8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clbbk reported the unavoidable absence of Mr Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. JI. Chanter) took the chair at 11.1 a.m., and read prayers.
Likelihood OF WAK.
Mr. FENTON. - I ask the Leader of the Government if he has seen the following report in the Sydney Sun of Wed- . nesday : -
Sir Chas. Rosenthal declared that Australian troops would be fighting again within eighteen months - perhaps within twelve months - on the Indian frontier. India, he was convinced, was the weak link in the frontier of the Empire. There was now only one ally, a very vacillating ally, Persia, standing between India and the Bolshevik menace. Australia was nearer a big trouble than most people imagined.
Have the Government any control over the utterances of a Brigadier-General, and, if so, cannot they prevent such alarmist statements as that I have read from going abroad to the public?
Sir JOSEPH COOK.- We have no control over the utterances of private citizens, though occasionally I think that it would be a good thing if we could control the utterances of members a little more, and even those of the honorable member himself.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
With reference to StatutoryRule 1920, No. 101, sub-section (B), on what date did, or does, the twelve months after the war end in regard to surgeon-lieutenants not being required to pass (professional examinations?
– This date is dependent on the issue of a proclamation that a state of war no longer exists.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow . - 1.F ifteen shillings.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Government will supply the following information concerning loans raised by the Commonwealth : -
What were the years in which loans were raised by the Commonwealth Government - (a) for what;’ total amounts; (b) at what rates of interest?
Whathas been the total amount paid by the Commonwealth Government in interest on all loans raised to the 30th June, 1920?
How much of such loan money has been redeemed ?
What amount of such redemption has been by conversion in new loans?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The figures quoted are exclusive of loans from the British Government for war purposes, and loans raised by the Commonwealth for the States.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is there any control by the Treasury in connexion with company or syndicate formation and flotation; if so -
Was permission given and approved for any company being formed in connexion with the Badak syndicate?
What were the assets (if any) and syndicate holdings when such application was made?
What was the capital issue of paid and contributing shares for which official sanction was given?
Does not the fact of Treasury approval having been given in this instance carry some responsibility to the public; if so, what action does the Government propose to take?
Does the Treasurer consider it necessary or desirable to continue the present regulations?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Yes. Treasury consent is still required under the War Precautions (Companies, Firms, and Businesses) Regulations for the registration of any company whose principal object is the carrying on of manufacturing, mining, or other industrial operations outside the Commonwealth.
Yes; for the registration in Victoria of the Badak Mining Company No Liability.
The assets were stated to consist of a concession over approximately 5,000 acres of tin-mining land in the Jeneri Valley, State of Kedah, Malay Peninsula, The syndicate holdings were 400 shares of £10 each.
Treasury consent was given for the issue of a paid-up capital of 400,000 shares of£1 each, and for the issue of 200,000 contributing shares of £1 each.
Consent was issued under and subject to the regulations, which prescribe that such consent shall not be made use of in furtherance of the objects of the company, and that any public notification of the fact of such consent shall be accompanied by a statement in the following terms: - “The fact that the Treasurer of the Commonwealth has consented to the registration of the company is not to be taken in any way as a guarantee of the actual or probablefinancial stability or success of the company.” The Government do not propose to take any action.
The continuance of the regulation is considered to be necessary in order to prevent excessive amounts of capital being withdrawn from Australia for oversea enterprises.
Land Leased for Alcohol Production
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
The need for an extra sitting day is obvious. Parliament has been in session since the 26th February, but of measures that may be regarded as of first importance we have passed only the War Gratuity Bill, the Repatriation Bill, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Bill. In this House the Industrial Peace Bill has been dealt with, and we are now in the throes of parturition with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That is practically all the legislation that has been done, and even our most friendly critic could not say that it is excessive for the time we havebeen at work. Honorable members, since they first had the pleasure of looking on each other’s intelligent and radiant countenances, have had given to them an inducement to work harder, and I hope that I do not ask too much in requesting them to come here at 3 o,’clock on Tuesday next, when means will be found for occupying the rest of the day.
– Does the motion mean that we are to sit on Tuesdays for the remainder of the session?
– Certainly. I do not like to do these things in too brutal a way, but I must add that to meet on Tuesday will not in itself be sufficient. It is a hateful thing to do ; yet next week I must move that the House meet on Thursday mornings at 11 o’clock a.m.
That is the end of my horrid programme for the time being. But let me put these considerations to the House. If honorable members wish to come here during January and February, of course the way is quite open; but a constitutional Convention is to be elected next year, and its election will be preceded by a campaign in which honorable members who take an interest in the alteration of the Constitution must bear a part. Some honorable members may wish to be candidates for election to the Convention, and they cannot be in their places here and in the country at the same time. Therefore, quite apart from the urgency of the legislation on the Government programme, there are good reasons why we should endeavour to conclude our business before Christmas. Let me, to the best of my ability, say without consulting the notice-paper what that business is. We have first of all to deal with a batch of industrial Bills, the second of which is now before the House. It is receiving the most minute and careful attention^ and in process of time will emerge and take its place amongst others on the statute-book. To follow there is the Public Service Arbitration Bill, which completes the batch of industrial measures. Another batch deals with the Public Service! gum Public Service - the Public Service Amendment Bill, and a Public Service Business Management Bill. There must be a separate Public Service Superannuation Bill, unless we can incorporate its provisions in the main amending Public Service Bill. The Navigation Bill contains, I think, about 140 clauses, and that is not a measure to be “rushed.” The other day I gave notice’ of a New Guinea Bill, and also a small Bill to amend the Nauru Island Act, necessary in consequence of our having included. Ocean Island. There axe Bills relating to passports and naturalization, and the question of defence.
– What about Bill Watt - not what Bill?
– I do not know; we shall see what we shall see, and in the meantime I cnn only say “Watt, oh!’’ I have got to rather an appalling stage in my catalogue of crimes, but I have still to say that my right honorable friend, the Treasurer, proposes to deliver his nearly incubated Budget, which will involve certain consequential legislation. Then there is . a Bill relating to Commonwealth bank notes, the Estimates, and the Tariff. An opportunity has been promised to discuss the Estimates, and an opportunity must be afforded. Honorable members may look at such a list of measures lightheartedly, and even smile; but if they smile after they have been considering them for eight or nine weeks, they are more optimistic and cheerful than I am when at my best. When I saw the House the last time it had been at work on the Tariff for eight months, there was little smiling about it, and on that occasion I heard the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), at 3 o’clock in the morning, deliver an oration on dungarees that would have created commotion in a cemetery. However, I have endeavoured to apportion out the time at our disposal and I see that, allowing a fair margin for each measure, we cannot get throught under twenty-eight weeks. There are now sixteen weeks between us and Christmas, and, therefore, it is necessary, if we hope to complete the business, to practically double our sitting time. I confess that that sort of thing has no charm for me, but it lias to be done, and I am asking only a fair thing, to which I think honorable members will agree. Although some of these measures may not appeal to some honorable members, yet every honorable member has some measure in which he is interested, and desires to see passed. As to the Tariff, the present state of uncertainty ought not to be allowed to continue; we ought not to permit a Tariff to be ad ministered, as for years past, without any consideration at all being devoted to it by this House. We are confronted with a mass of work that calls for our earnest and immediate attention, and I beg to submit the motion.
– I do not intend to oppose the motion that we sit on Tuesdays. I have studied the business paper, not only to-day, but on previous occasions recently, and I have observed the growing number of Bills to be considered. Like the Prime Minister, I do not look forward with any pleasure to sitting on four days a week, particularly with the addition of Thursday morning sittings, which will, as in the past, practically mean a twelve-hours day. I do not think that anybody in the building can stand such protracted sittings, and in the past we have seen breakdowns, just as we are likely to see them in the future if we conduct business at this strenuous rate. However, the work has to be done, and we must go through with it. As to the Tariff, there arc business people, as the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) will agree, who think that certain duties are sure to be altered, and are, therefore, piling up goods in bond.
– Nobody knows where they stand in regard to the Tariff.
– That is so, and there is a great desire to have matters settled. There is no doubt that these business people are quite entitled to do what they are doing; and they have at least “cut their eye teeth.” They say quite frankly that they do not caro what is done in regard to the duties so long as they are placed in a definite position.
– I think they are full of hope.
– I suppose they hope that certain duties will be reduced; but if it is decided for the first time to place a duty of 40 per cent on a certain line, they say they will merely pass it on to the purchasers.
– That is not true of the primary producers.
– If the coal miners were demanding London or export parity price to-day, Australia would be paying £25,000,000 a year more for its coal.
– They get the export price.
-‘ The They are not getting anything like it.
– They are getting the same export parity as we are getting.
– I say they are not.
– They are not getting two-thirds of the world’s parity.
– If they were getting the world’s parity, coal. would go up at least £2 a ton.
– Order !
– I merely referred to that matter in passing. There is no doubt that a great number of the measures that have been mentioned will hav( to. be put through, including the industrial Bills and the Navigation Bill. We are threatened with trouble in the transport industry, because the seamen say they will not work unless certain alterations are made in the provision for the work of trimming; and if the vessels are hung up all the industries of Australia will again be paralyzed. With it all, however, we hope to finish before Christmas, though there must be some long sittings. One other Bill has been mentioned, which may cause a little disturbance, judging by remarks in the press - I mean Bill Watt, who is now on his way to Australia; and we do not know what will happen when he arrives.
– I have pleasure in supporting the motion. Four or five weeks ago I made the same suggestion, but, strange to say, a hundred and one reasons were then given why it should not be adopted. I have always held that we should meet on Tuesdays. I have before complained that the present arrangement is not fair to honorable members from Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania, who have to remain the whole of their time in Melbourne for three sitting days a week. I also support the Government in proposing to meet on Thursday mornings. There is much important work, and I think that if we sit on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, about one-third of the programme which the Prime Minister has outlined may possibly be got through by Christmas. The Tariff must be considered this session. It is absurd that a Tariff should be laid on the table of the House, and that duties should be collected under it month after month, in the absence of any expressed opinion from this Parliament. May I also express the hope that, while the Tariff receives very careful consideration, we shall give to the Estimates much closer supervision than they have received for the last seven or eight years. We have reached a stage in the history of our finances when . the expenditure proposals of the Government will require the closest scrutiny of the House. There are many important measures to be dealt with, but I place in the forefront the finances and the Tariff. Beth must be disposed of during the present session, and to enable that to be done, and even a fraction of the other business which the Prime Minister has forecasted to be considered, we shall require to sit every Tuesday and every Thursday morning. I support the motion, and hope that Tuesday sittings will be the rule in future.
– I do not oppose the proposal to sit on Tuesdays, but honorable members from other States have not had sufficient notice to enable them to arrange their affairs. Some honorable members from New South Wales and South Australia, not anticipating that the House would be called upon to sit an extra day next week, have made certain arrangements for next Tuesday, and I think the Government might meet the convenience of InterState members, and still achieve the objects the Government have in view, by deferring the commencement of the Tuesday sittings until the week after next.
– If Inter-State members express a general desire to that effect, I shall fall in with it.
– I desire that Tuesday sittings shall commence straight away.
– The Government will not gain a great deal by forcing the House to sit next Tuesday.
– Because the honorable member cannot get bis own way he commences to threaten.
– I am merely stating a fact. If the honorable member chooses to regard my statement as a threat he is at liberty’ to do so. By sitting next Tuesday the House will gain only a few hours, which can have little effect upon the passing of the great number of measures that appear upon the noticepaper, and the others which the Prime Minister has indicated.
– We ought to have been sitting last Tuesday.
– The Government cannot hope to complete before Christmas the programme which the Prime Minister has outlined, even if the House sits every day and all night. It is utterly useless for us to try to deceive one another in that regard.
– A repetition of yesterday’s proceedings will prevent the programme being carried out.
– It is not uncommon for an honorable member who is new to parliamentary life to be prepared to cast aside the great privileges and safeguards which were won by Parliament centuries ago. Does not the honorable member know that for centuries the representatives of the people have had the right to state grievances before granting Supply? If honorable members stifle discussion of that kind they will be blocking the parliamentary safety valve, and may cause a big explosion. I urge the Prime Minister to give consideration to the position of InterState members. If the Government agree not to sit next Tuesday, they will be able to make up the time conceded by sitting. every day in the week for the remainder of the session. I am prepared to sit every day, including Sundays, to pass legislation that is in the interests, of the country. If I were a Ministerial supporter, and believed the Government programme to be necessary for the welfare of the country, 1 would see that the House had sufficient time to give effect to that programme. The proposal which the Prime Minister has made will not give the House sufficient time to carry all the legislation which has been indicated.
– The honorable member will be surprised to find how much we can get through.
– Inter-State members are only asking for fair and reasonable notice, so that they may arrange their, ordinary affairs for the next weekend.
– How many honorable members are concerned ?
– What does that matter? I am one, at any rate. It is not fair to compel us to break our engagements at such short notice. I appeal to the Prime Minister to agree to my suggestion.
– I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will adhere to his proposal. For some weeks past I have been urging the Government to sit on Tuesdays, and I am amazed that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) should place his personal and private arrangements before his public duties. Honorable members are paid £1,000 per annum, and it is an outrage if they are not prepared to allow their public duties to have first call upon all their time. The attitude I am adopting to-day I have adopted every session at this season. While the weather is pleasant we do not work hard enough, with the result that the House is kept sitting during the sweltering summer months. It was our duty to the public to start Tuesday sittings three or four weeks ago.
– I approve of the proposal to. sit on an additional day. I believe I have to thank the Prime Minister for having made an allusion to me.
– Entirely complimentary - eulogistic, in fact.
– Could it be otherwise, coming from the lips of the right honorable gentleman? Now that the Prime Minister is in a good humour, I hope that he will be agreeable to set aside a day in the near future for the consideration of the infamy of the increased rents. One of the largest ironmongers in Melbourne, whose business has been established for fifty years, has closed down because he cannot afford to pay the extra rent asked for his premises in Elizabethstreet. Men who have been in his service for twenty years - which proves that he i3 a good employer - are to be thrown out of employment. I was delayed this morning by three unfortunate people who were asking for justice in connexion with rents. The Prime Minister will recall that in the early days of the war I asked the Government to utilize the War Precautions Act to prevent the unjust increase of rents Only one Jewish landlord in the city who controls about fifty houses, was man enough not to raise his rents during the war.
– The honorable member is going beyond the question.
– I am giving a reason why we should sit extra days; T am suggesting additional work that the House might do. This Jewish landlord, after refusing somewhat coldly my request that he should not raise his rents during the war, decided after consideration overnight to- agree. But he asked me why the Government did .not introduce legislation to make.that policy obligatory upon all landlords. Having an extra sitting day, the Government should certainly be able to devote some time to the consideration of this matter. In regard to the excessive price charged for woollen materials, I want to quote some words used by Senator J. F. Guthrie, for whose future I have great hopes in respect to the good that he may do, not only for himself, but for the thousands of people of Victoria he represents. Speaking on this subject, he said -
In mi all-wool suit there are 7 lbs. of greasy wool. So; for that which the producers of Australia have been getting 7s. 3d., we, the consumers, have been paying from 700 to 1,400 per cent. more.
-Order! The honorable member is not permitted to proceed on those lines upon this motion.
– I am not doing so for the sake of wasting time. I am ready to come here on Mondays, and would even join with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) in coming here on Sundays. I merely wished to demonstrate that Senator J. D. Guthrie shows clearly that, thanks to Flinderslane, the people are being called upon to pay a 1,400 per cent, increase for their goods. I welcome the motion, and I hope that the Prime Minister in his kindness will permit us to have an extra day’s sitting for one thing, to see whether it will not be worth while for the people of Australia - not the gilded darlings who claim to be Australians and leave it at the first opportunity to reside in London, where they can bow before His Majesty the King - to do away with Australia House and abolish the absolutely useless position of High Commissioner.
– Order !
– I accept your correction, sir, and simply state that I support the Government on this occasion, and that I would be perfectly willing to give them another day, not because I live in Melbourne, but because I think we ought to be willing to work. T would give my vote every time to take this Parliament to Canberra, where we could get through our business in such a way that honorable members need not go away at each week-end. As a medical man I tell them that they are injuring their lives by travelling 1.400 miles each week-end. In fact, honorable members who are obliged to return to their homes at Newcastle at the week-end make a journey of 1,700 miles. At Canberra we could sit at each week-end; and, even if the session lasted for four or five weeks, could transact the whole of the business put before us, and avoiding the farce of leaving a number of measures to be “killed” at the end of the session. An honorable member who has become rather famous of late, and has my complete sympathy (Mr. Richard Foster), says that if we are worth £1,000 a year we should prove it by the work we are willing to do, his idea being that we should make this Parliament a little more sensible than it has been in the weary years of the past. I agree with what the honorable member has said. “Why could not one day be apportioned as a division clay, on which honorable members could get the opinion of the House without argument on any question they care to put on the business-paper?
– I do not mind devoting Saturday afternoon for such a purpo.se.
– Apparently, I cannot make any impression on the hard surface of the Prime Minister, which we generally call his skin. I content myself by supporting the motion.
Mr.’ HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra)
I’ll. 50]. - I am sorry that the necessity for this motion has arisen ; but I think it well that the Cabinet should consider whether the object aimed at could not be better achieved by a reconsideration of many of the Standing Orders which enable honorable members to waste time as they now do in a most extravagant way. The matter under consideration to-day is a. serious one for those who are obliged to travel 1,300 to 1,400 miles each week in order to attend the House, and will now lie compelled to do it with only a day’s interval. I would prefer an arrangement by which the House could meet every day in the week for a fortnight, and then adjourn for a week, thus permitting honorable members to recuperate and attend to business in their constituencies. The system we have adopted in the past, and which we are again asked to adopt, does not give* honorable members the rest they ought to have between the trying sittings of Parliament.
– Poor fellows! God help them! Why do they come here ?
– We have not all the vigour of the honorable member for Wakefield. I hope that the Prime Minister will consider whether a better working arrangement could not be arrived at, by which we could do the same amount of work with less inconvenience to honorable members than is involved under the present system. Honorable members representing New South Wales and South Australian constituencies come to Melbourne on the Wednesday afternoon. The House meets at 3 o’clock, and we sit here for some time. On the Thursday, however, we have to idle about, attending, perhaps, to a few letters, which might occupy half-an-hour, until the House meets at 2.30 o’clock in the afternoon. I would prefer to do any work that has to be done in the time we are obliged to spend in Melbourne loafing about, and to employ the time saved by the arrangement I have suggested in my own constituency, doing work that honorable members must do in their own States. As I say, I would not object to sitting continuously for a fortnight if by so doing we could have a free week in which to attend to our other parliamentary work, afterwards coming back with some hope of being able to follow the intricacies of debate. The present system has this disadvantage - that after a month or two of strenuous work, involved in continuous sittings, none of us, as the Prime Minister has truthfully said, are in that mental state that will enable us to do our duty to the measures placed before us. Of course, presumably Cabinet has given full consideration to the Bills, enabling them to come before us in an admirable form, but if Parliament is to perform any useful function its members ought to have their mental faculties in pretty fair order when they are called upon to consider the intricate details of legislation, and there is no doubt painstaking caTe is involved in the study of some of the measures put before us. However, I am in favour of the motion, because the arrangement it will bring about is better than the present one, but still I hope that some other method of conducting our business will be devised in the future.
.- I am in fullest accord with the proposal for the increased working time of this House. It has interested me very much to hear honorable members representing New South Wales constituencies refer to their wishes in the matter, but I would point out that there are some honorable members in this House who cannot get to their homes unless they spend nine days in travelling in trains.. Since February last, with the exception of the intermission on the occasion of the arrival of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, we have been here unable to visit our homes, wandering about Melbourne, while others have been able to go to their homes or attend to their business in the adjacent States. This morning an honorable member has asked thatthe Tuesday’s sitting be suspended for a week in order that he may remain in New South Wales next Tuesday. If a spirit of fairness is displayed honorable members will recognise that Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania are also integral portions of the Commonwealth, and that the representatives of constituencies in those States, who are obliged to live in Melbourne continuously in order to do their duty to their electors, should receive some consideration.
– I can give the honorable member the tip that he will not get home one day earlier by sitting here six days a week.
– That statement can only be interpreted as a reflection on this Parliament. I intend to sit in the House while there is business to be done. When the work is completed the Government can go on with its administration, and members can return to their constituencies. It is quite impossible for Queensland and Western Australian members to have any talk with their constituents during the session, unless they ask for leave of absence. Iam in thorough agreement with the increase in working hours asked for, especially in view of the fact that there is such a pressure of business, all of which is needed in the interests of the country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th August, vide page 3827) :
Clauses 6 to 9 agreed to.
Section 28 of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (2) the following proviso: - “ Provided that, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if the Court is satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any terms of an award, the Court may, in the same or another proceeding, set aside or vary any terms so affected.”
Section proposed to be amended -
Theaward shall …. subject to any variation ordered by the Court continue in force for a period to be specified in the award, not exceeding five years from the date of the award.
After the expiration of the period so specified, the award shall, unless the Court otherwise orders, continue in force until a new award has been made.
.- I wish to move -
That before the word “Provided” in the proposed new proviso, the following words be inserted: - “The provisions of such new award shall be retrospective to the date of the expiration of the specified period of a previous award or agreement, and in cases where there has not been a previous award or agreement the Court may make a new award retrospective to the date of the claim.”
The object of the amendment is to protect unions in cases where ah award has expired, but inorder to place before the Committee exactly what unions desire in this respect, I quote the following letter, written by the secretary of the Federated Pelt Hatting Employees Union to the Prime Minister’s Department: -
Sir. - Your memo of the 13th inst. to hand, in which you inform me that the suggested amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation’ and Arbitration Act 1904-18, contained in my letter to the Prime Minister of 19th June, 1920, has been considered in connexion with the amending Bill now before Parliament.
In reply thereto I beg to state that I have read the Bill containing the amendments to this Act, and I find that my suggested amendments have been entirely overlooked, and, as they are of supreme importance to my union, I am writing you, as it is possible that my communication of the 19th June did not make the matter clear.
Amend section 28. sub-section (2), so as to expressly empower the Arbitration Court to make a new award retrospective to the date of the expiration of the specified period of a previous award or agreement, and, in cases. where there has not been a previous award or agreement, to make a new award retrospective to the date of the dispute.
This amendment is a vital one to all unions applying to the Court for an award; and in regard to my own union the facts briefly are as follow: - We had an award of five years, which terminated last September. 1919. We have served a fresh log on employers with no good result, and have filed a plaint in the Court, but, unfortunately, we have to wait a long time in order to got a hearing. Our members are naturally restive, as the times are abnormal, and they state that if they wait for the Court to obtain redress the Court should have the power to make a retrospective award to the date of the specified period of the previous award.
This suggested amendment would improve the Bill materially, and would prevent a lot of industrial trouble, and this section of the Act” was, by the High Court, unanimously commended to Parliament so that this power may be given to the Arbitration Court.
Power should be given to the Court to decide questions as to the interpretation of its awards without requiring the parties to the award to adopt the procedure of applying to the Court for a penalty against the other party in order to obtain a decision as to the proper interpretation of the award. :i. Power should be given to the Court to enforce and administer its own awards in the manner intended by the 1914 Act.
I concur with the writer of this letter as to the position when a union, having served a fresh log on the employers, fails to get a hearing in the Court within a reasonable time. These, as the writer says, are abnormal times. Where a union has loyally honoured an award made five years ago - where it has continued to work under that award, notwithstanding that the cost of living has gone up considerably - surely it is only fair and reasonable that, where delay occurs in getting before the Court, the new award should date back to the expiration of the old award. We know that the business of the Court has been congested for a considerable time, with the result that many unions have not been able to secure a hearing. In these circumstances, twelve months might elapse between the date of the expiration of an award and the making of a new one.
– Might not the personnel of that union, and various other matters relating to an industry in respect of which a five1 years’ award had been made, have cha’nged so, much that it would be very difficult to meet the altered circumstances?
– Generally speaking, there is not much change in the case of fixed industries. The conditions do not vary, but, having regard to the increase in the cost of living, the men may think that they are entitled to a slight increase in wages.
– It is merely a matter of wages.
– Chiefly. This union, filed a plaint, but it has been unable to get a hearing. Twelve months might elapse before a new award could be made. In these circumstances, a union, being unable to obtain better, terms, might feel that there was no alternative but to take special action. Where months elapse between the expiration of an award and the making of a new one owing to the business of the Court being congested, we shall practically invite the men to take direct action if we do not provide for the new awards being made retrospective. It is only fair that they should be retrospective. Such a provision would not work any injustice to the employers. In order to avoid these cases of hardship, we should endeavour, as far as possible, to expedite hearings before the Court. The Industrial Peace Bill will considerably reduce the number of cases to be heard by the Court, and will thus, I hope, improve the position; but the request contained in this letter is a fair one.
– It certainly seems to be fair.
– I hope that it will be conceded. I come now to the next position. A dispute takes place in an industry in respect to which there is no award. The employees determine, however, that they will not stop work. They say, “ We have an Arbitration Court, and we will appeal to it.” They do so, and they ask that the award, when made, shall date back to the time of the dispute. That, I think, is also a fair proposal. It is in this way alone that we can carry on arbitration in a satisfactory manner. Those who are chiefly concerned in industrial matters must have a reasonable assurance that their cases will be dealt with as promptly as possible, and that, where there is delay in hearing their plaint, justice will be done them by making the award retrospective to the date of the dispute.
– That would secure continuity of favorable conditions.
– E - Exactly. “We cannot expect the workers to submit to losses in order to get before the Court. To require them to do so would be to sap their confidence in the Court. If they have a dispute and file a plaint, they are not to blame for any delay in hearing that plaint; and, therefore, I hope the Minister will accept both these proposals.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has raised a very important question. I have already given some consideration to it, and have had framed a proposal which I think will fairly meet the position. The legal aspect of this question recently came before the High Court in the case of the Federated Gas Employees Union versus The Metropolitan Gas Company Limited (27 C.L.R., p. 72). It was also considered in the case of the Waterside Workers Federation, which came before the Full Court in Sydney quite recently. The decision in that case has not yet been published in the law reports, but I have obtained a note of it, and find that it meets one of the points raised by the honorable member, that where a dispute arises in an industry in respect to which there is no award in existence the award made by the Court on the filing of a plaint may be made retrospective to the date of the dispute. It was held by the Court that, if there has been no previous award, the Arbitration Court has power to make an award to have effect as from the date upon which the dispute existed, whether that be the date of the refusal of the demands of the employees or the filing of the plaint. That meets one of the points raised by my honorable friend. The next, which is exceedingly important, also came before the Court. It arises under section 28 of the principal Act, and relates to the question as to whether, where an award has expired, the Court can subsequently make an award retrospective to the date of its expiration. Under section 28 of the Act it is provided that -
The award shall be framed in such a manner as to best express the decision of the Court and to avoid unnecessary technicality, and shall, subject to any variation ordered by the Court, continue in force for a period to be specified in the award, not exceeding five years from the date of the award.
Under that provision the Court has power to specify the period during which an award shall run. Having made this enactment, the Legislature was confronted with the further question as to what provision should be made in the case where an award had been made for a specified period, and that period had elapsed. It accordingly provided in sub-section 2 of section 28 that -
After the expiration of the period so specified the award shall, unless the Court otherwise orders, continue in force until a new award lias been made.
It is clear that under’ section 2S an award must stand for the period in respect of which it is made, but we have provided in this Bill that where the fundamental justice of the terms of an award is affected by abnormal circumstances the Court may vary any of those terms. The honorable member urges that where the period fixed for the continuance of an award has expired, but that award continues in operation by virtue of sub-section 2 of section 28 of the Act, the Court should have the further power to make its new award retrospective. I think that contention is just, and that some such power should be provided. The decision given by the High Court in the Waterside Workers Federation case, heard recently in Sydney, is vital. The Court held that where there has been a previous award the Arbitration Court has no power to make an award retrospective so long as the award is in force. Therefore, during the specified period of the award no fresh award can be made, nor, where the period specified in the award has expired, and the award is continuing in force by virtue of section 28, sub-section 2, of the Act, can the Court make a new award retrospective.
In other words, the Court held that there was no power under the Act to make any retrospective award. To my mind, that is too rigid, and is unjust. The Court went on to say, however, that in such cases the operation of an award could be determined by an order of the Arbitration Court; it could order that the award cease, and make a fresh award from the date on which it expired. I now propose, with the approval of the Committee, to insert an amendment in the Bill to the effect that the Court shall have power to make an award retrospective to the date of the filing of the plaint, or a date when the Court otherwise gets cognisance of a dispute. That, I think, is just.
– A retrospective award might go hack twelve months.
– If a plaint has been filed, but there has been some failure of the Court to proceed with it, which has led to delay, the men should not therefore be penalized.
– But what about a contractor?
– A contractor will know from the date of the filing of a plaint what his liabilities may be.
– But what about the contractor who had entered into a contract before the filing of a plaint?
– He will be in the same position as he is in now.
– Wicked injustice has happened under the law as it stands.
– Every person who enters into a contract now knows that he is living in a country where awards affecting wages, hours, and conditions of employment generally may be made from time to time by the Arbitration Court, and tenderers usually bear that fact in mind. In some instances, owing to the uncertainty that exists, there have been refusals to enter into contracts, and again, it is sometimes provided in private contracts that, should an award increase the labour costs, the contractor may add the increase to his price. What we are concerned with is fair dealing towards all parties. I propose to make awards retrospective to the date of the filing of the plaint, not to any earlier period.
– Where would your amendment come in?
– I propose to add to clause 10 a proviso in these terms -
Provided that where in pursuance of this sub-section an award has continued in force after the expiration of the period specified in the award, any award made by the Court for the settlement of a new industrial dispute between the parties may, if the Court so orders, be made retrospective to a date not earlier than the date upon which the Court first had cognisance of that dispute.
The Court gets cognisance of a dispute under section 19.
Mr. Brennan Are you dealing now with cases in which there have been no previous awards?
– N - No; with cases in which there have been awards. Where there have been no awards, an award can bo. made retrospective to the date of the dispute.
– Would it not be better to arrange for a quicker despatch of business by the Court?
– We are doing that : by instituting tribunals under the Industrial Peace Bill, by increasing the number of Deputy-Presidents of the Arbitration Court, and by handing over to a special Arbitrator all Public Service disputes.
– How would a manufacturer, the price of whose goods was fixed by a Price Fixing Board, be able to recover any loss caused to him by the making of a labour award retrospective?
– Price-fixing is a matter for State tribunals, and one in which « we cannot interfere. I presume that a price-fixing authority, finding that labour conditions had been changed, would vary the price. Price-fixing is based presumably upon the cost of production, into which the cost of labour enters. The position which I ask the Committee to consider is this : A body of men may for five year3 be bound by an award, and loyally observe it, but, becoming. dissatisfied because of a change of condition?, they may ask for higher wages. The em1)lOver may reply that he will not pay higher wages. They may then, immediately the five-year period terminates, file a. plaint in the Arbitration Court. We do not say that every award made by _ the Arbitration Court must be retrospective; but if in the peculiar circumstances of a case the Court is of opinion that an award should be retrospective, we give the Court power to make it so.
– Will the condition apply both ways? There may be a big drop in the cost of living. Would the Court make an award retrospective in that case?
– The Court may make any award retrospective if it thinks fit.
– Will it have power to order the collection of what has been already paid?
– That is another matter. I think that, with the generosity that characterizes it, the employing class would, under the circumstances that the honorable member for Wakefield has in mind, remember the maxim de minimis non curat lex.
– Do I understand that the Court will have the power, in regard to any new claim, to make an award retrospective?
– Yes; in the case where no previous award has been given, an award may be made retrospective to the day of the dispute.
Mi-. Charlton - And where an award has expired and a fresh claim has been made, can the new award be made retrospective?
– Yes ; to the date on which the Court has cognisance of the dispute, the simplest instance of which is the date of the filing of a plaint.
– Can an award be made retrospective to that date ?
– Yes. Of course, if a body of men delayed to file a plaint after their original award had expired, they would have to suffer the consequences of the delay.
.- I have an amendment to move, which must take precedence of that suggested by the Minister. I move -
That after the words “ amended by “ the following words be inserted : “ inserting after the word ‘ award ‘ at the end of the section the words, ‘Provided that the period so specified can, on application to the Court, be varied if the Court be satisfied that such variation is just ‘ “.
It may appear to a casual reader that the proposal in the Bill and that which I am now submitting would give the same result ; but I am advised that the language of the Bill is of such a character that it will not do what it is intended to do.
– You are now referring to the proviso in the Bill, not to the proviso upon which I have just been speaking.
– I - I am referring to the language of the Bill, which provides for the insertion of the following words: - “ Provided that, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if the Court is satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any terms of an award, the Court may, in the same or another proceeding, set aside or vary any terms so affected.”
I have been given the legal opinion that that language is ambiguous, and leaves an opening to forensic contention as to the meaning of fundamental justice of any term or claim. I move the amendment with a view to assisting the Minister, feeling that it is clearer and more definite than the Government proposal.
.- I I ask the honorable member not to press the amendment. When an award is made, a definite period is specified, and it is presumed that it is fixed on the circumstances and justice of the case. It is necessary to have certainty, in the interests of the parties immediately concerned, and of the public. It gives a sense of security to the men who invest capital in . an industry ; it is fair to the workers, who feel that they also are secured; and, of course, it is fair to the public, who often suffer most of all from disturbed industrial conditions. The Bill provides that notwithstanding that an award is fixed for a certain period, the Court may under certain circumstances vary the terms or set it aside- The wording adopted is taken from observations made in a joint judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Rich, in the case of the Federated Gas Employees Union v. The Metropolitan Gas Company Limited (27 C.L.R. 72, p. 87), as follows : -
The second observation is that, though we feel const-rained by the words of the Act to determine this case as Parliament has plainly intended, yet the argument addressed to us as to the unforeseen circumstances was impressive. When the Act was passed the cataclysm of a world wor was not foreseen or provided against. Without venturing to intrude into a domain not belonging to us, we are impelled to observe that the preservation of the present general plan of Section 28 is not inconsistent with a supplemental provision for emergencies that could not reasonably be contemplated, namely, provision to the effect that even during the specified period the arbitration tribunal may, in the event of abnormal circumstances arising which disturb the fundamental justice of the award, have power to adjust conditions.
It is proposed to provide that, nothwithstanding the fixed period, if abnormal conditions arise, the Court shall have the power to set aside or vary the terms.
– Does the Minister say that varying the terms includes the power to limit the period 1
– The Court has power to set aside the award.
– That is something different.
– The Court can set aside the award and make a new one, or vary any terms. According to the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that is left to the discretion of the Judge, and it seems to me there ought to be some safeguard or justification for the Judge taking the extraordinary power to set aside an award fixed for a definite period.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) 1 12.85].- I think that the point raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is at least clear, and is not covered by the Government amendment. Although un;der the latter there is power if the Court is satisfied that abnormal conditions have arisen, which affect the fundamental justice of any term of the award to set it aside or vary the term so affected, there does not seem to be expressly within the amendment any power to limit the length of time for which the award operates. As I understand the honorable member for Hindmarsh, he points out that it is logical, as we are giving the Court this power, to expressly confer a power to limit the period for which the award operates.
– Is that not involved?
– Power is given to reduce the period of the award.
– I am inclined to think that room is left for subtle argument as to whether that is so or not.
– One of the terms of the award is that it shall stand for a definite time, and the award may be set aside-
– That may be so, but it is certainly open to argument that the terms of the award refer to the substance of it, the conditions of employment and rates of wages.
– Surely the period over which the award is to operate is one of its terms?
– I should be inclined to think so, but in my opinion it is not free from doubt, and it would be well to make it clear.
– In order to meet the objection raised by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) I move -
That the following words be inserted after the word “ proviso,” line 3 : - “ Provided that where in pursuance of this sub-section an award has continued in force after the expiration of the period specified in the award, any award made by the Court for the settlement of a new industrial dispute between the parties may, if the Court so orders, be made retrospective to a date not earlier than the date upon which the Court first had cognisance of that dispute.”
I£r. BRENNAN (Batman) [12.42].- No doubt this amendment is a concession. One wonders what will be the effect in cases where there is no award, and which are apparently governed by the decision to which the Minister refers, in which cases it seems the award may be made retrospective to the date of the dispute. In the Gas Employees case, I think the decision was that the Court may make the award retrospective to the date of the dispute.
– To the date at which the dispute existed.
– It seems to me that this may well give rise to a great deal of argument, being much more illdefined than the other date we are adopting.
– It must be anterior to the plaint.
– It must be, if the date can be found.
– Like other questions of fact; it must be left to the Court.
– It seems to me somewhat indefinite.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment by Mr. Groom agreed to -
That the words “ Provided that “ be left out.
– The clause confers upon the Court power to vary or set aside the terms of an award if, in the opinion of the Court, abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any term of an award. Why should not the Court be given full discretion to vary or set aside an award if it thinks fit? The Court may have made a mistake in an award, and yet have no power to remedy it.
– Does the honorable member refer to a technical mistake or a mistake in substance?
– A mistake which the Judge makes in arriving at his decision.
– The Court has power, under section 38, paragraph o, “ to vary its orders and awards, and to reopen any question.”
– Surely the Judge has power to rectify any mistake.
– That section would not give him power to set aside the terms of an award for a specified period.
– The Court should have power to alter not only the term of the award, hut also any conditions in its substance. The clause means a trammelling of the Court and a fettering of its decisions. I can quite understand that a legal argument might arise as to what are abnormal circumstances, and what is fundamental justice. Those are questions of law.
– Questions of fact, surely.
– It is a question of law as to whether certain facts constitute abnormal circumstances, and affect the fundamental justice of an award.
– Surely it is a question of pure fact.
– It is a question of law as to whether certain facts can amount to abnormal circumstances.
– Surely not.
– I will give an illustration : Suppose that an atmospheric disturbance along the North-Eastern coast causes great destruction of property, and affects the work in the canefields, would that be an abnormal circumstance?
– That is a question of fact. It would depend upon whether or not such disturbances occurred regularly.
– Take another example: Assume that a tramway accident happens in Melbourne and the Judge holds that that is an abnormal circumstance, entitling him to vary an award in Adelaide. Could that decision be interfered with?
– 1 should think so.
– Yes, because as a matter of law that is not an abnormal circumstance in the meaning of the Bill. Consequently, it is a question of law as to what constitutes an abnormal circumstance. I favour an amendment that will leave it entirely in the discretion and power of the Court to say under what circumstances an award should be varied or set aside, just as the Court has full discretion and power to make an award in the original dispute. I move -
That all the words after the word “Act,” in line 5, be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in lieu thereof: - “the Court may, if it thinks fit, in the same or any other proceeding sot aside or vary the terms of any award.”
– ‘We have already negatived the proposal that the Court should have power to alter the period of the award if the Judge thinks fit.
– The amendment would encourage frequent applications of the most trivial character.
– The Court would deal with such applications as it thought fit. It must not be assumed that the Court is not possessed of the capacity and judgment to deal suitably with any frivolous application.
– The honorable member is making the power of the Court too wide.
– In the original hearing the Court has unfettered discretion, and I wish the Court to be in the same position in regard to any variations of an award. The Court should not be hampered.
– This amendment would trammel industry.
– I have no desire to do that.
– I cannot accept the amendment. It strikes at the foundation of the principle of making awards for a specific period. An award must be given for a definite term in order to give security to all the parties concerned. If the variation of awards were left to the discretion of the Judge, without rule or guidance, the principle of awards covering a definite period and giving stability in industry would be destroyed.
.- I hope the Committee will allow the clause to stand as printed, and that it will be made a substantive section in the Act instead of merely a proviso. I cannot understand the contention of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) that the definition of abnormal circumstances involves a question of law and not of fact. I agree that an award ought to be made as stable as possible in order to secure continuity of industrial conditions. I take it that before a Judge makes an award he takes into consideration all the circumstances of the case, not only present conditions, but also probable future conditions. The clause merely provides that if during the currency of an award circumstances arise which were not contemplated by the Judge when he made the award, he shall have power to say that abnormal circumstances have arisen which he could not have anticipated, and he will therefore vary his decision.
– Is there not room for considerable argument and waste of time in regard to the meaning of the language employed in this clause?
– I do not think so. Surely the Judge who considered the circumstances in existence when he made the award is best qualified to say whether the circumstances at a subsequent period are abnormal. That is simply a question of fact, and if, in his opinion, abnormal circumstances have arisen he will vary his
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I hope the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will be agreed to by the Government on reflection, because it will bring the clause into complete harmony with what I give the Government credit for being at least their present intention. That is that, an award having been made, if facts or circumstances of any kind are brought before the responsible expert authority, and are thought by him on examination to be sufficient justification for varying or setting aside the award, he may do so. It will, no doubt, be contended that the amendment goes very far in that direction, and it is because it does go some distance in that direction that I ask the Government to be logical and to give effect to what apparently is their intention in this matter. It has been urged by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) that, if we give to a dissatisfied party the right to approach the Court at any time to vary or set aside an award during its currency, we shall do something which will tend rather to unsettle than to stabilize industries.
– No; you have misunderstood me. What I said was that we should not make such a concession without some reasonable limitation.
– What more reasonable limitation could be put upon the power to vary awards than the condition that a Judge of the, High Court, appointed to consider these questions and. expert in considering them, must hold that a variation or setting aside should take place?
– But I never believed in a Judge deciding matters of this kind alone. I have always believed in a Judge plus two assessors, one on each side, because those men possess a technical knowledge which the Judge does not.
– I should like to meet and help the honorable member to have assessors appointed for that purpose. Under the Act the Judge already has power to call assessors in aid, but I am quite preprared to support the honorable member in any reasonable proposal to increase that power. I agree that it would be wise to support the Judge by expert opinion and assistance in regard to the particular industry, or its conditions, upon which he has to come to a determination; but that is not the point before the Committee. I ask the Minister to consider seriously what may happen under the clause as it stands. Assume that, taking advantage of the amendment which the Bill proposes to make in the principal Act, an organization of employers or employees, because what applies to one must logically apply to the other, approaches the Court and asks the Judge to vary or set aside an existing award. The Judge immediately turns to this section, and asks himself: “Have abnormal circumstances arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any of the terms of the award?” The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) are apparently satisfied that that is a question of fact. I think it is a mixed question of fact and law. I should like my honorable friends opposite to remember that this Act is being administered by no less a person than a Judge of the High Court, and although some of their friends have” a good deal of suspicion regarding the present President of the Arbitration Court, which I do not share, they may find consolation in the reflection that he will not always be there. Honorable members opposite should not reflect, by these restrictive proposals, upon the High Court as a whole. It surely cannot be said that the High Court as a whole is unduly partial to the claims of the industrialists. I can well imagine a Judge of the High Court asking himself: “ Are the circumstances which have arisen abnormal, and, if they are, do they affect the fundamental justice of the award?” I can see the possibility of the Judge saying : “ There is a number of things about this award which make me feel inclined to abrogate some of its terms, but I hardly like to go the length of saying that abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect its fundamental justice. That point might be arguable.”
– Would it meet your view to strike out “ abnormal “ and “ fundamental?”
– That might go a long way in the direction for which I am arguing, but why not leave the matter to the discretion of the competent tribunal created for the purpose of settling it? Why do the Government first indicate the principle which they think should govern these things, and then so restrict it by the wording as to make the application of the principle doubtful of fulfilment in a number of cases? Having set up this expert and highly-informed tribunal, we should be prepared to say: “If the Judge is satisfied upon the materials before him that the award should be varied or set aside, then let the Judge do it.” I know there exists in the minds of some honorable members opposite the mistaken impression that organizations and their representatives find fun in creating disputes and going to Court and arguing these matters. No greater mistake could be made. It is safe to say that the less thev have of the Court and of litigation the better they like it. and the better it suits them, and the simpler that litigation is when they must have recourse to it, and the clearer the terms of the laws under which they appeal to the Court, the better for them and the better for the general public, lt may be a nice point, whether this is a question of fact or a question of law, but I can easilypicture the seven Judges of the High Court sitting and arguing whether a circumstance is abnormal, or whether it affects the fundamental justice of an award, however fundamental justice may differ from ordinary justice.
– Do you not think that, with a lay mind on each side, the Court would quickly arrive at a proper solution, and give more confidence outside?
– Probably, but I do not think that affects the point with which I am dealing. I would welcome anything the honorable member could do in that direction, and assist him to do it. I ask the Minister -not to insist upon the form of words used in the Bill, which, on the face of them, are likely to lead to protracted litigation and discussion. I only ask that the matter should be left to the judgment of the authority who is created for that purpose. I hope the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will stand by the amendment, and I am not without hope that the Minister may see his way to accept it. We are making a most reasonable request, and I think the Minister ought to accede to it.
– What has been exercising my mind very greatly is the danger of the proposal without some reasonable limitation.
– You will have sufficient limitation if you leave it to the Judge.
– I am not satisfied, and I am sure the industries will not be satisfied. It will not give satisfaction outside. There are some plaints lodged in the Arbitration Court which have not been attended to for twelve months, and in one or two exceptional cases for even longer. If this amendment were made, and such a condition were to continue to exist, look at the matter from the point of view of the industries. They set no stability, and no industrial peace. The business man does not know what he is doing, because he does not know what he has to expect.
– Then how can he be a business man?
– He is a business man for that reason. It means that he has to cover himself to be safe in any case, and all these things will be passed on and tend to increase the cost of living.
– He has to provide against contingencies that may never arise.
– Just because he is a business man, and knows what he ought to do, he makes that provision. If he does not, and the contingencies do happen, he will very soon find himself in the Insolvency Court. Take the instance of a contractor who has putin a tender and signed a contract, possibly for work of considerable magnitude. If be has to face all the possible contingencies that may exist .under this proposed amendment of the Act, he will have to provide against contingencies that may never arise. In order to protect himself, he may have to increase his estimate of the cost of labour by from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent. All these things operate against the public interest, and simply mean putting another shackle on those Australian industries which we want to build up. So far from making industrial peace more certain, the proposal will, I believe, operate in exactly the opposite direction. There should be some reasonable limitation. It ought not to be possible for a man to be involved in a very considerable amount of added expenditure over a period of from six to twelve months. I hope that, as a result of the legislation we have just passed, the Court will become more efficient from the point of view of the prompt despatch of business. I should not feel so much alarmed if we had provided for the appointment of assessors to sit with the Judge. If such a provision had been made in the original Act, the Arbitration Court would enjoy a larger measure of public confidence than it has to-day.
– An amendment providing for the appointment of assessors is to be submitted.
– I shall have pleasure in supporting it; but in the interests of industrial peace I appeal to my honorable friends opposite not to pass the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for “West Sydney
-I hope that the Minister (Mr. Groom) will accept the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). Such an amendment is necessary, because the clause as drafted leaves the whole position in doubt. If a union applies for a variation of its award the Court will have to determine whether the fundamental justice of that award has been affected by abnormal circumstances, and to that extent it will be shackled. It will be slow to make alterations in an award when it knows that it cannot do so unless the circumstances have not merely changed, but are “ abnormal.” It has been said that the amendment would only provide additional work for the Court. In my opinion, it would not lead to the filing of an additional plaint. A union decides at its various meetings whether the terms of an award require to be varied, and, having regard to the expense involved, it would not be likely to move for a variation unless there was substantial reason for doing so. Where a union has a grievance it will submit it to the Court quite irrespective of whether or not this amendment is incorporated in the Bill. We may safely leave this power in the hands of the President or Deputy President of the Arbitration Court. Do honorable members think that a High Court Justice would be likely to make an unjustifiable award? If this amendment be carried, the Court will have power to hear the evidence and to come to a conclusion on the facts as to whether or not the award complained of should be varied.
– I fear that the J udge has made many unfortunate awards through want of technical knowledge.
– That is quite another matter. This provision relates only to the varying of an award.
– Technical knowledge is required in determining whether an award should be varied.
– That point will bc met by the appointment of assessors in the terms of the further amendment of which notice has been given. The Minister will be well advised to give this amendment consideration. We ought not to pass any clause in which there is an ambiguity. The clause as it stands is certainly unsatisfactory. How is the Court to determine what are “ abnormal circumstances”? My experience convinces me that arbitration should be as free as possible from technicalities. The use of the words “ abnormal circumstances “ may give rise to a doubt on the part of the Court. The Court might consider that on the evidence an award should be varied, but it might be in doubt as to whether the .circumstances were abnormal. Under this amendment it will be for the presiding Judge to determine whether the request for the variation of an award is reasonable. The amendment will certainly improve the clause.
– I am unable to accept the amendment. The very essence of an. award is that it shall provide for some continuity, and the words used in the clause have been taken from the considered judgment of two Justices of the High Court. The test of a real grievance regarding an award is that there is something in that award which is fundamentally unjust. The general intention of the Act is that these cases shall be considered apart from legal forms and technicalities. An award is made, and the parties look forward to its continuance over the period specified. In this clause, however, we recognise that where circumstances of such a character arise as to affect the fundamental justice of an award there should be .power to vary the terms of that award.
– Might there not be a discussion as to the difference between the “ justice “ and the “ fundamental justice of an award”? What is the difference?
– The matter complained of ought to be something which substantially affects the justice of the award.
– If one section of an industry was unjustly affected by the terms of an award, could it be said that the fundamental justice of the award was affected ?
– Everything would depend upon the circumstances.
– Would it be possible for the Court to vary an award because it unjustly affected one . section of the whole of the industry to which it related?
– If it transpired that owing to abnormal circumstances a section was unjustly affected, the Court would have power to modify the award.
– What is meant by “ fu fundamental j ustice “ ?
– The idea is that an award is built upon certain foundations, and that if those foundations were so affected by abnormal circumstances as to interfere with the justice of the award, the Judge would vary its terms. We give power here to vary any of the terms of an award. That, I think, is fair. If we were to leave the whole matter to the discretion of the Court, it would be useless to make an award for any specified term. ‘It is the definite fixing of the term during which an award shall operate that enables business men to make their business arrangements.
– There might be a change of circumstances which could not be rightly classed as “ abnormal.”
– I think the word “ abnormal “ would be read in conjunction with the rest of the clause.
– Could not simpler words be used?
– I think the words used fairly define the position, and that we are making a considerable departure in allowing awards that have been made on a certain foundation to be set aside or varied under the circumstances. A contractor who is about to tender for a big work might say, “ There is an award applying to this industry which is to operate for three years, and I shall be justified in basing my contract on that award.” But we are taking that sense of security away from such men by saying that the conditions under which his industry is carried on may be varied from time to time. We ought not to allow an award to be varied unless, by reason of abnormal circumstances, its fundamental justice has been affected.
– A contractor always protects himself by providing that any increase in prices or wages shall be allowed for.
– No ‘ such provision is made in Government contracts; but I need not discuss that aspect of the case.
.- I am surprised that, when a reasonable suggestion is made to improve the Bill, the Minister will persist . in hugging tightly to language which is ambiguous, and which will provide the legal fraternity with plenty of work in connexion with appeals. When this measure is placed upon the statute-book, employers will naturally submit it to their legal advisers for an opinion upon it. Probably counsel will then say, “ This Bill is couched in such ambiguous language that when litigation commences in respect of industrial matters, it will probably extend over a very long period indeed.” Surely, if any of our legislation should be couched in simple language, it is that which relates to industrial matters.
– It is not’ a question of legislation that is involved. It is one concerning the extension of power to invade an award. That is quite a different matter.
– Even assuming that the arguments advanced by the Minister and by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Poster) are correct, I do not think that, under the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), so much time will be wasted, and so much uncertainty created as will ensue if the amendment of the Minister be adopted. Under that amendment, I can foresee a great deal of confusion. The words “ abnormal “ and fundamental “ will form texts for many hours’ discussion in our Law Courts. The honorable member for West Sydney has suggested a simple method of dealing with this matter. He proposes that if the Judge thinks fit he may vary the terms of an award. We are remitting to the President of the Arbitration Court very important duties. Why not empower him to vary an award if he deems it right to do so? The language embodied in the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney is so simple that a layman can understand it, whereas that employed in the amendment of the Minister will lead to endless confusion. Had the Minister intimated that he was prepared to accept the former amendment the honorable member for Wakefield would have voted for it.
– I would fight against both of them.
– I think that the honorable member said that if he could be certain that there would be assessors-
– I was then referring to the Minister’s proposal, not to that of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– The amendment of the latter is much simpler than is that of the Minister, which, if adopted, will serve only to protract industrial litigation. If there is one thing more than another which has tended to promote industrial inharmony, it has been the delays which have occurred in securing awards from the Arbitration Court. For instance, a great deal of time has been wasted in determining such questions as whether a dispute which was in existence was, in reality, a dispute. I would urge upon the Minister the desirableness of accepting the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– When the matter comes before the Court, who will decide the meaning of the term “ fundamental “ ?
– The Judge.
– That is exactly the point which the honorable member for West Sydney desires to make clear.
– But he wishes to allow the Judge to vary an award upon any ground that he may think fit.
– The Judge must decide the points which are at issue. Surely there is not much difference between the Minister’s amendment and the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– Then let my proposal stand.
– No matter what the Bill may contain, the Judge must decide the matter. I think that we ought to make the position perfectly plain. We do not want to feed a lot of lawyers. The honorable member for Wakefield himself has said that if a contract had been entered into under an award which was afterwards varied, the contractor would be placed in a very bad position. May I point out that in most contracts provision is made to meet any increase which may take place in the price of material during their currency, and also to cover any industrial dispute which may arise.
– Only in private . contracts. Government contracts do not contain any such provision.
– Then they should do so. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney.
.- From what I can gather, both under the amendment of the Minister and that of the honorable member for West Sydney, the Judge of the Arbitration Court will have to decide whether or. not the terms of any award should be varied. But honorable members opposite profess to be anxious that unionists should have resort to the Arbitration Court. If the amendment of the Minister be adopted, the Judge of that Court may decide that abnormal circumstances have arisen in connexion with a particular industrial dispute, and this decision may lead to endless appeals. Litigation will thus be protracted, whereas, under the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney, the Judge of the Arbitration Court would merely require to give his decision and the whole matter would be finalized. In the former case, the procedure may cost unions thousands of pounds in connexion with appeals which may be lodged. If honorable members opposite are sincere in their desire that unionists shall avail themselves of the Arbitration Court, they will vote for the amendment of the honorable member . for West Sydney. I am satisfied that there is a number of honorable members opposite, who, whilst desiring to be loyal to the Government, wish to encourage unionists to resort to the Court.
.- The Minister has said that my amendment is practically the same as his own.
– I did not say that. I pointed out that it was not the same.
– Not only is it not the same, but it is fundamentally different.
– The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) said that the two amendments are practically the same.
– No. He said that the Judge of the Arbitration Court will have to decide whether the terms of an award shall be varied, no matter which of those amendments is adopted.
– He said that there was no difference between them.
– But under the Minister’s amendment, the Judge of the Arbitration Court has a barrier put in front of him. Under it, he will be told that he must not take into consideration any application unless he is satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen, and that those abnormal circumstances have affected the fundamental justice of the terms of an award. I can quite foresee the probability of the Judge, upon an application being made to him, saying, “ I am quite satisfied that this award ought to be altered. But the Legislature has told me that before I can alter it I must be satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen, and that those abnormal circumstances have affected the fundamental justice of the terms of the award. Consequently, although I think that the award ought to be amended, and although I believe that its amendment would result in the maintenance of industrial peace, in view of the will of the Legislature, which is supreme in these matters, I am prevented from doing what ought to be done.” Such a position must inevitably make for industrial unrest. It is with a desire to avoid such, unrest that I have submitted the amendment, the wording of which has been taken from the judgment of two of the learned Justices of the High Court, whose attention was directed to the fact that the war had created abnormal circumstances, which had affected the fundamental justice of a particular award. I can understand that in the future employees who desire to move for a variation of an award may be told that no circumstances short of a great upheaval will warrant the adoption of that course. It will be idle to urge that the high cost of living is an abnormal circumstance.
– The high cost of living, owing to the drought, is surely abnormal.
– Has not the cost of living been mounting for years? Can it be contended that it has only been going up since the war? The increase in the cost of living is a normal circumstance.
– It is due to abnormal conditions. The honorable member does not regard the war as a normal thing.
– I am not now speaking of the conditions which obtained during the war period, but of those which have since prevailed. The cost of living has risen owing to the neglect of the Legislature to take proper measures to prevent it.
– I do not admit that.
– The fact remains that the cost of living has gone up since the war. Is it a normal or abnormal circumstance that the cost of living continues to rise?
– The honorable member’s explanation of the position is a fallacious one. The increase in the cost of living is due to abnormal factors, such as drought and war.
– Others may take a different view. If we empower the Judge of the Arbitration Court to say under what circumstances he will vary an award, we shall keep the safety-valve open which will encourage industrial organizations which are dissatisfied with the terms of an award to go to the Court.
– But, under the amendment proposed by the Minister, they will be permitted to do that.
– The Minister’s amendment will permit of the adoption of that course, but before the Judge can vary an award, the applicant has to jump two hurdles. The Minister, in effect, desires to say to him, “ Jump this one first, and then I have a higher one for you to get over.”
– The amendment is of a reciprocal character. It will apply to both sides to’ a dispute.
– I know that. I want industrial organizations, whether they be organizations of employers or employees, to be able to walk into the Judge’s chambers through an open door. I do not wish to see them compelled to get over a couple of hurdles.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Ryan’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority .. ..12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the words “ abnormal “ and “ fundamental “ be struck out.
I should be sorry to make a suggestion the tendency of which would be to affect the stability of an award of the Arbitration Court; but the object of the provision is to secure that, in the event of circumstances arising subsequent to the making of an award which affected its justice, opportunity should be given to have the award brought into consonance with justice. To me, the limitations on the Court imposed by the provision as it would be worded were my amendment carried would be quite sufficient. The provision, amended as proposed, would mean that those who came to the Court asking for the variation of an award, or the setting of it aside, on the ground that it was unjust, would have to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that circumstances had arisen since it was made affecting the justice of some term or terms.
– No matter how trifling ?
– The Court would not listen to a trifling application.
– But such applications would be made.
– We must look at this matter from a practical point pf view. No Court that had taken into consideration all the existing circumstances and had based its award on them would listen to any trivial suggestion for its amendment. Such a suggestion would ask the Court to stultify itself, which any Court would be slow to do. I feel that in the interests of justice we should make the wording of every section as simple and understandable as possible. I can conceive of all kinds of discussion about the meaning of the word “ abnormal “ if a case came before the Court for decision on the wording of the clause as it stands. . As to the word “ fundamental,” if I were the Judge of a Court before which an application was made for the variation of an award, and if those making the application satisfied me that circumstances had arisen since the award was made that affected the justice of any term or terms. that is all the warrant I would require for varying it so as to make it just. I see no difference between justice and fundamental justice.
– If the amendment were agreed to, the clause would have practically the same effect as df it had been amended in the way proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan).
– I do not think so. When we say to a Judge that it must be proved that since the making of an award circumstances had arisen that affected its justice, the applicant for the variation has a pretty big order to fill. The honorable member for West Sydney proposed to leave it to the absolute discretion of the Judge, even though the circumstances had not changed, to consider an application for a variation; so that a stronger case being made out on the same facts, it would be open to a Judge to vary his award. Under my ‘amendment the Judge would say to those making an application for a variation of an award, “ You must show that the circumstances have changed since I made the award.” That places a limitation on the discretion of a Judge, and, from my point of view, quite a sufficient one.
– There should be a material and substantial change, otherwise you are inviting persons to go to the Court for a better award.
– I do not think so. Applicants would be better advised than to go to the Court with a trivial request. If they made such a request, they would, according to my experience of Courts, be soon sent about their business.
.- It is easy to make a provision simple and understandable if one is willing to sacrifice necessary safeguards. The honorable member for Fawkner overlooks the essential reasons for the making of awards permanent. To secure industrial peace there must be some termination to disputes. The amendment just defeated would have brought about the position that a few weeks after an award had been given the Judge could at his discretion tear it up and make another one.
– My amendment does not go so far as that.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) said that Judges always act according to justice, and that a Judge would not regard that as a just thing to do unless the circumstances warranted it; but when Parliament gives to a Judge power to set aside an award that has been made as the result of the taking of evidence with a view to the settlement, for a certain period, of an industrial dispute, it should lay down the conditions of its exercise. The conditions we propose are that the circumstances must be abnormal, and disturb the fundamental justice of any terms of an award. The first thing to be proved would be that the circumstances were abnormal. The abnormal circumstances must be such as to affect the fundamental justice of one or more terms of an award. There might be circumstances affecting an award that would not be abnormal. I admit that there is some difficulty in determining what circumstances are “ abnormal,” but a discretion must be left to the Judge I would interpret the provision to mean that if. some circumstances out of the ordinary arose which affected the foundations of an award there would be reason for varying it. To my mind, the essential part of the provision is that the altered circumstances should be such as to affect the fundamental justice of the terms of an award. I am willing to agree to the omission of the word “ abnormal,” but I refuse to agree to leave out the word “ fundamental.”
– What is the difference between fundamental justice and any other justice?
– When a Judge of the Arbitration Court is asked to make an award, certain inquiries are made, and the basis of those inquiries is the foundation of the award. What is implied by this provision is that the Judge should not vary an award unless he is satisfied that since it was made circumstances have arisen of such a character as to affect, fundamentally, the basis upon which it was arrived at.
– That is not in accord with the phraseology the Minister has used, because what he proposes will cover the fundamental justice of a certain term of an award.
– Quite so.
– If the honorable gentleman would use the word “ substantial “ every one could understand it.
– I am using the phraseology of two of the Judiciary, and “ fundamental “ would no doubt be interpreted to mean substantial, as something which goes to the very basis of any terms of an award. We are considering the matter in Committee as a deliberative assembly, and I am trying to discover the intention of honorable members generally.
– If it could be proved that the circumstances were such as to affect the justice of an award, does the Minister think that there ought to be a variation of iti
– Not necessarily.
– Well, I think there ought, and we differ fundamentally on that point.
– It is like asking “ What is truth?” to ask What is justice? Justice is a difficult term to define, but we have a fair idea of what it is, and under my proposal it would be left to a trained Judge to decide the matter, whilst his attention would be directed to the fact that it must not be justice upon some minor point.
– It might be in connexion with any term of the award.
– If the Judge is asked to alter any term of an award it must be upon some fundamental matter.
– The honorable gentleman is prepared to perpetuate an unjust award.
– No; but I do not think that it would be unreasonable to continue an award for a definite time, although in some minor respects it might be considered to be working unjustly, since it might be much more important to secure stability in the conditions of the industry. There is no necessity to enter into an elaborate discussion of possible interpretations which might be put upon the phraseology of the clause, but as I have said, I am prepared to agree to the omission of the word “ abnormal,” so long as we indicate that the circumstances have to be of such a character as to go to the foundation of any terms of an award before it can be varied.
– I can see no difference between the amendment submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), and that now submitted by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell).
– There is certainly no fundamental difference between them.
– There is certainly no substantial difference between them. It is the same thing expressed in different phraseology. The honorable member for West Sydney proposed that the matter should be left to the discretion of the Judge. The honorable member for Fawkner also realizes that the discretion of the Judge must be exercised in regard to the altered circumstances. I point out that when an award is made it is essential to the industry that it should give to the parties immediately concerned an assurance of stability of conditions for some time to come.
– So long as its terms remain just.
– To agree to any proposal which might detract from the stability of an award would be to take a step in the wrong direction. It is quite true that circumstances may arise after an award has been made which would alter the justice of it. If some substantial injustice would be done by a continuance for some time of those altered circumstances, the Court would exercise its discretion, but the onus should be thrown upon the parties to show that some substantial injustice was being worked by reason of the altered circumstances. In that case, the Judge could vary the award. The essential thing is that we should not encourage the parties to an award to approach the Court for a variation of it, except for really substantial reasons. I regard the amendment of the honorable member for Fawkner as a direct invitation to the parties to go to the Court at any time for the purpose of securing a variation of an award, it might be, for the most trivial reason. No matter how trifling the change of circumstances might be either of the parties, might, under the honorable member’s amendment, make an application for the variation of an award. The Judge might refuse the application, and the party feeling aggrieved, might make a similar application next week, since there would be no power to penalize those who approached the Court without a substantial reason. The amendment in my view aims a direct blow at the stability of awards of the Arbitration Court, because it invites the parties to disturb them. Unless we can secure stability of conditions in an industry we cannot hope for its substantial progress. I believe that the Minister is acting wisely in agreeing to strike out the word “ abnormal.” The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) drew attention to the many difficulties of its interpretation. I think, however, that there is a reason why the word “ fundamental “ should be retained.
– Because it is like the blessed word “Mesopotamia.”
– I consider that it affects the whole meaning of the provision, and it should not be left out.
.- 1. hope that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will stand by his amendment which is absolutely neces-sary for the improvement of this measure. When the amendment submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was under discussion, the Minister was not inclined to agree to leave out the word “ abnormal,” an amendment which lie is now prepared to accept. He then claimed that both words, “ abnormal “ and “ fundamental,” were necessary and should stand.
– So did the honorable member for Kooyong.
– That is so. Now both the Minister and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) are agreed that the word “ abnormal “ might be left out.
– When I spoke on the previous amendment I said nothing about the word “abnormal.”
– They are both now prepared to compromise with the honorable member for Fawkner and omit the word “ abnormal.” But the same arguments apply with equal force to the omission of the word “ fundamental.” The honorable member for Kooyong argued that if we do not use the word “ fundamental “ we shall be inviting those working under an award to appeal to the Court to have it varied. It will make no difference to the industrial unions whether the word “ fundamental “ is used or not. If they think it necessary that the whole or some part of an award should be varied they will make an application to the Court to have it varied. They will not do so without substantial reason, because it will means money, and they can ill afford to waste money. When they have made their application, the Court will have to decide whether the altered circumstances ‘ affect the “ fundamental ‘ justice “ of any terms of the award. That is the kind of thing which justifies industrialists in taking exception to the operation of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. We do not make the provisions- of our legislation simple enough. They should be expressed so plainly that all who read them can understand them. We have an admission from the Minister himself that there is doubt as to how- the word “ fundamental “ should be defined. He holds that it should be retained in this clause to prevent unions appealing unnecessarily to the Court for the variation of awards. We cannot prevent them appealing to the Court. They will do so, and when they have done so the matter should be left to the discretion of the Judge. We may assume that he will be a sane man who knows his business, and will be able to decide according to the evidence put before him, whether an award should be varied or not. If the word “ fundamental “ is retained a doubt may arise as to whether the altered circumstances have affected the justice of the terms of an award, fundamentally or not, and the Judge may say that he questions very much whether the Legislature intended that the award should be varied, because of the difficulty of defining what the word “ fundamental “ means. The Minister having agreed to the omission of the word “ abnormal,” I am at a loss to understand his objection to also leave out the word “ fundamental.” Whether it is left out or not will make no difference in the matter of appeals to the Court for the variation of awards, whilst if the word is retained the Judge will he placed in a difficulty to decide what it means. He may say that some alteration has taken place in th© condition of things since he made an award, two years previously, which might justify him in varying it to some extent, but he may feel that he dare not do so because he is in doubt as to whether the altered circumstances affect the “ fundamental justice “ of the award.
– He will say that the Legislature drew some distinction between justice and fundamental justice, and he will have to ask himself what it is.
– Exactly . He may say, “ How can I decide whether the altered circumstances affect the fundamental justice of the terms of my award,” and if he is in doubt on the matter he may allow the award to remain, when it ought to be varied,’ because there may be further appeals as to whether, he has exceeded his powers in regard to the “ fundamental .” justice of the terms of the award. The unions will apply for variation only when absolutely necessary, and the Minister would be well advised to allow the elimination of the word.
.- I am glad that the Minister has consented to the elimination of the word “ abnormal,” which is too vague to be used with propriety in an Act of Parliament, and he ought to go further, and strike out the word “ fundamental.” There can be only one “ justice “ - justice must be on the side which aggregates more right than the other; there cannot be “justice,” and “ fundamental justice.” From some of the speeches this afternoon one would think that this was a Bill to prevent the settlement of disputes, whereas the aim and intention is to provide for their more easy settlement ; and it will be much more difficult to arrive at a settlement if we differentiate as to kinds of “ justice.” 1 hope the Minister will accept the amendment and make the clause simple, plain, and direct.
– And give less work for the lawyers.
– Quite so, and very much less trouble to the employees in an industry. To retain such terms is only to create confusion in the minds of -those concerned, and make them afraid their cases may not be considered t>n their merits.
.- I hope the Minister will accept the advice that has been tendered from both sides. I should like to quote from the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the meaning there given of the word “ fundamental,” as follows : - “ of the ground work, going to the root of the matter, serving as base or foundation, essential, primary, original, . . lowest note of chord . . . produced by vibration of the whole sonorous body.” In some of the larger dictionaries the definitions might run into half a page, and the Minister can quite imagine how the lawyers in Court would revel over a word with so many meanings.
– My experience is that laymen “ revel “ much more than do the lawyers, and the honorable member is an example.
– However that may be, I cannot see that the word “ justice” needs any embellishment; there can be but one form of justice - that which is just.
– T. am sorry that the Minister hae consented to delete the word “ abnormal “ which I consider of more importance than “ fundamental.” It has been said that legal gentlemen will argue over the definition of “ law “ for hours and weeks, and, doubtless, there is scope for argument to a greater degree over such words as “ justice.” It is clear to me what “abnormal “ means in eases of the kind that come before the Court; it means that circumstances have arisen that could not have been taken into consideration because they could not be foreseen when the original award was made. The Judge may not be able to define “ abnormal,” but he knows very well what “ abnormal “ circumstances mean as applied to an award he had already made. I dare say that even the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), or the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), would have a great deal of difficulty in defining “ justice “ or “ truth,” though they may know very well what truth or justice isIn my opinion the word “ fundamental “ is not necessary, but it is only right to provide for “ abnormal “ conditions which may have arisen to justify the variation of an award. There are two sides to this as to every question. A contractor, for example, tenders for work, taking into consideration the wages which will have to be paid, and if circumstances arise’ which the employees think justify them in claiming increased wages, he has to bear the brunt. I think the Minister has gone a long way in providing that an award may be varied at all.I am satisfied that the original wording of the clause was the best calculated to give justice to both sides; but since the Minister has consented to delete “‘abnormal,” I do not think much harm can be done by deleting “ fundamental.”
– Now that the Minister has consented to delete the word “ abnormal,” I desire some restriction left. . I fear that ‘ to delete “ fundamental “ would give a direct invitation and inducement to the men to appeal to the Court for, perhaps, 3d. a day extra.
– Do you think “ fundamental “ will frighten them away from the Court?
– I have always been convinced that in our Industrial Court there should be no lawyers at all. I may say that until I heard the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) , and the Minister this afternoon, I thought I knew the meaning of the word “fundamental.”
– Would you be good enough to explain the difference between “ fundamental “ justice and “abnormal” justice ?
– The honorable member is putting the words in the wrong setting. I should infinitely prefer to substitute “ substantial” for “fundamental,” because the former is a word which everybody understands. The object is to give an opportunity to men to apply for a variation when they have ‘substantial reasons - when circumstances arise that affect the value or the justice of a previous award.
Question - That the word “ abnormal “ be left out - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the word “fundamental” be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
House adjourned at 3.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200827_reps_8_93/>.