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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I support the request of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr! Cunningham). The Minister (Mr. Groom) has misrepresented both the honorable member's speech and his purpose. The honorable member, in common with, other honorable members - not all of them on this side of the chamber - desires to have all the information available in order that honorable members may arrive at a proper conclusion concerning what should be included in the Bill. No one is more competent than the President of the Arbitration Court to report upon the matter. We have not got that report. We know that this Bill was not submitted to the President for report. It has been suggested, in a fragmentary way, that some of the amendments incorporated in the Bill were based upon suggestions made by the President from time to time. That may be so, but we have not before us the suggestions which he is stated to have made, and we are unable, therefore, to say how far those suggestions have been availed of, or modified, or turned down. Surely honorable members are entitled to have .the best information available in order that they may arrive at the most' valuable conclusions. The President of the Court has seen fit, in view, of the circumstances surrounding the manner in which this Bill, and the Industrial Peace Bill, were placed before Parliament, to make comments, both pointed and direct, concerning the Government m not submitting to him those measures for any such expressions of opinion as he might have been inclined to make. It is for honorable members on both sides of the Chamber to say whether they concur in the Government's attitude. Does the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) think it right that we should be compelled to consider an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act without being provided with a report such as the President of that Court has intimated that he is. willing to give?

Mr Jowett - After all, the members of this Parliament are the law-givers.'

Mr RYAN - They are; but they ought to be ready and willing to refer to those sources that are best informed upon £he matters concerning which they are making laws.

Mr Jowett - That is why the Committee is listening with such attention to the remarks of the honorable member.

Mr RYAN - I thank the honorable member, and appreciate the compliment, and I trust that he and _ the honorable members associated with him will support the request of the honorable member for

Gwydir. No one can suggest that: a report from the President of theArbitration Court would do any harm, or, indeed, that it would not be helpful. Honorable members are considering a measure which is intended to prevent industrial unrest, and to prevent industrial disputes. We are dealing with two parties, namely, the employers and the employees, and we should certainly be provided with all information available from the best informed sources.

Mr Jowett - Does the honorable member suggest that any one is suppressing any information ?

Mr RYAN - I suggest that the Minister has had suggestions from the President of the Court with regard to amendments which he considers it desirable to incorporate in the Bill.. I further suggest that the Minister has not incorporated all those suggestions, and I still further suggest that the Minister is keeping back from honorable members what those suggestions are.

Mr Jowett - That is a very serious charge.

Mr RYAN - Does the Minister deny what I suggest?

Mr Groom - The honorable member can finish his speech.

Mr RYAN - Surely the information should be supplied.

Mr Groom - I will decide whether to , do so when I speak.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Has the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) any information to back up his suggestion?

Mr RYAN - I have the statement of the Minister himself. He has submitted this evening that the President of the Court did make -suggestions for the amendment of the Bill, and some of those suggestions are not incorporated in this measure. Further, the Minister declines to make those suggestions available to honorable members, because, forsooth, he says that they are for the Government to consider. As a member of this Legislature, I desire an opportunity to apply my own judgment to those suggestions, in order that I may be able either to support or to express disagreement with them. Honorable members are entitled to be made acquainted with the suggestions, and to insist upon having them. The desire of the honorable member for Gwydir is laudable.

I should like to know what is to be the attitude of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) on this matter. I am sure that he will not be a party to having the suggestions of the President of the Arbitration Court set aside. If I have formed a correct opinion of him, he will require that as much information as it is possible to obtain shall be laid before the members of this Committee. Then, if I gathered correctly, from an interjection made when I was speaking the other night, the view of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), he thinks it strange that this Bill was not submitted to the President of the Arbitration Court for his suggestions regarding it. I hope that, for the reasons I have given, the Committee will carry the motion of the honorable member for Gwydir, which he so ably supported.

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