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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - Senator Needham has said that this Bill does not propose to amend the Public Service Act, but the clause we are now considering gives the Judge of the Arbitration Court power to set aside the provisions of that Act, or of any regula- tions under it.

Senator McGregor - No, it gives that power to Parliament.

Senator Millen - It could not do so; Parliament already has the power.

Senator VARDON - Under this clause the Judge of the Arbitration Court may give an award which may not be in accord with any law or regulation of the Commonwealth relating to salaries, or terms, or conditions of service of employes in the Public Service. That is not a power which should be given to any Judge. No legislative power should be given to a Judge. It should rest with this Parliament, and should not be vested in any servant of the Commonwealth.

Senator McGregor - We are not giving the power to the Judge.

Senator VARDON - Then let us say that we are permitting the Judge of the Arbitration Court to suggest an alteration of the Public Service Act, and Parliament is to say " Yes " or " No" to what he proposes afterwards. That is a wrong position in which to place any Judge. We should give him all the powers of administration necessary to enable him to interpret the law in a proper way ; but it is quite improper to propose that he should be at liberty to make an award which is not in accord with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth. I should not objectto permitting him to go so far as to violate a regulation, because the Government have, the power to alter regulations themselves, whilst Parliament is the only authority that can alter a law. I protest most strongly against delegating our power in any way to a Judge.

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