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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 1510

Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: Is it a fact that he has acted to frustrate pay claims by Public Service unions representing 83,000 Commonwealth public servants in applications before the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr Chambers, which seek for Commonwealth public servants pay rates similar to those that have been awarded to Victorian public servants? Has the Attorney-General acted in this matter only as the Minister directly affected? If so, who authorised similar objections to the Public Service Arbitrator by 6 other Commonwealth departments? How does the Attorney-General justify this action whilst legislating to increase retrospectively the salaries of Conciliation Commissioners by over 30 per cent?

Senator GREENWOOD - I am aware that there have been some Press reports of the action taken yesterday by my representatives before the Public Service Arbitrator. The purpose of that action was to refer to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the pay claims of certain sections of the Public Service. The Government has made its policy clear in this genera] area over many months. That policy has been that there should be moderation with respect to wage claims and that the particular claims which were granted to the Public Service in Victoria at the beginning of this year should not be regarded as the start of a new round in which everyone is expected to get a wage increase. The fact is that the persons who were before the Arbitrator yesterday did receive an award and the action which has now been taken by my representative because I am a Minister concerned, just as the other Ministers who were represented are Ministers concerned, is to ensure that this matter is considered by the Arbitration Commission. It is a part of the conciliation and arbitration machinery in this country. I think it is appropriate that those who have responsibilities in this area should submit to the arbitral process, and to the supreme commission in the arbitral process, the decisions which have to be made. That is a short explanation of the matter. I think that it is perfectly fair for the Ministers affected to have the matter referred to the Commission for its consideration.

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