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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- I protest against the amendment, for the reason that has been given by Senator McLachlan. I regard the provision in the bill as the most valuable addition to the act. Under the existing law an award was given to the seamen which raised their basic wage practically to the level of that of the marine engineers, with the result that there was a tremendous dislocation in that industry. This provision if in operation at the time would have enabled the engineers to appear before the court and state their case. Then the whole matter would have been disposed of in one proceeding, instead of having another long case, causing tremendous delay and dislocation." The fear expressed by Senator Barnes that there would be a procession of persons anxious to appear before the court is too childish for serious contemplation. They would have to appear through counsel.

Senator Barnes - No; they would appear in person.

Senator ELLIOTT - The court, no doubt, would classify them according to their occupations, and would refuse to listen to a large number of persons who told the same tale. The parties would soon be narrowed down to a very few groups, who would naturally combine and share the expense of obtaining good counsel to place their case properly before the court. It would be ridiculous to imagine that a large number of farmers or sugar-growers would attempt as individuals to put their case before the court from their own particular aspect. In connexion with almost every application by a union, notices are served on hundreds, if not thousands, of employers. Theoretically, each employer has the right to be heard as a respondent, but in practice, groups of individuals combine and state their case through counsel or representatives. As has been already pointed out, the Attorney-General would not intervene unless he was convinced that persons other than the parties to the dispute were concerned in the case.

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