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Wednesday, 23 March 1927

Senator McLACHLAN (Honorary Minister) . - I can assure Senator Needham that the jurisdiction of the High Court will not be in any way limited by the passage of this amending bill. Proposed new sub-section 30b provides - (1.) The High Court shall have, in relation to the Territory for the Seat of Government -

(a)   the same original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, as immediately before the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and eleven the Supreme Court of the State of New South Wales had in relation to that State; and

(b)   such original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, as is from time to time vested in the High Court by Ordinances made by the GovernorGeneral.

Senator Needham - But what is the alternative mentioned by the Minister in his second reading speech ?

Senator McLACHLAN - Up to the present we have applied the practice and the jurisdiction of the State of New South Wales to the Federal Capital Territory. We are now seeking to apply the jurisdiction of the High Court to the Territory for the Seat of Government, butwe are keeping the law as it was on the date referred to. Ther will be no limitation of jurisdiction at all. If this measure were not passed, the High Court would have to function at Canberra, necessitating the provision of . court houses, registries, and so forth.

Meanwhile, there will be a district registry only, and that will suffice for Canberra for a few years. In that registry a judge of the High Court will function from time to time as occasion requires. The whole of the appellate jurisdiction is preserved. In that respect, therefore, no limitation is placed upon the High Court's functioning at Canberra. It would be unwise, at this stage in the growth of the Federal Capital Territory, to fix the Seat of Government at Canberra for the purposes of the Judiciary Act. So soon as it became the Seat of Government, the principal registry of the High Court would have to be placed there. To do that at present would not only be premature, but also operate to the detriment of the majority of litigants, who are situated in the two main centres of Melbourne and Sydney. The High Court now functions in every capital city, and when the proper time arrives it will function fully at Canberra. I can assure Senator Thompson that this amendment of the Judiciary Act will convenience the commercial interests of Canberra, and will not inconvenience the remainder of the commercial community that is concentrated in the big centres of population.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Registries).

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