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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator BARNES (Victoria) . - I do not see the necessity to retain the words " person or," as only associations or organizations registered in the court should have the right to appear. The members of the organization which I represent are following various occupations in different parts of Australia, and are responsible tothe court, but the position would become chaotic if any person had the right to appear. Under the present law the court deals with organizations and associations of employers or employees, but under the clause as it stands any person engaged in, say, the pastoral or mining industry could claim the right to be heard before the court.

Senator Pearce - But the court would have to decide whether he had that right.

Senator BARNES - I trust the committee will take a sane view of this proposal, and will prevent other than representatives of organizations or associations from appearing before the court.

Senator Reid - If the cost of living is to be increased, in consequence of an award of the court, should not the people have the right to appear?

Senator BARNES - There may be something in that; but the right to appear should be given only to representatives of organizations and associations. The employees in a certain industry might be seeking an award from the court involving the expenditure on the part of the employers of perhaps £500,000, and if this word " person " were allowed to remain, individuals could claim the right to be heard, with the result that a final decision might be delayed for perhaps years.

Senator Elliott - Why should persons be compelled to join organizations before they can be heard?

Senator BARNES - Possibly, there may be something to be said on behalf of the individual, but, in my opinion, every one should belong to an organization or an association, the representatives of which can be heard before the court. The Australian Workers Union has a membership of 150,000. Each of those men could apply to be heard, and probably be able to advance very strong arguments in opposition to any proposed action in a case affecting their interests. Similar steps could be taken by the whole of the members of employers' organizations, and there would be no end to the matter. Industries would be hung up, and a large number of men might be thrown out of employment.

Senator Lynch - Surely the community has some interest in the matter !

Senator BARNES - The members of the community are in either the em ployers' associations or the organizations of employees. I admit that industrial disputes must be settled according to the laws of the land, but that object will not be achieved under the clause as it stands. I therefore urge the Government to accept the amendment

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