10 June 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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The following papers were presented : -

British Phosphate Commission - Reports and Accounts for the years ended 30th June, 1929, and 30th June, 1930.

Tariff Board - Reports and Recommendations -

Apparel elastic

Bates’ salve.

Childrens’ toy vehicles.

China and parianware; porcelain, earthenware, &c.

Concentrated must - Imposition of excise duty.

Fractional horse-power electric motors. Gold leaf.

Gramophones, phonographs, and other talking machines.

Haircloth for use in the manufacture of apparel.

Incubators, foster mothers and brooders.

Leather, rubber, canvas and composition belting, and greenhide for belting and other purposes.

Masonry waterproofing, ‘damp-proofing and preservative products.

Sheets composed of asbestos and cement or of. similar materials.

Bide wheel hand type lawn mowers.

Silk yarns and artificial silk yarns.

Stay paper and stay cloth.

Water paints and distempers in powder form and kalsomine.

Wattle bark,

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &.c. -

No. 7 of 1 931 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No.8 of 1931- Australian Postal Electricians Union; and Federated Public Service Assistants Association of Australia.

No. 9 of 1931 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 11 of 1931 - Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia; Australian Postal Electricians Union;

Australian Workers Union ; Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers Association ; Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association: Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association ; Commonwealth Temporary Clerks Association; Federated Public Service Assistants Association of Australia; Fourth Division Officers Association of the Trade and Customs Department; Line Inspectors Association, Commonwealth of Australia; Meat Inspectors Association, Commonwealth Public Service; and Professional Officers Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

Northern Australia Act -

North Australia - Ordinance No. 6 of 1931 - Workmen’s Compensation.

Arbitration (Public Service Act) - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. -

No. 10 of 1931 - Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia; Australian Postal Electricians Union; Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks Union; Commonwealth Medical Officers Association ; Commonwealth Postmasters Association; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Federated Public Service Assistants Association of Australia; Fourth Division Officers Association of the Trade and Customs Department ; Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists Union; Professional Officers Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 60.

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Senator BARNES:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · VICTORIA · ALP

– On the 7th May, Senator. Dunn asked the following questions, upon notice -

  1. How many male and female cadets were appointed to the staff of the Commonwealth Bank in the State of New South Wales for the years 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930?
  2. From what public schools or colleges were the majority of the cadets appointed in those years drawn in the State of New South Wales ?
  3. What were the residential areas or suburbs surrounding the city of Sydney from which the metropolitan cadets were drawn?

The following replies have been furnished by the Commonwealth Bank: -

  1. City and Metropolitan High Schools. - Ninety-five appointees drawn from 24 different schools; City and Metropolitan Domestic Science Schools - Nineteen . appointees drawn from twelve different schools; City and Metropolitan Colleges - Fifty-five appointees drawn from 22 different colleges; Country High Schools - Forty-nine appointees drawn from nineteen different schools; Country Colleges - Fifteen appointees drawn from six different colleges. Appointees educated in other States - Twenty.
  2. Of the 169 appointees drawn from schools in the metropolitan area, the maximum number drawn from any one suburb was thirteen, and in all 72 suburbs were represented.

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– I have to inform the Senate that I have been advised by His Excellency the Governor-General that the Senate’s address of condolence in connexion with the death of His Majesty’s eldest sister, HerRoyal Highness the PrincessRoyal, has been submitted to His Majesty the King, who received it with deep appreciation, and has commanded that an expression of his sincere thanks be conveyed to the President and members of the Senate.

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Governor-Generalsreply to Senate’s Address

The. PRESIDENT. - I have to inform the Senate that I duly presented to His Excellency the Governor-General the address agreed to by the Senate on the 28th May, 1931, and that I have since received from His Excellency the following reply:-

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate,

With deep respect, I have to inform you that I find it impossible, conformably with my duty, as I understand it, to comply with the request contained in the petition you have made the subject of your address.

The dignity of the Senate and the importance of the question you have raised compelled careful, and . anxious . reconsideration of the conclusion I had previously formed and acted upon; but that conclusion has been confirmed.

It is due to you to state as succinctly as the subject will permit, but at any rate clearly, the reasons for my opinion. ‘

I do not understand from anything contained in the address that you question the legality of any regulation of the nature you have mentioned. At the same time I wish. to assure you that I have, to the best of my ability, carefully re-examined the matter from this standpoint also, in order that no plain illegality should arise. My consideration of the relevant legislation and judicial decisions has led me to the belief that the advice of my legal adviser, the honorable the AttorneyGeneral, is correct - that unless and until disallowed by either House of the Parliament such a regulation would be valid and have the force of law.

With respect to legality, therefore, it is obviously my duty to take the only course which would enable the proper tribunal for that purpose, the judiciary, to determine the question should it arise.

As to the constitutional propriety of my approval to such a regulation as is postulated by the address, it cannot be doubted that normally by constitutional practice, confirmed, and perhaps strengthened, by the pronouncement of the Imperial Conference of 1926, I am bound to act upon the advice of my Ministers.

My departure from that established principle in the present instance is urged upon me on two grounds. One is the difference between the respective constitutional powers of the legislature and the Executive. The other is the rule of practice observed by the two legislative chambers as described and illustrated, together with instances of departure from the rule, in May’s Parliamentary Practice, 13th Edition, at pages 292 to 302.

As to the first ground, there is not, as I regard the position, a contest between the legislature on the one hand and the Executive on the other. If such were the case it could obviously be speedily ended by ordinary constitutional methods.

But with regard to the political desirability of certain regulations, there has arisen a serious difference of opinion between one branch of the legislature, namely, the House of Representatives, tacitly and constantly supporting the regulations as framed by the Executive, and the other branch of the legislature,’ namely, the Senate, expressly and constantly disapproving of these regulations.

My plain duty in such circumstances, as it appears to me, acting, not as the representative of His Majesty the King as a constituent part of the Commonwealth Parliament, but as the designated executant of a statutory power created and conferred by the whole Parliament, is simply to adhere to the normal principle of responsible government by following the advice of the Ministers who are constitutionally assigned to me for the time being as my advisers, and who must take the responsibility of that advice. If, as you request me to do, I should reject their advice, supported as it is by the considered opinion of the House of Representatives, and should act upon the equally considered contrary opinion of the Senate, my conduct would, I fear, even on ordinary constitutional grounds, amount to an open personal preference of one House against the other - in other words, an act of partisanship.

The other ground of your request, namely, the practice of Parliament during the session as to re-consideration of proposals already dealt with, does not appear to me to be inherently applicable to executive action in making regulationsunder statutory authority.

It is said, and I believe correctly said, in the same edition of May as is above referred to, with reference to “administrative orders, rules, and regulations, which constitute what is sometimes called delegated or subordinate legislation “ ( page 626 ) that, in order to ascertain “ the mode in which Parliament exercises its control over them, resort must be had in each case to the statute under which they are made, as no general rule exists “. (Page 627). To that statement, I desire to invite special attention as affording the true guide in the present situation. I, therefore, turn to the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929 to find what is the legislative control there provided.

It cannot be too clearly remembered that the provisions of that statute, read by the light of the Acts Interpretation Acts, are the law of the Commonwealth, that is, the declared legislative will, as to the relevant power to make transport workers’ regulations, as to their effect when made, and as to the legislative control with regard to them.

The power to make the regulations is contained in these words, “ The Governor-General may make regulations not ‘ inconsistent with this act “. By force of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1930, sections 17 (f), 33 (1) and 33 (3) those words - there being nothing to the contrary appearing - are to be read in full as : - “ The Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Executive Council may from time to time, as occasion requires, make regulations not inconsistent with this act, and rescind, revoke, amend or vary such regulations.”

I am unable to see how I can justifiably introduce a limitation on the executive power which Parliament itself has not seen fit to insert, namely, a limitation of the nature of the rule of parliamentary practice referred to. Such a limitation, as it appears to me, would cut down the words agreed upon by the two Houses of Parliament, “ from time to time, as occasion requires” (a matter for the political consideration of Ministers) by, in effect, inserting at the request of one of the Houses the words “ but not during a session in which regulations, being the same in substance, have been disallowed by either House of Parliament “. No constitutional precedent of which I am aware would warrant me in taking such a step.

As to the effect which Parliament as a whole has enacted shall be given to the regulations when made, the statutory provision is, as now to be read, that they, “ notwithstanding any other act, but subject to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1930, and the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1930 shall have the force of law “.

In the result, the regulations take statutory effect from the date of their notification in the Government Gazette or from a later date specified in the regulations.

The regulations, thus, by the will of the Senate, as well as of the ‘other branches of the Parliament, become law by force of the act itself, and wtihout any further confirmation by the legislature or any branch of it. (See the judgment of the Privy Council in the case of Powell v. The Apollo Candle Company in ten appeal cases at page 291. )

This is particularly to be borne in mind when approaching the third provision in section 3, namely, the control of the legislature over the regulations; that is, of course, apart from new legislation. The statute provides for itself what that control shall be, by incorporating section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1930, which enacts that the regulations shall be laid on the table of each House of Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House “after the making thereof,” and adds a proviso whereby the regulation, though in force, may he terminated by a resolution of either House disallowing the regulation, and in that case the regulation “ shall thereupon cease to have any effect “.

It is consequently manifest that the only control of the regulation-making power provided by the two Houses when passing the act was control of the regulations “ after the making thereof “.

The present case, it will be observed, differs from some of the precedents set out in May’s Parliamentary Practice at pages 627 and 628 and Halsbury’s Laws of England, volume 21 at page 617, by which legislative control, was reserved so as to operate prior to the regulations taking effect as law. In May at page 627, for instance, it is said : - “ In the simplest cases there is only an obligation to lay the rules, &c, upon the table of each House, although in some of these cases there is in addition a prohibition against the authority taking any action upon the rule for a prescribed period of time. In other cases, where the Crown is empowered to act by order in council, the statute requires that the draft order in council shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and that the order in council shall not be made unless both Houses present addresses to the Crown, praying for the order to be made, or have agreed to resolutions approving the draft order “.

Those include classes of preventive control; the present form of control is the curative method contained in section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1930. Some illustrations of curative methods are found on page628 of May.

It is beyond my power, either legally to amend the legislation, directly or indirectly; or constitutionally, in existing circumstances, to do anything except to follow faithfully the path marked out in the statute itself, and according to the normal course of responsible government.

This reply, Mr. President and gentlemen, I have the honour to make to your address. (Signed) Isaac A. Isaacs,


Canberra, 6th June, 1931

Regulations : Formal Motion fob Adjournment.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) . - I have to inform the Senate that I have received from Senator Glasgow a letter intimating that this afternoon he intends to move, “ That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 10 a.m. to-morrow,” for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The action of the Government in gazetting certain regulations under the Transport Workers Act 1928- 1929, which are the same in substance as regulations which have already been disallowed by the Senate.” Is the motion supported ?

Four honorable senators having risen in their places,

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [3.19]. - I move -

That the Senate at its rising adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow.

As set out in my letter to you, Mr. President, I do this for the purpose of considering the action of the Government in gazetting certain regulations which are the same in substance as regulations which have already been disallowed by the Senate. The new regulations which have been issued to take the place of regulations which the Senate previously disallowed read as follows: -

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  1. No. 64.

Regulations Under the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929.

I, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following Regulations under the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929, to come into operation forthwith.

Dated this eighth day of June, 1931.

Isaac A. Isaacs


By His Excellency’s Command,

Frank Brennan for Minister of State for Transport

Waterside Employment Regulations

  1. These Regulations may be cited as the Waterside Employment Regulations.
  2. – (1.) Transport workers (being waterside workers) who -

    1. are members of the organization known as the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, an organi- zation bound by an award of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration applicable to employment for work in or in connexion with the provision of services in the transport of goods which are the subject of trade or commerce by sea with other countries or among the States; and
    2. are available for employment, engagement or picking-up at ports in the Commonwealth to which Part III. of the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929 applies, shall be given priority in employment, engagement or picking-up for such work at those ports. (2.) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the lost preceding sub-regulation shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Ten pounds, or imprisonment for one month. (3.) Persons who-

  1. were at any time during the first six months of the year 1930, the holders of licences under Part III. of the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929 in respect of any ports to which that Act applied at any time during that year ; and
  2. are returned soldiers or returned sailors as defined in section 81a of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1930. may, notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-regulation, be employed, engaged or picked up for work of the nature specified in that sub-regulation.

    1. – (1.) Where a picking-up place is situate on private property at any port to which Part III. of the Transport Workers Act 1928- 1929 applies, the picking-up of transport workers (being waterside workers) at that place shall not be effected unless, not less than half an hour before the picking-up is to commence, a notice of the picking-up has been posted in a conspicuous position outside the picking-up place by the person effecting the picking-up. (2.) At the conclusion of any picking-up in a picking-up place to which the last preceding sub-regulation applies, the person who has effected the picking-up shall announce, in a manner capable of being heard or understood by all present, the fact that the picking-up has concluded. (3.) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this regulation shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Ten pounds, or imprisonment for one month.

  1. – (1.) Any person -

    1. to whom priority is required to be given under regulation 2 of these Regulations; or
    2. who is a returned soldier or a returned sailor as specified in subregulation (3.) of that regulation, may, for the purpose of being picked up for work of the nature specified in sub-regulation (1.) of that regulation, enter -
    3. any picking-up place specified in the last preceding regulation after the posting at that place of a notice in accordance with that regulation announcing that a picking-up will be effected; and
    4. remain in that place until the conclusion of the picking-up is announced in accordance with that regulation. ( 2. ) Any person who hinders or prevents the entry, in accordance with this regulation, of any person to whom the last preceding subregulation applies, into any picking-up place specified in the last preceding regulation, and any person who ejects or attempts to eject any person to whom that sub-regulation applies, from that place prior to the conclusion of the picking-up shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Ten pounds, or imprisonment for one month.

By Authority: H. J. Greek, Government Printer, Canberra.

It will be noted that the regulations recently gazetted are in substance the same as those which were previously disallowed by the Senate. It is regrettable that it is again necessary to direct attention to the gazettal of these regulations in defiance of the frequently expressed opposition of the Senate.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill:

– The point of order should have been raised earlier. I have noticed that the reading of speeches seems to have become a convention in the Senate, but as honorable senators are aware, it is contrary to the Standing Orders. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was reading his speech he must discontinue doing so.


– In conclusion I wish to point out that the Government and the Attorney-General are attempting to defy this branch of the legislature at a time when, in the interests of Australia, the Government is seeking the co-operation of all political parties. The Government’s action in this connexion is to be regretted, and I, in entering an emphatic protest against the gazettal of further regulations, express the hope that it will discontinue the practice of doing under its regulationmaking power that which it cannot do under its- legislative power.

Motion (by Senator Sampson) put -

That the document quoted by Senator Sir William Glasgow during his speech be laid on the table. (President - Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill.)

Ayes. .. ..21

Noes . . . . 5

Majority . . . . 16

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Document laid on the table.

Original motion - by leave - withdrawn.

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Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Barnes) read a first time.

Senate adjourned at 3.41 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 June 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.