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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator GORTON (Victoria) (Minister for Works) . - These are matters of policy which are not covered by the Bill but I did give some attention to the matter that has been raised by Senator Wright before the Senate adjourned last week. This matter was also considered by departmental officers. Take the case of a man who, having been employed in a particular job, is called up and, at the end of his period of service, seeks to re-engage in that employment, only to find that, for some reason, he cannot be re-employed. It may be that the factory has shut down or has ceased to run the machines he used to operate, or something of that kind. In that case it is a defence for an employer to say: " We cannot reinstate this man, because we no longer do the kind of work he used to do ". However, the employer must show that he has offered to employ the man in the occupation and under the conditions that were the most favourable that it was reasonable or practicable to offer. I presume that a court would decide whether the alternative employment was the most reasonable or practicable employment to offer.

I do not think Senator Wright referred so much to that position - which would perhaps be the most usual - as to a case where the factory had gone out of existence and there was no question of offering the man concerned alternative employment. Senator Wright asked whether, in such a case, the Crown should pay the man the compensation which would have been payable to him had the employer been able to re-employ him and failed to do so. Is that staling the point correctly?

Senator Wright - Yes.

Senator GORTON - This, again, opens up a question of policy affecting a wide range of bills, not only this measure. The principle would have to run through a number of other enactments. This is a question which at present I do not feel able to answer, except to say that it will be noted, as also will be the matter raised by Senator Bishop.

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