RE-ESTABLISHMENT AND EMPLOYMENT RE-ESTABLISHMENT AND EMPLOYMENT BILL 1945: DEFENCE POWER: POWER OF COMMONWEALTH TO PRESCRIBE WAGES AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT FOR RETURNED SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN AS PART OF PREFERENCE PROPOSALS: PROVISIONS INCIDENTAL TO REINSTATEMENT PROVISIONS
CONSTITUTION s 51(vi): RE-ESTABLISHMENT AND EMPLOYMENT BILL 1945
I refer to your memorandum dated 14th March, 1945, in which you ask for advice as to the Constitutional power of the Commonwealth ‘to prescribe wages and conditions of employment for returned servicemen and women, as part of the Commonwealth’s Preference proposals’.
In reply, I desire to inform you that I do not think the Commonwealth’s power to legislate with respect to defence extends so far. In my view, the Commonwealth has no power to prescribe the terms and conditions of employment of persons merely because they were at one time members of the Forces.
It is true that provisions are made with respect to terms and conditions of employment in that portion of the Bill which relates to reinstatement in employment. Those provisions, however, are limited in extent and are merely incidental to the reinstatement provisions and necessary in order that the reinstatement provisions shall be effective.
It does not, however, appear to me to be necessary, in order that the preference provisions shall be effective, that the Commonwealth should regulate the terms and conditions of employment of persons to whom preference is given.
[Vol. 36, p. 450]