Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 9 July 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I intend to speak only for a few minutes. When the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) rose to speak to this motion, he questioned my right to smile, and asked me my reason for smiling. I think it is perfectly obvious to every honorable member why this motion has been submitted. The reason has been made clearer by the fact that both the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy have spoken at considerable length upon it. In short, their speeches smacked a good deal of Ballarat, and were evidently for the purpose of preventing a motion standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) from being debated. Had the Government been sincerely desirous of preventing industrial unrest they could have taken steps long before this to make such amendments in our Conciliation and Arbitration Act as would have rendered the approaches to the Arbitration Court less .tortuous, and would have expedited the hearing of cases coming before that tribunal. They have not done these things, and, in; my humble opinion, no effective tribunal will be established to deal with these matters unless it has the power of deciding upon the purchasing power of the wages which it awards. After all, that is the real question. The Prime Minister stated that he had no power to bring to ani end the War Precautions Act, under which a certain tribunal now exists. I joined issue with him, and I denied his statement.

Mr Hughes - Hear, hear! This is the second time that the honorable member has denied it.

Mr RYAN - I propose to point out the section im the War Precautions Act which gives the Prime Minister the power which he says he does not possess. Section 2 of this Act provides that the GovernorGeneral may proclaim the date upon which the war shall be deemed to have ended. If the Governor-General issued such a proclamation, it would be issued on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Ministers, and there is no doubt that, in such circumstances, the Act would come to an end. But even in the absence of such a proclamation I intend to show, upon the authority of the Prime Minister's own words, uttered in this House on the 1st October, 1919, that the War Precautions Act has expired. Upon page 12843 of Hansard of last year the Prime Minister is thus reported : -

Whatever powers we have at the present time under the War Precautions Act have their roots in the defence sub-section. From the judgments of even the majority in the bread case it is perfectly clear that, whatever powers we have, which are not strictly those belonging to the Commonwealth under the Constitution, spring wholly from the existence of a state of war, or of preparation for war. Neither of these conditions is now present. War is oyer; peace lias come to us with complete victory over our enemies. Neither war nor the need for preparations for defence against a declared enemy exists. In three months the War Precautions Act itself expires; our powers under the War Precautions Act have now shrunk, if, indeed, they have not altogether disappeared.

Mr Hughes - That proves all that I have said to-day, namely, that it is necessary for another Act to support this tribunal.

Mr RYAN - Yes, but what the right honorable gentleman said to-day was that he had no power to bring the War Precautions Act to an end.

Mr Hughes - What I meant to say was that I had no power to bring the war to an end. I cannot extend the War

Precautions Act after the war has ended.

Mr RYAN - I am very doubtful whether the War Precautions Act has not come toan end of itself.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.

Suggest corrections