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Wednesday, 15 June 1904

Mr ISAACS (Indi) - I wish to ask the Attorney-General a question. Assuming that an award given by the Court exceeds the powers conferred on it by this Bill but does not extend beyond the powers vested in the Commonwealth by the Constitution, will that award hold good? The words " Subject to the Constitution " mean, so far as I can gather, that unless Parliament is forbidden by the Constitution to vest the Court with power to make an' award upon any particular matter,- the Court may choose to exceed the limits of the Bill, and do things which Parliament has declined to permit it to do, and its award will remain unchallengable in every respect. If that be so, I protest against it. I am perfectly willing to give this Court large, but certainly not unlimited powers. Is Parliament to define the limits within which the Court shall exercise jurisdiction, and afterwards to allow that tribunal to exceed those limits, or even to do that, which it has forbidden? We are to a large extent treading upon experimental and delicate ground. Whilst I do not fear to go as far as may be necessary to protect the great interests mentioned in this Bill, I mistrust any clause which provides that unless the High Court declares that the Constitution forbids a particular award, no matter to what extent the Arbitration Court may transgress this Act, the award cannot be upset. If that is the meaning of the clause, it is a verv serious matter.

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