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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1304

Senator BISHOP (South Australia) - You will excuse me, Mr Temporary Chairman, for persisting with this matter but no answer has been given to the question which I put to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). If we do not get an answer while this clause is being considered it will be lost sight of and, as a result, there will be some conflict between the people concerned in regard to what the legislation means. I again put the question to the Minister because he has not replied to it. He stated that in his opinion, and in the opinion of his advisers, clause 12e. of the Public Service Arbitration Bill and section 29 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act are the same. Even if he now decides that there is a different prescription. it should certainly be interpreted for the record. I have pointed out that clause 12e. (4.) applies to compulsory conferences. It is declared by the Minister for Labour and National Service to be an importation from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Clause 12e. (3.) states:

A direction under sub-section (1.) of this section may be given to any person whose presence at the conference the Arbitrator or Deputy Arbitrator thinks is likely to conduce to putting an end to. or preventing the occurrence of, the industrial situation.

Section 29 (2.) of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides:

In determining the persons to whom directions are given under the last preceding sub-section, the Commissioner shall take into consideration the persons having the highest degree of authority, on behalf of the parties to the industrial dispute, to negotiate for the settlement of the dispute.

This is a very serious matter. It means that what is contained in allegedly similar legislation, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, has been now imported into the Public Service Arbitration Bill and that for that reason we ought to accept it. In considering the proposition, the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations said: 'If the Government wants to put in sections why did not it ask us and put them in as they are printed in the legislation?' We have not received an answer. When we read the 2 different prescriptions the essential differences are these: Under the Public Service Arbitration Bill, if it is passed, the Arbitrator can, in fact, direct notification in relation to compulsory conferences which arise not from an industrial matter. He can direct that to anybody. It might be the secretary of the union or an ordinary member of the union, lt could be a nonunionist. But under section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, a Commissioner is required to send notification to the persons holding the highest degree of authority. This simply means that the Government, the courts and everybody else recognise freedom of industrial relations in Australia. Trade unions, being registered organisations, have authority to act for their members. I ask the Minister to tell us now whether the prescriptions are the same.

Senator Cavanagh - Does the Minister wish to speak before I rise?

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