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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1311

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - Senator Bishop directed his remarks pretty well exclusively, I think, to proposed new section 12c, while Senator Cavanagh directed his remarks pretty well over the whole of clause 4 which relates to proposed new sections 12b to 12f, but with particular reference to certain clauses. If the information I have does not give them the information they require it will be necessary for them to ask supplementary questions. The information I have for Senator Bishop is that any Minister is given power to refer a situation to the Arbitrator in order to avoid legal disputation as to whether the Minister is affected by the situation.

I have some information for Senator Cavanagh. It may not be sufficient for him. However, we shall see. I refer firstly to proposed new section 12b. This is contained in clause 4 of the Bill and I do not think I need read the relevant part. I have some explanatory notes which might settle this matter. The provisions in the Public Service Arbitration Act for dealing with industrial situations are restricted in their application to industrial situations which concern or affect, or are likely to concern or affect, officers or employees in Commonwealth employment. The point is made that if a postal worker is going to refuse to obey a direction to go to a wharf to unload mail, there is likely to be a dispute which the union concerned can then refer to the arbitrator. The other point is that a disgruntled officer who refers disputes to the arbitrator without the consent of the union is not likely, one would imagine, to remain an officer for long. In my experience nobody ever wants to bring on industrial disputes in the general area. I have never found people to be madly anxious to close industries and to do without pay and income. These closures seem to be things which come about because of a variety of reasons. I have not found a tremendous number of examples of people bringing on close-downs willy-nilly or voluntarily. There have been a few cases but I do not think it would help to mention them in this debate.

Senator Cavanaghreferred to an Arbitrator being likely to order stand-downs if only part of a day's work was involved and that part of the day's work was not being performed. As already explained, under the provisions of the Bill there is no requirement for the Arbitrator to issue orders. Such orders should be made only after full discussion with all parties and no doubt after the Arbitrator is satisfied that such an order is necessary. Senator Cavanagh also was concerned about an Arbitrator who may be serving the later part of his term of appointment, with perhaps 6 months to serve. He said that such a person might be inhibited in dealing specifically with cases except in one direction. I do not think that is true historically. The Arbitrator is hearing cases every day and often gives decisions which are against the submissions of the Public Service Board. That is all the information I have at the moment. Honourable senators may care to ask further questions.

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