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Wednesday, 8 September 1920


Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - Obviously, the amendment which has been submitted would constitute these assessors a corporate part of the Court. I do not think that would be a right thing to do, and, as I believe the general sense of the Committee is opposed to it, I shall not argue the matter.


Mr West - Does not the Minister think that he has the numbers?


Mr GROOM - I have already said that I believe the opinion of the Committee is opposed to the amendment, and, consequently, there is no need for me to discuss it further. When speaking upon the second reading of the Bill last night, I pointed out that clause 13 will give the Arbitrator power to call to his aid experts and to appoint assessors. That provision leaves the matter in an elastic form, so that the Arbitrator may call in expert assistance in any form that he may desire. But, in order that he may be guided by the feeling of the Committee, I am prepared, when we reach that clause, to move the insertion in it of the following words: " and may in any case appoint an assessor or assessors to advise him in relation to the claim or application." We ought- to leave it to the Arbitrator himself to determine whether he shall appoint assessors in any case.


Mr Tudor - The Minister does not propose to go as far as the Arbitration Act goes in that regard ?


Mr GROOM - It would be too much to require the Arbitrator to appoint assessors in connexion with every little application that may come before him. This Bill will confer upon him the power to vary his determinations. Practically the whole of our Public Service will come under these determinations, so that applications will constantly be made for a variation of those determinations. At a later stage of the Bill I intend to make provision for interpreting determinations. I submit that in the amendment which I have outlined I shall be meeting the Committee fairly. It is only proper that the determination of whether it is necessary to appoint assessors in the different cases shall be left to the Arbitrator.


Mr West - Are we to understand that the Arbitrator will appoint the assessors ?


Mr GROOM - He will be vested with discretionary power in that regard.


Mr West - I do not care for that.


Mr GROOM - It will be open to either of the parties to any dispute to ask the Arbitrator to appoint the assessor whom it nominates.


Mr Maxwell - The Minister has previously said that although this power exists under the Arbitration Act it is rarely exercised.


Mr GROOM - Yes.


Mr Maxwell - But it is there, and can be exercised when necessary.


Mr GROOM - At the same time, to put it in as an - obligation in such circumstances would be a sort of indication that we wanted assessors appointed in all cases.


Mr Maxwell - Surely no more than in the Arbitration Act?


Mr GROOM - If the honorable member says that the power is not often wanted, and is used only occasionally, what objection can he have to giving the Arbitrator a discretion ? If we make it compulsory, we take away from1 him the discretion to decide whether the case is a fit and proper one for the appointment of assessors to assist him. The question before him might be one on which expert advice was not required, as, for instance, the matter of holidays, hours of labour, or overtime.


Mr Maxwell - Make it "on the application of either party, or when the Arbitrator thinks fit."


Mr GROOM - If a party wanted an assessor, and told the Arbitrator so, it would be within the discretion of the Arbitrator to say, " I will appoint assessors in this case, because I want their assistance." We are meeting the case fairly by putting it in the way we are doing. I must vote against the amendment of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), because it will constitute assessors as a permanent part of the Court.







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