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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1474

Senator CAVANAGH (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - At present the Conciliation and Arbitration Act states that there shall be not more than 'seven other Judges'. Of course, what the amendment seeks to do -

Senator Byrne - Not more than seven additional judges apart from the Chief Judge.

Senator CAVANAGH - Yes, not more than seven other judges. The Government seeks to delete those words and insert the words: such number of other Judges as are appointed from time to time.

Of course, I agree with what has been said by both Senator Little and Senator Mulvihill to the effect that additional judges should be appointed if this would avoid any delay that may occur in hearings. If it is necessary to appoint them during the operation of this Act, the Government should have the right to appoint them. Under the Government's amendment, there is no limit to the number of judges who may be appointed. It would depend upon what call for them is made. I would direct the attention of honourable senators to the fact that judges of the Arbitration Court are carrying out many other duties for the Government. They are not always on demand in regard to arbitration. In a further amendment of the Opposition we see that it is seeking to have 3 judges sitting in the Arbitration Court at any one time whereas the amendment the Government proposes is directed towards limiting the number of judges working in such a capacity at any one time to one. The Opposition apparently wishes to increase the work load on the judges but refuses to agree to the Government's proposal. The Government desires to have its proposal accepted as the best working arrangment for the Act but we know the position in regard to the numbers in the Senate. At least to obtain some benefit from the Act, the ability to appoint another 2 judges is much preferable to not being able to appoint even those 2 extra judges. So at the appropriate time we will support -

Senator Byrne - The Minister ought to acknowledge the wisdom of our amendment.

Senator CAVANAGH - I do not acknowledge the wisdom of it. I say that the Opposition Parties have us over a barrel. Being in that position, we will compromise and have some improvement on the present Act.

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