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Inter-State Commission.

101. There shall be422 an Inter-State Commission423, with such powers of adjudication and administration424 as the Parliament deems necessary425 for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.

UNITED STATES.—A Commission is hereby created and established to be known as the Inter-State Commerce Commission, which shall be composed of five Commissioners.—Inter-State Commerce Act, 1887, sec. 11.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—The provision for an Inter-State Commission was first suggested at the Adelaide session, 1897, when the Bill as first drafted contained the following clauses:—

“93. The Parliament may make laws constituting an Inter-State Commission to execute and maintain the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce upon railways within the Commonwealth, and upon rivers flowing through, in, or between, two or more States.”

“95. The Commission shall have such powers of adjudication and administration as may be necessary for its purposes, and as the Parliament may from time to time determine.” (Then followed a limitation as to railway rates; see Hist. Note to sec. 102.)

As to the expediency of constituting a commission, there was hardly any debate; and the only amendment made was the omission of the limitation alluded to in brackets. (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 1113–5, 1117–40.)

At the Melbourne session, 1898, a suggestion by the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, to provide that the Parliament “shall” constitute an Inter-State Commission, was discussed. In view of the decision just arrived at (see Hist. Notes to secs. 102, 104) to make the Inter-State Commission the arbiter of unfairly preferential rates, this proposal gained strong support; though some of the Victorian representatives argued that its creation should be optional with the Parliament. The amendment was eventually withdrawn in favour of a proposal by Mr. Kingston, to substitute “There shall be” a Commission. The Convention desired to secure to the Commission a large measure of independence from Parliamentary control, and this amendment was agreed to. The words limiting the scope of the Commission to railways and rivers were then omitted, in order that the Parliament might be free to give the Commission the widest powers of administering the trade and commerce provisions. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 1512–39.)

Before the first report, the two clauses were redrafted into one, as follows:—“There shall be an Inter-State Commission with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament from time to time deems necessary, but so that the Commission shall be charged with the execution and maintenance,” &c. On the second re-committal, Sir Geo. Turner objected to the independence of the Commission, as regards its constitution and powers, and proposed to substitute “Parliament may constitute” the Commission. This was negatived by 23 to 13, but Mr. Barton met Sir Geo. Turner half way by giving Parliament full control over the powers of the Commission. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 2393–6.) Two verbal amendments were made after the fourth report.

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