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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1813


Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - This Committee is now invited to consider a clause which goes to one of the most fundamental aspects of the Bill, namely, the division of the arbitral and conciliatory functions involved in the discharge of the role of a conciliation commissioner.I am sorry that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) is not in the chamber. No doubt he is preparing for his jaunt abroad, which is one of the reasons why he is rushing this Bill through the Parliament. It is a thundering disgrace that the national Parliament should be called upon to consider such a complicated measure in this fashion. The Minister does not even do the Committee the courtesy-


Mr Mulder - Here he is!


Mr KILLEN - At long last he has arrived - Elijah come back to his own. The Minister is literally hung up on this issue. He wants to insist that there is a splendid sense of virtue in having one person discharging the functions both of a conciliation commissioner and, ultimately, if need be, of an arbitrator. I do not know why the Minister has this sense of obstinacy on this crucial matter.


Mr McLeay - He is quaint.


Mr KILLEN - My honourable friend should not be so charitable and generous because to describe the Minister for Labour as quaint seems to me to be a massive misunderstatement of his position. If the Minister looks at what a former Leader of the Aus tralian Labor Party, the late Dr Evatt, decided upon this issue of conciliation and arbitration he will find that Dr Evatt took the position that if a person is to be a conciliator he should fulfil that role and should not be called upon to engage in arbitral functions. I suggest that the Minister for Labour should try to shed some of his obstinacy; we would then warm to him a little. As things are at present we look upon him as an individual who literally has come from either the North Pole or the South Pole - he is hard to warm to.

I invite the Minister to consider what he is doing. The supreme function in this sphere is that of a conciliator. A person who has the skills of a conciliator can do far more to ensure the sweet running of an industrial organisation, however it may be expressed or however it may be shown up, than any other person. Not many people have the skills of a good conciliator. If 2 parties to a dispute appear before a man who is sitting as a conciliation commissioner and they realise that at some point of time he will take off the hat of commissioner and put on the hat of an arbitrator, to that extent they will be reluctant to place all their attitudes before him. I do not know why the Minister does not give this bifurcation of the 2 functions a run. Will it hurt him? Will it hurt his sense of vanity? I do not know why he is so obstinate about this. Why does he not allow this to operate, say for the next 12 months, to see how it works? I invite the Minister to give any illustration of where, since amendments were made to the provision, it has fallen down. I must confess that I know of no cases where it has fallen down.


Mr Riordan - You do not know very much if you do not know that.


Mr KILLEN - Apart from the honourable gentleman's speciality in being associated with one trade union I have probably had far more to do with the trade union movement than has the honourable member who interjects, and I can assure him that this has been not with tame cat unions. As I said, the Minister has a complete hang up about separating the functions of conciliator and of arbitrator. I think a real responsibility falls upon the Minister to ensure that he gives to the Committee an explanation why he is so persistent with respect to this clause.







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