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Thursday, 16 June 1904

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - I hope that the Committee will not listen to the proposal to give the Arbitration Court such a large discretion in the matter of penalties, because it is contrary to all recognised practice. We have to read this clause in conjunction with others contained in the Bill. The paragraph which we are now discussing is intended to empower the Court " to specify the organizations or persons to whom such penalties shall be paid." Similar words occur in other parts of the Bill. Thus it is sought to establish a most pernicious principle which should not, in my opinion, receive the sanction of this or any other Legislature. I can see clearly that it mav lead to corruption, intimidation, and blackmailing. At any rate, it leaves the way open for such things, and for all kinds of petty persecutions on the part of dissatisfied individuals on either side. It will encourage them to bring trivial disputes before the Court with a view to creating irritation and trouble, and it will probably be better for many employers to submit to blackmailing rather than waste their time in going to the expense of defending their position in the Court. There is apparently a sinister design behind all these provisions, and the Government and those who are supporting them will have difficulty in convincing the Committee to the contrary, if they persist in the retention of these words, which occur in various clauses of the Bill. They can best show their good intentions bv readily agreeing to the omission of the provision for handing over the fines to the aggrieved parties, and by consenting that al I penalties shall be paid' into the . Treasury. I desire to record my grave objection to .ill proposals of this character, and to ask the Committee to seriously consider the wisdom of fixing a maximum penalty for the guidance of the Judge, instead of giving him unlimited discretion.

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