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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1302


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - ) remind the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) that I have asked why 'industrial situation' is the term included in the Bill when 'industrial dispute' is the term used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The question was asked some time ago. I have not had a reply. I think the Minister is getting into more trouble rather than getting out of trouble. I visualised this happening, and perhaps there should be a slight respite so that the Minister can consult his advisers. I mentioned the time when the Public Service was completely under the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. in 1920 the power to fix wage rates and conditions of employment was handed over under the Public Service Arbitration Act.

So that there would not be 2 authorities operating, section 11a was inserted in the latter Act. The Minister quoted that section. He quoted sub-section (2.). It must be taken in conjunction with sub-section (1.) which reads:

Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, an organisation of employees in the Public Service is not entitled to submit to the Commission a claim relating to conditions of employment of members of the organisation.

There is a prohibition in respect of conditions of employment. Conditions of employment are defined as meaning salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms of conditions of service or employment'. An organisation of employees in the Public Service cannot appear before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in relation to salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment. But nowhere is there a prohibition on reporting an industrial dispute. The Minister quoted section 1 1a (2.). It reads:

An organisation of employees in the Public Service may submit such a claim to the Commission -

Such a claim' is the claim referred to in sub-section (1.), a claim in respect of salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment. Section 11a(2.) continues:

(a)   with the consent of the Arbitrator; or

(b)   where, in pursuance of Section 14a of this Act. . . .

There is an exemption provision by which an organisation can submit a claim in respect or rates, but there is nothing to prohibit an organisation reporting an industrial dispute. Under Section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, when an organisation has reported an industrial dispute the Commissioner is compelled to hear the Industrial dispute. Section 41a of that Act provides the machinery by which a dispute can and must be settled. Let us look at what we have been told. We have been told that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has no power. That myth was exploded by reference to the definitions. Then we were told that it has power but that it has not power to make an order. When it was shown that the Commission did have power to make an order we were told that because the provision is contained in one Act the power cannot be operated under the other Act.

I exploded that myth and I condemned that statement. To refute the argument I advanced the Minister relied solely upon section 11a(2.) of the Public Service Arbitration Act. That was the whole basis of his reliance, and the. myth was exploded. The claim under that section relates only to salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment. We are back where we started. Two authorities are dealing with industrial disputes. Whether that was intended - I think it was - the question which has to be decided is whether it is fair and just that there should be 2 authorities. I suggest that this injustice should not be permitted to remain. If the Government wants a more severe provision it should include in the Public Service Arbitration Act a provision similar to section 11a and prohibit action under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. But I press for information on why the Public Service Arbitration Bill refers to an industrial situation when the Conciliation and Arbitration Act refers to industrial matters, which confines the matters to disputes between employer and employee. I take it that the Minister replied in part to this question. 'Industrial situation' goes beyond an industrial dispute. When we deal with the other clauses I will be able to deal more fully with this aspect.







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