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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- We have reached a stage of the Bill when we can consider the relationship of this legislation to the Arbitration Act. I understand the desire of the Government to be that this Bill shall not supersede the existing legislation. If that be so, the amendment offers an opportunity for the co-ordination of the provisions of this Bill with those of the Arbitration Act. If the President of the Arbitration Court, instead of the Governor-General, is given power to appoint the Special Tribunals, we shall to some extent have co-ordination of our industrial legislation. If, however, such appointments are to be made by the Government through the GovernorGeneral, complications and misunderstandings are likely to arise owing to two distinct authorities operating in the same sphere. If it is the desire of the Prime Minister that this machinery shall merely supplement, and not supersede, the Arbitration Court, he will be merely acting consistently if he agrees to give to the President of the Court the power to create a Special Tribunal.

Mr Hughes - I cannot agree to that.

Mr MAKIN - I think the amendment offers a means of obviating two different sets of machinery being in operation for the settlement of industrial disputes. The Arbitration Court has not been wholly successful, owing to the limitation of its powers. If the Court is given authority to supplement its present operations by the appointment of Special Tribunals under this measure there will be a co-ordination of effort which is very desirable. The amendment will remove a great deal of fear that is in the minds of trade unionists that this Bill is introduced with the idea of superseding the Arbitration Court.

Mr Hughes - The unions do not want that, do they ?

Mr MAKIN - No.

Mr Hughes - Will the honorable member tell me why the coal miners do not approach the Arbitration Court?

Mr MAKIN - I have no intimate knowledge of the coal-mining industry, because in the State I represent it is not carried ont o any great extent ; but I feel certain that the coal miners would as soon apply to the President of the Arbitration Court as. to the Prime Minister for the appointment of a Special Tribunal. The majority of unionists do not desire the Arbitration Act to be superseded by this Bill.

Mr Hughes - Who appoints the chairmen of Wages Boards in South Australia ?

Mr MAKIN - If the members of the Board cannot agree as to a chairman, the appointment is made by the Government.

Mr Hughes - The system has worked" well enough in your State. In New South Wales, also, the 'appointments are made by the Government. If I had provided that the appointments should be made by the President of the Arbitration Court, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) would have moved same other amendment.

Mr MAKIN - That statement is not fair.

Mr Hughes - It is absolutely fair. In your own State you raised no objection to the appointments being made by the Government.

Mr MAKIN - We know that there has been some contention between the Prime Minister and the President of the Arbitration Court in regard to the amendment of our industrial legislation, and naturally a great many people fear that the Prime Minister is introducing this Bill with the object of defeating the operations of the Arbitration Court.

Mr Hughes - Is the honorable member suggesting that I am responsible for the coal-mining dispute and for the coal miners askingme to appoint a Tribunal ?

Mr MAKIN - The right honorable gentleman can speak for himself ; I am stating the facts as I know them. I wish to overcome the existing difficulties and allay the suspicion to which I have referred, and that is why I am supporting the amendment as a means of coordinating the machinery of this Bill with that of the Arbitration Act.

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