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Thursday, 2 September 1920

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The right honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the clause.

Mr HUGHES - I shall do so. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the principles of the Labour party have for sixteen years been set out, and that they do not involve an appeal from a Court of Arbitration. When he is confronted with his own Act - the State Act passed by him while Premier of Queensland - which provides for an appeal from the Arbitration Court to another Court, he says, " I did the best I could. Although I had a majority of forty-five to twenty-seven in the lower House, I was powerless with a Conservative Upper House, and had to take what Icould get." There is a confession for the honorable member to make. I will there leave it, and him.

The proposed new clause commends itself very much to me. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the State Act passed by him has no application to the present position. It has every application, since it provides for an appeal from an award of the Arbitration Court. In the Queensland Industrial Gazette, of 10th June last, there is a report of an appeal to theFull Court for avariation of an award, and the judgment of the Full Court, it is shown, was delivered by Mr. Justice McCawley, a Judge, who, so far as I know, was appointed by the honorable member himself. There was an appealby employees for an all-round increaseof 4d. per hour, and this Tribunal actually gave the Australian Workers Union 4d. an hour more than was allowed by the State Industrial Arbitration Court. Why, then, all this thunder? The position is that the honorable member and his followers believe that they can get certainconditions from theCourt of Arbitration. If they can obtain them, well and good. Ifthey cannot, they say," We will go to the Tribunal, and if we cannot get it from the Tribunal, we will strike." That, in a word, is their creed.

As the hour is late, I shall not prolong the discussion. The only argument I have heard against the clause is that it will affect a case now pending. That is an argument which weighs with me. The President of the Court may say, " This is a reflection upon the Court, and, in the circumstances, one which must be regarded in the most serious light." That being so, the Government will insert the following proviso: -

Provided that this sub-section shall not apply to any case in which the hearing of the claims

Was commenced before the commencement of this section.

That will have the effect of making this clause apply only to future cases, and not to the one now pending.

Mr Charlton - So that it will not apply to the case now being heard ?

Mr HUGHES - It will not touch it. I suggest that the Committee accept the new clause, subject to that proviso. The proviso will remove most of the objections which have been urged by honorable members opposite. The Government will consider the suggestions which have been made with regard to the practical working of this provision. If it is found that the better course would be to constitute a permanent Bench of three, that will be done. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr.Riley) said something about the expense which such a Court would involve. I say deliberately that the expense is nothing compared with the value of industrial peace. The questionof expense ought not to weigh with us. If in its working this provision shall prove cumbersome or shall hamper the Court, the Government will at once bring in amending legislation to prevent anything of. the kind.

Mr.Charlton. - Why not withdraw the clause altogether?

Mr.HUGHES.- I do not intend to do that. The Minister for Works andRailways will move the addition of the proviso which I have read, and the whole matter can then be settled forthwith by a division. I hope there will be no further delay.

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