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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2319

Senator BISHOP (South Australia) - I wish to comment on clause 16. I take it that senators will be allowed to roam over all the clauses from 14 to 40, Mr Chairman. The Opposition is opposed to clause 16 which alters section 39 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The clause reads:

16.   Section 39 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection: - "(2.) In proceedings before the Commission under section thirty-one, section thirty-four or section thirty-five of this Act, the Commission shall in considering the public interest, have regard, in particular, to the state of the national economy and the likely effects on that economy of any award that might be made in the proceedings.".

These provisions relate to the sections of the Act concerning industrial agreements-; for example, I refer to section 31 of the existing Act, which relates to the reference of disputes to the Commission and to appeals from awards. The proposed new sub-section 2 of section 39 reflects again the intention of the Government to tie down as rigidly as possible every action which might be taken by the trade unions in an attempt to obtain decent awards and agreements in order to match the escalation of inflation and prices. This provision emphasises the economic effects of arbitration decisions and lawyers such as Senator Murphy and Senator James McClelland could spend hours debating the present use of the so-called wide ambit of public interest. Now we are considering the question of economic effects in this provision which is certainly contrary to the intentions and main aims of section 2 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which states, in part:

2.   The chief objects of this Act are -

(a)   to promote goodwill in industry;

(b)   to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes;

(c)   to provide means for preventing and settling industrial disputes not resolved by amicable agreement, including threatened, impending and probable industrial disputes, with the maximum of expedition and the minimum of legal form and technicality;

(d)   to provide for the observance and enforcement of agreements and awards made in settlement of industrial disputes; and

The effect of clause 1 6 is to import into the Act legal prescriptions and inhibitions recommended by this Government which are in fact political. The Commission will be tied down by this and other provisions to the sorts of limitations we face today. We think this is a backward step. Normally we would ask the Senate to divide on the motion but in this instance we simply say that we intend to vote against it.

Clauses agreed to.

Senator Murphy - May the record again show that the Opposition voted against this group of clauses because of its objection to clause 16? Only members of the Opposition voted against the clause and because of the time factor we did not proceed to call for a division.

The CHAIRMAN - As there is no objection, that course will be allowed.

Clause 41.

Section 104 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (a) of sub-section (2.) the following paragraph: - "(aa) proceedings for an offence against section forty-six of this Act;".

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