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Thursday, 26 March 1931

Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia) . - The suggestion that honorable senators are wasting time on this matter is unworthy of the Government or of any person holding executive office. The miserable tactics in which the Government is now engaging constitute one of the most deplorable instances in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament. They are a travesty of constitutional and parliamentary government, and I hurl the suggestion back in the teeth of the Leader of the Senate that the action of the Opposition is merely a waste of time. The Opposition is attempting to protect m;en who are guilty of nothing except loyalty to the awards of the Arbitration Court, which was properly constituted by this Parliament. Loyalty is a virtue that is probably unknown to some honorable senators opposite. The Opposition is using every means in its power, and will continue to do so, to bring relief to those oppressed loyalists by repealing the iniquitous regulations which the Government seeks to perpetuate. Recently, the Leader of the Government, with the petulance of a perturbed parrot, suggested that the Government would re-enact these regulations from day to day, if necessary. I contend that that is flouting parliamentary government, that it is subversive of constitutional principles, and will bring upon Parliament the contempt that it would so richly deserve if such a course were persisted in. Not only is it contrary to all authority, but to the very provisions of the statute under which the regulations were made. Although in the hurly-burly and heat of the war period certain decisions were given by an eminent predecessor of yours, Mr. President, it is obvious that Parliament never intended under the Acts Interpretation Act to relax its power of control over any statutory rules or regulations. It is apparent that " within so many days after " simply indicates that there is a limit of time within which Parliament must act; that otherwise it will be deemed to have sanctioned the regulations. This matter is a vital one from the Constitutional viewpoint: Whether Parliament is to hand over absolute power for a certain period to an executive which behaves itself as this one has.

Senator Daly - I rise to a point of of order. Is Senator McLachlan in order in reflecting upon the action of the Governor-General in Council?

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