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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr ATKINSON (Wilmot) .- Honorable members opposite, apparently, have not paid sufficient attention to understand the few remarks I made. The authority which appoints these Councils can easily select two people whom they consider will represent the general public. When we come to the special tribunal there is no trouble at all, because there will be represented only the two parties - certain employers and certain employees who are involved in a dispute either threatened or in existence. The representatives then will not be selected as representing the general" public, but as representing the employees on the one hand and the employers on the other in the particular industry involved in the dispute. If the Prime Minister, or the Cabinet, cannot find representatives of the general public for the Special Tribunal, I do not know who can. Honorable members are trying to scout the amendment, and refer to all sorts of associations to which I never alluded. I have raised this question on arbitration legislation in this House before.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you say that the employers and employees, taken together, constitute only 30 per cent, of the population ?

Mr ATKINSON - When there is an industrial dispute on, that is generally so. This Bill is designed to alleviate indus trial unrest, and if we are merely to have 30 per cent, of the population represented on the Council or other bodies contemplated by this Bill, and to permit any rise in wages to be passed on to the public, we are going round in a vicious circle, the very thing of which the people complain. We can now give the public a chance to have their case put; but if we refuse to do so, they will soon see, considering the electoral system now in operation, that they are represented. At an election probably some body like the Middle Class Association will take care to run candidates, for we know that now many candidates may be put forward without involving any split votes - a fact which many honorable members do not seem to appreciate. If the mass of the people are not represented on these bodies, there will naturally arise associations who will run candidates, and instead of two parties, of which honorable members opposite appear to think the country consists, there will be many. That, of course, does not matter under the preferential system of voting ; but the public are entitled to representation. If honorable members do not like my amendment they know what to do.

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