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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1262

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Health) (10.47) - in reply - The Public Service Arbitration Bill has been debated in this chamber for some days. Senator Bishop led for the Opposition and he was followed by other speakers. The debate has ranged far and wide in many ways. All sorts of extraneous comments have been made with the indulgence of our Presiding Officers, but there always is indulgence during second reading speeches. It would be inappropriate for me to attempt to respond to all the arguments put forward. The point that I want to make quite clear is that from the very outset the Australian Labor Party decided to oppose this Bill in its entirety. That was the approach adopted by the Opposition. It was a judgment it made, as it was entitled to do if that was its wish as a party. In those circumstances, there being straight out and absolute opposition to the Bill, I think that much the same should happen here as happened in the other place where it originated. In fact in the other place the Australian Labor Party indicated its complete opposition to the Bill and there was the very minimum of debate. Indeed, during the Committee stage in the other place, there was only one short reference to it. The Bill passed through the other House and therefore I believe that I am entitled to adopt the view tonight that I should put it to the test in the Senate.

I propose to do that very thing in a moment or two. The Australian Labor Party opposes this Bill and the Government believes that its passage is appropriate. I think I should repeat the first 2 paragraphs of my second-reading speech because this debate ranged over all manner of things which are unrelated to the Bill. Senator O'Byrne even mentioned Spain a moment ago. Many other countries were mentioned also. All sorts of judgments were expressed about it. In my secondreading speech I said:

The purpose of the Bill is to make provision - in a similar manner to the provision in section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - for the Public Service arbitration tribunal--

This is contrary to what has been said - to deal with what are termed 'industrial situations'. In short, these are strikes, bans or limitations on work engaged in by officers or employees of Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities.

By the terms of the Bill, if an industrial situation occurs or is threatened, a Minister, the Public Service Board, a Commonwealth instrumentality or a union may notify the situation to the Public Service Arbitrator. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Public Service Arbitrator will then be required to call a conference of the parties in an effort to put an end to the industrial situation. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator is given power to make orders for the purposes of putting an end to or preventing that situation or orders which, in his view, are otherwise necessary or desirable because of the industrial situation. These orders may relate to the conditions of employment of the officers or employees concerned in or affected by the industrial situation or they may direct the cessation of or prohibit engaging in conduct constituting an industrial situation.

There is a point which I shall make in relation to a matter which was dealt with by Senator Bishop, who led for the Opposition. He said that the unions had been frustrated by the Public Service Board. This hardly conforms to the facts. 1 have a document here which 1 think is rather significant. It contains information taken from the Public Service Board report. It shows the very great extent to which determinations of the Arbitrator have been made by consent, that is, by agreement between the Public Service Board and the unions. We find that in 1961-62 there were three arbitrated determinations and 32 consent determinations, a total of 35. I shall go down the list quickly because I want to get this matter to a division in a moment. In 1965-66 there were 10 arbitrated determinations and 131 consent determinations. In 1968-69 there were 14 arbitrated determinations and 232 consent determinations. For 1970-71 the figure is 31 and 249, a total of 280.

A whole series of points have been made. If we were in a different situation and if this were a different type of debate and a. different type of Bill we could deal with the points. It is not moving an amendment to the Bill but it is going to vote coldly against it. I think we should put the Bill to the test, and therefore I ask that the motion for the second reading be put.

Question put:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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