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Thursday, 31 July 1930

Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia) . - I suggest to the Honorary Minister (Senator Barnes) that the conditions to which he referred would not be covered by the amendment now suggested by the Minister (Senator Daly). An appeal can be made to the court against any award or order if the wages, hours or conditions of employment are, in the opinion of the court, likely to affect the public interest. But under this provision there is no power to permit any party to submit additional evidence. L suggest that the comprehensive language employed by the Leader of the Opposition, " which, in the opinion of the court, substantially prejudices the interest of employers or employees in the industry", would meet the class of case mentioned by the Honorary Minister. An award may impose conditions objectionable to employers or employees. Mistakes have been made with respect to some matters quite apart from wages, which vitally affect the parties to an award. The interested parties should have some redress before a higher tribunal. If the Minister amends his amendment we could be able to meet the case mentioned by the Honorary Minister. I agree with Senator 'Duncan that this provision can give the public very little comfort. "When an award is made, the employers consider it only from the viewpoint of their industry, and the employees from the standpoint of wages. I do not know if any machinery can be devised to overcome the difficulty mentioned by Senator Duncan. In the Maritime Industries Bill it was left, I think, to a judge in certifying an award to see that it was not prejudicial to the public interest. I suggest that the condition to which the Minister has referred would not be met by a right of appeal in respect of wages and hours, because the conditions of employment which might affect the public interest would not cover cases such as that to which he referred. If a mistake occurs now it remains until rectified; but if there were a right of appeal, the matter could be adjusted almost immediately. I sympathize with the Minister in his desire to avoid appeals on trivial matters. I suggest that we insert the words " which in the opinion of the court ". That would leave the decision to the court, and would not mean that an appeal would be granted in every case. I agree that the parties to a dispute are not 'likely to be greatly concerned with the public interest. They are more likely to be concerned only with their own affairs.

Senator Daly - .We might insert the words " which in the opinion of the court is a matter of substantial interest

Senator McLACHLAN - In the case mentioned by the Assistant Minister, the matter would probably have been settled on the spot if there had been a corrective tribunal. I think that the insertion of the words "which in the opinion of the court" would improve the section.

Senator Daly - I do not like the words " substantially prejudice ".

Senator McLACHLAN - If the words I suggest are inserted the court would have to decide whether it was a matter of substance.

Senator Daly - The inclusion of the words "is a matter of substantial interest " covers the industry, both particularly and generally. That would leave the court to decide the matter.

Senator McLACHLAN - The retention of the words " public interest " is of some value as a placard.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [9.6]. - I suggest that if the clause is worded to provide that " any award or order . . . affecting - (a) wages, (b) hours, or (c) any condition, . . . " the position would be met. The word " or ", where it twice appears, could be deleted.

I desire to remove a misapprehension in the mind of Senator Colebatch as to my attitude with regard to this clause. I did not say, nor do I say now, that honorable senators on this side are satisfied with it. We do not think that the conciliation commissioners should have arbitral powers at all.

Opposition Senators. - Hear, hear !

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - I went on to say that the proposal emanated from the Government, which must accept the responsibility for it. The Opposition accepts no responsibility for the appointment of conciliation commissioners; but if they are appointed we want certain safeguards. The last proposal of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is a distinct improvement; but I do not say that we are satisfied even with it. This is not the Opposition's scheme. In view of the Minister's remark, I shall not proceed with the amendment, which has been circulated. I have, however, a further amendment to propose. I therefore move -

That sub-section 2, proposed new section 31a be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - "2. Any such appeal shall be made inthe manner and within the time prescribed by the rules made in accordance with section 43 of this act."

Senator Daly - I am prepared to accept that.

Amendment agreed to.

Senator SirGEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [9.12]. - I move -

That the following new sub-section be added to proposed new section 31a : - (4.) An award or order of a conciliation commissioner or a conciliation committee shall not have effect until the expiration of the time within which such appeal may be made.

The effect of the amendment would be that the rules of the court would prescribe the time within which an appeal could be made against an award or order. Until that period had elapsed the new award would not take effect. The other proposal that I had intended to make was that the award could not have effect until the appeal had been heard. But the "Vice-President of the Executive Council pointed out that that might have the effect of prolonging the hearing of the appeal by the party interested in retaining the award already given. There is some force in his argument, and, therefore, I shall not move in that direction. But I think that it is necessary to provide that within the time fixed by the rule of the court, which would probably be fourteen days, the new award should not have effect. There would be time for an appeal before effect was given to the new award. I understand that in the South Australian law, and also in the Victorian law, awards made by wages boards do not take effect until they are gazetted. This amendment would have the same effect. The rule of the court would fix the time. The award would operate at the expiration of that time. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be prepared to accept my amendment. It appears to me. to be quite reasonable, and would not unduly delay the bringing into effect of the new award.

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