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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1291

Senator BISHOP (South Australia) - The purpose of clause 3 is to define 'industrial situation'. The traditional description of 'industrial dispute' is not used. The definition is a wider one. Ministers and supporters of the Government have stated that this definition will restrict the application of the provisions of the Bill to Commonwealth employees only, that is, to officers or employees who are employed in the Commonwealth Public Service.

The Opposition has contended that the definition creates a situation, particularly in relation to clause 4 which deals with the industrial situation concerning the Commonwealth Public Service, in which the meaning is widened to include the provision that any dispute which is considered by the Arbitrator to be a dispute which affects the Commonwealth Public Service can be a reason for standing down Commonwealth employees. Tn short, as the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) stated in his second reading speech:

These are strikes, bans or limitations on work engaged in by officers or employees o£ Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities.

What I am putting to the Minister is a request for him to explain to us how he justifies the notion that the interpretation in clause 3 means that the provisions of the Act can be applied only in respect of those situations which occur within the Commonwealth Public Service. If that is so, I direct attention to clause 4 and ask why proposed new section 12b reads:

Sections 12c to 12f, inclusive, of this Act apply in relation to an industrial situation only to the extent, if any, to which officers or employees of the Public Service are concerned in or affected by, or are likely to be concerned in or affected by, that industrial situation or would upon the occurrence of that industrial situation, be likely to be so concerned or affected.

So, an important difference in points of view arises. The Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations, the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and various unions affiliated with those bodies after consideration of the Bill - and the Minister will know that they had time to consider its provisions - met the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). They saw the Bill. They believed that its provisions meant that any Minister of the Government could apply to the Arbitrator in relation to a dispute involving employees of an electricity commission or employees working on the waterfront, in the railways or in the private transport industry and that, under the terms of the Bill, Commonwealth public servants could be stood down in those circumstances. The Minister has not answered the question precisely but has used in the second reading speech, as I have mentioned, the words 'by officers or employees of Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities'.

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