Judges in Industry: A Study of Labour Arbitration in Australia

Judges in Industry: A Study of Labour Arbitration in Australia

Judges in Industry: A Study of Labour Arbitration in Australia

Judges in Industry: A Study of Labour Arbitration in Australia

Excerpt

This is a study of the operation of the Australian Arbitration Court. In it the author has attempted to discuss why the Court has in great part succeeded and just how it has gone about its duties. It is not a discussion of the legal bases of the Court's awards, nor is it an economic analysis of the Court's wage formulae. The topic, briefly noted, is: what are the bases of the Court's effective powers?

In a broader sense this means more than merely a recitation of rules, dicta, experiences and judgments, since the author aims at discussing that nebulous area between the legislative and judicial processes. It is an analysis of the Court as a governmental agency fluctuating between the extremes of strict legal review and of legislative stewardship. The discussion is centred on the historical development of the Court's experience with industrial law, industrial organizations, and Parliamentary reaction in certain selected Australian industries.

While the historical material presented in the following chapters will inevitably become descriptive of a continually receding period, the author believes that the value of this discussion will not thereby become lost. This probing of the record of a complex social institution can provide, despite the passage of time, a stimulus to further discussion of a socio-jurisprudential nature. And, if the conclusions are solidly based on fact, they may yield insights that transcend mere intellectual stimulation.

In the two years since this manuscript was presented to the Faculty of Political Science of Columbia University in the City of New York, significant developments, both within the arbitration system and "external" to it, have occurred. The Court has delivered one major basic wage judgment, coupled with a vigorous dissenting opinion from the Chief Judge, and is considering another (1952). The Court's powers to seek out corruption within union ranks have been expanded, and in their new form used. Through the Chief Judge (or his designee) discretionary powers of appeal from the awards of the various Conciliation Commissioners have been given. New judges have been appointed to the Court, and their position as members of a Superior Court of Record has, from the viewpoint of manner of address, been enhanced. Such changes as these will continue and their importance is not to be minimized.

The Australian economy has similarly experienced shifts. The boom, engendered by large wool sales in 1950-1, was succeeded by a recession and a period of caution late in 1951 and through part . . .

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