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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in exercising its discretion under section 41 (1.) (d) (ii) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as to the circumstances which make the intervention of a Federal tribunal more desirable than that of a State tribunal, has not always reached consistent conclusions, and that in the 1968 Meat Industry Case, a Full Bench in dealing with the same matter, said that in its view it is preferable that no one bench of the Commission should attempt to formulate codes intended to control in any precise way the exercise in the future of discretions reposed in the Commission by the Act.

(2)   If so, will he consider taking steps to amend section 41 in such a way as to remove the ambiguity that has arisen from the Commission's conflicting exercise of its discretionary powers under that section of the Act.

Mr Snedden - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The decision in the 1968 Meat Industry case is the most recent pronouncement of an appeal bench of the Commission in connexion with the exercise of the Commission's discretion in cases coming under section 41 (1) (d) (ii) of the Act. What was said in that decision is clear and it appears that an amendment of (he Act is not necessary or desirable. Guidelines which were appropriate in times gone by are not necessarily appropriate today or in the future. The Commission must be free to adapt its role to meet changes in industry as they occur and any legislative interference with the free exercise of its discretion must, to some extent, fetter its ability to do so.

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