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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1305

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - Yes, I intended to have something to say on the question that Senator Bishop raised, but on clause 3 only. I do not think I can take the matter any furl her. I again remind the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) that he has not replied as to why the definition of 'industrial dispute' in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is not an ingredient of the Public Service Arbitration Bill for the purpose of defining industrial situation' in that Bill and confining it to an employer-employee dispute. I can only accept that no intention exists to limit the application of this Bill to an employer-employee dispute. I gather from one remark that it could apply to an outside dispute if that dispute affected employees of the Commonwealth Public Service.

With respect to the latter reply given by the Minister, when I last spoke in this debate I showed how the Department has changed from one clause to another to justify the statement that the provisions of one Act only are available to anyone who wishes to report a dispute. Finally, I tried to show that section 11a(2.) of the Public Service Arbitration Act did not apply. My views have not been condemned or refuted. I take it that it is generally agreed now that anyone who wishes to report a dispute has the right of selecting whether he will do so under one or the other Act.

The workers must be made aware of the fact that they are in a special category and that action may be taken against them under 2 Commonwealth Acts. We have not cleared up whether action could be taken separately under each Act in relation to the one dispute.

I have considered the Acts Interpretation Act. That Act envisages that 2 Acts may operate in respect of the one offence. Section 30 of the Acts Interpretation Act provides: (1.) Where an act or omission constitutes an offence under two or more Acts, or both under an Act and at common law, the offender shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be liable to be prosecuted and punished under either or any of those acts or at common law, but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence.

That section envisages that what 1 have suggested does happen. To verify my opinion, 1 asked Senator James McClelland, while he was sitting here, what the position was. He said: There is a selection as to which Act one uses'. 1 point out, first, that the statement that no power existed to do anything in respect of public servants engaged in a dispute was wrong. The same power is available with respect to Commonwealth public servants as is available to any employer in the country. That is the power to refer the dispute to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. That power still exists. But now more severe powers must be introduced in relation to the Commonwealth Public Service. It has taken a long time but now I think that we have it clear that as a result of the powers proposed by this Bill this special section is to be treated more severely than other workers generally are.

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