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Thursday, 10 June 1915

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I am very pleased to see this Bill introduced for consideration by Parliament. I hope that it will be proceeded with with due despatch, and placed upon the statute-book in as perfect a form as possible. I recognise that some delay is inevitable. It has already been hinted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that representations have been made to the Government by those who will be peculiarly affected by the Bill, and who have had, and expect to have, considerable experience in insurance matters. If it is intended to submit to the Government organized representations of that character, it is only fair that they should be given adequate consideration. The Minister has referred to the fact that the Government are largely indebted to the recommendations and reports of the Royal Commission appointed a few years ago to consider and report upon this very large subject. I have read the recommendations and the two reports presented by the Commission, but I cannot say that I have gone through them line by line. I am not aware that in all respects in the framing of this Bill the Government have adhered to the recommendations of the Commission, but I understand that, broadly speaking, those recommendations are the basis of the Bill. I think that the measure can be generally characterized as a Bill to unify, modernize, and codify the law of insurance for Australia. .In each of the States legislation upon the subject has been passed following similar models. There have been some diversions, as has been the case in connexion with other subjects upon which the States have separately legislated. But the fundamental principles of the law of insurance are apparent in the legislation of each of the States. If this Bill becomes law, we shall be unifying the law for Australia. We shall also be modernizing and codifying it. Each of these operations will be attended with advantages. It will be much easier to ascertain what is the statute law in any part of Australia bearing upon an insurance question. The advantages of the modernizing effect of the measure will be the result to a large extent of the adoption of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The codification of the law is, generally speaking, an advantage, because it enables one almost to put one's finger upon the exact provision of the law dealing with the subject in which one is interested. Where, on the other hand - as in several of the States, probably in relation to this subject, and certainly in relation to many other subjects of importance - there is a whole series of Acts and amending enactments, it is very difficult even for the most accomplished and astute lawyer at a moment, or in a very brief space of time, to be able to advise exactly how a client stands in regard to a matter. He may have his Statutes, but he may have omitted to note them up with the consequences of the different amendments as they have been passed; and it may be necessary for him to go through several Statutes before he ascertains for himself what is the exact position in law in regard to a certain matter. This means that a lawyer who looks after his business has constantly to be watching the Legislature, and so soon as an enactment is passed which amends an existing Statute, he must note his Statutes accordingly. Although he may he most attentive to this necessary operation, there do arise occasions when an omission will occur, and, in consequence, he himself may be misled and may mislead a client. With a codified system of law on any subject, difficulties of that kind are, to a certain extent, obviated. That is one advantage which we will have in this codification.

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