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Thursday, 11 April 1946

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Leader of the Opposition) . - Regarding the forthcoming inquiry by the Full Arbi'tra-. tion Court into the working week, I assume from what has appeared in the press that the parties will be represented in the usual way, that is to say, there will be counsel for the employers or certain groups of employers, and counsel for the unions, either groups or individuals. I also gather that the Commonwealth Government itself is intervening, through counsel, in those proceedings with a view to supporting the claim for a shorter working week. Whilst I have no official information on the matter, I have seen ' references to it in the press. It has been put to me from various sources that consumers should be represented, through counsel, because of the very great importance of the issues which will be decided. When I say " consumers ", I mean organized bodies of consumers, such as' the Housewives Association. I know that in the ordinary course, one treats the court as representing the general public interest outside the interests of the disputants, and, as a general rule, I have no quarrel with that; but having regard to the fact that the Commonwealth itself is intervening, and, I presume, intervening on one side, I suggest, to the Minister- for Labour and National Service that the suggestion that counsel should be provided for a representative body of consumers is one which deserves consideration. I ask the Minister whether he will examine the matter, and arrive at a conclusion as soon as he reasonably can.

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