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Friday, 27 August 1920


Mr RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield) . - What has been exercising my mind very greatly is the danger of the proposal without some reasonable limitation.


Mr Charlton - You will have sufficient limitation if you leave it to the Judge.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - I am not satisfied, and I am sure the industries will not be satisfied. It will not give satisfaction outside. There are some plaints lodged in the Arbitration Court which have not been attended to for twelve months, and in one or two exceptional cases for even longer. If this amendment were made, and such a condition were to continue to exist, look at the matter from the point of view of the industries. They set no stability, and no industrial peace. The business man does not know what he is doing, because he does not know what he has to expect.


Mr Watkins - Then how can he be a business man?


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - He is a business man for that reason. It means that he has to cover himself to be safe in any case, and all these things will be passed on and tend to increase the cost of living.


Mr Maxwell - He has to provide against contingencies that may never arise.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - Just because he is a business man, and knows what he ought to do, he makes that provision. If he does not, and the contingencies do happen, he will very soon find himself in the Insolvency Court. Take the instance of a contractor who has putin a tender and signed a contract, possibly for work of considerable magnitude. If be has to face all the possible contingencies that may exist .under this proposed amendment of the Act, he will have to provide against contingencies that may never arise. In order to protect himself, he may have to increase his estimate of the cost of labour by from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent. All these things operate against the public interest, and simply mean putting another shackle on those Australian industries which we want to build up. So far from making industrial peace more certain, the proposal will, I believe, operate in exactly the opposite direction. There should be some reasonable limitation. It ought not to be possible for a man to be involved in a very considerable amount of added expenditure over a period of from six to twelve months. I hope that, as a result of the legislation we have just passed, the Court will become more efficient from the point of view of the prompt despatch of business. I should not feel so much alarmed if we had provided for the appointment of assessors to sit with the Judge. If such a provision had been made in the original Act, the Arbitration Court would enjoy a larger measure of public confidence than it has to-day.


Mr Charlton - An amendment providing for the appointment of assessors is to be submitted.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER - I shall have pleasure in supporting it; but in the interests of industrial peace I appeal to my honorable friends opposite not to pass the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for "West Sydney







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