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Thursday, 16 May 1957

Dr EVATT (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question in relation to the administration of the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as amended by the 1956 measure put forward by him during recent times. I specially direct his attention to the administration of what I may call the penal or coercive provisions of the act by the Commonwealth Industrial Court which was appointed to exercise the judicial powers that had to be separated from the powers now exercised by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as a body devoted strictly to conciliation and arbitration. Will the Minister consider intervening in important cases to put before the court views consonant with those expressed by him during the debates on the 1956 measure, in which he said that it was not the intention of the Government that the coercive or penal provisions should be exercised except in the rarest possible kind of case? I think that that fairly summarizes what the right honorable gentleman said. I do not suggest that the Minister should deal with a pending case. But he will see, from proceedings at present in progress, that provisions of the act are apparently being enforced as if nothing had been said by the Government or the Parliament, and as if there were no spirit of conciliation and mediation that should be observed by both the judicial and the arbitration bodies. Will the Minister make a general statement especially as to interlocution before the courts?

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