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PRIVY COUNCIL APPEALS.

We are not surprised to learn that the Privy Ccuix-i! has refused leave- to ap-j peal in tbe famous -wire-netting case, which ence conferred a rather unpleasant notoriety on Sir Joseph Carluthcrs. The question involved in the dispute was whether the Gonrraonwcalth Government had power to tax imports which the State Government required for its own purposes. A large quantity j of wire-netting was landed in Sydney,' which the Government' intended to dispose of to land-owners to assist them in putting down the rabbit pest. The State Government, of wfiich Mr Carruthers was then head,, claimed that no Customs duties need be paid on this consignment and as the Customs officials refused to surrender the goods, Mr Carruthers sent men down to seize the wire-netting. However laudable Mr Carruthcrs' motives may have been, there was very little, doubt in the mind of any impartial person that his act was illegal and unconstitutional. It amounted to flat defiance of the Federal authorities and it also implied the right of the State Governments to use their own discretion in obeying or disobeying the law of the Commonwealth. Naturally, the Federal High Court, before which the case was ultimately laid, decided against Mr Carruthcrs. But New South Wales was then in the throes ,of a violent anfi-Federal agitation and "secession" was a word to conjure with in Sydney. Therefore, the State Government attempted to carry the case to the Privy Council, with the result stated in. our cable columns to-day. The Privy Council's refusal is no doubt based in part upon the reasonable conviction that the New South Wales Government was manifestly in the wrong. But we may also infer that the Privy Council entertains a well-founded objection to interfering botween the FederaLauthorJtles and the State Gov-

ernmenf'iri matters that naturally fall within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth's own courts. It is indeed a remarkable fact that any colonial government 6hould attempt to carry an appeal, on a question involving purely local considerations, past its own courts to an outside tribunal. We have frequently commented upon the disadvantages to which the colonies are exposed by the practice of appealing to the Privy Council about matters on which the Judicial Committee cannot possibly be in a position to give a decisive and satisfactory opinion. And we have always insisted that the wisest course would be for the colonies to limit the right of appeal to their own High Courts, on questions which because of the exceptional character of local legislation are peculiar to themselves. This wire-netting case was precisely a type of the cases which in our opinion should never be carried outside colonial courts for decision; and we regret that after all the criticism to which the Privy Council appeal system has been subjected by colonial journalists and judges, a further excuse should have been provided for continuing a practice which when thus indiscriminately employed, is only too likely to obstruct, rather than promote, the course of justice.

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PRIVY COUNCIL APPEALS. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 68, 20 March 1909

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