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Wednesday, 15 April 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) .- In regard to the question which has been raised by Senator Needham, and which, ordinarily should have been addressed to my colleague, Senator McColl, I wish to say that the Government are keenly anxious to bring to an end the unfortunate dispute which exists in the locality referred to. I am not able to state definitely the stage which negotiations have reached, but if the honorable senator will repeat his question to-morrow, no doubt my colleague, Senator McColl, will be able to supply him with the desired information. In reply to Senator Rae's question, I wish to say it is quite true that Mr. Swinburne, a member of the Inter-State Commission, undertook, at my request,, to proceed to Lithgow - thereby forfeiting his Christmas holidays - for the purpose of endeavouring to settle a dispute which exists between two unions there as to the allotment of work. He has made a report, and I shall have very much pleasure in making it available to honorable senators. But I would point out that that report has no legal force behind it. Mr. Swinburne did not stand there clothed with the authority of an Arbitration Court, or of any judicial tribunal. The facts are that a dispute had occurred, and I was anxious to get somebody with knowledge who could inquire into it with a view to arriving at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Mr. Swinburne's name appealed to me in the first place, and I am glad to say that it also appealed to the men there. They accepted him as a thoroughly impartial man, charged with the task of inquiring into the trouble. Eis report was submitted to me, and I thought upon its receipt that my troubles, and those of the Small Arms Factory, were over. Unfortunately, however, a difficulty has arisen in regard to the interpretation to be placed upon his report. But, at a recent conference with the men, we were able to arrive at an interim agreement, which will carry us on till the time when we can obtain an award from the Arbitration Court itself. I shall have' pleasure in making Mr. Swinburne's report available to-morrow.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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