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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- On general principles I would not support the amendment put forward, but in view of the fact that I am opposed to the subordination" of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to the Tribunals which, for reasons . not disclosed, and which at present cannot be disclosed, will be created from time to time, I do support it.

Mr Livingston - We must do something.

Mr BRENNAN - Yes. It is because I want the Conciliation and Arbitration Act amended so that the Court may continue the good work it has been doing in the matter of preventing and settling industrial disputes - I do not say that it has done everything that ought to be done - I am opposed to the extension of these Tribunals. I want to address a word of warning to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), who wants to extract a solemn assurance from the Government that these Special Tribunals would only be employed in extreme cases and for very special reasons, and was aMe to secure the guarantee from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that they would be bodies which would come into existence to deal with special disputes and would go out of existence, perhaps, in some cases and not in other cases when the particular disputes were settled. I remind the Committee that once we appoint one of these Special Tribunals it may take cognisance of any dispute of which the Arbitration Court has cognisance anywhere throughout Australia. It has not to be referred by any person or body external to itself to a Special Tribunal at all, because once a Special Tribunal has been created it may take notice of disputes in any part of the Commonwealth. It is not under an obligation to inquire into the question of whether there is really an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Constitution. In clause 19, which we shall shortly be discussing, it is provided that the Special Tribunal, or the chairman, or the Minister, or any person thereto authorized in writing, may summon any person to attend for the purpose of preventing or settling industrial disputes. As soon as we create a Special Tribunal for a special purpose it is immediately able, under its farreaching powers, to handle any dispute in any part of Australia.

Mr Fenton - And any association can apply.

Mr.BRENNAN. - Exactly. I cannot go into the powers of the Special Tribunal in detail, but the parties concerned, or the Government, may invoke its aid, and the Tribunal once created is not limited to any particular dispute. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) may find that a Special Tribunal, if created, would interest itself in disputes everywhere, and the Government would, not bring its work to a conclusion so long as it appeared to be discharging its particular duties. It is for that reason that I take the opportunity provided by the honorable member for Darling to support his amendment, although I know the Government will not accept it, because it is not in harmony with the scheme of the Bill; but * the amendment emphasizes the fact that we are not justified in a measure of this kind in breaking down the structure of Arbitration. I believe that present or future Judges of the Arbitration Court would not be prepared to undertake the task of adjudicating upon disputes under the conditions created by this clause. I support the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

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