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Thursday, 16 May 1957

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The question is an important one. I had a survey made by the Department of Labour and National Service some little time ago to see how the new system was working out. That survey was not confined to an acceptance of the views of the department, although it indicated that the scheme was working very well as regards both the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Commonwealth Industrial Court. I have also taken the opportunity to discuss the working of the scheme with representatives of the unions and of management. I think that it is fair to say that the scheme has been working very well indeed since the new arrangements were made. The conciliation process has been employed to a greater degree than previously. I hear on all sides commendation of the work of the conciliators, in particular the men who were appointed to do that special job. I have not had any official complaint from the unions regarding the operations of the sanctions provisions as administered by the Commonwealth Industrial Court.

Dr Evatt - They are causing grave unrest.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The right honorable gentleman says that they are. The first intimation I had of it was the published statement, I think attributed to Mr. Souter, in quite recent times, and I imagine that I would have heard rather more about it than I have heard, had there been any widespread dissatisfaction with the way in which the system was operating, lt is not, I think, without some significance that the loss of working time through industrial disputes in the first months of this year compared very much more than favourably with the loss in the opening months of other years.

Mr Ward - That will not be the case for much longer, unless you do something about it.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I know that it will not be the case if the honorable member for East Sydney has his way, because he never ceases to stir the turgid waters in this country. Coming back to the right honorable gentleman's request, I shall look into the practicability of having a statement made about these provisions.

Dr Evatt - And the possibility of intervention by the Government from time to time?

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I shall have the aspects mentioned by the right honorable gentleman examined, and I shall see whether a statement can be made.

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