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Friday, 6 August 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member must not discuss the Jerger case.

Mr MATHEWS - I submit that I must refer to that case in some slight degree, because my present action is based on the decision then given. The Treasurer made his objection on the ground that there was nothing in the Standing Orders that dealt with the point - that it was simply a question of taste.In order to stop the discussion you, sir, had to refer to the practice of the House of Commons, which, as we know, is based on precedents established in days gone by. To this I object; and submit that it is bad at law, or, at any rate, contrary to common sense, to rule that no matter what case is before a Court, or what is done in regard to it, that case shall not be discussed here. What is there particularly surrounding the name of Jerger that should make his case different from any other? The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), on the previous occasion, was not dealing with a case that was sub judice, but with a question that was being dealt with by Sir Robert Garran, as to the guilt of Jerger, while the casebefore the Court was in reference to the powers of the Commonwealth to deport. Such a ruling, if allowed to stand, will block business and land us up against a brick wall; and I was surprised that it should have been supported by honorable members opposite. As I say, it was foolish to block our business in this way, when the desired end could have been obtained in another way, without establishing any dangerous precedent. I believe in majority rule, and if I had charge of the House, with a majority, I would insist on ruling the House, but I would do it in a proper way. I would not get a decision from the Speaker to block procedure, but would move that the honorable member addressing the House be no longer heard, or that " The question be now put." That course would not establish an undesirable precedent, involving trouble on future occasions. My desire now is merely to show how bad that previous decision was, and I submit that the present case is one on all-fours. The Industrial Peace Bill concerns hundreds of thousands of workers, whose cases are before the Arbitration Court, and, therefore, sub judice. Will anybody say that the Industrial Peace Bill does not affect the Arbitration Court? Is it not "in the air" here that the Court is likely to be done away with ? At any rate, there are many honorable members opposite who believe that may be one of the results of this legislation, and if that be so, the Bill must be a deterrent to the carrying on of the business of the Court, and the giving of relief to the men who are before it. If the Jerger case was sub judice so are the present cases. As I said at the beginning, I do not expect votes from this side, but I do claim the votes of honorable members opposite, or an acknowledgment that they made a mistake in sup porting the Deputy Speaker's ruling in the Jerger case. I appeal to the House in the interests of the progress of business to support the motion.

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