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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Dr EVATT (Barton) (AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs) .- I move -

That, after clause 3, the following new clause be added: - " 4. Section eighteenb of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (4.), before the word ' two '.' the words ' not less than

There are two sections in the act dealing with the composition of the court when it considers matters affecting standard hours and the basic wage. One section states that, for certain purposes, the court shall consist of at least three judges. The other section, which deals with the power of the Commonwealth Government to intervene through the Attorney-General, says that the court shall consist of three judges. It is the intention of the court that it shall consist of five judges for the hearing now contemplated, this having been arranged, by Chief Judge Piper. It was thought that the point might be raised whether three judges or five should sit, and therefore it is intended to clarify the position by providing that, in a matter of this kind, the court shall consist of not less than three judges.

Mr HOLT (FAWKNER, VICTORIA) - It does not limit the court to three judges?

Dr EVATT - No. The two sections, apparently, are contradictory, one providing for three judges, and the other for " at least three ", thus making it doubtful whether more than three could be assembled. The decision of the court was that there should be five judges; and all that the amendment does is to ensure that there shall be at least three, thus making it possible for these, with the addition of the Chief Judge, to constitute the Full Court.

Sitting suspended- from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.

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