Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr ATKINSON (Wilmot) .- The Prime Minister has stated that he intends later to introduce a comprehensive measure of industrial legislation.

Mr Blakeley - That will be after the Constitution Convention has met.

Mr ATKINSON - I am sorry that the Prime Minister has not announced to the country the Government's intention to introduce a comprehensive Bill, whether or not the Convention recommends alterations of the Constitution, because very many people have a wrong impression of what is intended by this Bill. A large number of employers, representing nearly all the big industries, are anxious that some use shall be made of the Arbitration Court in conjunction with the machinery proposed in this Bill. Their idea is that a dispute should first be taken to the Arbitration Court, which should determine whether the trouble extended beyond one State. If the dispute were found to be InterState, the Arbitration Court would appoint a Special Tribunal, representative of employers and employees in the industry, to endeavour to reach a settlement at a round-table conference. An announcement of the Government's intention in regard to more comprehensive legislation would have a good effect upon the people. Possibly the Committee would be wise to accept the amendment.

Mr Richard Foster - No; it cuts through the principle of the whole Bill.

Mr ATKINSON - I- do not agree with the honorable member. The amendment merely suggests a' different authority for appointing the Tribunals.

Mr Brennan - If we carry this, we should recommit clause 5. ,

Mr ATKINSON - I think that something such as is proposed should be done. I am afraid that if the appointments are left wholly to the Cabinet, there may be an opinion abroad that the persons selected do not sufficiently represent the interests involved, and I think that a personnel selected by some one outside the political arena would inspire more confidence. I am sorry that the public has not been made aware that this Bill is only a step in the direction of industrial reform; and unless something further is done, we shall have a system of settling disputes by tribunals running parallel with the Arbitration Court, and one or other system of .settlement will become useless sooner or later. But if the prin ciple in this Bill be grafted on to what is good in the Arbitration Act, a workable measure will be got. The Prime Minister would be well advised if, as soon as circumstances will permit, he got into touch with the employers and employees, who between them would be able to draft a Bill which next session would be able to take the place of this.

Mr Hughes - If they will do so, I shall be very glad to accept it.

Mr ATKINSON - I do not think the Prime Minister will have any difficulty in getting these people together, and if he does so it will be a step in the right direction.

Suggest corrections