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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - This clause deals not with appeals but with references on questions of law from the Tribunal to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. It provides that the Tribunal may, if it thinks fit, refer questions of law. The reason for this is that if we provided that all questions of law had to be referred on all occasions this could clearly be used as a device to obstruct the Tribunal and to prevent it from reaching a conclusion.

An issue of law can arise, but we have as presidential member of the Tribunal a person of judicial standing. That person will be able to deal with the great majority of matters of law which would arise in the course of hearings before the Tribunal. If it were provided that he must always refer these matters, we would have a series of interruptions of the proceedings of the Tribunal which would just make it completely unworkable. Therefore we have provided that the Tribunal may refer, if it thinks fit.

This provision is not unlike that contained in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act under which matters of law may be referred to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. There is no compulsion to refer. Equally, this provision contains no compulsion to refer questions of law. I feel perfectly confident - I do not think anybody would shake my confidence - that if a diffi cult matter of law arose the judicial member sitting on the Tribunal would be only too ready to refer the matter to the Court for determination.

Mr Buchanan - How can he?

Mr SNEDDEN - Merely by referring it. It is entirely for the Tribunal itself to determine whether it will refer a question.

Mr Killen - But cannot the two lay members outvote him?

Mr SNEDDEN - Not on questions of law. On questions of law, the opinion of the presidential member presiding will prevail.

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