to be Leader of the Striate, I had given an undertaking that no regulation would be made under a similar provision, until, and unless, Parliament had an opportunity of discussing it. I draw attention to the very important fact, which, apparently has been overlooked by those who have attacked this ordinance, that Ordinance No. 13 of 1930 gives legislative sanction to the undertaking which I then gave. I promised that I would lay before Cabinet the necessity for placing on the table of this chamber and of another place, any regulation made under a power, which we recognize as a delegation of the legislative authority of Parliament.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the honorable senator say whether that has been done in respect to the ordinances which have since been made?

Senator DALY - All I can say is that, when Senator Colebatch made his statement, I felt certain that any undertaking I had given to the Senate I had conscientiously carried out, and as a result of inquiries, I find that this ordinance was tabled in the Senate. The procedure now in regard to regulations which may be made by a government resident is that if the Minister disallows any regulation it is not tabled - no one can complain about that, because the regulation, in such circumstances could not have the force of law - and if the Minister allows any regulation, he has to adopt the selfsame procedure in connexion with it as he has to adopt in regard to any regulation he himself makes.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - Has he done it in connexion with those regulations ?

Senator DALY - The honorable senator knows very well that, through circumstances over which I have no control, I am not in a position to say now whether it has been done or not. It is not my fault that I cannot answer that question. Probably, if it is addressed to the Leader of the Senate at question time to-morrow he may be able to answer it.

Senator Herbert Hays - The honorable senator gave an assurance on behalf of the Government.

Senator DALY -Which I definitely carried out by giving the matter legislative sanction. I remind honorable senators that I was not the Minister for Home Affairs. I am instructed by a representative of the Department of Home Affairs that, since the Northern Territory Ordinance, No. 13 of 1930, has been in operation, every regulation has been placed on the table of this chamber.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - I am informed that the regulations that were under suspension at the time have never been tabled.

Senator DALY - Senator Colebatch has had sufficient parliamentary experience to know that I could not give him an assurance which would have retrospective application. I gave an assurance tnat if a certain course were taken I would take certain action. I took that action. If the regulations that were in force at the time of the passing of that law were suspended, they were suspended by administrative instruction. The point is that it is claimed that the vice in Ordinance No. 15 of 1930 is contained in section 16. That section should be read in conjunction with Ordinance No. 13 of 1930. I ask honorable senators is there any danger in section 16, in view of the fact that Ordinance No. 13 compels the Minister, in the event of his not disallowing a regulation of the Government Resident, to place that regulation on the table of the Senate, and of another place, in order that either House may decide whether it is to become law or not.

I appeal to honorable senators to make an attempt to clarify the issue. As I understand it, the real crux of the complaint by Senator Colebatch is that power has been delegated to the Government Resident in the Northern Territory to make regulations, and that this Parliament has no power to correct those regulations. I point out to honorable senators that Ordinance No. 13 provides as complete a corrective as could be applied to any power of legislation by regulation.

If other honorable senators are of the opinion that we should go beyond that and deal with the substance of these regulations, my reply is that unless the Senate is satisfied that the Government has departed from some very well-established principle, it should not disallow any of the regulations. As was pointed out by Senator Hoare, they are, in the main, a fascimile of others which have stood the test of time in Queensland for more than fifteen years.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - These regulations go beyond the Queensland act.

Senator DALY - If time permitted, and honorable senators would bear with me I could take them through the provisions of the Queensland Workers Accommodation Act of 1915, and would be able to prove conclusively that in no vital respect, other than the provision of 480 cubic feet of air space instead of 600 feet, does it differ from these regulations.

Senator Cooper - That act was not introduced by a Nationalist Government.

Senator DALY - I am surprised that the honorable senator should make such an interjection. We are dealing with the discretion of the Governor-General sitting in Council, and that should be above party politics.

Senator Cooper - Then why is the honorable senator introducing the issue?

Senator DALY - The Northern Terri tory, by some unfortunate circumstance, is deprived of powers of self-government. The only satisfactory method by which it can be governed is that adopted by thiB Government, which has attempted to bring in certain conditions considered fair, not only in relation to the occupants of the Northern Territory, but also to competitors in the adjoining territory, known as Queensland. It is futile and irrelevant to claim that the Queensland Workers' Accommodation Act was not brought down by a Nationalist Government. We know that there is only one House of Parliament in Queensland, that a party opposed to Labour has been in power in that State for some time and that the act has not been repealed, notwithstanding the suggestion that it was a concession given to the workers in times much more affluent than those which operate in the pastoral industry today. But all that is beside the question. This Government, in attempting to dis cover conditions which might be made the subject matter of regulations, looked around for comparable industries under comparable conditions.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The conditions are not comparable.

Senator DALY - If I may be permitted to say so, that fact has not been established up to the present. It is very easy to say that the conditions are not comparable, but I should like to know in what respect thai is so.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - To begin with, they are not comparable geographically.

Senator DALY - I suppose that it might also be claimed that the conditions of Toowoomba are not comparable with those of Rockhampton. Yet the provisions of the Workers' Accommodation Act apply equally to both cities.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is rubbish.

Senator DALY - The Workers Accommodation Act applies throughout the State of Queensland, irrespective of how the honorable senator may describe the circumstances.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would the honorable senator compare Wave Hill with Rockhampton ?

Senator DALY - No; but I would compare the pastoral areas of Queensland with those of the Northern Territory. That is not rubbish.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is rubbish.

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