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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - I desire at this stage to give notice of an amendment of an important character, copies of which will be circulated later. At present the Court entertains an industrial matter, hears the evidence, and gives a determination; but we are making provision for the appointment of a number of Deputies. I propose to amend section 11 so that it shall read -

There shall be a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration .... and shall consist of a President and" such Deputy Presidents as are appointed in pursuance of this Act.

I also propose to move the insertion of the following new clause: - 6a. After section 18 of the principal Act the following section is inserted in Division 2 of Part III.:- " 18a. - (1.) Subject to this Act the jurisdiction of the Court may be exercised by the President or a Deputy President. " (2.) The President or a Deputy President may, in any case in which he thinks it desirable so to do, invite one or more Deputy Presidents to sit with him. " (3.) Where the Court is constituted of the President and one or more Deputy Presidents, or of two or more Deputy Presidents, and the members of the Court are divided in opinion on any question relating to the prevention or settlement of an industrial dispute, the question shall be decided according to the decision of the majority, if there is a majority, but if the members of the Court are equally divided in opinion the question shall be decided according to the opinion of the President, or, in his absence, according to the opinion of the Senior Deputy President. "(4.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act. the Court shall not have jurisdiction to makean award -

(a)   increasing the standard hours of work in any industry to more than fortyeight hours per week, or, where the standard hours of work in any industry are more than forty-eight hours per week, increasing the standard hours of work in that industry, or "

My amendment relates to awards to determine the number of hours which may be worked in any industry. The State Parliaments have power to fix hours of employment, but this Parliament has not that power, though in the settling of an industrial dispute the Courts may determine what shall be the hours of labour.

Mr Ryan - Is not that directed at an inquiry that is now proceeding?

Mr GROOM - It is intended that a matter of such importance as the fixing of the hours of labour, which cannot be dealt with by. this Legislature directly, or ought not to be so dealt with, shall be heard, investigated, and approved by two out of three Judges.

Mr Ryan - Then there must be two Deputy Presidents.

Mr GROOM - At least two Deputy Presidents, who, as the law now stands, must be members of the High Court or of a State Supreme Court.

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