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Friday, 13 August 1920

Sir ROBERT BEST (Kooyong) . - I have supported this measure because it encourages the idea of con- ciliation and the round-table conference which is very essential at the present time. That is a valuable feature of the Bill which I hope will be exercised. I have also been influenced to do so by the urgent assurances of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that some of the provisions were essential to deal with the present grave coal crisis. I, however, express my great disappointment that Part IV. has not been made an adjunct of the Arbitration Court. The Bill seems to set up competing authorities, and I fear that the result will he endless confusion and chaos. If it could have been arranged, as it easily could, that Part IV. should be worked under the regis of the Arbitration Court, some very valuable results might have followed, and there would be no risk of the tribunals running counter to the Arbitration Act. I am relieved to some extent, however, to learn that the Government idea is that this should be only a temporary measure, and that they propose to later introduce a comprehensive measure which will coordinate all the leading features of the present arbitration law, and the principles embodied in the Bill. If that is done, and the measure is an outcome of co-operation on the part of employers and employees, we may look for some real benefits. I hope that a big effort will be made to that end. We have also the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that this Bill will be exercised only as an emergency measure. If that policy is followed, some of the disadvantages I fearmay be minimized.

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