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Wednesday, 16 February 1977

Mr STREET (CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA) (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters) - The question of appointments to panels in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission- both deputy presidents who head the panels and other commissioner members of the panels -is, of course, entirely a matter for the President of the Commission. Historically, and I think wisely, the appointees to the Commission over the years have been people who are highly experienced in the field of industrial relations. I refer to both the deputy presidential members and the commissioners. Two recent appointments to the Commission have been made by this Government. One was a deputy president who fulfilled those criteria that I have just mentioned. The other appointee was a former member of the union movement. It is inevitable with the appointment of people with this sort of a background that they will be brought into contactin their work in the Commission with the same sort of organisations and the same sort of problems with which they themselves dealt in their previous roles in industrial relations in whatever field they were operating-from the union movement in some cases, or representing employers or, indeed, fields of government employment in other cases.

I have no doubt that the recent appointees to the Commission will be able to make the transition from their former field of endeavour to the Commission without any trouble. This has been our experience over a period of years. Just as deputy presidents of the Commission inevitably come into contact with people with whom they have been associated previously, so do the commissioners. Mr Commissioner Sweeney was recently appointed to the Commission by this Government. From memory, I understand that the panel of which he is a member deals with postal workers and workers of Telecom Australia. He will come into contact with former unions and members of unions with which he was previously associated. I have no doubt that as other commissioners have done before him, he will be able to assume his new role as commissioner bearing in mind the experience that he has had in the past. The withdrawal of a union from a hearing before a commissioner or deputy president seems to me a very childish action to take and one which is not in the best interests of industrial relations.

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