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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If there is no strike it is because the Postmaster-General has removed the rubber stamp and is getting ready to put on another one; that is the only reason. If the Government did not endorse the Public Service Board's earlier opposition to negotiation it should say so. If the Government did not endorse the Board's subsequent agreement to grant increases it should say so. If, after the election, the Government did not pressurise the Commission into rubber-stamping the Board's decision it should say so. If the Government is brazen enough to deny that, directly or indirectly, it pressurised the Commission that is its business, but I am one of those people who agree with the many thousands of professional men who will not accept the Government's denial. I wish to quote what Mr Jack Michael, the General President of the Association of Professional Engineers, had to say about this matter. He is a very responsible person. He would not lightly make such a statement. I quote only a portion of his letter. He said:

Many of our members believe that the Commission was influenced by the Federal Government policies, as expressed by the Board, which after all was only one respondent in the case. If there is even the slightest reason to suspect the judicial independence of the Commission, this is very serious indeed.

He went on to say: . . the very low amounts awarded are all such as to constitute a direct incitement to militancy by this Association, which has always been noted for its responsible and temperate approach in its industrial policies. Indeed, many members are saying that the Commission has taken advantage of such policies, and that' there appears to be no room for temperate and responsible policies if justice is to be achieved before the Commission.

I believe that a powerful case can be made out for many amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Public Service Arbitration Act, but perhaps the most urgent amendment is one which will discourage delaying tactics on the part of employers by providing that wage claims which are not settled within 90 days from the date on which the claim is filed shall, if partly or fully granted, be made to operate retrospectively to the date of the application. That is the only way it can be done. The future of conciliation and arbitration in this country is in the balance. I do not want to see it destroyed, but the Government, by its interference in the proper functioning of conciliation and arbitration, is rapidly destroying the system. Once the workers lose faith in the integrity of the arbitration system they cannot expect any of their associations to accept the decisions of the arbitration tribunals.

The Government is making it plain to anybody who cares to examine the actions of the Commission and the Public Service

Arbitrator and his deputy that the Commission and the arbitrators have become mere rubber stamps or public servants of the Commonwealth Government. Can anyone imagine the Leader of the Australian Labor Party using the kind of influence which appears to have been used in this case? Of course not. Imagine a Labor government going to an industrial ' tribunal

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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