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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr HUGHES (Bendigo) (Prime Minister and Attorney-General) . - I do not know how the honorable member's argument can support his amendment.I can, however, understand his contention that these provisions should be embodied in the Arbitration Act; but I am afraid the honorable member has confused this portion of the Bill with that which relates to Special Tribunals. This clause provides for machinery for creating councils of advice, not to advise the President of the Arbitration Court, whose functions are limited to the settlement ofdisputes within the meaning of the Act, but for the purpose of advising this Legislature, if necessary, as to what means or measures must be taken to deal with an industry as a whole. With that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, as such, has nothing to do; but this Legislature has everything to do with it. Thus it is rather a reflection on this Parliament to say that it is not to have the benefit of the advice of these Councils. It is to this Legislature that the Trades and Labour Councils and the various trade union organizations look. The Conciliation and Arbitration Court is the creation of the Parliament ; and whatever may be said as to the authority that should create a Special Tribunal, the Councils ought clearly to be appointed by this Legislature. This is the proper authority to appoint them. Their functions are advisory. They are not, as the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) seems to imagine, to . make inquiries into disputes. They are to consider what are the troubles from which the industrial body is suffering. They will have no legislativeor executive functions. The Industrial Disputes Committee of the. Melbourne Trades Hall Council, for instance, is an advisory body. It endeavours to conciliate and to bring the parties together; and one of the functions of these Councils will be to consider and report as to what kind of machinery is necessary for such purposes. We hope that there will shortly be an opportunity for the people to express an opinion as to the nature of the constitutional amendments necessary to enable this Parliament to deal effectively, amongst other things, with industrial troubles. These Councils may consider, and report, what amendments, if any, should be made; what kind of Court, if any, should be appointed; and what its functions should be. They may report as to the co-ordination of State and Federal functions, and the prevention of overlapping on the part of State and Federal Courts. All these matters can properly be considered by these bodies.

Mr Makin - Will these Councils be appointed by the Parliament or the Government ?

Mr HUGHES - By the Governor in Council. The appointments, when made, will be subject, like all other appointments, to the criticism of the House. I hope that the honorable member for Darling will. not insist upon his amendment. I intend to move later in the clause an amendment providing that only recognised organizations of employees shall elect the representatives of the employees.

Mr Charlton - We shall agree to that. I have an amendment to the same effect.

Mr HUGHES - With the assurance that that amendment will be made we can discuss the honorable member for Darling's amendment, if necessary, when-' we come to Part IV. I do not agree that it should be inserted at any point, but here it is clearly unnecessary.

Amendment negatived.

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