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Wednesday, 8 September 1920

Sir ROBERT BEST (Kooyong) . - The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has anticipated certain remarks which I was about to make upon the subject of the conference which will have to be convened under the Bill, and also in regard to the appointment of permanent assessors. In its present form the amendment before the Committee is quite objectionable and ought not to be pressed. At the same time much can be said in favour of introducing into certain cases skilled experts for the purpose of aiding the Arbitrator. It is very singular that, although provision for the adoption of this course is made in our Arbitration Act, the President of that Court has seldom, if ever, availed himself of it. If he has done so, it has been only in a very few cases indeed. To a large extent its use has been obviated by the practice of the Judge formulating minutes of his award, prior to the making of a permanent award. What I previously indicated to the Minister was that in order to meet the views which have been expressed by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and others, the provision which is contained in the Con ciliation and Arbitration Act should be embodied in this Bill, so that it will be quite competent for the Arbitrator at any time that he may require the skilled aid of any person, to command it. No doubt clause 13 of the Bill gives him wide powers in that regard, seeing that it provides that he ' shall act in accordance with equity and good conscience, and may inform his mind upon any matter in such manner as he thinks fit. But in order to meet the objection which has been urged by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I would urge the Government to give the Arbitrator specific power to call to his aid expert advisers in any case that he may deem fit. I make the suggestion lest the power in question should not be completely comprehended by the words which are contained in clause 13. Section 35 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1915 provides -

The Court shall, on the application of any original party to an industrial dispute, and may without such application, at any stage of the dispute, appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to the dispute, and the assessors shall discharge such duties as are directed by the Court or as are prescribed.

Mr Maxwell - The insertion of that provision would meet the position.

Sir ROBERT BEST - Exactly. It sets out that the Judge, on the application of any original party to an industrial dispute, shall appoint two assessors, and may, in the absence of any application, call these assessors to his aid. To my mind it would be wise to incorporate a similar provision in this Bill, because it would meet the views which have been expressed by my honorable friends opposite.

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