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Tuesday, 5 June 1928

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) . - Notwithstanding the promises made by honorable members opposite during the second-reading debate, the discussion in committee has, as I anticipated, been confined to honorable members on this side, who have expressed their views, whilst those supporting the Government have allowed the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) to speak on their behalf. We expect honorable members opposite to express their opinions on the various clauses. I was astonished to hear the Attorney-General suggest that this provision would be conducive to industrial peace. The most effective reply to the Attorney-General's explanation of this clause was that of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes).

Mr Latham - Is the honorable member referring to the right honorable gentleman's metaphor regarding a fire?

Mr FENTON - Yes. He said it is proposed to fan a small fire into a great one, in order that we may extinguish the small one. The right honorable gentle^ man, who understands the industrial situation perhaps as well as any one in this chamber, showed very clearly the harmful effect of this provision, and said that if it were embodied in the act it would be the cause of nation-wide trouble. I am not going to say whether the Attorney-General's interpretation of this clause is right or wrong, but I have received an opinion in which I find the following : -

Section 7 is to be repealed. New section 7 provides that the Arbitration Court may make an order declaring that a strike exists in an industry covered by an award. If a lockout is declared to exist a strike shall not be unlawful. A declaration by the court under this section would be binding on the courts before whom charges under sections G and 6a would be tried. The defendant would be debarred from contending that the conditions existing in the industry did not constitute a strike.

Mr Latham - Is that a lawyer's opinion ?

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