Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 21 June 1904

Mr GLYNN (Angas) - I am glad that the amendment has been accepted by the Government. It does amount to some limitation of the rather too wide scope of the clause as it stands. At the same time, I think that the clause is a little ambiguous, and I should like to know what the Government think it means. With the1 amendment the clause would then provide that the common rule may be varied in its application to particular localities.

Mr Watson - That is the idea.

Mr GLYNN - How can it be a common nile?

Mr Watson - The words " common rule " are only used for the sake of convenience. It is not pretended to be a commont rule in the true acceptation of the term.

Mr GLYNN - If it is subject to so many exceptions, it is not a common rule.

Mr Watson - The honorable and learned member will recollect that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat suggested the use of - the term " general rule."

Mr GLYNN - The interpretation which is a grammatical one shows the danger of the common rule provision, because it means that, on a dispute, the Court may frame a series of rules applicable to particular .localities. As a matter of fact, it amounts to a direction to the Court to legislate throughout Australia.

Mr Watson - If it should think fit.

Mr GLYNN - If it were merely a direction to the Court that, where it thought that the similarity of local conditions justified the application of the common rule to a wider area than would be affected by the dispute, it could be done. That is really what ought to be done. That is the logical way of. arriving at an extension of the application of the award.

Mr Watson - This clause does not pretend to be logical', but only convenient. Mr. GLYNN. - It is neither logical nor convenient. It pretends to be a common rule when it is not. If it were called a "general rule" it would not be made anybetter.

Mr Deakin - - -Except that it would not be confused with the " common rule " of the State.

Mr GLYNN - The point I take is that there is a very wide and radical distinction between the application of a series of common rules, varying in their terms with the locality to which they are applied, and the extension to a specific area of the terms of the particular award. That is applying the identical terms of the award to a wider area than that which was originally interested in the dispute. What the Government say is that if a dispute comes " before the .Arbitration Court, the award can be applied as a common rule and varied throughout Australia. It may be an award with certain limitations in one district and with other limitations in other districts. In other words, it simply means that the moment-a Federal award is given the Court can at once legislate for the whole of Australia. Where should it stop from the general application of the award, if it is allowed by the clauses to vary it according to localities? Why apply it to one State and not to two States - to one part of a State and not to the whole of the State?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is what the Bill intends.

Mr GLYNN - It really does show that the object of the Bill is that the moment an award is made the common rule shall be applied right throughout Australia - that it may be varied to suit the peculiar circumstances of each locality ; but that there is on that award being made, a general rule applicable throughout ^Australia. In other words, we are to adjust the conditions of production and distribution at once on one award throughout Australia. That is a different thing altogether. What the Bill 'should do is to provide that wherever it was justified by similarity of local conditions the same award should apply, that instead of being applied, perhaps, to the State, it should be applied beyond the State, but that it should not be varied in terms. If we do what the Government ask us to do, it is far more likely that the provision will be declared to be a violation of the Constitution, because it introduces the principle of differentiation right off in a State dispute, and then clearly encroaches on the province of the States. I hope that honorable members, viewing the clause from this aspect, will consider whether a far wider modification should not be made. I think that some provision of this sort would do what is required -

To direct on being satisfied as to the similarity of local conditions or local circumstances. . .

If the amendment were couched in those terms, the award of the Court would not be varied, but might be extended in its application to a wider or narrower district, as the Court in its discretion might consider justifiable. I do not know whether the Prime Minister will accept the amendment in the form I suggest ?

Mr Watson - No.

Mr GLYNN - That is the Federal method of doing the thing, but the .other is the State method. The honorable gentleman is imperilling the Bill by introducing what in all probability will be declared to be an unconstitutional provision. It is obtruding Federal legislation on what is clearly a State affair. Surely it is not contemplated that there may be three awards in a State one dealing with one part of the State, a second dealing with a second part of the State, and a third dealing with a third part of the State ?

Mr Watson - I do not see that there is any objection to that.

Mr GLYNN - Clearly that is within the province of the State. It cannot be called an Inter-State dispute or an attempt to prevent such a dispute if three awards can be made applicable to one State. That clearly is a matter for the State to deal with. I would again urge the Prime Minister to allow the amendment to take this shape -

On being satisfied as to the similarity of local circumstances.

That is some concession in the direction of the common rule.

Suggest corrections