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Friday, 17 June 1904

Mr WILSON (Corangamite) - As an individual who entertains moderate views, who recognises that this Bill contains some provisions which will prove useful and valuable in the case of certain industries, but who does not desire the measure to be pushed to extremes, I welcome this amendment. I was particularly pleased with the explanation of it which was given by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. In legislation of this kind, it is very necessary that we should, as far as possible, allay public anxiety in the event of industrial troubles arising. There is no doubt that the adoption of this amendment will' allay public fear to a very considerable extent.' Up to the present we have had no experience of any value in -Australia of the application of the common rule. I am aware. that in a few instances it has been applied in New South Wales, but the Act has ,not been in operation long enough to allow us to judge of its general effect.

Mr Poynton - Do I understand the honorable member to say that we have had no experience of the common rule in Australia ?

Mr WILSON - We have had very little experience of it.

Mr Poynton - Does not the common rule apply to the association to which the honorable member belongs?

Mr WILSON - What association is that ?

Mr Poynton - The Medical Association.

Mr WILSON - What is the common rule of which the honorable member speaks ?

An Honorable Member. - License to kill.

Mr WILSON - One honorable member says that the doctors are licensed to kill. That, however, is not a common rule, but a common law. I am dealing with this question from a business stand-point, and not from that of a medical man. We have to consider how the application of the common rule will affect non-unionist employes. Honorable members upon this side of the Chamber represent the employers and nonunionists. We admit that honorable members opposite represent the unionist employes. I am quite prepared to grant that the application of this rule will prove of considerable value, to unionists. Nevertheless, it will prove a very serious matter to non-unionists.

Mr Poynton - Is the honorable member speaking from experience ?

Mr WILSON - I am speaking from the little experience we have had of it in Australia. From time to time we have heard much of the working of the New Zealand Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and have been told of benefits that it has conferred on all classes of the community ; but as soon as it is proposed to embody in this Bill a provision which, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has pointed out, appears in the New Zealand Act, the Prime Minister, who poses as a strong champion of that Act, raises objections, and resists what is in reality a moderate proposal, designed to make this legislation more acceptable to the general community. I should like to see the display of a reasonable degree of consistency. We hear honorable members from time to time making assertions with regard to one clause and one class of persons that are wholly in conflict with statements they have made in reference to another clause and another class. What we evidently require is a permanent record, not merely on the pages of Hansard, but on our brains, of what we have said on previous occasions, so that we may be able to preserve some semblance of consistency. This is a very moderate and proper amendment, and I hope that it will be agreed to. We need above all things consistent legislation which, while not imposing hardship on any section of the community, will be generally acceptable to the people of Australia, and make the Federation eventually more popular than it now is.

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