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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1307

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I rise because I take great exception to the last words of the Minister. We are discussing clause 3 of the Bill. We have sought the meaning of the words Industrial situation' which have implications right through the Bill. When we indicate that we are not satisfied that the explanations given are sufficient we are told that the advisers to the Minister say that they have made statements which fully explain the meaning of that expression, are fully understandable and should be understood. Who are these advisers to come long and say: 'We have given the explanation'? The fact is that they are standing over honourable senators. They are saying: 'We have given you the explanation. If you cannot understand it, we cannot do any more'. Perhaps they could say: 'We have told you all we can'. If we say that it is not explained sufficiently, the advisers tell us: 'We have given you the explanation. You simply have to take it'.

We are the ones who have to have things explained to us and to understand the conditions which will operate. If we are dumb and cannot understand, then a greater explanation is justified and these public servants should not run off, saying to us: 'We have explained it to you and you can simply stew in your juice'. Because this clause has been challenged, the question has arisen whether it applies to section 11a (1.) or iia (2.) of the Public Service Arbitration Act, and the advisers shifted from one sub-section to the other. Finally, they nailed it down to section 11a (2.) of the Public Service Arbitration Act. When that was exploded, they said: 'It was explained. We can explain it no further', instead of saying: 'If you adjourn this matter we will have a look at the question and then come back'. I think that is what reputable public servants would say. But they have said: 'We have made statements which have explained the position. It is understandable'. They are telling us that they have given an explanation and that we should be able to understand it. I think there should be more tolerance. We do not have public servants here to tell the law-making authority of the Commonwealth what to do. I take exception to what the Minister said.

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