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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr CONSIDINE (Barrier) .- I am opposed to the amendment. One does not know how long the gentleman who is now President of the Arbitration Court will continue to occupy that position, and he may be succeeded by a Judge not so favorably disposed towards the unionists and industrialists as he is supposed to be. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) practically asks us to forego powers which we should be in a position to exercise if we got possession of the Treasury bench. That, to my mind, is the chief objection to the amendment.. When a dispute arises, we are to allow the present occupants of the Ministerial bench to appoint the Chairman, their own nominee, but by agreeing to the amendment, we would placethe power to deal with all disputes that may arise in, the future in the hands of an individual over whom we, who are now in Opposition, would have no control whatever if we should come into possession of the Ministerial bench: That is a position I would not appreciate. If the industrial situation is, as I have outlined it from time to time, whatever party is in power will represent certain interests. At present, certain interests are being looked after by the present occupants of the Ministerial bench, and if the position were reversed, and Labour occupied that bench, the amendment of. the honorable member for Darling (Mr.. Blakeley) would tie the hands of the Government of the day by precluding them from appointing the Chairmen of Tribunals to settle industrial disputes.

Mr Blakeley - Give us the Government bench, and I will be quite satisfied.

Mr CONSIDINE - I am not so easily satisfied. It is one thing to obtain a. majority in this House-

Mr Maxwell - And another thing tokeep it.

Mr CONSIDINE - Naturally the honorable member's own difficulties are uppermost in his mind. The point I wish to emphasize is that it does not necessarily follow that a Ministry with a majority in this House will be in a position toalter the state of affairs as left by its predecessors. The present Administration have been so careful to manipulate the electoral law that they have been able to secure a majority in another Chamber for some considerable time to come. I cannot see that the amendment will benefit the section of people represented by hon.orable members on this side of the chamber. In fact, from my point of view, it would be a backward step to place the matter in the hands of a 'Judge over whom, once he is appointed, we would have no control. I could understand honorable members behind the Ministry supporting a measure of this character, but I cannot understand what is in the mind of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley).

Mr Blakeley - The provision as printed in the Bill is not acceptable to the honorable member; in- its amended form it would not be acceptable to him; therefore it does not matter what he does in regard to it.

Mr CONSIDINE - It is true that, in any circumstances, I would vote against the provision, but I shall do nothing to tie the hands of the people I represent in this House, when there is a possibility of positions being reversed, and the representatives of vested interests of this country having to find seats on the Opposition benches. As the honorable member has said, the provision as it stands without amendment is not acceptable to me, but as it is not acceptable to him either, we are on an equal footing. However, the cheerful acceptance of the amendment, by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) ought to have been sufficient to indicate to the honorable member for Darling that there is not much in his proposal from our point of view.

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