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Friday, 13 August 1920


Mr Hughes - Would the point raised by the honorable member be met by amending the proviso to read as follows : -

Provided that no dispute as to which a hearing has been commenced in the Court shall be referred to a Special Tribunal.

Mr.- BEENAK-That would certainly be an improvement; but I do not wish to be taken as approving of the policy of interfering with matters which have been once initiated in the Arbitration Court by way of plaint or otherwise.

Mr Hughes - The proviso will be amended as I have indicated. It will certainly improve matters from the point of view of the honorable member

Mr BRENNAN - It will. There is a curious phrase in the last line of the proviso, which says that no dispute as to which a plaint is pending in the Court and a hearing has commenced " shall be referred" to a Special Tribunal. Many matters may come before a Special Tribunal which are not referred to it. It may really grip disputes where it likes under clause 19, which gives the power to convene a compulsory conference. "It is misleading to say that no dispute shall be referred to it. Under clause 19 a Special Tribunal or the chairman or the Minister, or any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, may summon any person to attend at a conference. The number of disputes actually referred to a Special Tribunal may be comparatively small. It may be merely a matter of verbiage, but it seems to me that the phrasing of clause 19 leaves it open to the Special Tribunal itself to seize upon a dispute that is already before the Court. If it is made clear that that cannot be done I shall be satisfied. Will the Prime Minister consider my suggestion ?

Mr Hughes - A dispute can come before a Special Tribunal only by being referred to it.

Mr BRENNAN - Perhaps so; but only in the sense that it may refer the dispute to itself. Under clause 19 the Chairman of a Special Tribunal, or the Minister, or any person authorized by the Minister may summon any person to attend.

Mr Hughes - That relates to a compulsory conference, whereas I am speaking of a Special Tribunal. Paragraph b of clause 15 provides that a dispute can be referred to a Special Tribunal only after failure on the part of a compulsory conference held under clause 19.

Mr BRENNAN - But clause 21 provides that where a conference has been held under clause 19, and an agreement has not been reached as to the whole of the dispute, the Chairman of the Special Tribunal, if the conference was summoned by that Tribunal, or the Chairman thereof, may refer the dispute to the Special Tribunal. The main point, however, that I ask the Prime Minister to look into is as to interference on the ¬ępart of a Special Tribunal with cases that are actually proceeding amicably before the Court.

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