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Friday, 8 June 1928

Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) (AttorneyGeneral) . - It would appear that I am being asked to introduce legislation dealing not only with what may happen in the future, but with the judgment in a particular case which has already been disposed of. It is proposed that this legislation shall declare that the judge who determined the matter had no jurisdiction to do so. I am not prepared to introduce legislation of that character. It would be a very dangerous practice indeed to interfere retrospectively with private rights. Legislation of that kind was objected to very strongly by the Opposition in 1920, when section 18a was under consideration. At that time the Opposition was very definite on the point that accrued rights should not be disturbed. What were regarded as accrued rights on that occasion happened to be on the side of the employees. Now it happens, and in the same industry, that the accrued rights are on the side of the employers. Speaking generally, the rule is that we must legislate for the future, and not for the past. It is open to either party concerned to apply for a variation of the award, and an amendment has already been made in section 18, which enables a judge to refer such a matter to the full court of the Arbitration Court. Up to the present it has been possible only for a judge to get another judge of the court to sit with him in hearing a dispute, but with the amendment which has now been passed it will be possible to apply for a variation of an award, and to have the matter heard by a full court of three judges.

Mr Makin - There may be considerable delays in the hearing.

Mr LATHAM - Delays are incidental to all forms of judicial procedure. I am not sufficiently informed of the merits of the specific case mentioned by the honorable member to undertake to introduce legislation to deal with it.

Mr Makin - Will the AttorneyGeneral reserve his decision so that if f urther information is furnished to him he may take action at a later stage ?

Mr LATHAM - Any amendment would require to be in the form of a new clause, which would not be dealt with until all the other portions of the bill had been considered.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Latham) agreed to-

That the words ." in an industry in relation to hours of work, holidays and general conditions," proposed new section 25a, he omitted and the ' following words inserted in lieu thereof : " throughout an industry carried on by employers in relation to hours of work, holidays and general conditions in that industry."

Proposed section, as amended, agreed to.

Proposed section 25b -

Copies of every award and of every variation of an award shall be sent to each Registry as soon as possible after the making thereof and glial) be open for inspection upon payment of the prescribed fee.

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