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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .-I have a prior amendment to that of the Minister. I move -

That the following paragraph be inserted before paragraph (a) : - "(aa) by omitting the words 'GovernorGeneral ' in line1 of sub-section (1.) and inserting the word President ' in place thereof, and by inserting the words ' person or persons holding the office of ' after the word ' any ' in line 2 of sub-section (1.)."

The amendment means that the President will appoint the Deputies, and will practically bring us back to where we were before the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was amended in 1918, prior to which the President had the power. Since that amendment of the original Act it has been proved that this section has not given satisfaction to industrial unionists. The Court is congested chiefly because the man who presides over it, and who knows most about the business, has not the power to appoint any one to assist him. The appointment at present is left to Executive authority, and the clause in the Bill, as it stands, so leaves the law. Unless the Government feel inclined to appoint Deputies to meet the congestion, the Court will still be " ham strung," and, therefore,I wish the President to have the power. In the near future there may be no necessity for Deputies at all, for, with the machinery being brought into existence, it is possible that the Court may not have one-third of the work it has now to meet. Until such time however, as the accumulated work is reduced, it ought to be left with the President to appoint Deputies. We may rely on it that the Court will not appoint any Deputies unless there is an absolute necessity; and I think my amendment will prove satisfactory to all concerned. All the congestion has occurred since we last amended the Act, and we are responsible, because we have not made appointments to meet the business. Under the circumstances, there should be no objection to reverting to the old system. Only at times will it be necessary to appoint a Deputy, and we ought to take great care that claims have not to wait six or twelve months for settlement.

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