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Friday, 13 August 1920

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- I rise to point out that the curious thing about the Local Boards is that, apparently, they are intended to operate in respect of purely local disputes and within certain well-defined areas. But the Government must be aware that the Federal Legislature has no power to legislate in respect of local disputes. I cannot understand why the Local Boards should be invested with the very wide and general powers proposed - on the same lines, indeed, as the powers to be given to a Special Tribunal.

Mr Groom - But the Local Board is "in relation to" a Special Tribunal.

Mr BRENNAN - I do not profess to know just what that may mean. It is not a Local Board appointed by a Special Tribunal; and it appears that, once a Local Board is set up, there are no limitations to its powers, because we shall have gathered up in the Local Boards all the powers which are given to a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration under the Act itself. If any honorable member cares to take the trouble to examine the Act to determine exactly whatmy point implies he will realize how tremendous are the powers to be vested with this purely Local Board. The Government will see that the amendments they have promised in regard to Special Tribunals are no doubt given also in the case of Local Boards; that is, so far as concerns the determination of what a dispute is before the matter is heard by a Local Board. First, there may be a Local Board appointed " in relation to a Special Tribunal," and this Board, under the Arbitration Act, may appoint Boards of reference. So, there will be a Special Tribunal, which will have a Local Tribunal appointed in relation to it; which, in turn, can appoint a Board of reference under the Arbitration Act. Where the powers of these Local Tribunals will end - if ever they do - I am at a loss to imagine. I opposed the Bill at its secondreading stage as undermining the Arbitration Act; and, although I have made some honest attempts in Committee to improve it, I cannot understandthe position of these Local Boards. Their status should be more clearly defined, as being subordinate in their control to the Special Tribunals in relation to which they have been appointed. In the first place, if these Boards operate at all, they will operate in regard to disputes over which this Legislature has no jurisdiction, and, if they have jurisdiction, the Boards will be merely duplicating and repeating the work of another' body.

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