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Wednesday, 11 August 1920

Mr BLAKELEY (Darling) . - It has been contended by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), that the clause as it stands gives full and complete power to the Special Tribunals and Boards. They claim that that part of the definition of " industrial matters " which provides that the term includes -

Any claim arising under an industrial agreement, and includes all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole. is all-embracing. On the face of it, it would appear that the words " society as" a whole " cover all that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) seeks to secure by his amendment. Our experience of the functioning of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, however, leads us to a contrary conclusion. This definition is an exact copy of the definition of " industrial matters" given in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act; and, that being so, I hope that the legal members of the House will no longer contend that it will enable the Commonwealth Council or a special tribunal to inquire into profits. Our experience of the interpretation of the same words in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act shows that they will not be so construed. It is to be regretted that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is not in attendance, since, in his absence, the Minister temporarily in charge of the Bill has no power to accept the amendment.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - The Prime Minister is at present taking part in a conference relating to the coal trouble, and, therefore, cannot be present.

Mr BLAKELEY - His absence is regrettable, because, if the amendment goes to a division, we shall have a purely party vote.

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