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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1811


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I thank the Minister for Labour for his assurances. 1 believe that he is wrong in bis interpretation of the law. But whether he is right or wrong, there is no objection to putting in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act a clause like the one I have referred to. lt does not affect our obligations under the conventions. It simply says - and it should declare - that we intend to keep those obligations, whatever they are. The questions of law that the Minister raised - and 1 believe that he was egregiously wrong - are ones which no doubt will come before the High Court of Australia in due course. Whether or not that happens, surely the Government does not object to the insertion in the Act of its own intention, which the Minister for Labour has now declared, to act in good faith. We have had in this and in other matters evidence that the Government does not always act in good faith and that Ministers' assurances given in this chamber and elsewhere cannot always be trusted. If the Minister believes that what he says is correct, why does he object to putting into the Act the simple pledge that the Government will do what it has pledged itself to do? The question as to what that is is a matter which is left undetermined. The courts may look at that in the future. But what is the objection, Mr Minister, to putting into the Act - and it can validly be put in in spite of what you say - the pledge that you gave verbally at the table a moment ago and which unfortunately is not legally binding? If you believe your own words make them legally binding now.







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