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Friday, 12 June 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

In submitting this measure, I do not anticipate that I shall need to detain honorable senators more than a few minutes. They are aware that the Government have appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South- Wales a Commissioner for the purpose of prosecuting certain inquiries into the existence of an alleged Meat Trust. In view of the decision of the Privy Council in the appeal case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, it is necessary to pass a Bill to vest the Judge with the necessary powers to prosecute his inquiry. The Bill seeks to do that. The powers which will be created under it, and with which the Commissioner will be invested-

Senator de Largie - It is a mere piece of fudge and electioneering.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator may hold that view, but I do not know that it alters very much what I am saying. The Government are presenting this Bill, and if an election is ahead of us, that is a matter for which the honorable senator must accept his share of responsibility. The powers which are sought to be conveyed By this Bill are those which were previously embodied in a law which was made the subject of a Privy Council appeal. The difficulty in connexion with that measure, as was pointed out by the Privy Council, was that it was of general application. It was therefore held to be ultra vires of the Constitution. It was held that it was outside the powers of this Parliament to pass such a measure. The Bill which is now before us will overcome that difficulty. It has been shaped in accordance with the direction given by the Privy Council, and as it meets the objection which proved fatal to the earlier measure, it is presented as the proper constitutional means by which this Parliament can endow the Judge with the powers necessary to prosecute the inquiry for which he has been appointed. I anticipate the hearty cooperation of the Senate in speedily placing this short measure upon the statute-book.

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