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Friday, 25 June 1937

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - by leave - In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 24th June, the following statement appeared in a leader entitled " National Insurance " : -

A conference of Federal and State Governments is to be held in August, promptly after the Prime Minister's return, to debate not only the merging of present overlapping services, but also the constitutional difficulty of federal powers under the Constitution.Without employment cover the present scheme would be shorn of its chief recommendation to the immense body of the public. Yet trade and industry are powers reserved for State sovereignty and not that of the Commonwealth. The Canadian Government's Employment and Social Insurance Act of 1935 crashed upon precisely this rock; the Privy Council, upon reference, held last January that the Dominion Parliament's legislation was ultra vires the Constitution, since trade and industry are provincial powers, and that the Federal Act was an encroachment. Alone, therefore, Parliament in Canberra cannot legislate for insurance affecting industrial contracts. Experience of referendum submissions suggests that the course to-day must be for the States to hand over the necessary powers to the Commonwealth.

I now ask the Leader of the Senate if he will have made available to honorable senators a synopsis of the Canadian case to which reference is made in the article. Although the Canadian and Australian Constitutions differ in some respects there is a great deal of similarity between them, and the synopsis for which I have asked would be of considerable value to honorable senators.

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