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Thursday, 4 October 1906

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - After studying the clause further, I am more satisfied than ever that it will be a mistake to request the omission of paragraph d. It is quite a reasonable thing that there should bea power of approaching the Minister. It is true that there are other tribunals to which an appeal may be made. But in these matters it might be desirable that immediate action should be taken. The methods of appeal left in the clause would not conduce to a prompt settlement. I can well understand that if Senator Playford were Minister of Trade and Customs he might be anxious to be rid of a responsibility of this character. But, after all, the only thing to be determined would be a question of fact, which could be ascertained more cheaply and rapidly by the Minister than in any other possible way. Some persons might suspect the Minister of partizanship, but I do not think that any Minister would, in a matter of this kind, attempt to act otherwise than impartially.

Senator Trenwith - If he did he would have to " walk the plank."

Senator STEWART - If he did, he would have to run the gantlet of parliamentary criticism. He will be criticised by the press,and by every one interested, and I think we might fairly well depend on his decision. It might be months before the president of the Court would be in a position to hear the case, and then a whole army of lawyers would have to be engaged. Such procedure would have the effect, not of facilitating the administration of the Act, but of the reverse. The only other alternative which I consider feasible is the reference to the Judge of the Supreme Court of a State ; but that would mean the calling of witnesses, and the engaging of lawyers on both sides, with the inevitable result of waste of time, and, probably, not a very satisfactory decision. On the whole, I think the Committee would be well advised to adopt the Bill as it stands.

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