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Tuesday, 29 November 1938


Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- The Industrial Board, established in the Australian Capital Territory, has very important functions to perform. If the board were allowed to function as anticipated, there would be no reason to complain, but, from information supplied to me, it appears that a certain amount of departmental interference, amounting, in my opinion, to a form of intimidation, has been taking place. I understand that, while the board was taking evidence to determine certain important matters concerning the wages and working conditions in the Territory, the chairman of the board and at least one other member of the board was sent for and interviewed by Mr. Knowles, the SolicitorGeneral. At these interviews it was suggested that, from a departmental point of view, certain works being carried out in the Territory were costing too much.


Mr Menzies - Is it suggested that Mr. Knowles said so?


Mr WARD - My information is that Mr. Knowles interviewed the chairman and one other member of the board.


Mr Menzies - On the question of costs?


Mr WARD - I am -informed that he sent for them, and that it was suggested that certain decisions of the hoard had resulted in works costing more than the department desired. If that is so it is a very serious state of affairs from the standpoint of the workers. We have always been informed that this tribunal is entirely removed from political and departmental influence. I understand' that the chairman has been interviewed on many occasions by the SolicitorGeneral. I have been informed that in one instance the departmental head was so anxious to interview him that a motor car was sent for him when the board was in session. This is causing a good deal of dissatisfaction in the minds of the workers. Will the Attorney-General make some inquiries as to the necessity for these frequent interviews between departmental heads and the members of the board in order to ascertain whether any undue influence or pressure is brought to bear upon members of the board in connexion with their deliberations and decisions ? The workers in this Territory want to be satisfied that the board is entirely free from political or departmental influence.







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