11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
[11.2]. - (By leave.) - In view of the slow progress being made with legislation in another place, and in view also of the fact that that chamber is not commencing its Tuesdays sittings until the week after next, it is obvious that there will be little business for the Senate to transact next week. Accordingly I propose, later in the day, to move that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday week. This will render desirable a re-arrangement of the business of the Senate. The Government proposes to postpone other business on the notice-paper until the Workers Compensation Bill has been dealt with, so that it may be sent to another place. I hope that this bill will be disposed of to-day.
– Is it not possible to initiate in this chamber some of the legislation outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech? Is it not a fact also that the adjournment of the Senate over next week is due, not to the slow progress that is being made in another place, but to the failure of the Government to initiate bills in the Senate?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE That is entirely a matter of opinion. The fact is that bills have been introduced in another place and have reached a certain stage.
– In view of the rather excessive freedom of speech enjoyed in another place, and the strict observance of a pact of silence by Opposition senators in this chamber, does not the Minister representing the educational activities of the Government consider it desirable to get into touch with the Minister for Public Instruction in New South Wales to see if it is not possible for a deaf and dumb alphabet to be included in the Senate curriculum, so as to overcome any similar difficulties in the future?
– The honorable senator is not in order in asking- a ridiculous question.
– I object, Mr. President, to my question being described in that way.
– Order! I have ruled that the honorable gentleman is out of order. His suggestion that the Leader of the Senate should consider the advisableness of introducing a deaf and dumb alphabet for the Senate is frivolous.
German Impost Duty
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable senator is being compiled, and will be supplied as soon as possible.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 15th February, vide page 309) :
Clause 6 (Powers and functions of Commissioner ) -
– I understood that the Minister in charge of the measure intended to make a statement on this clause. I am not fully conversant with the procedure of the Senate but I was under the impression that in consequence of certain representations which. I had made in. my second-reading speech the Minister indicated that he would consider suggestions for the amendment of this clause. I can only reiterate what I said in the debate on the second reading. This clause proposes to confer upon the Commissioner powers and functions which represent a vital departure from the principles underlying workmens’ compensation as we know it as part of British jurisprudence. The Commissioner will have authority to determine the rights of workmen on all questions of compensation. I am surprised that the Government should persist with this provision especially as the Minister in charge happens to be a lawyer. If passed in its present form, . the clause will take away a right which, is enjoyed in every other British country - the right of a claimant under this law to have his claim dealt with by a court of law. The Secretary for the time being of a particular Minister will, under this clause, be called upon tq settle claims.
– Is there no appeal from the decision of the Commissioner?
– Of course there is; but I invite the honorable senator to study the measure. An appellate court has jurisdiction to review the decision of the original tribunal. To do this it must consider the power conferred by the legislature before it can determine whether there has been a misapplication of principles inherent in the law that confers the jurisdiction. This clause will give the Commissioner the right to decide questions of law which have agitated the minds of the highest tribunals in the British judicial system. It provides that in determining such matters and questions the Commissioner shall be guided by equity, good conscience, and the substantial merits of the case; but he is not bound to regard legal precedents. As a matter of fact, he is ordered not to do so. Furthermore, he is not to be bound by the rules of evidence. Let us consider carefully the powers proposed to be conferred upon him and also the method of proof which has to satisfy him. Sub-clause 4 (a) states that the powers of the Commissioner shall extend to determining the question whether an injury received by an employee entitles him to compensation under the act. One of the minor facts to be determined before the ultimate fact is found to be proven is the question whether the workman is an employee. In the parliamentary library there are numerous text books containing the opinions of the highest legal authorities one way or the other on this subject. The Commissioner under this bill may disregard all the dicta laid down by the courts from the House of Lords down to the Supreme Courts of the States. He is authorized to set up a new definition of the term “ workman.” Before a workman is entitled to compensation the Commissioner must determine whether, in actual fact, he is a workman. This raises a highly contentious and technical issue - whether the man in question is a wage-earner, a pieceworker, or .a contrac’tor. The Commissioner has to. decide this matter not upon the foundation principles of workmen’s compensation as laid down in our courts but according to equity and good conscience and the substantial merits of the case.
– I should think that any man would be satisfied to be tried on those principles.
– No doubt; but in a realm the foundation of which is law and order, equity and good conscience are based upon legal principles. There cannot, for example be equity and good conscience based upon caprice. It is suggested that we should allow a legal system to be developed in Australia under which matters which formerly were decided according to law, will be decided according to equity and good conscience. No principles are laid down for our guidance as to good conscience or equity. It is an important departure not to use in this measure words the meaning of which has been determined by judicial tribunals. If the principle of workmen’s compensation were applied to Commonwealth employees and their rights determined according to legal principles, the Government, the workmen, and the community would be on a safer basis. They would know that decisions would not depend upon what one man might consider to be good conscience and equity. During the short period I have been a member of this chamber I have heard some complaints concerning the principle of arbitration, and of decisions given which were supposed to be based upon equity and good conscience. Once we give the lead in this form of workmen’s compensation, State Governments may introduce a similar system, and employers, employees, and the community will never know where it is likely to end. Since workmen’s compensation legislation has been in operation it has been a comparative easy matter to fit a case to a particular principle. It has been an easy matter for lawyers;. but difficult for laymen. It-may be said, of course, that my object in directing attention to the difficulties associated with the administration of this provision is to provide work for the legal fraternity. That is not the case. The introduction of a system such as is provided in this clause will lead to litigation which should and could be avoided. Senator Duncan asked by interjection whether there was not the right of appeal. If one of the parties goes- to an appellate tribunal under this provision, where will it end? The existence and degree of incapacity for work by reason of the injury is also a complex question. What is the present procedure? An employee calls medical evidence, as also does the employer ; but this provision will enable the ministerial head to dispense with the necessity of either side calling medical evidence. It will permit a medical practitioner to come before the ministerial head and give hearsay evidence which the employee has no opportunity of testing. The law of evidence was embodied in our British legal system particularly to enable persons entitled to statutory rights to be afforded the best methods of enforcing those rights. Unless there is a strong reason why the laws of evidence should be dispensed with this Parliament should hesitate before doing so. There is also the question of the existence and extent of dependency. In my fifteen years’ experience in South Australia in connexion Avith workmen’s compensation cases I have contested a number of cases before the court on questions of dependency, and those of partial dependency are the most difficult to determine. In such cases the services of a trained judicial mind are essential in order that justice may be done. There are two classes of dependency - total and partial. In the former the task of determining the extent of the dependency is comparatively easy. The Commissioner could decide such a question because the statute itself sets out the law, but in cases of partial dependency the position becomes complicated. A workman may die leaving, say, three sons, all of whom are apprentices in different stages of apprenticeship, and the extent of whose dependency has to be determined. Such a matter should not be left to the decision of a departmental secretary. A matter which agitates the mind of his department and occupies a good deal of the time of federal legislators is the work which they have to perform in dealing with applications for pensions under the ministerial system; but it is now proposed to introduce a still more cumbersome and unsatisfactory system in connexion with workmen’s compensation. Partial dependants will have to depend upon the tender mercies of the Secretary to the Treasury for the time being.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I have listened with pleasure to the honorable senator’s . comments concerning this class of legislation, with which he is so familiar. It is true that questions of great complexity and difficulty arise in relation to claims between employer and employee under workmen’s compensation legislation, but I see no reason for him to doubt the efficacy or the wisdom of what is proposed in this clause. We have precedent for it. I understand that in New South Wales up to 1926 cases under the Workmen’s Compensation Act were left to judicial determination. In the Commonwealth act of 1912, however, the responsibility Was placed upon an arbitrator who need not necessarily be a legally trained man.
– But he is bound by legal principles.
– He would be in this case. The object of inserting the words “equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case” is to extend the jurisdiction of the Commissioner and thus give greater benefits to the employee than he has previously enjoyed. We do not desire employees making claims under this law to be bound by technical rules which could operate to their detriment. That was the principle embodied in the. South Australian Local Courts Act of 1886, which is no longer operative. Such provisions were originally inserted, but have been amended by the legislature from time to time.
– The Honorary Minister does not suggest that the local courts have dispensed with the necessity of being bound by the laws of evidence.
– No, I shall deal with that later. In New South Wales, where they have a very up-to-date Workmen’s Compensation Act, which covers all employees -
– And which was passed by the Lang Government.
– Yes, in 1926.
– This Parliament is not bound by the actions of the Lang Government.
– Of course not. Section 36 of that act provides that-
The Commission shall have exclusive juris-diction to examine into, hear and determine all matters and questions arising under this act, and the action or decision of the Commissioner shall be final.
– What is the personnel of the Commission?
– I believe it consists of three members. The decision of the Commission is final. Section 37 of the New South Wales act absolutely eliminates the right of appeal by either side. The decision of the Commission is to be final, it is not to be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called into question by any court of jurisdiction or any act whatever There is also a provision against writs of prohibition, challenging the validity of its’ decisions, which are fortified and supported in every way. The only exception is that the Commission is empowered, on its own motion, to state a case.
– Cannot the parties be represented by counsel.
– I am not certain. The intention of this provision is to give to the Commissioner the fullest possible powers to do justice to Commonwealth employees. The right to appeal contained in clause 21, with which I shall deal more fully later, is all that is necessary in determining the finer points which may arise. One object we desire to attain in this clause is to give the Commissioner power to refer certain questions to a medical referee. In clause 20 it is provided that the Commissioner may order an examination by medical referees, and that he may act upon their certificate. The practice, which has been somewhat faulty, has been ‘amended ; but, under the 1912 act, only one case has been referred to an arbitrator for decision. The act of 1912 embodies the principle which I understand Senator Daly is attacking. It is included in New South Wales Legislation, which covers all employees. This is a further endeavour to settle these questions without resort to litigation. If, however, questions such as that of dependency arise and are decided wrongly, there is ample power of review on appeal. If an injustice is done the injured person will have an opportunity to rectify matters according to the principles of British justice. I submit that there is no reason why, in an attempt to obtain simplicity of administratioin, existing principles of legislation should not be altered. It is not the first time that legislation providing for workmen’s compensation has been altered ; it has been altered in New South Wales and also in connexion with pensions, because of the great number of perplexing problems which have arisen. In the past there has been little or no difficulty in ascertaining dependency, and I ask the committee to accept the clause as drafted.
– I am disappointed at the attitude adopted by the Minister. It is not fair for him to quote legislation passed by a State without explaining the nature of its provisions. The New South Wales legislation providing for the appointment of a commission is as different from this clause as it is different from the South Australian law. The Commission in New South Wales was appointed by the Go’vernment, which has the power to alter its personnel. Under this clause that power does not exist; the only person who may act as arbitrator is the Secretary to the Treasury. The Minister did not tell us that. I challenge the Minister to give one instance from any portion of the British Empire, in which the chairman of any court or commission constituted under any workmen’s compensation legislation has been other than a man with legal training, possessing a knowledge of legal principles. I further challenge him to give one instance of an act passed by any parliament in the British Commonwealth of Nations in which the rules of evidence have been dispensed with as in this clause. The Minister said that he would refer to that matter in the course of his address, but he did not do so. He merely said that a workman was sufficiently safeguarded in the court of appeal. Let honorable senators consider a position which might arise. Let us suppose that the Secretary to the Treasury, acting as arbitrator, hears a man’s case at, Canberra. A doctor is called as witness and in the course of his evidence he says “I was in conversation with Dr. H. S. Newland in South Australia and he told me that many years ago he treated this man for rupture.” Under this clause that evidence would be admissible and accepted by the arbitrator. Let us further suppose that the workman lodged an appeal against the arbitrator’s decision. As in the original jurisdiction the rules of evidence did not apply, the question of the admissibility of evidence could not be raised on appeal. In that respect the appellate tribunal would be - in the same position as the original tribunal. The Minister cannot defend the clause against the attack I am making, namely, that the principles underlying it are an absolute abrogation of the principles of British jurisprudence which have been built up after many years of study by judges and legislators.
– Could not the appellate court consider the evidence of the Commissioner ?
– I ask the Ministerwhether it is not a well established principle of law that when the question of believing or disbelieving a witness in the original tribunal arises, the appellate tribunal will give no decision whatever. The cogency of evidence is a matter of minor importance in the appellate tribunal. I could produce from volumes in the Parliamentary Library judgments of the High Court of Australia which would convince even a layman that an appellate tribunal is not concerned with the truthfulness of witnesses. If in the hearing of the case by the arbitrator evidence was admitted which, according to the rules of evidence, would be inadmissible, that evidence would carry the same weight in the appellate court as it did in the original jurisdiction. Supposing that in the case I have instanced I was acting for the appellant, does the Minister suggest that I could exclude the hearsay evidence of the witness who referred to Doctor Newland? Is the National Parliament of the Commonwealth prepared to empower the arbitrator to hear and determine cases upon that class of evidence? I should like the Minister to advise the committee as to how far the principles of British jurisprudence are being abrogated by the inclusion of the words “shall not be bound by any rules of evidence”. The Minister attempted to gloss over that point when it was raised by saying that since the foundation of the Commonwealth only one case had arisen. I should not care, nor do I think that this committee would care if there had not been one case. Our concern should be whether we are legislating in the best interests of the community, always remembering that Australia forms a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is not for us to deal lightly with principles that have been established by legislators in the “Mother of Parliaments,” and in other portions of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We should seek to establish a consistent code of law and not to make Australia the only soldier out of step.
– It is gratifying that on this side of the chamber we have at last an honorable senator with legal training. Senator Daly has presented a strong case for an alteration of sub-clause 3 of clause 6. Having listened to the battle between our two legal friends - tike Honorary Minister and Senator Daly - it appears to me that consideration of this clause might well be postponed, or that it be amended by leaving out all the words after the word “ case “ in subclause 3. There are occasions when the more we seek to define certain matters the more we limit them. My suggestion would overcome the objections raised by Senator Daly, and leave the Commissioner untrammelled.
– I suggest that the whole of sub-clause 3 be deleted.
– I shall assist to have that done, for it would remove the limitations imposed on the Commissioner and give to an injured workman that full right of appeal which is one of the foundation principles of British law. I suggest either that the consideration of the clause be postponed ‘or that sub-clause 3 be deleted.
– I shall explain how this provision appeals to me as a layman. I listened with very great interest to the dissertation by Senator Daly and no doubt, from a legal point of view, his premises were sound. But we should consider how the provision will affect the Commonwealth public servant. I am aware that honorable senators opposite profess to be the protagonists of the public servant, but it appears to me that the attitude which they have adopted would, if given effect to, do irreparable injury to the individual. Sub-clause 3 of clause 6 has been drafted in order that each case may be determined upon its merits, apart altogether from legal technicalities. An endeavour has been made to give the layman an opportunity to obtain justice without the intervention of lawyers.
– And without having to pay lawyers’ fees.
– Exactly. I am confident that honorable senators concede that the provision is a move in the right direction. Many honorable senators have received a communication from the secretary of an employees’ organization in Sydney directing attention to what that organization considered the necessity for certain amendments in the bill, but no suggestion was made that clause 6 should be altered. That indicates that the employees, after giving the matter their fullest consideration, have come to the conclusion that the clause meets with their desires. I compliment the framers of the measure upon having endeavoured to eliminate the intricacies of the law as it applies to Commonwealth employees’ compensation, and I shall support the Government in passing the clause as it stands.
, - I regret that honorable senators should attribute to me or to any other member of the legal fraternity a desire to pass measures in such a form that their interpretation will necessitate the employment of lawyers. I suggest, in all seriousness, that if the desire is to increase litigation, clause 6 should be passed in its present form. Mention has been made about the heavy cost to applicants for compensation. It may be of interest to honorable senators to know that the costs of arbitration under a Workmen’s Compensation Act are negligible. The costs of proving a dependency claim are taxed by the court, and usually average about seven guineas. Not one penny in excess of the amount fixed may be demanded of the applicant. . But I am not concerned about lawyers’ costs. This Parliament is beyond such trifles, and is dealing with big issues. Honorable senators are here charged with the responsible duty of passing legislation in the best interests of the nation, and I urge them to view this problem broadly and nationally. My desire is to make friends, not enemies in this chamber. I do not wish to say anything that will hurt the feelings of anybody, but I feel that a vital principle is involved, and that the passing of this clause as it stands will abrogate a most important principle which has taken years to build up. That is why I appeal to honorable senators to strike Out sub-clause 3 of clause 6. If it is decided that the Secretary to the Treasury should arbitrate in these matters, I cannot cavil against the decision of honorable senators, but I do ask that the arbitrator, he having been appointed, should be bound by principles of law and not allowed to decide cases according to caprice. If my suggestion is followed and an injustice is done either to the Commonwealth or to one of its workers, then either or both may enjoy the full benefits of the appellant section of the act. If sub-clause 3 is struck out the spirit of the measure still will be retained, but there will be placed upon the arbitrator the responsibility to decide the issue according to law and not according to caprice. The system that already obtains in the different States is quite satisfactory
– Each State has a different system.
– Evidently the honorable senator has not applied himself to the line of reasoning that I am attempting to explain. Of course each State has a different system, but there is no difference when it comes to the constitution of the tribunal which is to decide the merits of the claim.
– I think that the honorable senator should read up the subject.
– When Senator Carroll makes loose allegations he should be prepared to prove them. I say, deliberately, that there is not one tribunal in Australia at the present time which is not presided over by a man with legal training. The Honorary Minister stated that the application of the sub-clause will not make very much difference, as only one case has gone to arbitration in a period of 17 years. Much the same position exists in South Australia. I suppose that not one per cent, of workers’ compensation cases go to arbitration. But it is not necessary to pass clause 3 to give to the Secretary to the Treasury or to any of his deputies the right to hold a prior examination in order to see whether a settlement can be arrived at. He can, as is done by the insurance companies, meet and discuss the matter with the claimant. Fully 90 per cent, of the cases which pass through my hands are settled in my office, and never reach the court. Senator McLachlan. - May I make a suggestion. Supposing that there is something in the contention of the honorable senator, and that I conceded that the appellant might be bound by a looseness in evidence; would it not be better for the honorable senator to direct his attention to extending the functions of the court of appeal ?
– I am obliged for the suggestion of the Honorary Minister. I have given the clause a great deal of consideration and, anticipating something such as the Minister has suggested, I endeavoured to draft a sub-clause which would overcome the difficulty. But I think the honorable senator will admit that the task is impossible without the assistance of a draftsman. I believe that it would be unwise to allow sub-clause 3 ms it stands to be placed upon the statutebook. It would be a distinct departure from the British system of justice and, if good reasons cannot be advanced for such a departure, the matter should follow the usual forms of Parliamentary procedure, and be deferred for further consideration.
– I am afraid that I failed, when speaking to the clause previously, to answer one point raised by Senator Daly. An effort has been made in introducing sub-clause 3 to simplify the procedure so that the Commissioner may settle claims without resorting to further proceedings. The source of sub-clause 3 is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which contains the very language that is used in sub-clause 3. The desire of the Government is to eliminate anything that would cloud an issue, and probably lead to an appeal. The activities of the Commissioner will extend from Cape York to Cape Leeuwin, and if a rigid method of proof is provided for the task of claimants will be made difficult. Discretion is being vested in the Commissioner; if it were exercised on wrong principles a wrong would probably be done.
– Who is to lay down the principle if the Commissioner is not bound by legal principles.
– He is bound by legal principles, by the statute; but he is not bound by the rules of evidence.
– He is not bound by legal precedents.
– -That is so. This, provision has been inserted in the bill with the object of giving the Commissioner the widest possible powers, so that where he deems the evidence sufficient he may be able to decide in favour of the claimant without having to resort to strictly legal proof. Without this provision there might be obstacles in the way of submitting proof of what is required by the act. If my friend feels that a court of appeal would not have sufficient jurisdiction to enable it to rehear the whole of a case, I am quite willing to amend the bill so that it may have full power to do so. The Government has no desire to prevent any employee from obtaining what he is entitled to get under the law. The object of sub-clause 3 of clause 6 is to give the employee that to which he is entitled under the law and anything further to which in the opinion of the commissioner he is in equity entitled. The same gesture is made in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The desire is to enable the Commissioner to get at the facts easily. If an employee at, say, Cook, on the east-west railway, is killed in a railway accident, and the widow is unable to find her marriage certificate, the Commissioner can under this provision act on a communication received from her simply stating that it was her husband who had been killed. If he were bound strictly to adhere to the law he could not accept the written statement of the widow that she was the wife of the Commonwealth employee killed in the accident. He would require a declaration made before a justice of the peace. I fully appreciate the big principle for which Senator Daly stands, but as a matter of fact the legal practitioner who aims at securing strict proof in all cases would be shocked at some of the provisions in our arbitration, compensation, and pension acts. I understand that the provision in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act which has been included in the bill now before the committee was originally copied, except in re gard to this provision relating to the rules of evidence, from a very wise attempt made by a legal gentleman in South Australia to incorporate something on these lines in the South Australian law. The Commonwealth has endeavoured to widen the gate as regards legal procedure, thus enabling the Commissioner if he has no doubt in his mind, to accept the written statement of a widow, although it may not be given on oath. Rigid administration and adherence to legal procedure would multiply the duties of the Commissioner and greatly increase the difficulties of the claimants. The object of the clause is to reduce to a minimum the technicalities which surround the person who submits a claim for compensation.
.- When I heard Senator Daly I was inclined to think he was right in pointing to the necessity, for retaining the procedure laid down in British jurisprudence. But from the explanation given by the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) it seems to me that Senator Daly wants to resort to technicalities and .legal precedents which, in my opinion, we ought not to place in the way of a claimant. When Mr. Justice Higgins was President of the Arbitration Court he said in effect that before the workers could get justice they had to pass through a Serbonian bog of legal technicalities. If he did not use the word “technicalities” he spoke of something that had pretty well the same significance. At any rate, his words met with approval from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. The people generally were anxious to apply the axe and cut away all technicalities that served to prevent the workers from getting speedy justice from the Arbitration Court. Senator Daly wants to perpetuate the technicalities condemned by Mr. Justice Higgins, whereas the Government is anxious to arm the Commissioner with power to deal with individual cases on the lines of equity and good conscience, and without the need to resort to legal technicalities and precedents. It is clear to the ordinary layman that the course suggested by the Government is the right one to adopt in the interests of the claimants, because it lays the axe at the root of that mass of technicalities and legal precedents which are such a fruitful source of argument and involve litigants in heavy costs. If my choice lies between resort to legal technicalities and precedents and the adoption of the principles df equity and good conscience, in other words, between complexity and simplicity, I shall vote for the clause as it stands, because it aims at simplicity.
– Senator Daly seems to have lost sight of one important difference between Commonwealth and State compensation legislation. The (ormer applies to a very limited number of persons scattered over a vast area, whereas the latter applies to large numbers of persons within limited areas. The New South Wales Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1926, which is generally recognized as a good measure, although it has some shortcomings, provides for the appointment of a commission, consisting of a chairman, who is a judge and is appointed for life, and two laymen, each appointed for seven years. This commission, can visit different centres in New South Wales and deal on the spot with claims for compensation, and it has practically the same right to hear a case as is proposed to be given by the clause now before the committee. Section 37, subsection 1, of the New South Wales act is as follows : -
No award, order or proceeding of the Commission shall be vitiated by reason of any informality or want of form, or be liable to he challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called in question by any court of judicature on any account whatsoever.
– And there is no appeal.
– That is so, but the commission may of its own volition state a case for the Supreme Court if it wishes to have a queston of law interpreted. Its decisions are final. Senator Daly has raised the question of dependants. The provision in the bill before us is almost identical with the definition of “dependant” in the New South Wales Act which so far as I know has always worked satisfactorily. In view of the large number of persons to be dealt with in New South Wales it is necessary to have a permanent tribunal with a judge as chairman at a fixed salary, but where the number of cases to be dealt with is limited, as in the case of the Commonwealth service, there is surely no need to set up a permanent department with a permanent judge to deal with claims for compensation. If an employee of the Commonwealth is killed or permanently incapacitated at Broome, in Western Australia, who would advocate that a commissioner should proceed, to Broome at tremendous expense and deal with the claim of the injured man or of his dependants, if he has been killed?” This provision has been inserted in the bill in order to meet such cases. Evidencesecured by affidavit or declaration by the,police, or the stipendiary magistrate at Broome, can be forwarded to Canberra, and the Commissioner here can deal with it without putting the Commonwealth to tremendous expense or causing unnecessary delay. When the Commissioner has made his determination the dependants at Broome, if they are dissatisfied with it, may have the evidence sent to Broome and the police magistrate there, or possibly a County Court Judge could consider it on the spot and come to a” decision. What is wrong with this procedure ? Under it the rightof appeal is wider than in New South Wales. If there was a claim from say, Cairns, in Queensland, no one would expect a permanent officer of the Commonwealth to travel from Canberra to that town to deal with it. The claim could be brought before a local magistrate and decided at once. This procedure is both equitable and expeditious. It is not considered desirable that the Commissioner should conform strictly to legal procedure and observe all the usual legal technicalities. I agree with the Minister in charge of the bill that if Senator Daly looks at this clause through unclouded glasses he will see that it contains very liberal provisions, intended to operate in th”» interests of an injured workman, or his dependants in the event of death resulting from injuries while in the employ of the Commonwealth. The fact that the provisions in this clause are a departure from strictly legal technicalities is, I think, an advantage. The position in the Commonwealth is entirely different from that in the States. The compensation Commissioners in the States are much mora readily accessible. I do not see the danger mentioned by Senator Daly, and I feel sure that the committee will be quite safe in passing the clause as it stands. The interests of workmen likely to come under its provisions are fully protected.
. - The provision in sub-clause 3 in effect was adopted with great success by the Mount Morgan Mining Company in Queensland many years ago under the Employers’ Liability Act of Queensland. That company appointed an officer, whose duty it was to deal sympathetically with every case on its merits. This appears to be the guiding principle in sub-clause 3, which reads : -
In the determination of matters and questions the Commissioner shall be guided by equity, good conscience and the” substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities or legal precedent and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence.
The instruction to the responsible officer of the Mount Morgan Mining Company was that in determining claims, he was to be guided by equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case. The directorate properly decided that he should not consider technicalities or legal precedents, or any rules of evidence. If I had been entrusted with the drafting of sub-clause 3, probably I should have omitted all reference to legal technicalities and rules of evidence. If these words were now deleted, possibly the clause would then meet the objections raised by Senator Daly. I am not a lawyer so I am not in a position to state whether the omission of the words would interfere in any way with the working of the sub-clause; but it would appear to me to be a common sense thing to do. The instructions to the Mount Morgan Company’s officer worked most satisfactorily. Upon one occasion an amusing and at the same time a most complimentary statement concerning the scheme was made by one of the men, who said - “ The best of the Mount Morgan Mining Company’s compensation scheme is that if you happen to get killed to-morrow you don’t have to wait for your money.” That somewhat paradoxical statement was, I think, a tribute to the simplicity and efficiency of the system. Since it worked so well in Queensland, my suggestion as a layman is that in order to meet any possible objec tions to sub-clause 3 we should leave out the words “without regard to technicalities or legal precedents, and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence “. The clause would then give the Commissioner the greatest latitude to deal sympathetically with any claim for compensation that might come before him.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Compensation to employees affected by or dying from certain industrial diseases).
– This clause provides for the payment of compensation to an employee suffering from any of the diseases mentioned in the first column of the second schedule. When we are considering that schedule I propose to move an amendment to include certain occupational diseases. I should like to know, whether, if we pass clause 10 as it stands, I shall be in order in submitting amendments to the second schedule.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator will be in order in moving his amendments when the schedule in question is before the committee.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Medical benefits).
, - This clause states that the amount payable by way of compensation for medical or other attention shall not exceed £100. In certain circumstances the actual expenditure for medical, surgical, or hospital attention may exceed the sum stated. I should like to know if the maximum provided for in this clause is equal to a similar provision in State legislation, and if not, whether it is possible to increase the amount by, say, £25 or £50.
– The maximum in New South Wales is £50, but the Commissioner in certain circumstances may increase it. The maximum in Western Australia is £100.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, an employee shall not, in respect of one accident, except where the injury results in total and permanent incapacity, be entitled to receive as compensation under this act an amount exceeding seven hundred pounds in addition to such expenses as are awarded to him under section 11 of this act.
.- I move-
That after the word “hundred”, line G, the words “ and fifty “ be inserted.
My intention is to bring Commonwealth legislation into line with the most advanced State legislation. In Western Australia the maximum amount payable where injury results in total and permanent incapacity is £750. I mentioned this matter in my second-reading speech, and I do not desire now to reiterate what I then said. The number of claims is not likely to be very large, so the amount at stake will not be considerable. As the maximum in some of the States is £750, the Commonwealth Government should also make the maximum under this bill £750. The request I have made is moderate, and I trust it will receive the support of the majority of the committee.
– As this subject was debated at some length when a similar measure was before this chamber last year, I do not intend to repeat the arguments which I then adduced against the honorable senator’s proposal, and which I think convinced honorable senators that we were acting generously in fixing the maximum amount at £700. In referring to the Western Australian law, the Leader of the Opposition has in mind the maximum liability provided for under the legislation of that State, namely £750; but the weekly payments in respect to total or partial incapacity are limited, whereas in this bill there is no limit to such payments. The present position is that the maximum amount payable is £700 and the minimum £400, and the weekly payments in respect to permanent total incapacity are unlimited. In New South Wales the minimum payment in the case of death is £400 and the maximum £800, and weekly payments in respect to incapacity are unlimited. In Victoria the maximum in the event of death is £680, the minimum £200, and payments in the event of permanent total incapacity are unlimited. In Queensland the maximum payment in case of death is £600, and the minimum £300, and in the event of permanent total incapacity the maximum is as it is in Western Australia, £750. In South Australia the maximum payment in the event of death is £600, the minimum £400, and the total liability of an employer in the event of permanent total incapacity is £700. In Tasmania the rates arc on a much lower scale. As no provision is made in the bill for any limitation of the weekly payments in cases of total and permanent incapacity, the Government considers that the clause is sufficiently generous.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 17 agreed to.
Clause 18. (Reduction of compensation where pension payable).
– This clause provides that in the event of a successful claim being made by a person in receipt of benefits under the Superannuation Act, the amount of compensation payable shall be reduced by 50 per cent. of the capitalized value of the pension. I pointed out in my second-reading speech that the benefits provided under the Superannuation Act should not be taken into consideration in assessing claims under a Workmen’s Compensation Act. The system proposed in this instance was originally in operation in connexion with war pensions and invalid and oldage pensions and a considerable time elapsed before an alteration was effected. It was pointed out from time to time that men who offered their lives during the great war and who on returning to Australia eventually became entitled to a war pension should not be deprived of any rights under the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act. Instead of improving the existing legislation we are strangling it by including this particularly pernicious clause, which provides that certain persons who have made sacrifices in order to obtain benefits under the Superannuation Act shall not be entitled to the full amounts available under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. It is unjust and inequitable and I ask the Minister whether similar legislation is in operation in any of the States. The bill now before the committee is an improvement upon the measure we discussed last year, but I trust that honorable senators will not tax the thrifty by refusing to allow them money to which they should be entitled under this measure. If a workman loses his life his widow, under this measure, is entitled to £700. If, however, under the Superannuation Act she was entitled also to receive £200, the amount payable under this bill would, as the result of this clause, be reduced from £700 to £600.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I ask honorable senators to examine this clause very carefully to see whether in voting for it they will not be doing something wrong. If the Minister is not prepared to postpone the consideration of the clause, we on this side shall vote against it.
– The Leader of the Opposition would leave me without means of escape. Eirst he says that we cannot find a parallel to this legislation, and then he adds that, if we can, such legislation is worthless. That gets us back to the principle underlying the reduction of the superannuation benefit. Broadly speaking, that benefit is provided by a contribution of one-half by the employee and the other half by the Government, but in point of fact, that is not so, for the contribution by the
Government is slightly more than onehalf. In this measure no attempt is made to interfere with that portion of the benefit which is the outcome of the contribution by the employee to the superannuation fund. If honorable senators will examine clause 17 they will find that it provides that an employee shall not have it both ways. Notwithstanding the honorable senator’s denunciation of any legislation containing similar provisions to this clause, I refer him to the Queensland law, which provides that employees who accept benefits under the Superannuation Act are deprived of compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of that State. Section 47 of the New South Wales Act of 1926 provides that if a worker elects to make his claim tinder that act he shall, in the event of total permanent disablement, be entitled only to a refund of the amount of any contribution he has made. In that State he gets only what he has paid in, whereas this bill proposes to give him the superannuation benefit in respect of the amount he has paid in. That is an entirely different matter ; it is, indeed, much more generous treatment than a workman receives under the legislation of either New South Wales or Queensland. I, therefore, cannot agree to eliminate the words “ one half.”
.-The Minister said that clause 17 provides that an employee cannot have it both ways. He endeavoured to establish a co-relation between the two clauses, whereas they are as wide apart as the poles. Legislation dealing with workmen’s compensationshould be entirely separate from that providing for superannuation. The Minister would have the committeebelieve that I have alleged that benefits under the Superannuation Act will not be given to Vidows or relatives of deceased workmen. 1 have done nothing of the sort, for I know that they must receive all to which they are entitled under the Superannuation Act. The clause before us provides that if the relatives of an employee receive a certain sum under the Superannuation Act, they will obtain a correspondingly smaller sum under this legislation.
– It is as broad as it is long.
– Not to the dependants of the employee,who have to choose between £600 and £800. The weekly payments to them will be reduced by 50per cent. The clause as it stands is unjust, and should be rejected by the committee.
– I support the Leader of the Opposition in his desire to amend this clause by the deletion of the words “one-half” in the case of dependants of employees who are covered by the Superannuation Act. With him I maintain that the two statutes should be kept entirely separate. The Superannuation Act, whichentitles certain employees to benefits on a contributory basis, necessitates certain sacrifices by the employees while they are contributing to the fund. If we pass this clauseas drafted those employees and their dependants will be penalized because of the existence of the Superannuation Fund.
– They are not the sole contributors to that fund.
– That is admitted,; but they are on adifferentbasis from thatofemployeeswho, becauseof the circumstances totheir employment, do not contribute totheSuperannuation Fund. The two statutes should stand alone. Legislationproviding forcompensation to workmen who are injured in the course oftheir employment, or their dependants, should they lose their lives in the course of their employment, has been placed on the statute-bookto give some measure of protection to employees, and should not be affected by other legislation under whichsuperannuation funds are established.
Question - Thattheclause stand as printed - put.Thecommitteedivided.
Ayes . . . . . . 21
Noes . . . . . .6
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.
Any person affected by any determination or action of the Commissioner under this Act may, within thirty days of the date of the determination or the taking of the action or within such extended time as the Court upon application in that behalf allows, appeal to a County Court against the determination or action and the Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal.
.- I move-
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ and such appeal may be in the nature of a re-hearing “.
The Minister in charge of the bill made a reference to certain South Australian legislation, which he commended, andas words similartothose which I seek to have inserted appear in that legislation, I urge honorable senators to accept my amendment.
SenatorMcLACHLAN (South Austra lian-Honorary Minister)[2.35]. - The amendment of tihe honorable senator gives point tothe contention raisedbyhimthis morning,that difficulties might occur in the reyiew ofacase before theappellatetribunal. I am of theopinion that it meets the position,because it connotes thattheappellatetribunal will have cognizance ofall the principles which governthe (Commissioner and willalso be enabledtocheck the proceedingswith aproper regard to theevidence submitted. That tribunal, if it is not satisfiedwith or desires to jettison any oftheevidence, may seek new evidence and re-hear the case, so enabling complete justiceto be done both to the Commonwealth and to its employees. I accepttheamendment.
Clauses. 22 to 24 agreed to.
Eirst schedule -
(1.) The amount of compensation under this Act shall be -
That the word “exceed”, first occurring, paragraph (1.), sub-paragraph (b), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ be less than “.
My object is to try to ensure that not loss than £3 a week shall be paid to an employee during his period of incapacity.
It is difficult enough for any married worker to keep himself and his family on the full basicwage and should calamity befall him in the form of an accident or ill health, it is quite possible that the allowance granted him by the Commissioner may be less that £3, which would make his position intolerable. Whether the claimant is single or married, £3 is little enough for him to live on during his period of incapacity. This committee should pass the necessary legislation to ensure that the amount paid shall not be less than £3 a week. That should be stated explicitly in the measure, and should not be left to the caprice of the Commissioner. The terms of my amendment were discussed at length on a previous occasion, and I believe that I then had the support of a number of honorable senators opposite. I certainly think that I then had the support of Senator Ogden, and, despite the company he is at present keeping, I harbour the hope that he is not past redemption and will support me now. If I were differently situated, I should move that the worker, during his period of incapacity, whether partial or total, should receive the full amount of the stated wage. But I realize that the numbers are against me, and so have put forward a very moderate request. I submit my amendment for the approval of the committee, and hope that it will be adopted.
. - When a similar measure was last before honorable senators, some discussion took place on this proposal. I direct attention to the fact that no limit is fixed to the period during which this weekly sum shall be paid, but the amount to be paid weekly is limited to £3. Provision is also made that the injured person must not receive a sum exceeding two-thirds of his weekly pay during the time of his incapacity. If Senator Needham’s amendment were accepted, and an injured person was in receipt of £700 or £800 a year, he would receive £9 or £10 a week as compensation, which would inflict an intolerable burden upon the community. I find, on examining the distribution of salaries amongst public servants, that there are only 4,336, all of whom are in the third division, who are in receipt of £250 or under per annum. The honorable senator’s amendment would not apply to a very large number of officers, but it would impose a very serious burden on the Consolidated Revenue in the event of a number of accidents occurring among higher-paid officials, who would receive two-thirds of their salaries.
– There is a limit of £3 in my amendment.
– The amendment simply provides that the amount may not be less than £3. It may be any sum in excess of £3. Provision is made for cadets in paragraph 1, sub-paragraph b, which reads as follows: -
Provided that as respects the weekly payments during total incapacity of an employee who is under 21 years of age at the date of the injury, and whoso weekly pay is less than 80s., 100 per centum shallbe substituted for two-thirds of his weekly pay, but the weekly payment shall in no case exceed £1.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule -
SenatorNEEDHAM (Western Australia) [2.51]. - As I have already said, the Government has improved on the bill as introduced last session by including in this schedule certain occupational diseases, but, as there is still room for improvement by including others, I move -
That the following be added to the schedule: -
The Minister may contend that Commonwealth employees are not likely to contract the diseases mentioned in the amendment. But that is not so. They are likely to be contracted by persons engaged in quarrying for ballast for our railways. The Government has already included about 80 per cent. of the occupational diseases mentioned during the discussion on last year’s bill, but it would still further improve the measure - which is my aim - if those I have mentioned in the amendment were added.
– The diseases mentioned in the amendment are provided for in the Western Australian legislation, but not in that of Victoria or South Australia. The Government has no. desire to omit any occupational disease which Commonwealth employees are likely to contract. The discussion we had last year having afforded an opportunity to see what was likely to arise among Commonwealth employees, the Health Department was asked to review the whole matter carefully. Its report is that there is no need for the inclusion of the diseases covered by the amendment. In these circumstances, I ask the committee not to agree to the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added, be so added (Senator Needham’s) amendment. - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Second schedule agreed to.
For the total loss of the use of any part of the body there shall be payable the same compensation as for the loss of that part.
For the partial loss of the use of any part of the body there shall be payable such percentage of the amount payable for the loss of that part of the body as is equal to the percentage of the diminution of the use of that part.
For the lossof one joint of a thumb, finger or toe, there shall be payable fifty per centum of the prescribed amount for the loss of a thumb, finger or toe, respectively the loss of more than one joint of a finger or toe shall be deemed to be total loss of such finger or toe.
– I move -
That the third schedule be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following schedule: -
The schedule which I have submitted gives a more generous scale of payments for certain injuries. Honorable senators will note that the injuries mentioned in the first six lines of my amendment are not provided for in the schedule to the bill. I think they should be. I contend also that in this class of legislationthe Commonwealth should be at least in line with the most advanced legislation in any of the States. My amendment is a copy of the schedule to the Workmen’s Compensation Act of Western Australia,and Ihope it will be agreed to. (Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia - Honorary Minister) [3.12]. - Theamendment submitted by Senator Needham is, I think,substantially the same as one movedby himon a former occasion.
– In essence and in fact.
– I remind the senator thatsuch injuries as the loss of both eyes, both hands, both feet, a hand and afoot, total and incurable loss of mental powers, and total and incurable paralysis of limbs or mental powers., have not been included in this schedule because they are otherwise providedfor. There is a list of cases of total and permanent incapacity for which compensation is not in the form of a lump sum, but by way of weekly paymentsto the duration of which there is no limitation,Honorable senators therefore need have no hesitation as to how they should vote with regard to the first six items in the honorable senator’s amendment. As to the others, I need only say that when this matter was last, under discussion, I pointed out that in fixing the compensation provided in the schedule, the Government considered carefully the amounts payable under State compensation laws. In Victoria, the compensation for the loss of both eyes or both hands, both feet, a hand or a foot, total and incurable loss of mental powers, total and incurable paralysis of limbs or mental powers is £600; in Queensland it is £750, in South Australia £700, and in Western Australia £750. For the loss of either arm or of a greater part thereof, the compensation payable in New South Wales is £675 ; in Victoria it is £480 for the loss of a right arm, and £450 for the loss of a left arm; in Queensland the amount is £600 for the loss of a right arm and £562 10s. for the loss of the left arm, while in South Australia the compensation for the loss of a right arm is £560, and for the loss of the left arm £525. Western Australia has adopted the New South Wales schedule for this category of injury.
– What would be the position of left-handed men?
– The schedule is very liberal in that respect, as no differentiation is made between right and left-handed persons. The Government has submitted a schedule which it considers is in the interests of both parties, and I trust the committee will adopt it in its present form.
Question - That the schedule proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Third schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– Although the Minister has not given any reasons for submitting this motion, I presume it is to enable the Government to send the bill to another place as early as possible.
– That is the reason.
– I am in the most unusual position of agreeing to the suspension of the standing and sessional orders twice within 24 hours, and I am doing so in this instance because I am anxious that this necessary legislation shall be placed upon the statute-book as soon as possible.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - There being an absolute majority of the whole Senate present, and no voice being raised in the negative, I declare the motion carried.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a third time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I have to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Mrs. Higgins expressing to the members of the Senate her gratitude and sincere appreciation of the motion of sympathy passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of her husband, the late Honorable Henry B. Higgins.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday, 6th March, at 3 p.m.
– We were informed by the Minister (Senator Sir George Pearce) this morning that owing to the delay in receiving business from another place the Senate would adjourn over next week, and I thought that in submitting this motion he would have given us some indication of the legislation to be considered when we re-assemble. The business on the notice-paper at present consists of two motions, one relating to the Treaty for the Renunciation of War, and another to the Report of the Ninth Assembly of the League of Nations. I should like to know if it is intended to initiate legislation in this chamber?
[3.27]. - If the members of the Opposition in another place will facilitate business, honorable senators will on resuming be able to discuss the Transport Workers Bill, the Financial Agreement Bill, Wine Export Bill, War Pensions Appeal Board Bill, Bureau of Economic Research Bill, and the Amending Tariff Board Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Sir George PEARCE) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– There appears to be no desire on the part of the Government to improve the method of presenting business to Parliament. It is’ proposed that the Senate shall adjourn over next week, and on re-assembling we shall have only two weeks in which to discuss the important measures which the Leader of the Government has said will be coming forward for our consideration. It is the duty of the Government to recognize the importance of this branch of the legislature. I do not single out this administration in particular, and suggest that it is taking advantage of the docility of itS supporters, because other governments have offended in the same way. It frequently happens, however, that important business has to be disposed of by the Senate so rapidly that honorable senators cannot do justice to it, to the country, or to themselves.
– The Senate need not adjourn for a week if honorable senators do not want to do so.
– The motion was agreed to before I had an opportunity to object to it. I express the opinion now that such actions cannot but discredit this chamber in the eyes of the people. Some generalship should be shown by the Government so that this chamber may retain the respect of the electors. Instead of the Senate being a deliberative chamber it is becoming more and more a machine for registering the will of another place. Legislation initiated in another chamber is, as it were, thrown at us in the dying hours of a session, and we are forced to deal Avith it hurriedly. Honorable senators should be more jealous of their rights. Why should not more legislation be initiated in this chamber? Is there any constitutional necessity for a measure such as a bill for the establishment of an economic bureau to be initiated in another place?
– We have an opportunity to discuss the measures when they come before us.
– By sitting all night. It is not fair that the Senate should be asked to deal with legislation in this manner. The Government has found the Senate very useful on occasions. Only this week this chamber Avas chosen by it as the battleground for the discussion of a somewhat knotty question.
– Why support a
Government that treats this chamber with contempt.
– I have interested myself in this question on previous occasions. At one time I wrote a letter to the Melbourne press about the place the Senate occupies in. the public life of Australia, but it Avas not published. Later, when I read the letter in the Senate, some honorable senators sneered. I shall continue to advocate the rights of the Senate on all suitable occasions to the utmost of my power. The Government will not make the Senate merely a chamber of convenience with my consent. If we allow the Senate to fall lower and lower in public esteem we shall have only ourselves to blame. The Senate is a better index to public opinion in this country than is another place. In 1914 when there was a clash between parties, and it was not known how public opinion would reveal itself, the Senate proved itself to be a better judge than did the House of Representatives, for when an appeal was made to the electors they endorsed the attitude adopted by this chamber. We should not consent to the Senate being a mere registering machine, with the right, perhaps, to dot an “ i “ or cross a “ t,” in bills passed by another place; we should maintain its prestige and allow no Government to toss it hither and thither for its own purposes. I shall at all times protest against any attempt to lower the status of the Senate, which springs from the people, and is truly representative of them.
[3.36]. - After the Senate resumes we shall still have three weeks’ before Easter for the transaction of business.
– That will bring us to within about three days of Easter. and it takes me a week to get home.
– Even after the three weeks to which I have referred there should be ample timo for all honorable senators to get home before Easter. It is not correct to say that no hills are initiated in this chamber. We have just dealt with an important bill, the discussion on which was shortened because a similar measure had been discussed in ‘ this chamber last session but lapsed on the dissolution of Parliament. I predict that when that bill reaches another place the discussion on it will be three times as lon as it was here. That the time occupied in dealing with it in the Senate was comparatively short does not detract from its importance. I refer to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill. The Senate has also dealt this session with the Forestry Bill, the Designs Bill, and a resolution disallowing a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator. In addition, there have been fairly long discussions on the League of Nations and the Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of war. It is not so much that this chamber does not get its fair share of Government business as that in another place much time is occupied with discussions on matters not connected with the legislative business before the country. Dur ing the present session very little timo has been occupied by members there . in dealing with the Government’s legislative programme, because of motions for the adjournment of the House and other things which no Government could foresee. It was assumed that by the time the Senate had dealt with legislation to be introduced in this chamber, the Transport Workers Bill would have been dealt with in another place, in which case there would have been no necessity for an adjournment of the Senate. The Government is not responsible for the interruptions to its programme. I assure honorable senators that I am just as jealous as they are to maintain the right of the Senate to a full share of legislative privileges and responsibilities, and shall continue to uphold its claims in that respect, but I repeat that no Government could foresee all the interruptions of its programme which might take place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290222_senate_11_120/>.