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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I have not risen to object to the amendment, nor am I satisfied that the curt dismissal of my suggestion by any means settles the question, though it may do so so far as the Committee is concerned. Neither the attempt at humour on the part of Senator Millen, nor the explanation of (he Minister satisfies me. When Senator Pearce stated that the Minister is to be the representative of the public interest-

Senator Millen - The Council may include representatives of the public.

Senator RAE - The clause does not say so.

Senator Millen - It does not say that the Council shall not. It practically says that the Council shall include representatives of certain interests It does not say that it shall be exclusively representative of such interests.

Senator RAE - Suppose we merely provided, in the clause that there should be a Marine Council, without mentioning how it should be constituted, all those various interests might be represented. On the reasoning of my honorable friend opposite, there is no necessity to mention whose interests shall be represented ; he cannot get away from that.

Senator Pearce - There is really no reason, except to indicate that those interests shall be represented.

Senator Millen - Exactly. There is nothing in the clause to prevent the appointment of a Judge as the chairman of the Council.

Senator RAE - Just so. Nor is there anything to prevent the appointment of any ecclesiastic to say prayers. If these particular interests were deemed to be of sufficient importance to be specifically represented, the inference to be drawn is that they, and they alone, would be represented, and that, probably, will be the case. I admit that the Minister will desire to conserve the interests of the public, but he will only be nominally able to do that. His very varied duties, sometimes his very arduous duties, will prevent him from doing any special work in regard to a Council of this kind. Therefore, I fail to see how the public interests will be represented. As regards the ridicule cast upon my suggestion that some persons might be in favour of having a bar on a ship, and others might not, that one person might want the provision of fans, and perhaps another might want the provision of refrigerators, it must be recollected that there have been numerous instances where persons have been specially appointed to represent the public interest.

Senator Millen - I instanced the bar as showing a difference of opinion.

Senator RAE - Let me take a case which is well known to my honorable friend, and that is the Western Lands Commission in New South Wales. There were three men appointed to the Commission, two, avowedly as departmental officers, who were acquainted with land administration or surveying, and the other to specially represent the general interests of the public. While that may not be the best instance that could be cited, it will serve my purpose. There are numerous other cases where a Government has appointed some persons to represent the interests of the general public, and has exercised a wise discretion in making a choice.

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