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Tuesday, 21 June 1904

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) - I wish to enter my protest against the amendment, because, in my opinion, we can. rely upon the Court paying due regard to local circumstances, and exercising generally the judgment now shown by similar States Courts.

Mr Deakin - If we were satisfied to trust everything to the discretion of the Judge, all that would be necessary would be one clause, creating the Court, and empowering it to act.

Mr WEBSTER - We must, of course, lay down the lines upon which the Court shall act ; but it is quite sufficient in this clause to indicate to the Judge how he shall allot awards and apply the common rule. Honorable members appear to fear that the Judge will not exercise the common-sense, or display the ability, which is to be expected from a man of the qualifications of a Justice of the High Court, and that in the judgments of the Court reasonable regard will not be paid to the evidence brought before it. . Can any one believe that the Court will apply a common rule where the local conditions make its application unsuitable? The New South Wales Court has not done so. When the Northern Miners' Union secured an award in that Court in regard to certain matters in dispute, and the Court was asked to make the award a common rule, applicable to all the coal-mining districts in the State, it refused to do so. If a State Court will, in an instance like that, where the conditions are much more similar than they would be over the whole area of the Commonwealth, refuse to make its award a common rule, surely we can trust the Commonwealth Court to act similarly. The members of the Committee appear not to realize how the need for common rules has arisen under arbitration legislation. If they had studied the history of arbitration law in New Zealand, they would know that the want of a common rule there has caused endless litigation, so-called party conspirators or agitator's having been stimulated thereby to create disputes, merely to secure fees for their appearance before the Courts on behalf of the unions.

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