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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .- The speech of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was interesting but the honorable member ignored the fact that the clause to which he takes exception sets up a process which is very akin to arbitration. The unions have been confronted with a court similar in structure to the Tribunal over many years without any indignation being expressed from gentlemen opposite. Arbitration tribunals, like this Tribunal, take into account decisions in equity. They must take into account vague concepts such as the public interest in fixing wages. They must take into account all these kinds of generalisations. If you like to pursue the subject of coercive powers, arbitration tribunals have powers to seize books and records and to do all sorts of things in relation to trade unions. They may inquire searchingly into union affairs. We have reached the stage where our free enterprise Government has become concerned at the kind of practices against which this Bill is directed. The expressions used in sub-clause (2.) of clause 50 seem to me to be the kind of expressions which set up a process in equity very similar to that of arbitration. Every point that the honorable member makes in indignation at the idea of business being subjected to this process could, with equal force, be applied to arbitration. With regard to the honorable member's statement that the subordinate body becomes a law making body, I direct the honorable member's attention to the fact that subordinate bodies in the form of arbitration tribunals have also been law making bodies and also bodies which have made determinations which have affected the economy very deeply. I do not see that any point that the honorable gentleman made against the principles in clause 50 could not with equal force be made against the process of arbitration.

Mr. WENTWORTH(Mackellar) comments of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) about the Commonwealth Industrial Court, although in that case the guide lines are, I think, more definite. The Court is dealing with a much more refined field. However, there is some substance in the point he made. It may be that in that case there is no alternative, but two wrongs do not make a right. It is true that in this provision we will be handing over a substantial part of our law making power. The matters referred to in subclause (2.) remind me of the well known litany in the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which requires Distribution Commissioners to give due consideration to "community or diversity of interests ". This can be exactly what the Commissioners want it to be. In this Bill, we pretend to give guide lines. In point of fact, everything is included here. It can be made to mean anything, everything or nothing. We are divesting ourselves of a considerable part of our law making power. I say this with some regret and sense of inadequacy because I am afraid that I cannot submit a constructive alternative that would fit into the framework of the Bill before us. I look at theBritish Restrictive Trade Practices Act of 1956. I think the relevant provisions are sections 6 and 21. The British Act is far more specific and the definition is far better. But it is not perfect. Although the British Act may not fit entirely into the framework of our scheme, the British Parliament has managed to do this rather better than we have. I say with some regret that I have no constructive alternative to submit. I feel that we are giving away our law making powers to this extent. I admit the force of what the honorable member for Fremantle has said. His argument cannot be brushed aside lightly. However, I would like to see some kind of control kept by this Parliament. I do not quite know what is the appropriate way to do this, but perhaps the Attorney-General can think of a better provision than the one now in the Bill.

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