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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator CAMERON (Victoria) (Minister for Aircraft Production) (12:20 PM) . - I say advisedly that it is a deliberate misrepresentation to assert that it is the policy of the Government to abolish all courts. So far as I know, that statement has not. been made by anybody. It appears to me that the wish is father to the thought, and that Senator Leckie would like the Minister to say something of the sort. The Government does .not wish anything of the kind. I have already pointed out that a government delegates powers to a court, and that the court is a subordinate tribunal. That is perfectly correct. The powers contained in the Navigation Act, and the powers proposed by this bill, are to be delegated to a court, so that it may take evidence in respect of any happening or any set of circumstances requiring its determination. The Government acts in that way. But at the same time the Government is the supreme governing authority It may vary the instructions that it gives to the court, by passing an act, and the court is in duty bound to give effect to what is done. What Senator Leckie has said is not correct. The Government desires to expedite the work of the court, because of the war-time situation that has arisen. In military circles there is not time to go through the procedure that is applicable to periods of peace, in connexion with the multiplicity of matters that have to be dealt with. There is a military tribunal which deals with matters, sometimes very well and at other times not so well. The point is, that in times of war the judicial procedure has to be expedited. I repeat, that it is not part and parcel of the policy of this Government to abolish all courts. 'Senator McBride. - It only supersedes the court.

Senator CAMERON - We are superseding the court in this respect : if, in the opinion of the Government, the court is not carrying out the intention of the Government with respect to this act or any other act, it supersedes the court by amending the act or varying the instructions it gives to the court. The court is practically a law unto itself within the limits of the act, and provided it uses its powers as the Government intends that they shall ,be used, no objection is offered. Many courts do very good work in that respect. If, in the opinion of the Government, the court is not carrying out the policy intended by the act, or if it should be doing something different from what it has done, the proper constitutional procedure is for the Government to amend the act; in other words, issue fresh instructions to the court. That is the relationship that exists between the Government on the one hand and courts on the other hand. But there must be the right of appeal. If the best results are to be achieved from any procedure adopted for the purpose of inquiring into disputes, or of doing what should be the work of courts, then there must be the right of appeal. Some avenue is necessary through which appeals may be made. This clause provides for the right of appeal, and in my opinion it should be carried.

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