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Tuesday, 21 June 1904

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) - In my opinion the Prime Minister has acted very judiciously in adding one more to the fingerposts already in the Bill. The amendment will neither give the Court further power nor impose upon it further limitations ; but as an addition to the series of indications of the meaning of Parliament already inserted it can do no harm, and may serve a very useful purpose. I rose to remind honorable members that, while I shall vote for the amendment, I do not say with any confidence that it .will be found to be constitutional, or capable of being, applied. The Constitution gives the Court power to deal with disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, anl as soon as there is concrete evidence that a dispute has so extended the Court will be able to deal with it. But if it be held that the. Court may go further than that, it will be inconvenient for it not to have power to make a common rule where it feels satisfied that it should do so. To deduce from the plain words of the Constitution, which empower the Court to deal with a dispute extending beyond any one State, the power to deal in anticipation, by the application of a common rule, with disputes that may arise in the four States not actually affected, implies a very long-drawn inference ; but at the same time I admit that it is desirable, in order to give coherence and completeness to a measure which we desire to make as perfect as possible, to provide for the application of common rules, upon the assumption that the Court will have power to exercise them. This is merely an endowment of power to the Court. If the Court decides that it can constitutionally make general or common rules, and apply them for the purposes of prevention to States to which disputes have not at the time extended, it will be for it to determine whether, and to what extent and under what conditions, it should exercise this power. Those who are opposed to the paragraph may content themselves with the fact that it merely conveys power to the Court. We are not able to dictate tlie exercise of that power; that will rest with the Court.

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