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Tuesday, 22 June 1926

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - On the second reading I said that the proposed new paragraph (xl.) did not appeal to me, and I am taking the first opportunity of giving effect to my statement. Perhaps I should have consulted the Crown Law Officers, and had an amendment properly framed to suit honorable senators, but the case seemed to me so simple that I did not think there was any need for the use of elaborate language.

Senator Drake-Brockman - It does not need elaborate language; the simpler the language the better.

Senator LYNCH - If the Senate thinks that the Commonwealth, as the paragraph in the bill clearly empowers it to do, should step into the State's spheres of action and inquire into every activity carried on by it, regulating the conditions of labour in connexion with it, I have nothing to say, except, of course, to raise my voice in protest. But if, on the other hand, it is the feeling of the Senate that the Commonwealth is not justified in stepping into the arena of State activities and interfering except to a limited degree, it should at least call for a pause and see where it stands - it should shape an amendment to suit its wishes.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - It is a question of whether the honorable senator's amendment does not do exactly the opposite to what he intends to do.

Senator LYNCH - My amendment, as I have altered it, is as follows : - but the exercise of such powers shall not apply to the regulation of any State activity other than those engaged in the manufacture of products which enter into competition with similar products in the ordinary course of trade.

I want to draw a line, which can be done under the rules of common sense between one class of activities carried on by the States from the earliest days and another class brought into existence in recent years. In the past the States have built railways, waterworks, irrigation works, and harbour works wherever they were required, and those works were calculated to advance the general development of the States. But when they have opened timber yards, as has been done in Western Australia, brick yards as has been done in New South Wales, and butcher shops as has been done in Queensland, they have embarked upon a class of activities between which, and the other class I have mentioned, there is a sharp line of distinction. The paragraph in the bill I am seeking to amend aims at taking away from the States every vestige of control in the management of all activities. I am opposed to that, but I would limit my opposition, in that respect. I would leave to the States full control in regard to those activities which they have been carrying on for the general advancement and development of their own areas, but as for the others, I would say " Let them by all means be subject to the same supervision, inquiry and regulation as is applied to any other kind of industry in Australia." I want my amendment to give effect to that desire: I am opposed to the Government's proposal if it means, as I think it does, the depriving of the States of every vestige of authority so far as the regulating of State instrumentalities is concerned.

Senator Pearce - This bill does not do that; it does not raise that question.

Senator LYNCH - The Prime Minister has declared in another place that under proposed paragraph xl the Commonwealth will temporarily exercise power concurrently with the States. But, eventually, the concurrent power will end, and State instrumentalities will pass under Commonwealth jurisdiction.

Senator Pearce - This bill does not affect that matter at all.

Senator LYNCH - It does.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Why not accept the opinion of experts, who know something about the matter?

Senator LYNCH - I do not wish this issue to be clouded. If the Minister will give me an assurance that the States will retain sufficient power to control their own instrumentalities free of Commonwealth interference I shall be satisfied.

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