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Friday, 30 April 1915

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- The Government have assured us that this Bill is necessary to enable them to deal with urgent cases which may come under their notice during tlie next few months. Senator Guthrie objects to this proposal, chiefly on the ground of its in - definiteness. He built up a hypothetical case of seafaring men who may be dragged from place to place, and finally haled before the High Court, without first being afforded an opportunity of appearing before a minor tribunal, with a view to having their cases dealt with promptly.

Senator Guthrie - They cannot choose their Courts.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator is of the opinion that if the Bill be carried in its present form, all cases will have to be cited before the High Court. The Government have assured him that there is no such intention, and Senator Keating, who is a legal man, has pointed out that the Bill will not deprive civilians of any of their existing rights. I agree with the view which he has presented, that it merely provides for concurrent powers. To imagine that people will be anxious to rush to the High Court instead of to the minor Courts is to imagine the impossible. I admit that , Senator Guthrie is entitled to all credit for the interest which he uniformly manifests in the calling which he himself followed for so many years. But he should credit others with being equally interested in particular callings. The AttorneyGeneral has been associated with the waterside workers for many years.

Senator Guthrie - That is not a maritime matter at all.

Senator FINDLEY - I do not suggest that those workers live on the water as much as do seamen. But Mr. Hughes is as familiar with seafaring men and with the life which they follow as is Senator Guthrie, and he is equally anxious about their welfare. I admit that there is only one Sea Lord in Australia, namely, Senator Guthrie, but there are a few lieutenants. The Attorney-General occupies a very honoured position in Australia and in the industrial world. He has had charge of this Bill in another place, and it is absurd to imagine for one moment that he would allow any provision to be inserted the object of which would be to take away any powers at present enjoyed by those who desire justice from the minor Courts of the country.

Senator Guthrie - No one suggests that.

Senator de Largie - This is one of Senator Findlevs hypothetical cases.

Senator FINDLEY - It is the business of the Attorney-General to understand the position before the Bill is introduced.

Senator Guthrie - I hope you will recollect that the next time you wish to move an amendment to a Bill.

Senator FINDLEY - With all due deference to Senator Guthrie, who takes a keen and intelligent interest in seafaring men, I maintain that it would make the Bill very ambiguous if we inserted the words included in his amendment. I can imagine how legal men would split straws over tlie question whether any particular case was attributable to the war or not. With the insertion of the words proposed by Senator Guthrie it would make it much more difficult for cases to be dealt with on their merits, as Senator Guthrie suggests, than it would be if the words were not inserted . In its present form the Bill is understandable, and as it does not take away any existing rights as far as seafaring men are concerned, I cannot understand the opposition from Senator Guthrie, because I believe it is due to imaginary causes.

Senator GUTHRIE(South Australia) to show that I have been basing my argument on an imaginary case. Well, let me give him a concrete case. Last October eighty-one men belonging to one of our ships in Melbourne had a quarrel, arising, not out of the war, but out of the conduct of the cook. They were arrested, and one of the most , prominent solicitors in Melbourne was engaged to prosecute them. Does the honorable senator think that the solicitor mentioned would have brought that case before a magistrate if the High Court had been available? This case came before a magistrate, as I said, last October, and it has taken us from then till Wednesday of this week to get it settled.

Senator Findley - Why would he have taken it to the High Court?

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