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Thursday, 11 November 1948

Mr CHIFLEY - The matter of the. right of appeal from a decision of a conciliation commissioner to the Arbitration Court was given a great deal of consideration when the bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was being drafted. The Attorney-General and I consulted at great length with the Chief Judge of the court and with other judges, including the Acting Chief Judge. The view of the judges was that provision for appeal was desirable. What the Government has always been afraid of in regard to appeals is that they will clog up the arbitration machinery very seriously. Frequently hearings are held up for a long time by adjournments. That state of affairs does not fit in with the Government's view that quick decisions should be made in industrial disputes. For a great number of reasons, particularly that one the Government rejected the proposal for appeals. It is- true- that some unions prefer that there should be a right of appeal from awards of conciliation commissioners, though I have no recollection of having received any representations on this matter, and am merely outlining the reason* why the provision of a right of appeal -was- rejected. I have -pen a pr,e<=s statement- that one or two unions, or their advocates, would prefer that there should be a right of appeal from the awards of conciliation commissioners. The honorable member referred to the fact that the men go on strike in order to obtain a further opportunity to present their case, in some instances to another conciliation commissioner. I cannot at the moment recollect any particular instance of such a happening.

Mr Beale - The foremen stevedores and the ships' painters unions are cases in point.

Mr CHIFLEY - The Minister for Labour and National Service has referred particular disputes to the court for consideration. In most instances, the. result of such action has been that the case has been heard by a conciliation commissioner. This is a question in respect of which there are great differences of opinion. The Government considers that the present procedure should be given an opportunity to work and that the matter should be reviewed later in the light of experience.

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