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Tuesday, 29 May 1928

Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) (AttorneyGeneral) . - Proposed new section 6b provides that where an organization has been convicted under either sections 6 or 6a of doing something in the nature of a strike or lockout, as the case may be, the court in fixing the penalty to be imposed shall take into account any bona fide efforts which the court is satisfied have been made by members of its committee of management or by any of its officers to prevent the commission of an offence against this part of this measure. This is a proper provision. In the case of any ordinary organization or corporation, the law is that the organization is liable for the acts of person occupying position in which it is part of their functions to perform certain acts. For example, a company may employ an officer who performed a certain act which made the company liable. If other officers of the company had entertained different views or had endeavoured to prevent the performance of the act, the liability of the company would not be reduced. The liability of the corporation is absolute; a corporation is responsible for the act of its officer or other agent. In industrial matters there is sometimes a difference of opinion on certain matters, and occasionally persons in positions of responsibility do not fully realize the seriousness of the trust vested in them. But it is considered that this matter ought to be looked at as a whole, and that the strict rule of law should not apply in the case of an industrial organization. The strict rule of law under which a corporation is held responsible for anything done by its officials has been relaxed in the case of an industrial organization. Accordingly, if an officer or a member of a committee or some members of a committee of management have tried to prevent an act which has resulted in an organization being held responsible for the commission of an offence under sections 6 and 6a, this clause provides that in fixing the penalty that fact shall be taken into consideration. I submit that the provision is a fair one, and should meet the requirements of such cases.

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