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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr BLUNDELL (Adelaide) . - I quite realize that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is not opposing the proposed new clause merely because he is a member of the legal profession. The honorable member is in error in saying that the amendment has been brought forward without an expression of opinion from trade unionists, because I have moved the amendment at the request of the trade unionists. If the amendment is absurd and foolish, as the honorable member suggests, then those who have requested me to have it inserted must be foolish and absurd. This " absurd " clause is a copy of the legislation which was passed in "Western Australia by the Labour party when in office, and my amendment has not been moved merely because a request has been made by trade unionists, because if the honorable member peruses the policy of the South Australian Labour party he will find that that party favours the absolute exclusion of legal practitioners from the

Arbitration Court. The honorable member knows that when both parties appearing in a ease before the industrial Court are opposed to the appearance of legal practitioners, legal representatives are in the Court and sit directly behind the employers' representative, and actually speak to the Court through their representative. Legal gentlemen thus appearing do not do it for amusement, but because they are paid, and when they occupy a seat behind the employers' representative they conduct the case in just the same way as if they were sitting at the table. Some years ago, when a petition was lodged to upset a Senate election, an incident occur ed which will illustrate my point. Under the electoral code it is clearly and distinctly provided that no legal practitioner shall appear in an appeal case without the consent of both parties. In the case to which I have referred, I was an interested party and objected to the appearance of legal practitioners, particularly in the preliminary hearing. In the appeal, which was heard before Mr. Justice Barton, four persons were involved, and when we met in the Judge's chambers I was surprised to find that the three gentlemen I was petitioning against walked in with solicitors to assist them. I raised the point as to whether counsel could appear, at least at the preliminary proceedings, and I was informed that they could not. Although counsel did not actually conduct the case of these men, it was noticed throughout the proceedings that not one of them attempted to speak without consulting counsel. That is what is being done in the industrial Court, and, there is only one way to keep them out, and that is by inserting such a provision as I have suggested.

Mr Brennan - Then it will be necessary to fix a radius of 5 miles.

Mr BLUNDELL - I am not dealing with the absurdities of the position.

Mr Brennan - There would be nothing left.

Mr BLUNDELL - The honorable member had better inform the trade unionists who desire this particular amendment that it is absurd and silly, as they know where the boot pinches, and* who has to pay for the work done. I know why organizations engage legal assistance, and if honorable members had sat in the Court as I have in connexion with industrial cases, they would understand the position. The employers' representative sits at the table with a leading solicitor behind him, and it is felt that the employees' representative might just as well also have the assistance of counsel.The average trade union secretary, or member of the trade union, could appear in these cases and do just as well as a legal practitioner, but foolishly they have the assistance of counsel, with the result that they spend their accumulated funds, and very often have to make a levy.

Mr Brennan - In two years' time a union secretary will become as bad as a lawyer.

Mr BLUNDELL - I do not think that any trade union secretary is likely to become as bad as a lawyer. I ask the House to realize that if we desire to make industrial legislation effective and prevent trade unionists from preaching the doctrine of direct action, we shall have to show them that arbitration is cheap, and that it will not cost them as much to go to the Court as it will to strike. Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that in many cases it has cost industrial unions as much to appear before the ArbitrationCourt as a strike would have involved. In the Bootmakers' and Builders' Labourers cases five or six strikes could have been successfully carried out for the money that was spent in going to the Court, and the industrial unionists of to-day that adopt constitutional methods have to pay as much as if they went on strike. In disputes between employees and employers, unionists do not desire to go to the Court, knowing that legal technicalities in every shape or form will be raised, and one of the best means of making arbitration effective is by inserting a provision to debar legal men from appearing. It is also very desirable that provision should be made to prevent industrial cases being heard in a building that resembles a Court, or before a person who is associated with the legal profession. The amendment I have moved has the support of trade unionists, and as it will be the means of facilitating the hearing of cases I ask honorable members to accept it.

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