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Thursday, 1 August 1946

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (2:44 AM) . - It is not a pleasure, at this hour of the morning, to discuss at length the definitions in clause 4 ; but, because of the importance of the matter that has been raised, the committee, and particularly the Opposition, would fail in its duty if it did not try to extract from the Government a clearer statement of its purposes and intentions than has so far been given. I have before me the Coal Production (War-time) Act. 1944 and the present bill. In all other respects, the definitions in each of them are practically identical. For example, in the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944 " the court " means " the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration". In the bill, the same words are used. In the act, " the federation " means " the Australian* Coal and Shale Employees Federation". In the bill, the terms' of the definition are the same. "The Commissioner " is defined in the same terms in both the act and the bill. There has been an addition to the definition of " industrial disputes ". But " coal " in the old act is defined as " coal includes coke ", and nothing more. It is a straightout, simple and honest definition, but the definition in this bill is so ambiguous as te merit the description dishonest.1 It can mean anything which the Government says it means in the future. If the Government means, to take control of' industries, such as tar, fertilizers, benzol, &c, it has the authority and the numbers to do so, and it ought to state its inten-, tions clearly. The people .who will be affected by the legislation are entitled' to know exactly what is meant by the definition, and ambiguity should be avoided. We are becoming used to the ' attempts of the Government to slip in a few little words which alter the whole character of a bill. This was done in the case of another measure, and it gave the Minister complete control. Something of the same kind is being attempted here. The Minister declined to give a reasonable explanation; his attitude is " take it or leave it ", and later he berates the Opposition for lack of co-operation. If he wants the co-operation of the

Opposition in Parliament, and practical assistance in the committee stages such as we are accustomed to give, we are entitled to a little more courtesy from him.

Question put -

That 'the definition proposed to be left out (Mr. Harrison's amendment) stand part of the clause.

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