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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1818


Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - In my 18 years in this Parliament I have suffered a variety of insults but I am bound to confess that for the first lime in my life I am upset. I am upset that I should be confused by the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) with himself. I thought the honourable gentleman made out a perfect argument for the case that I was putting, that a clear distinction should be drawn between a man discharging the role of conciliator and a man acting as arbitrator. I would not like the honourable member to think that I whistled up a curious idea while walking across the carpet from the door to my seat simply, as the honourable gentleman said, to fill in a few moments because my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) was prevented by an unhappy gathering of facts from being here. But he is here now. I have long held the view that I have put and 1 am not alone in having held it. The honourable member for Phillip surely will not say that the former right honourable member for Barton was seized with a curious idea. T am referring to Dr Evatt who in 1956 stood at the table near the dispatch box and moved an amendment which included this provision:

The making of special provisions, strengthening the processes of conciliation, including the appointment of additional commissioners charged exclusively with the function of mediation.

The key word is 'exclusive'. I am delighted that the honourable member for Phillip agrees with me. I will not argue again as I have argued in years gone by. The grave difficulty in any industrial dispute occurs when the parties say: 'We are at loggerheads and this situation must involve the discipline of an arbitrator.' That is where a skilled negotiator, mediator and conciliator is priceless beyond all description in getting the 2 parties together and saying to them: 'Look, gentlemen, you have differences. I want to assist you to negotiate them.' I agree with the honourable member for Phillip that there is no doctrinaire attitude in this debate save that injected by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), who is so overcome by the prospect of his visit to Geneva that he seems to be beyond himself. I have never heard an employer organisation thunder about this point. I have never heard anyone in the trade union movement complain about the attitude that if you can get a sound conciliator he is the man who can achieve a great deal in this field.

I am worried because the Government is seeking to abandon recognition of the true value of a conciliator. I must confess, for all of my manifest imperfections, that 1 am not persuaded to the view that you are correct merely because one or other of the parties would say: 'We object to your now sitting as an arbitrator'. My complaint is simply that you do not put the proper emphasis upon the role of a conciliator. I hold strongly to the view that if the parties to a dispute realise that a man can sit as an arbitrator - albeit they may say that they do not want him to sit as an arbitrator - they will not be as forthcoming as when they know that they can put all their cards on the table. That has been my experience. 1 have not moved in the crepe de Chine industrial circles in which the honourable member for Phillip has moved. Mine has been but a humble pursuit, but I have dealt with some rather rugged trade union leaders. I am delighted to have had their confidence.







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