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Wednesday, 8 September 1920

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- The Minister assured us thathis intention was to make this measure as like the Arbitration Act as possible.

Mr Groom - iNo; what I said was that it contained all the powers that were in the Act of 1911. We take nothing away from the public servants that is in that Act.

Mr FOWLER - That isso; but in the Western Australian Arbitration Act assessors are appointed at the request of either side, and the Court is composed of a

Judge of the Supreme Court, with one person representing the employers and another representing the employees. If it has been found advantageous in Western Australia, in spite of the thoroughly representative character of the Judge, to have experts to sit as assessors with him, it might fairly be urged that it would greatly strengthen the position of the Arbitrator under this measure to give him the assistance of an assessor from either side in at least the great majority of cases. In my experience of the examination of witnesses at the sittings of a Committee of this House, I have often noticed that a single question put by an expert member of the Committee will throw quite a flood of light on a situation. That is where assessors would be valuable in the cases that are likely to come before the Arbitrator. If we do not make provision in the law to that effect, I am afraid the Arbitrator, if he is a self-sufficient man, may consider that he is quite competent to deal with many cases without assessors. In the majority of instances he would probably be quite satisfied that he could handle them well enough without any such assistance. If only for the sake of giving confidence to both sides, and especially to the public servants, that their cases will be dealt with in the most thorough fashion, the Minister would be well-advised toput into this measure some more definite provision than he has suggested regarding the appointment of assessors.

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