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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1312


Senator BROWN (Victoria) - In respect to proposed new section 12d, to which my colleague has referred, as he indicated the Public Service Arbitrator may call parties to a conference. He may or may not hear evidence, and he may make a decision as he sees fit which can amount to the standing down of employees. I seek information from the Minster as to whether inclusion of that new provision in the Act will negate a long-standing provision of the principal Act, namely section 13 to which 1 referred yesterday, which provides in sub-section (1):

In relation lo every claim or application made to him in pursuance of this Act, (he Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator shall act according lo equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms, and shall no( be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform his mind on any matter in such manner as he thinks (its.

We are concerned that paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section I 2d gives much wider powers to the Arbitrator and Deputy Arbitrator and that the Bill fails to provide adequate safeguards. As my colleague said, there is a complementary reference in proposed new section 12e, sub-section (5) which prescribes that conferences shall be held in private except to such extent, if any, as the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator directs that they are to be held in public. The organisation, quite rightly in my view, has registered alarm at such an extensive power. It believes that one of the protecting influences available to an organisation is a public hearing which can attract public interest, which in turn provides substantial emotional content. Therefore, we do not believe the Arbitrator should be the sole arbiter of whether the conference shall or shall not be held in private. If the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, one of its provisions should not negate the long-standing provision of the principal Act to which I have referred section 13. I' ask the Minister to inform me on this subject matter.







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