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Tuesday, 18 April 1961

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- I am encouraged by the support I have received from the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) to state briefly the matters upon which I feel the Commonwealth should, in due course, lay down a uniform practice and procedure in federal matters. T am not suggesting that this should be done at this stage. I confined myself earlier to suggesting .that a practice and procedure should :be set down .for the Supreme Courts in the two

Territories. By friendly interjection, I forecast that such practice and procedure should also be made available in litigation under sections 75, 76 and 77 of the Constitution.

I would summarize in this way: This Parliament could implement a uniform code throughout Australia in matters in which the Commonwealth was one litigant and a private citizen or a State was the other; in which two States were litigants; in which residents of different States were litigants; in which a State and a resident of another State, were litigants; or in matters which arose under any laws made by this Parliament or in any matters in which claims are made under the laws of different States.

I believe that the history of the uniform company legislation, on which there have been conferences between the Commonwealth and the States on somewhere between 50 and 60 sitting days, and a wealth of correspondence on top of that, shows that the only hope of achieving modernity or co-ordination in the law of Australia is on the initiative or with the participation of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth seems to attract those who are most skilled in that field, and I feel - I am happy to say, with the support of the honorable member for Bruce and the goodwill, apparently, of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) - that the time will come when the Commonwealth will adopt the suggestion made by the Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, four years ago, and initiate a common code of practice and procedure in the Supreme Courts and other courts which the Commonwealth itself establishes, and also for those actions on which the Commonwealth itself can make laws.

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