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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 470

Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service noticed the report of a statement made by the Assistant Secretary of the South Australian Trades and Labour Council, Mr T. Calnan, who has recently returned from a visit to Britain and Europe? Is he aware that Mr Calnan was a member of the 4-man Australian Council of Trade Unions team which attended the International Labor Organisation in Geneva and also the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in London?

Did the Minister notice that Mr Calnan said that he believed that Australia's arbitration system, although he was not entirely happy with it, was better than the individual collective bargaining system working in West Germany and England and that he was convinced that working conditions in Australia were amongst the best in the world? Is this judgment by this member of the ACTU a fair assessment of the arbitration system in Australia?

Senator WRIGHT - My attention was drawn to the statement to which the honourable senator has referred. I regarded it as a very significant statement coming from an experienced officer of the trade union movement. To say that the Australian arbitration system represents an advance upon the system of collective bargaining is, I think, a gross understatement. The Australian arbitration system, providing as it does conciliators and arbitrators in the form of umpires to decide disputes that dislocate the working man's employment, gives a unique opportunity to the Australian working man to prosper rather than grovel under the primitive system of collective bargaining where one group exerts its economic force against the other, stops work and creates chaos. I hope that Mr Calnan will rise to places of great influence in the Australian trade union movement. One of the pleasures I would have would be to penetrate the prejudice of Senator Cavanagh. If he would allow enlightened leadership to be given to the workmen of Australia he would find that they would no longer suffer because of the preferment that he always gives to the outworn and primitive - is in this instance, obviously, strikes and collective bargaining.

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