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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1480

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) -I move:

Omit paragraph (d).

Clause 44 of the Bill seeks to amend section 104 of the principal Act. Section 104 states that the jurisdiction of the Court shall be exercised by 3 judges but in certain matters it may be exercised by a single judge. The purpose of clause 44 is to add to those matters which may be dealt with by a single judge a number of particular and specified types of inquiries or proceedings. The Opposition believes that one of the matters which is proposed to be inserted should not be inserted and therefore seeks to amend the clause by omitting paragraph (d). Paragraph (d) is simply worded: 'Proceedings under section 119'. All honourable senators with any interest in this area will know that section 119 is the section under which penalties may be imposed by the Industrial Court. It is a section which has long been a matter of controversy. It was not so many years ago that the section was amended to ensure that the penalties imposed by it and the other decisions which could be made under it could only be made by a court constituted by 3 members of the Industrial Court. What the Government now proposes to do is remove that provision of 3 judges and limit it to one judge. The Opposition believes that it should continue to be 3 judges.

The belated acknowledgment of the virtues of members of the Industrial Court which has come from Government supporters this afternoon should not blind us to the fact that there has been a great deal of condemnation of some of the judges who have been forced into the position, because of the office which they hold, of exercising their jurisdiction under section 1 19. 1 believe that if a single judge is to exercise this jurisdiction there could be an intensification of some of the expressions of feeling which have been evident at earlier stages. It is such a controversial area that the jurisdiction ought not to be exercised by one judge; it ought to be exercised by 3 judges. Whilst the argument which must be advanced has a pragmatic quality and possibly is not the usual type of argument advanced in favour of whether a court should be constituted by one or a larger number to exercise the jurisdiction, we believe in this instance that it is appropriate that the existing position should be continued.

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