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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I am somewhat surprised at the celerity with which some honorable senators jump to conclusions, Senator Sayers has sought to convey the impression that, by assenting to this clause, a certain gentleman, who now discharges the duty of Industrial Registrar, will straightway be appointed to this new office. Now, the VicePresident of the Executive Council has made no such statement, nor is any such intimation contained in this clause, which reads -

The office pf Industrial Registrar under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1911 shall be an offce in the administrative division of the Public Service.

The clause then goes on- to fix his salary. Now, .the reason for creating such an office must be obvious. It is due to the fact that the work of the Arbitration Court is growing rapidly. But no member of the Government has intimated that, if we pass this clause, the gentleman who now occupies the position of Industrial Registrar will forthwith be appointed.

Senator Keating - What does paragraph 2 of the clause mean ?

Senator NEEDHAM - He will have the same right as every other public servant to apply for appointment to the position when it is created.

Senator Keating - Paragraph 2 of the clause reads -

The Industrial Registrar holding office at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been appointed to his office as classified by this section as from the 1st day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eleven, at the minimum salary.

Where does the right of anybody else come in?

Senator NEEDHAM - It does not necessarily follow that the gentleman who is at present discharging the duties of the office will be appointed.

Senator Keating - The provision which I 'have read appoints him.

Senator NEEDHAM - But suppose that before this Bill becomes law the gentleman in question is non-existent? That is the point to which I desire to direct attention. We have no control over the life of any officer. That is controlled by a higher power than this Parliament. On the other hand, if this officer lives, and receives the appointment, what of that? There is none who is more deserving of it. I think that the minimum' salary which is fixed by the clause- 7-no matter who may be appointed Industrial Registrar - is little enough for the work which he is called upon to perform.

Senator Stewart - What work is there?

Senator NEEDHAM - If my honorable friend had had any experience of arbitration law, he would know there is a good deal of work. I think that the Industrial Registrar should be classed as a judicial officer, and should be placed on the same level as the Auditor-General, the Judges of our High Court, and our High Commissioner.

Senator Stewart - Good gracious ! A purely clerical position.

Senator NEEDHAM - I would like to remind Senator Stewart that the Industrial Registrar has to meet representatives of organizations on the one hand, and legal gentlemen on the other, each advocating their own claims, and to decide whether he will refuse the registration of any organiza- tion. This officer is practically the " open sesame" to the Court itself, and consequently he must be possessed of a judicial mind.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator think that an ' ' open sesame ' ' is worth £850 per annum ? .

Senator NEEDHAM - The position is worth the salary proposed to be paid. Before the door to the Court can be opened, a vast amount of work has to be done by the Industrial Registrar.

Senator St Ledger - I thought that the door was freely open.

Senator NEEDHAM - Senator St.Ledger knows as well as I do that certain formalities must be complied with before an organization of employes or employers can reach the Arbitration Court.

Senator St Ledger - Under this Bill?

Senator NEEDHAM - Under this Bill the public servants of the Commonwealth will be placed in the same category as employes outside that Service. Consequently, the work of the Industrial Registrar will be increased. I care not who that officer may be - whether he be Mr. Smith, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Jones, or even Mr. St. Ledger - I say that the minimum salary provided in this clause constitutes only a fair wage.

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