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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1313

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - The principal Act - the Public Service Arbitration Act 1920-1969 - provides in section 13 (I):

In relation (o every, claim or application made to him in pursuance of this Act, (he Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator shall act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms, am) shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform his mind on any matter in such manner as he thinks fit.

The Arbitrator's powers set out in proposed new section 12d(I) are exercisable only after he has heard the submissions of all parties. Section 13 is still applicable. As to the question of a public hearing subsection (5) of proposed new section 12e prescribes that the conference shall be held in private except to such extent, if any, as the Arbitrator or Deputy Arbitrator directs that it be held in public. This provision is in line with provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, under which statutory conferences are normally private conferences. The new sub-section to which I have referred gives the right to the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator to direct that the conference or part of it be held in public if he believes this to be desirable. Those remarks, I think, cover the points raised by Senator Brown.

I believe that the matter referred lo by Senator Bishop would be covered by the general comments. The Public Service Arbitration Act currently does not provide for industrial situations; it provides merely for the lodging of claims by unions or the lodging by managements or unions of applications for variations of determinations. Unlike the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, it does not provide the means of bringing the tribunal into an industrial dispute situation. Thus, the Bill will enable managment or a union to notify the Arbitrator of an industrial situation and to have it resolved. This is an advantage. If a union says that another union will engage in strike action that will affect members of the first union, that union can notify the threatened industrial situation and ask lor the tribunal to be brought into the dispute. It could do so in an attempt to avoid the likely effects on its members of a strike by the second union.

Senator Bishop'spoint may be taken as suggesting that the Bill might be discriminatory against public servants. As the Act contains no industrial procedure for the settling of differences, it could be said that as it now stands it is discriminatory against public servants. The discrmination, if it exists, will in effect be done away with.

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