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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2433

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - There are 2 elements to this amendment. With due respect to the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) I think he has dealt with only one of them, namely, that part of the amendment which says that meetings shall be convened at least once in each month. Obviously it is important that a body of this character which has such a profound effect on industry in every section of the community should not only meet regularly but also should have an obligation to do so. It should not be possible for the Chairman to be able to operate without meetings of the Commission and I am not suggesting that it is his intention to do so. It is for that reason that I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) suggesting that meetings should be convened at least once in each month.

The second part of the amendment is probably even more important. It states that there should be an obligation on the Commission to meet whenever requested in writing to do so by not less than 3 Commissioners. It is important that, in the operation of a Commission with such all embracing powers as these, there should be in the hands of the Commissioners an opportunity to call a meeting or to have access to procedures by which a meeting can be convened if they feel that it is necessary. I believe that under the Bill as it presently stands there is no provision for the Commissioners to take action of this sort. Indeed, as I recall provision was made in the previous Tariff Board Act for some such procedure of this character. It is not an unusual procedure. It has always been the case that a body which has a number of representatives should afford to the Chairman or the President, whatever his terminology, the prior right to convene meetings, but other members alsoshould have some access to such a procedure so that in certain circumstances they also can do so.

We do not see this as being unreasonably restrictive on the Chairman, or in any way denying the normal efficient functioning of the Commission. For that reason I would support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra and suggest that it is necessary that there be a capacity for not less than 3 Commissioners to convene a meeting if they feel it necessary. For that reason I would ask the Minister to turn his attention now not only to the first part but also to that second part of the amendment moved.

Amendment negatived.

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