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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - The new clause which the honorable member has suggested is quite irrelevant at this stage. Its adoption would involve a complete revision of the Act.

Mr Richard Foster - It would 'be worth all. that.

Mr GROOM - At this stage, the desire of the Government is to amend the Act in certain particulars. But the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has already indicated that it may be necessary, later on, to revise it completely.

Mr Ryan - What are the present provisions of the Act in respect to assessors ?

Mr GROOM - The Judge of the Arbitration Court is empowered to call in assessors, and it is compulsory that he should avail himself of their assistance upon the application of either party.

Mr Richard Foster - But he is not bound to be guided by them.

Mr GROOM - Section 35 of the Act clearly sets out that the Court shall, on the application of any party to an industrial dispute, appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to such dispute.

Mr Gregory - Then the Act provides that the Judge shall call in assessors upon an application being made by either party ?

Mr GROOM - The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) desires to make the appointment of assessors part of the Court itself. That would involve a complete revision of the whole Act.

I have already circulated an amendment which I intend moving in respect of clause 5 of the Bill. Under the principal Act, the Governor-General in Council has power to appoint only one Deputy, and this Deputy may be appointed only for the unexpired period of the term of office of the President for the time being. The object of the clause in the Bill is to enable as many Deputies as may be necessary to be appointed. It was pointed out that the clause in regard to the tenure of the Deputies is somewhat ambiguous. If the Judge were to resign, would " the unexpired term of office of the President " mean the balance of the period for which he was appointed? We want to place this matter beyond doubt. I therefore desire to insert at the end of the clause the following paragraph: - "(d) By omitting from sub-section (2) the words ' of office of the President for the time being ' and inserting in their stead the words for which the President holding office at the date of his appointment was appointed.' "

Suppose that a vacancy in the Presidency of the Court arose at the present moment, and that we desired to appoint a Deputy while there was no President in being, the Deputy would hold office for a period of seven years from the time of the appointment.

Mr Richard Foster - Suppose that in the meantime the Act is repealed ?

Mr GROOM - Then, of course, the office goes.

Mr Richard Foster - And you will have to find something for the Judge to do.

Mr GROOM - No; the only person who can be appointed as Deputy is a Judge of the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, and when he ceases to act he will resume his ordinary judicial functions.

Mr Richard Foster - Then the Judge is really only borrowed?

Mr GROOM - That is so, just as State Judges are, as it were, borrowed for Federal work and the State Courts invested with Federal jurisdiction.

Mr Ryan - What amendment are you moving ?

Mr GROOM - I pointed out that the clause makes provision for the appointment of Deputies, and the amendment is one to define the tenure. There is a small drafting amendment, and then I propose to insert the words, a copy of which has been circulated.

Mr Hector Lamond - Is the appointment of a Deputy for a fixed time ?

Mr GROOM - The Deputy will be appointed for a definite time.

Sir Robert Best - Why associate his term with that of the President?

Mr GROOM - On the ground of his being a Deputy; the original suggestion was accepted to make the term coterminous with that of the President.

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