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Tuesday, 31 May 1904

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) - The right honorable member for Swan appears to be greviously disappointed that the present Government should propose to do what the Government of which he was a member refused to do. If the right honorable member and his colleagues had brought forward this clause in the form in which the present Government suggested that it should read, he would have been in office to-day.

Sir John Forrest - We could not do that.

Mr HUTCHISON - I for one have not altered my views. The position I took up while the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay was under discussion, was that, while I had some doubt whether all State public servants other than railway servants could be included, on account of the use of the word " industrial " in the Constitution, I preferred to give them the benefit of the doubt, knowing that their, inclusion would not destroy the measure, since the High Court, if my doubts were justified, would declare only that portion of the Act to be ultra vires. The present Government have introduced an amendment which meets my difficulty. I think it Was the duty of the honorable and learned member for Corio, who seems to me to have desired simply to make political capital out of, and not to improve the measure -

Sir William Lyne - No, I do not think so.

Mr HUTCHISON - Nothing else could be assumed of any honorable member who moved such an amendment as that submitted by him. He should have pointed out the particular public servants who would be excluded from the operation of the Bill. I challenge any honorable member to show me what particular public servants will be excluded under the amendment proposed by the present Government. I stated from the election platform that I thought every employer and employe in the Commonwealth should be included in the measure, and that we should not have any class legislation. The present Government propose to do this, if. it is competent for the Federal Parliament to do it; and it is perfectly legitimate for any honorable member to say that he believes every employer and employe can be included, in spite of the use of the word " industrial " in the Constitution. We have listened to legal members of the Committee, and what have we learned? We have learned only of the confusion of opinion existing amongst them in regard to it. The honorable and learned member for Wannon, in a cold-blooded way, told us that he would exclude everybody from the measure. I can quite understand the honorable and learned member's position. I have been astonished to find that even some of the legal members of the Committee are not prepared to say that, if it is not illegal to include certain public servants of the States, it is not expedient to do so, and it will be an infringement of State rights. Is there anything in that argument? The States Governments will take very good care that we do not interfere with State rights, so long as we have a High Court. If we interfere with their rights they will appeal to the High Court. Any honorable member who voted against the clause as submitted by the late Government will be acting consistently in supporting the present .Government upon it. I feel that I am pursuing a course which I can justify to my constituents, and that I shall not be subjected to the reproach of having been inconsistent.

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