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Tuesday, 23 June 1903

Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - My strong objection to this clause remaining as it stands relates to the form of drafting. We have struck out paragraphs (e) and (f) of clause 40. Now, in clause 41, we are giving back again to the High Court the powers we took from it under clause 40. There is a danger in allowing this drafting to remain, because, in passing other Acts, we may forget to state where the jurisdiction shall lie. In bankruptcy cases, where, of course, there ought to be a Judge sitting in each State - because it is of the greatest importance to the commercial world that such cases should be settled speedily, whatever decision is arrived at - we may find people in Brisbane having to wait until a High Court J udge visits them, or cases in Perth may be delayed until a Judge of the High Court goes to Western Australia. I cannot understand the Attorney-General's reason for striking out provisions from clause 40, and then in the first three linesof clause 41 practically reintroducing the same jurisdiction. Let me make this matter perfectly plain to honorable members. We have first of all struck out of clause 40 certain paragraphs, and have consequently taken away the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court as to those matters. Then, in the first few lines of clause 41, we give back again the whole of that exclusive jurisdiction. It is true that the Attorney-General points out that, in subsequent parts of the clause, there is a limitation as to that exclusive jurisdiction. But, by leaving in these words, the effect may be that in passing patent laws, bankruptcy laws, and divorce laws, we shall each time have to make provision as to where cases are to be settled, and by what courts they are to be tried. An omission to make such a statement in any future Act would vest the jurisdiction in the High Court exclusively. I cannot conceive of a more dangerous provision being inserted having regard to the contingency that we might allow a Bankruptcy Bill to go through Parliament without making provision for the question of jurisdiction.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Can the honorable and learned member conceive of a Bankruptcy Bill that did not provide for the courts by which cases were to be tried ?

Mr CONROY - My objection is that this clause reinvests jurisdiction exclusively in the High Court. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, agrees with me on this point ; and I ask the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne whether he is not of the same opinion ? I ask the AttorneyGeneral himself whether it is not true that the effect of the first three lines of clause 41 is to give back to the High Court the jurisdiction taken from it by clause 40?

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Has not the honorable and learned member failed to read the amendment circulated?

Mr CONROY - I am sufficiently answered by the Attorney-General's silence.

Mr Deakin - No, the honorable and learned member is not ; this is simply a means to an end.

Mr CONROY - The only limitation is contained in paragraph (d). This is a matter of such importance that the Attorney-General might as well take the Bill back and redraft it in the light of the decisions of the Committee upon clause 40. If he does not, he will place a great many honorable members in the unfortunate position that when the Bill comes up for its third reading they will be compelled to vote against it, however much they might be disposed to go part of the way with the majority.

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