Opinion Number. 894

Subject

WAR PRECAUTIONS: QUARANTINE CLOSURE OF THEATRES ON ACCOUNT OF INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC: WHETHER COMMON

Key Legislation

QUARANTINE ACT 1908: WAR PRECAUTIONS ACT 1914

Date

Copy of a telegram received from the Premier, New South Wales, dated Sydney, 28 January 1919:

In consequence of outbreak of pneumonic influenza State Government have taken action to close theatres, picture shows etc., in accordance with arrangements suggested by conference of Health Ministers and officers and set out in paragraph eleven of your telegram of twenty-seventh November. Picture showmen are now asking that moratorium be proclaimed in connection with rents, mortgages and unfulfilled contracts in connection with picture shows whilst they remain closed, such moratorium to extend to rents of employees, large number of whom will be temporarily thrown out of work. State Government has apparently no power to act in absence of specific legislation. Can your Government assist. Reply urgent. With reference to the above telegram from the Acting Premier of New South Wales, I have carefully considered the suggestion that the Commonwealth should proclaim a moratorium in connection with rents, mortgages etc., and am of opinion that neither the War Precautions Act nor the Quarantine Act gives power to make regulations providing for a moratorium in consequence of the closing of premises in the circumstances stated in the telegram in question.

There is, so far as I am aware, no other Commonwealth legislation under which the matter could possibly be dealt with.

[Vol. 16, p. 108]