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Parties to the Award

Federal industrial relations legislation

Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904

Industrial Relations Act 1988

Registered organisations

Amalgamation trends

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Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904

The Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed in December of 1904 by federal parliament. The Act established the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration which had jurisdiction for the prevention and settlement of interstate industrial disputes (including those threatened, impending or probable).[3] Its purpose was to deal with those disputes which passed the boundaries of a single state and so could not be dealt with, effectively, by state law.[4] The Court had a dual role: on one hand, serving as a conciliator and, when necessary, an arbitrator in regard to the settlement of disputes and as a quasi-legislator in the making of awards; and on the other, as a judiciary in regard to infringement of these awards and the Act. [5]

In 1956 the arbitral and judicial functions of this Court were split between a new Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and a Commonwealth Industrial Court. This followed a High Court judgement on the Boilermakers' Case,[6] earlier that year, which held that it was unconstitutional for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to combine both legislative and judicial functions.

Industrial Relations Act 1988

Today the principal federal Act is the Industrial Relations Act 1988. Under this Act the Australian Industrial Relations Commission operates to prevent and settle industrial disputes. Panels of Commission members have responsibility for dealing with such matters in relation to particular industries.[7] Administrative functions such as the registration of organisations are handled for the Commission by the Australian Industrial Registry. Judicial matters are dealt with by the Industrial Division of the Federal Court.

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© 1994 Print Edition pages 1 - 2, 2002 Online Edition
Published by The University of Melbourne Archives, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher