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Friday, 17 June 1904

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - When this part of the clause first came under discussion I was inclined to think that its provisions were too wide ; but, having listened to the debate very carefully, it is now my opinion that, if the amendment as amended is carried, its provisions will be too narrow, and the application of a common rule will have but little effect so far as some of the largest classes of employes are concerned.

Mr Wilson - To what classes does the honorable member refer?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - To the wharf labourers, for instance.

Mr Wilson - The word " labour " covers them.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It seems to me that the amendment would largely exclude the application of the common rule to classes of men such as wharf labourers, seamen, and possibly miners. It might be reasonable to insert in the clause some provision which would be a direction to the Court to take into consideration the conditions prevailing in. various parts of Austraia ; but I think it dangerous to take from this very responsible and highly-placed Judge the power to make common rules applicable, so far as he thinks necessary. I can understand that those who are opposed to the Bill may be ready to vote for any restriction of the powers of the Court.

Mr McColl - Very few honorable members are entirely opposed to the Bill.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have heard two or three honorable members say that they are opposed to it.

Mr Kelly - Why should the amendment endanger the position of the miners?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I think that it may take from the Court the power to extend a common rule to the classes of men whom I have named, and possibly to others, although it is especially necessary that the provisions of the Bill should apply to them in every respect. In my opinion, there is nothing in the argument of the honorable member for Gippsland that the provision now in the Bill threatens danger to certain classes of the community. My only desire is that the' measure shall be made as fair, and the Court left as free, as possible. The Judge should have great responsibility and great latitude. No doubt there should be power to vary the common rule, or if there is not that power, to exclude certain parts of the Commonwealth from its operation, because, for instance, the conditions prevailing in the northern parts of Australia differ widely from those prevailing in the southern parts. Of course, in the next paragraph the Court is given some power in this direction; but I am not sure that the adoption of the proposed amendment would not greatly weaken it. The honorable member for Wentworth has asked me how the amendment would affect the miners. I think that it might affect them just as it might affect seamen. I do not know how the product of their labour can be said to come into competition in the sense meant by the amendment. I believe that in neither the New South Wales nor the New Zealand Act is there any such restriction as that now proposed. New Zealand is, of course, divided into industrial districts, to which the common rule is applied.

Mr Wilson - The amendment has been copied from the New Zealand Act.

Mr Watson - No. The idea which it embodies is taken from the New Zealand Act ; but the amendment itself is by no means a copy of any provision in that measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think that it is a copy. I do not feel inclined to restrict the Court in the way proposed, and therefore I cannot support the amendment, because I think it may be pregnant

Avith trouble, and perhaps disaster, for certain members of the community to whom we wish to apply the common rule without restriction. Possibly it might be well to follow the New Zealand practice, and divide the Commonwealth into industrial districts.

Mr. McCAY(Corinella).- With the permission of the Committee, I will withdraw my amendment, and substitute for it another form of words which I think will effect the same result, and at the same time cover industries of which there is no obvious product.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. McCay) proposed -

That after the word "arises," line 9, the following words be added, "Provided that the Court shall not act under this paragraph, except where the persons whom the common rule is to bind, or the products of their industry, enter into competition with one another."

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