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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1299

Senator COTTON (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am sorry that we lost sight of this exercise. I shall be happy to help where Senator Cavanagh and Senator Bishop do not see clarity, where it is reported to be available. While an answer to Senator Bishop's query is being put into a form of phrase for his benefit, perhaps 1 could read out an observation which was read before the luncheon break but which could well be read again. The Opposition asked why the Bill gives power to the Arbitrator to deal with the matters that section 28 and section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act entrust to a conciliation commissioner. As explained to the Senate before lunch, the views of the Government's legal advisers of the existence of the Public Service Arbitration Act as a special Act to deal with conditions of employment in the Public Service excludes the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in the same field. Therefore, powers conferred by section 28 and section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are not applicable in relation to the Public Service. Moreover, even if this view is wrong and a conciliation commissioner purported to exercise powers under those sections to conciliate in relation to an industrial dispute in the Public Service, he could not make any follow-up orders. For example, he could not vary a determination made under the Public Service Arbitration Act and would therefore be powerless to settle disputes by altering terms and conditions of employment. The Opposition had asked where it is provided in the Bill that the Arbitrator's powers in relation to industrial situations were restricted to dealing with industrial situations involving the Public Service. The answer is to be found in proposed section 1 2 (b), the effect of which is that the powers conferred by sections 12(c) to 12(e) relate only to industrial situations to the extent that they involve the Public Service.

In furtherance of that one, might I bring out again the general comments on clause 3, which state as follows: Clause 3, the one being dealt with, amends the definition section of the Act, section 3, to provide for the new concept of an industrial situation. It amends the definition of 'determination' to include an order made by the Arbitrator under the new provisions for dealing with industrial situations. It defines industrial situations. An industrial situation is analogous to an industrial dispute under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the definition is couched in very wide terms to cover stoppages of work in general, bans or limitations on particular work or work in a particular area, work to regulations, refusal to work overtime, refusal to carry out particular duties, go-slows, and refusal to obey directions. It adds a new subsection (2.) which provides that the conduct of officers or employees can constitute an industrial situation even though that conduct relates to part only of the duties they are required to perform - for example, refusal to process telegrams by employees who perform all other duties. If a dispute outside the Public Service affects employees in the Service, the Arbitrator can deal with the dispute to that extent only. He can stand down employees only if he is satisfied after hearing the full argument of both sides, that there is no work for them to perform. The same position exists under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in relation to employees covered by that Act.

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