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Tuesday, 28 June 1904

Mr GLYNN (Angas) - I quite agree with the general reasoning of the honorable and learned member for Indi as to the structure of the Bill. I recognise that the clause is, in some form, necessary, even if a wide discretion is given to the Court as regards imprisonment. Under clause 46 e, the general power to enforce orders and awards puts no limitation with regard to the period for which the Court can actually commit a man. It is just as well that some limit should be put in. Under clause 56, though a technical penalty may be imposed, it does not follow that it can be . followed up by imprisonment. In clause 53 we have already provided that proceedings for the recovery of penalties may be taken before any Court of summary jurisdiction in a State. We are following the procedure of the States with regard to recovery, as the judgment of a State Court would be recovered. In some States they permit imprisonment in default of the recovery of pecuniary penalties. In other States, however, they allow nothing more than distress. So that it is necessary to make some provision, both as regards employers and employes. But I think we should give the alternative of a pecuniary penalty even in that case, because there is no doubt that in practical working there is all the difference in the world between imprisoning a body of employers and a body of employes. The employers would necessarily be very few. They would be for the purposes of breach of the award the men who actually gave employment, not the members of an employers' organization. The man who breaks an award is not the member of the organization as such, but the man who gives employment. We have to deal with persons, not organizations. I do not see how an organization can possibly break ah award. But it is possible to charge a person with breaking an award ; and to charge an employer is a very simple thing, because there are very few of them. In some cases there would be one only concerned. In the case of the employes, no doubt it would be impossible to imprison them all if they broke an award. But there is nothing to prevent the employes retiring from the employment one by one, and refusing to work under the award. There is no power to compel employes to work for the wages fixed in the award. One employe' could walk out' of the workshop one week, and one could walk out the next week. How could they be charged with a breach of an award under those circumstances ? But in the case of an employer, it is very different. He has to continue his business, unless he closes it up altogether; and then he fails, and puts an end to a business that perhaps has been in existence for years. There is a great difference, in fact, between issuing an injunction against an employer and against a body of employes. I think that the Government should provide some alternative, and allow a discretion to a Court to say that, instead of imprisonment, they would inflict a fine. That would' be operative upon the employers, and to some extent, also it would be operative against the employes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) proposed -

That after the words " pain of," line 5, the words "fine or" be inserted.

Mr. ISAACS(Indi). - I should like to draw attention to one point in this clause which might be amended. The Prime Minister will see that it provides only for a breach of the award. In various parts of the Bill there is power to make an order in addition to an award. In clause 46 an order is distinct from an award. I think that an amendment should be made in the first line of the clause, so as to make it read ' ' on the application of any party to an award or order," leaving the clause to be redrafted afterwards. The amendment could not be made properly without some, consideration.

Mr WATSON - The matter to which the honorable and learned member refers was previously suggested to me. I think the difficulty may be met by inserting the following sentence .at the end of the first paragraph of the clause, " In this section, the term ' award ' includes ' order.' "

Mr Isaacs - That would do.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Indi would be shorter.

Mr WATSON - I think not. This would have the effect of making the necessary alteration right through the clause.

Mr Glynn - I think it will be found necessary to repeat the expression " award or order."

Mr WATSON - I shall ask the AttorneyGeneral to look into the clause, and if later on that is found necessary, it can be dealt with on recommittal. In the meantime I have no objection to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corio.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -

That after the word " omission," line 8, the following words be inserted, " In this section the term ' award 1 includes * order.' "

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