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Tuesday, 9 September 1958
Page: 947


Mr MENZIES - I told the honorable member that I would endeavour to give an answer on this matter to-day. It is a matter on which he has put a variety of questions, and on which he has been in personal contact with me. I know that he has taken a great interest in it. I have taken some interest in it myself. It has not been possible to answer the question before because there are some complexities in a matter in which the existing laws of six States operate in various ways. We have considered the matter now, and we propose to amend the Judiciary Act in order to make the Commonwealth liable to be sued for damages for death or injury caused to any person by a Commonwealth vehicle by whomsoever driven and whether with or without the authority of the Commonwealth. We would exclude from this general proposal, of course, cases where there is for any reason an insurer who is liable. We intend to make a further amendment to give the Commonwealth the right to recover from a person who drove a vehicle without authority the damages paid and costs paid or incurred in consequence. That proposition will be, in some cases perhaps, more theoretical than otherwise. We have also decided that the liability of the Commonwealth should be determined by a judge sitting without a jury, and we will enable a suit to be brought against the Commonwealth in the Supreme Court of a Terrritory of the Commonwealth in which a claim arises to the same extent as suits may be brought against the Commonwealth in the Supreme Courts of the States.







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