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Thursday, 7 December 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I am opposed to the Bill, lock, stock and barrel. I am opposed to every clause, every line, every word and every letter of it.

Senator Pearce - What about the commas and full stops?

Senator VARDON - I would abolish the whole lot. Ever since it has been talked about, I have been a consistent opponent of any attempt to settle industrial disputes by resort to an Arbitration Court.

Senator Rae - Would the honorable senator suppress strikes, or would he let them continue?

Senator VARDON - I do not believe that the Bill is any good. The best title for it would be " A Bill for an Act to enable some members of Parliament to shirk their responsibility." I have not observed that our public servants anywhere arc anxious for this measure, but I did see a petition which was presented to this Parliament, and which was signed by 4,000 of them, in opposition to it. It has been said that it is impossible for the Public Service Commissioner, to satisfy the members, of the Public Service generally. If that be so, why did not the Government take the first step, towards bringing about a better state of affairs by adopting the recommendation of the Postal Commission and appointing a board composed of practical men who are acquainted with the service and with all its conditions? Such a step would be more likely to prove successful than will any attempt to transfer power from the Public Service Commissioner to the President of the Arbitration Court. The latter is not more likely to give satisfaction to the service generally than is the former. But if our public servants could appeal to a board of practical men, they might get something better - a great deal better - than they will get under this Bill.

The measure will simply give them a righf to one more appeal. They will be able to appeal from the Commissioner to the Arbitration Court. That tribunal can refer any case to a Judge of a State Court or to a stipendiary magistrate for hearing and determination. If the claimants be not satisfied with that determination they will have a right of appeal once moreto the Arbitration Court, so that they will simply get another appeal, because the Bill provides " that an appeal from the award shall lie to the Court at the instance of a claimant organization or of the Public Service Commissioner, or of the Minister of a Department affected by the award." As the hour is late, sir, and the Minister is agreeable, I ask permission to continue my remarks to-morrow.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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