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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2147


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I wish to raise in respect of this clause a complaint similar to that raised by Senator Murphy about clause 6. It relates to the neglect of the Government in appointments to the Commission. The purpose of clause 7 is to omit paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of subsection 1 section 6 and to insert a new paragraph (b) and (c). The section will then read:

There shall be a Commonwealth Conciliation Arbitration Commission which shall consist of the following members -

(a)   a President; (bl such number of Deputy Presidents as are necessary from time to time; and

(c)   such number of Commissioners as are necessary from time to time;

I want to know the meaning of the expression 'such number as are necessary'. If the Government neglects to adhere to the Act by appointing the necessary numbers, it is not complying with the Act. I say that because Mr Justice Kirby, President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in his 1970 report to the Parliament commented on the need for 2 additional commissioners to be appointed. On 23rd February I asked the following question:

I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which perhaps could be directed also to the AttorneyGeneral. In the 1970 report of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission did Sir Richard Kirby refer to the need for 2 additional commissioners to be appointed? Was one appointment only made in the ensuing 12 months? In his 1971 report did Sir Richard Kirby express the urgent necessity for a new appointment of a commissioner and a further judge to replace Mr Justice Gallagher? Has any appointment been made, as requested? If not, when will the 2 appointments bc made?

Senator Wrightreplied:

In the course of my reply I said that 1 would ascertain from the Minister what proposals for filling the vacancies in the membership of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission he was prepared to disclose. The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided me with the following information:

In his report for the year ended 13th August 1970 the President of the Commission said that there was a need for the appointment of 2 new commissioners, one early in the new year to replace Mr Commissioner Winter.

Mr CommissionerStanton was appointed on 5th April 1971.

One appointment was essential in the new year and on 5th April the appointment was made to replace Mr Commissioner Winter. Senator Wright went on:

In his report for the year ended 13th August 1971 the President said that the need for another Commissioner still urgently existed as well as a judge to replace Mr Justice Gallagher. On 23rd May 1972 Mr Justice Franki, a Deputy President of the Commission, became a judge of the commonwealth Industrial Court and as from the same date Mr J. T. Ludeke, Q.C. was appointed a Deputy President of the Commission.

There is a need for further appointments to the Commission, but the nature and number itf these appointments will be affected by the outcome of the consideration by Parliament of ihe Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

In August 1970 Mr Justice Kirby had reported that there was a need for 2 commissioners if the Commission was to operate properly. The requirements of the Commission must be met for the purpose of hearing and deciding arbitration claims. The man with the responsibility of administering the Act said that it was essential for 2 commissioners to be appointed in the following year. One was appointed in the following year but the second has not yet been appointed. When the Senate was debating the Public Service Arbitration Bill Senator Bishop listed the long delays in the hearing of claims. The Government is responsible for the smooth working of the arbitration legislation to meet the requirements of industry yet it has ignored the recommendation of the President of the Commission and has not yet made the appointments requested by the President.

If the new Act is to be administered in the same way, the new proposals for dealing with disputes, including the threat of punishment, may be subject to the same neglect. Anybody familiar with the working of the Commission knows that it is impossible to have disputes heard in the time in which they should be heard and to the satisfaction of the parties, lt is pure neglect by the Department which is unconcerned with the question of conciliation and of supplying machinery to carry it out.







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