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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .- This seems to be rather a far-reaching amendment as to the effect of which I am not quite sure. The section in the Act makes ample provision for dealing with organizations which are deemed to have committed an offence of the kind; and, altogether, the amendment appears to me rather an objectionable one. The Minister has given us no reason why this new clause is proposed, and I am afraid it might lead to a good deal of trouble. It is quite possible, in connexion with an industrial upheaval, or some anticipated trouble, that an officer may make certain remarks which do not represent the views of the organization with which he is connected, and, under the clause, the organization will be held responsible. It often happens in industrial troubles that a representative of the men takes a certain view, and. places it before the members, but it does not follow that the members agree with it or accept his advice.

The members of the association may hold quite a different view, and, under the circumstances, they ought not to be regarded as having committed a contravention of the Act. The section in the Act at present is sufficiently effective, and has hitherto worked satisfactorily; but now, for some reasons of which we have not been told, we are asked to make it more drastic. The Minister ought at least to show the grounds on which he proposes^ to make the change. This is a clause which may not prove acceptable to the bodies outside concerned in industrial arbitration, and no' one can say what it may lead to. We are not told whether the suggestion for such a clause emanates from the Department or from some industrial bodies, and evidently it was an afterthought, for it was drawn up after the Bill had been drafted.

Mr Richard Foster - It only proposes to make the law unmistakable.

Mr CHARLTON - It is unmistakable now.

Mr Brennan - The clause extends the law.

Mr CHARLTON - Of course it does, and in extending it makes it more drastic; indeed, it is a. sort of drag-net, which may be applied in a way never intended. We cannot be expected to accept such an amendment without knowing what is the object or the reason for its proposal. It may have the effect of preventing any appeal to the Court at all, for if the Government go too far the industrial unions will have nothing to do with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

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