17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker(Hon.J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports-
Minister for Labour and National Service). - by leave - Recently the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked questions in regard to the supply and price of penicillin.
Penicillin is producedin Australia at t he Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at Royal Park. Sufficient supplies are in stock, and in course of production, to meet allpresent human and veterinary, needs in Australia. Improvements in the method of production, effected from time to time, and a close examination of costs, have enabled the serum laboratories to effect a reduction in prices as from the 24th July last. The new prices are as follows: -
These prices represent a very substantial reduction. They permit a modest profit to be made and enable the product to compete with imported penicillin. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are proceeding with the establishment of new plant that will enable penicillin to be produced on a large scale in accordance with the latest methods adopted in the United States of America and Great Britain. Until recently penicillin had not been imported into this country, but some supplies are now being imported from Great Britain. The arrival of these supplies raised the question as to whether customs duty, which is imposed generally on all medicinal importations, should be imposed under tariff item 281 (j) as a chemical, not elsewhere included,or under tariff item 285 (a), as a medicine. Tariff decision number 46/133 of the 15th July, 1946 did no more than decide that imported penicillin when imported in powder form in ampoules of a certain dosage should be deemed to be included under tariff item 285 (a). The duties applicable to the article in question, under tariff item 285 (a), when of United Kingdom origin are : - 30 per cent, plus 5 per cent, primage plus a special war duty at the rate of 10 per cent. of the total of the foregoing, that is a total duty of 38.5 per cent. Exchange adjustment operates in favour of the importer.
Considerable research work has been done in various parts of the world on the use of penicillin for the treatment of mastitis and other cattle diseases. The results have ‘been promising. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, have also carried out investigations in a limited way with satisfying results. In the manufacture of penicillin there is produced a quantity of second-grade product, which has an extremely limited use for human treatment but which is particularly valuable for veterinary use. The Commonwealth Government approved of the free issue from the laboratories of 300,000,000 units of this second-grade product for veterinary research. An Advisory Committee of Commonwealth and State veterinary officers was called together by the Commonwealth Department of Health to consider the best use of penicillin for veterinary work. The committee recommended lines of investigation that should be carried out into forms of mastitis research and made recommendations for the issue of penicillin, free of charge, to a number of research institutions in’ Australia where proper and full investigations can be carried out. These institutions have submitted their programme of research and have been -granted free penicillin. They have undertaken to keep the department fully advised of their results. This research, which will be extremely useful to animal health and food production, is being continued. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have on hand a very large quantity of second-grade penicillin which will be available for release for veterinary use. The Australian Veterinary Association has recommended that this penicillin should be made immediately available to veterinary officers of the Departments of Agriculture for use in those dairying districts which would benefit most by its use for the treatment of mastitis in cows. The laboratories are at present preparing a pamphlet concerning the use of penicillin for veterinary use, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is working on plans for a suitable apparatus for the administration of the drug to cows. At the present time the Australian Veterinary Association does not recommend the issue of .penicillin to stock owners except for injection by a veterinary surgeon. Indiscriminate use of penicillin may at this stage do more harm than good. More over, steps need to be taken to ensure that a black market shall not be created in second-grade penicillin’ for use by humans. Plans for controlled distribution are being developed; It is expected that the use of penicillin for veterinary purposes’ will have been completely demonstrated in the near future.
There are at present sufficient supplies of penicillin on hand for all legitimate purposes for many months. With the developments now in contemplation penicillin will in the reasonably near future be produced at lower cost, and it is hoped, in quantities that will permit Australia to engage extensively in the export trade. The Government would, if it were possible, provide all medicines including penicillin, to the people of Australia free of charge. The Government in fact passed legislation through this Parliament to enable this to be done, and but. for an adverse decision of the High Court as to the Commonwealth’s powers in the matter, penicillin, which was included in the formulary set out in a schedule to that act, would be supplied to-day to the people entirely free of cost. However, it is hoped that if the social services question is answered in the affirmative at the ‘ referendum” to be held on the 28th September, the Federal Government may be in a position to proceed with its original scheme.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, . at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– As Chairman, 1 present, the ninth interim report of the Social Security Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
Vocational Training - Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen.
– Is the Ministerfor’ Post-war Reconstruction aware that an advertisement was published in the press on the 14th July, under the authority of the Central Re-establishment and Employment Committee, in which Mr.
We must avoid the training of men in dying or dead-end occupations and above all we must see that men ure not put into skilled trades already overcrowded.
Will the Minister state what trades are referred to ? Does ‘the Government hold the view that those trades are overcrowded ? “What was the source of the information on which the statement was based? Has a survey been made of the trades referred to, with a view to ascertaining the present and potential requirements of industry?
– I know that the advertisement referred to appeared in the press. Reconstruction training has been so arranged that, if possible, the preparation of too many persons for particular industries will be avoided. All honorable members will agree that it would be very bad indeed to provide reconstruction training for large numbers of ex-servicemen only to find later that insufficient employment was available for their absorption in those occupations. I shall supply later to the honorable member a list of the industries concerned.
– The Victorian Government has submitted for the approval of the Commonwealth Government a proposal that an area of approximately 60,000 acres of first-class wheat-growing land in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria be placed under irrigation for dairying and fruit-growing purposes and allotted for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Wheat-growers now in the area who will be dispossessed of their holdings as the result of that proposal’ will have had withheld from them a proportion of the value of their. 1945-46 crops arid, in addition, a proportion of the realization of the forthcoming harvest, and if this proposal be endorsed will be debarred from growing wheat in that area. “Will the amounts thus withheld be returned to them or will they be lost to those producers permanently?
– The honorable member’s question raises important issues which cannot’ be answered offhand. I feel sure that the interests of wheatgrowers dispossessed of their properties as the result of governmental action would be protected. There is no policy laid down that would prevent such men from carrying on farming operations in other areas. I should think that- they would receive priority in the issue of wheat licences. “Wheat-growing is their livelihood and the first consideration of the Government should be .to see that they were justly treated. The details of the honorable member’s question will be investigated.
– I desire to make a persona] explanation. Yesterday, theSydney Morning Herald published a report in these term’s -
Air.’ Calwell declared that the Speaker was leaning over backwards to favour the Opposition because he had suspended Mr. Holt a week earlier.
That statement does not make sense, and in any event is incorrect.
Demobilization - Interim Ant Force
– I desire to ask the Minister .for the Army a question about soldiers who have qualified on points for discharge, but who are being held as key men. Can the Minister say who has authority to retain them once they have qualified for discharge under the points system ? It is alleged that many men who should be discharged, having the requisite number of points, are retained in the Army doing absolutely nothing, thus being prevented from rehabilitating themselves in, civil life.
– In order to deal with complaints of this kind, and to ensure that everything should be done to expedite discharges, and that men should not be .retained unnecessarily on the ground that they were filling key positions, I appointed a committee consisting of Mr. Sinclair, Secretary of the Army. Mr. Norman Watt, Assistant Secretary to the Treasury; the Adjutant-General, and Lieutenant-General Savige to review cases. The Chief Executive Officer of the Committee is Major-General Stantke who was formerly Adjutant-General, and later General Officer Commanding,
Queensland Lines of Communication area, and is now on the reserve of officers. This committee has been authorized to examine all establishments in order to- ensure that men are being discharged as quickly as possible.
– Complaints are reaching honorable members every day.
– Yes, and I have found that every man who wants to get out of the Army says that he has nothing to’ do while in it.- I am having every case investigated. I will not, stand for keeping men in the Army if they have nothing to do; on the contrary, I am all in favour of having them discharged as” quickly as possible. As a matter of fact, demobilization has proceeded much more expeditiously than was thought possible six or seven months ago. [ believe that this committee will be able to accelerate the rate of discharge, thorn of those who have been retained as key men after getting the requisite number of points for discharge, are now being transferred to relieve others who also have a sufficient number of points for discharge, but who have been retained as key men for two or three months beyond the date when they should have been discharged.
– A soldier with 128 points who returned to Australia approximately two months ago was sent to a camp and, being a signwriter, was classed - as key personnel. He has not since done any signwriting. Another soldier also has been held in that camp as a signwriter, but has not done any signwriting. Will the Minister for the Army have a special investigation made of the staffing at Bandianna camp, with a view to the immediate release of men whose retention is not essential?
– Key personnel engaged the attention of the special committee of review at its last meeting. The AdjutantGeneral was instructed to make a special survey of all-men so held, with a view to meeting the large number of complaints of men having been placed in that category but not employed in the trade or calling for which they were specially skilled. If the honorable member will supply names, I shall have the cases reviewed, and furnish a reply to him before the adjournment of the Parliament; because he has been most consistent in his representations.
– Advertisements have been appearing in the press for some time calling for enlistments in the Interim Air Force for a period of two years. Is the Minister for Air able to indicate whether the response has been satisfactory, and the. total number of enlistments that have resulted? If the number is not satisfactory will he consider revising the terms of enlistment, particularly the period ?
– Generally speaking the response has been satisfactory. I shall supply detailed figures to the honorable member to-morrow.
Transport to Drought Areas
– In view of a complaint which I have received from the secretary of the Southern Division of the Wheat Growers Union that mills in the Riverina area are filled to capacity with stocks of chaff, hay, oats, and straw, and are unable to obtain trucks, for the transport of this fodder to New South Wales drought-stricken areas, will the Minister for Commerce, and ‘Agriculture have investigations made into the allegations that trucks are being supplied by the New South Wales Railways Department for the transport to these areas of stocks pf Victorian and South Australian fodder? If that be so, will the Minister ask the New South Wales Government to arrange to supply the necessary trucks to southern mills in order not only to alleviate the storage position but also to avoid unemployment in the industry?
– I shall discuss the matter immediately with the New South Wales Minister for Railways. I know how urgently the fodder is needed in Queensland and I realize the seriousness of the position. All possible steps will be taken to improve the position and to take advantage of any savings in transport that can be effected.’
Ex-Prisoner of War: Confinement in Asylum.
– by leave-On Friday last the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony.) brought under notice the case of a former prisoner of war who had been admitted to a mental institution in Queensland. I made immediate inquiries into this case and found that the ex-soldier was admitted to the Repatriation General Hospital, Brisbane, on the 11th June, 1946. He subsequently became unmanageable, and on the 14th June, 1946, was transferred to the Brisbane General Hospital for investigation of his case. This was diagnosed by two leading specialists as being malaria and encephalogy. He was subsequently transferred to Goodna Mental Hospital on the 17th June, 1946. He remained at that hospital until the 31st July, 1946, when he was discharged as cured and placed in the care of suitable people. The application for acceptance of nerve disability as due to war service was lodged on the ex-soldier’s behalf by the Pensions Officer of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, on the 2nd July, 1946, and the application is now being considered. I shall be pleased to advise the honorable member of further developments of this case in due course.
– Did the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs see the report in the Sunday Telegraph of the 4th August, that 30,000,000 cigarette papers are held in customs bond in Sydney? What is being done to ensure that they shall be mad.e available to the public to relieve the acute shortage?
– I did not see the report, but I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs and get a reply for thehonorable gentleman, probably by to-morrow.
– On FridayI raised the matter of a complaint by Mr. R. H. Coates, acting honorary secretary of the Quneensland United Council of ex-Servicemen, about racketeering and black-marketing in the building trade in Queensland. I appreciate that the Prime Minister hasbeen busy, but I should like the right honorable gentleman to examine this matter with a view to appointing a commission of inquiry. Will he let me know what he intends to do before we adjourn next Friday?
– I regret that I have not had time to read the honorable gentleman’s speech, but I shall try to do soas soon as possible and let him have a reply.
– Has the Minister for Works and Housing seen a statement in last night’s Melbourne Herald that, according to the July Bulletin of the Federal Directorate of Housing, governmentsponsored houses completed in Victoria between July, 1945, and May last, numbered 919 - a little more than onethird of the quota set for the financial year 1945-46? If so, there is a similar serious lag in the completion of Government sponsored houses in other States. What action is intended to rectify the lag, and what is the Government doing about housing in country districts where the shortage is acute?
– I have not seen the statement attributed to the Federal Director of Housing, but if it is based in the Commonwealth Housing Bulletin the figures will be correct. A target was set for government-sponsored houses and those constructed by private enterprise, and for the year ended the 30th June, 1946, the number of houses completed and under construction exceeded the target by about 6,000.
– Has the Prime Minister received a resolution from eleven combined ex-servicemen’s associations in Brisbane urging the Commonwealth Government to take immediate action to provide houses for exservicemen, their wives and children? What does the Government propose to do about it, andwill unused Royal Australian Air Force and Army huts be made available ?
– As the honorable member knows, there is a housing agreement between the States and the Commonwealth which provides that 50 per cent. of all the houses erected shall be allotted to ex-servicemen. It may be assumed that the Common wealth and State Governments, whatever their party affiliations, are anxious that as many houses as possible shall be built. How- ever, there was much lee-way to be made up. Even before the war, there was a shortage of 250,000 houses, and the deficiency has become more acute since then because, during the war, it was not possible to devote materials and labour to home construction. As far as I can see, everything possible is now being done to provide homes, always having regard to the availability of materials and labour.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture why sweet cream is excluded from subsidy paid to the dairying industry? I realize that another department is concerned in the matter, but I ask the Minister the question because persistent efforts by the Milk Zone Dairymen’s Council have failed to obtain a satisfactory answer to it. As it costs asmuch to produce milk for conversion into sweet cream as to produce whole milk, and as the farmers do not know how much sweet cream they will have each week, will the Minister take action to have it included?
– I anticipated a question on that matter and had the following reply prepared : -
The Dairying Industry Assistance Act of 1943, which provides for assistance to the dairying industry, defines “ dairy produce “ as “ cows’ milk, or any produce derived from cows’ milk, which is to be processed at a factory into butter, cheese, dried milk not being skimmed milk powder, condensed milk or concentrated milk”. The act was assented to on the 3rd July, 1943, and was designed to stimulate the production of those products, which were required in the prosecution of the war. By the Cream (Disposal and Use) Order, sales of sweet or table cream have been banned, except on medical grounds, since May, 1943. Nevertheless; in States where the price of sweet cream is related to the price of butter fat, the price of sweet cream has increased in proportion to the increase of the price of butter fat. I shall investigate further the points raised by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for
Labour and National Service aware of the delay in the port of Sydney in loading wool for export? If the cause is the refusal of members of the Storemen and Packers Union to work overtime, what action is he taking to overcome the delay? Is he aware that if the delay continues the wool auctions scheduled to commence in September will not be able to take place?
-I do know that attempts have been made for a considerable time to get the members of the Storemen and Packers Union to work overtime. I must admit, I suppose, although I am not ableto say for certain, that the failure of the men to work overtime would delay considerably the loading of wool. Last week, a conference was held between the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, departmental officers, officials of the Storemen and Packers Union andmyself to consider the matter. That conference is still proceeding.
Payments - Guaranteedprice in Canada.,
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether any further payments on the 1945-46- wheat crop will be made? If so, will he inform me approximately what is the amount? Will the honorable gentleman also state whether further payments may be expected on other pools which have not yet been completed? Mr. SCULLY.- I hope to be able to announce at an early date a progress payment from No. 9 pool. Although I am not able to state offhand what the amount will be, it will be substantial. The final payment on No. 7 pool will be made in the near future.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture observed the statement in the Adelaide Advertiser of Saturday that the Canadian Government has undertaken to guarantee to wheat-growers of that Dominion 1 dollar 35 cents, equivalent to 8s. 5d. Australian, for all wheat grown for a period of five years? If the honorable gentleman has not seen the statement will he have inquiries made through the appropriate sources and endeavour to enlighten the Australian farmers as to the Canadian position, at least before polling day?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. The Canadian Government previously fixed a guaranteed price for Canadian wheat at 1 dollar a bushel for a period of five years. “When investigations were made by officers of my department it wasdiscovered that that price was not so liberal as the present guaranteed price of 5s. 2d. a bushel made by this Government under the wheat stabilization plan. I shall have inquiries made into the statement referred to by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state what progress has been made by the Government towards the stabilization of the barley industry in compliance with the request of a deputation which recently waited on him? .
– We have examined very thoroughly the matter of barley stabilization, and I am confident that for this season, at least, the position regarding advances and the like will be comparable with that of the previous season. A deputation, which the representatives in this Parliament of South Australian electorates introduced, submitted to me very satisfactory recommendations, and I believe that the only difficulty at present in the way of implementing this scheme is section 92 of the Constitution. If the electors will rectify that position at the forthcoming referendum, we shall be able to give to the barley-growers of South Australia and Victoria a very effective stabilization scheme.
– Will the Minister repre senting the Minister for Supply and
Shipping inform me whether it is a fact that some industries in Victoria are now entering the seventh week in which they have not participated in any distribution of industrial coal? Has the honorable gentleman personally investigated this position? Will he give to the House an assurance that the distribution of coal which has so far been made, has been based on economic rather than political factors? Will he explain to the House the reasons for the apparently disproportionate distribution of coal as between the needs of gas manufacturers and the needs of industry generally?
– I am not able to say that I have examined the matter personally, because it really concerns my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, but I know that he has appointed a committee in every State, including Victoria, to examine in conjunction with the, State authorities, the allocation of coal to industry. So far as my understanding of the matter goes, the allocation is carried out fairly to all parties.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who administers the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, whether he would investigate the possibility of infra-red being used as a preventative against frost, especially in the Murray Valley and other frost pockets in South Australia. His reply on that, occasion was not favorable. I now ask the Minister whether he read in yesterday’s Sydney Sun, the following news item: -
Infra red lamps suspended above orchards, vines and vegetable gardens, can turn on automatically when the temperature approached frost point. This scheme has been tried and is expected to save thousands of pounds for farmers in frost-stricken areas.
Will the Minister again bring this matter before the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with a view to having experiments carried out in South Australia ?
– I acknowledge the deep interest that the honorable member for Wakefield has taken in methods of minimizing or preventing damage from frost. I have not seen the report in the Sydney Sun to which he has referred; but the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has liaison officers in all countries’ of the world from whom it receives information on experiments of this character which take .place abroad. I shall bring the press report to the notice of the council and ask for a report as to whether there is any basis for the statement contained in it that the method outlined can be used to prevent frost damage. If there is any foundation for the statement, the honorable member may rest assured that the council itself will undertake experiments in relation to it.
– Mr. ANTHONY.- Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make a statement before the House rises concerning the advance of the buffalo-fly down the Queensland coast and indicate when it is considered - that the fly will reach the dairying areas of New South Wales? Will he also indicate the means by which the Government proposes to assist farmers and others to combat this menace when it reaches those areas?
– I recognize the seriousness of the buffalo-fly menace and will make an inquiry into the matter raised by the honorable member. I assure him that the officers of the Departments of Agriculture of Queensland and New South Wales, and also of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, are co-operating fully in doing everything possible to control the fly and to alleviate the damage it causes. It is realized that the fly is a distinct menace.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that during the recent dispute over the double dumping of wool some returned soldier members of the waterside workers organization in Queensland unloaded two ships, Murada and Macedon, which were carrying perishable goods? such as apples and potatoes? The goods would have been lost otherwise. The shipowners have refused to pay the men for the work they did. Will the Minister inform me whether it is the responsibility of the shipowners or the Government, to pay the men?
– Did they not raid the ships?
– They saved the goods.
– I shall call the attention of my colleague, , the Minister for Supply and Shipping, to the honorable gentleman’s question and ask him to make inquiries. When these have been completed a reply will be furnished to the honorable member.
Mr. - GUY. - The spraying season’ is fast approaching in the orchard districts of Tasmania, and the orchardists of that State are greatly perturbed because no pumps- for overhead spraying outfits are available to them. No pumps of that kind have been received in Tasmania for the last five months. They are procurable in Sydney, but cannot be sent to Tasmania because of the unavailability of shipping space. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping endeavour to provide shipping space immediately for the transport of the “Duplex” tyre pump for the over- , head spray outfits, and thus enable this important industry to function?
– I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to do what he can to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– The residents of Parkside have again complained to me that the post office in that district can transact pensions arid other business only under conditions of hardship. Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral confer with his colleague with a view to plans being prepared for the erection of a new building or the improvement of the existing structure ?
– The policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department is to provide all the facilities that are required by the public, immediately materials and man-power become available. The honorable gentlemanhas previously, through me, brought to the attention of the PostmasterGeneral the matter of the Parkside Post Office. I shall ask my colleague to give a high priority rating to the claims of this district, and hope that,as a member of the next Parliament, the honorable member will be advised of the completion of a new post office.
SirEARLE PAGE. - Will the Prime Minister take up with the Premier of New South Wales the matter of providing some form of transport for the timber which is accumulating at all railway stations on the north coast of that State on account of the shortage of railway trucks? If it be not possible to provide the trucks that are needed, will the right honorable gentleman examine the possibility of using vessels that were previously employed in this trade but were commandeered for use as mine-sweepers during the war, in order that this timber may be brought to Sydney and made available for the building of houses?
– The matter of providing transport for timber and other materials was discussed by me with the State Minister for Transport, Mr. O’Sullivan, last week. I also took the opportunity of discussing it at some length with the Premier of New South Wales by telephone this morning. In addition to the transport agencymentioned by the right honorable gentleman, there has been the further suggestion that certain barges or tugs now in the possession of the Navy might be utilized. This is being examined by the Minister for Supply and Shipping. A third possible means is the organizing of motor transport. That, I understand, is the subject of a conference in Sydney to-day, between the Department of Transport and the motor interests concerned. , The right honorable gentleman may rest assured that the matter is being given close attention.
Electoral Rolls - Votes for Servicemen
– The present Commonwealth electoral enrolment exceeds 4,000,000 persons. This represents a considerable increase on the number enrolled ten or fifteen years ago. In view of the heavy work that will fall upon honorable members in covering their electorates during the forthcoming general election campaign, will the Minister for the Interior provide them with additional copies of the rolls for their electorates, and also increase the number available for purchase ?
– I shall give immediate consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a statement by Professor Bland who, I understand, is a selfstyled authority on democracy, that servicemen between the ages of 18 and 21 are not competent to record a vote? Does the Prime Minister not think that this a libel on the men concerned, and will he remind the absent-minded professor that servicemen of this age were placed in charge of bombers that cost £100,000, and that they interposed their bodies between us and the enemy?
– I am always very sceptical about any opinion expressed by Professor Bland. Some of his opinions, even apart from the one referred to, are much outmoded. The Government has decided, asI am sure any government would, that those men between the ages of 18 and 21, who were on active service, shall be given theright to vote. The other matter mentioned by the honorable member may be regarded as a subject for debate, but debate is not proper in answer to a. question.
– In view of the hardship imposed by the lack of gum boots upon those who are engaged in farming pursuits, and persons who live in areas that have a heavy rainfall, of which Tasmania affords an example,will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping endeavour to have the trade quota for that State considerably liberalized ?
– I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to inquire whether anything can be done to comply with the honorable member’s request.
Contributions: Exemptions from Tax.
– The Caulfield Central
Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has launched an appeal for £20,000 for the purpose of building a memorial hall. The project was approved by the Patriotic Council of Victoria. The branch has now learned that subscriptions will not be deductible from income for taxation purposes. As most memorials are not taxable, and those likely to’ be provided to commemorate sacrifices in the last war will be of a utilitarian character - for example, memorial halls and hospitals - will the Treasurer examine the proposition that contributions to memorial halls shall be free from tax?
– I shall have a look at the proposal. Committees which launch appeals for memorials would be well advised first to discuss the matter with the taxation authorities.
– In this instance, the Taxation Department was . approached some months ago, but a reply from it has only just been received.
– Before embarking on the project, the committee should be clear as to whether contributions will be subject to the income tax concession. Frequently, appeals are launched first and the complaint is subsequently made that the tax concession is not granted to. the contributors. The request is then made for an extension of the principle. I shall examine the matter raised by the honorable member, and lethim have an answer later.
– by leave - Advice has been received from London that the British Ministry of Food has agreed to an increase of the prices of butter and cheese for the third year of the contract, the 1st July, 1946 to the 30th June, 1947. The contract will remain in operation until the 30th June, 1948.
The return received for. butter exported on account of the United Kingdom for the first two years of the agreement, that is, up to June, 1946, was 161s.1d. sterling per cwt. This represented the total of that which was called a price of 147s. 9d. and value, or grant, of 13s. 4d. Our request to the United Kingdom for the third year was for payment to cover both price and value at 164s. 4d. sterling per cwt. This represented the. cost of production as determined after consultation with the industry by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner on the basis of the figures submitted to him by the industry. The figure for value has now been abandoned and the total return called price. The price now agreed upon is 173s. 6d. sterling per cwt., which is the equivalent of that paid to New Zealand after allowing for the extra freight involved in the movement of the products from Australia, as compared with New Zealand.
The price of 164s. 4d. proposed to the United Kingdom Government, together with the home-consumption sales and the Commonwealth subsidy, brings the return to the farmer up to1s. 7½d. per lb. commercial butter equivalent. Following upon the increased return from the United. Kingdom above this figure of 164s. 4d. the Government will consider adjustments thatmight be called for. Its examination of the subject will probably involve further consideration of the subsidy and of the creation of a fund to assist in the stabilization of the industry over a period of years. Special consideration will be given to the question whether into this fund there shall be paid the sum received from’ the United Kingdom in excess of that which was sought with the concurrence of the industry. The major factor in any stabilization fund would be the establishment of floor prices arrived at after consideration of cost of production data.
Higher prices have been secured by some foreign countries, but whilst the Australian Government stipulatedthe maintenance of relativity with New Zealand prices, it has not sought to secure prices in line with foreign countries in respect of either butter or meat. It is true that the Danish price f.o.b. will be higher than the Australian f.o.b. prices. It is to be remembered, however, that . Danish butter has always brought a higher f.o.b. return than Australian and New Zealand butter. Moreover the freight on the Danish product is so much less than that from Australia and New Zealand that the landed cost to Britain of Australian and New Zealand butter will closely approximate the Danish. It might be even less if relative freights were worked out. Apart from these details, however, the Government takes the view that the price paid by the United Kingdom to Australia is satisfactory and, if because of the United Kingdom’s need, and the conditions in Denmark, the United Kingdom feels that it must pay a higher price to Denmark, it is not considered that Australia should question it.
The Government has not sought an extension of the current contract beyond 1948. It has reserved the right, however, when considering in May next the prices to be paid for the fourth year of the contract, to discuss with the United Kingdom Government the question of the continuance of the contract beyond 1948 either in its present form or in an amended form.
The increased prices now obtained provide an excellent opportunity to stabilize the earnings of the dairying industry. For the most part over the period of the contract, returns paid to the industry have been greater than those received from Britain, the Australian Government making up the difference by means of subsidy. On the other hand New Zealand has placed considerable money received under its United Kingdom contract into a stabilization fund. This is evident because the price paid to farmers has been approximately 3d. per lb. of butter fat less than that being paid to Australian farmers.
Although the negotiations on meat have not yet been completed, there is’ reason for belief that the prices for beef, mutton and. lamb that will be agreed upon will be above current prices, particularly for lamb. Representatives of meat producers on the Meat Industry Advisory Committee have been kept advised, of the progress of the negotiations and as soon as agreement is reached with the British Government a conference with representatives of the industry will be convened.
I would emphasize that in our discussions with the Government of the United Kingdom we have been very frank, and I now desire, to be equally frank with * the honorable members and the industries’ concerned. We have obtained prices for the third year of the agreements in excess of those anticipated by representatives of the industry. In view of the circumstances the Government feels that it should consult the industries with the idea of working out long-term plans of . stabilization which will have as their basic objective the creation of floor prices below which returns to producers will not fall irrespective of the fluctuations of world markets.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to announce plans made by Drug Houses of Australia Limited for the cultivation on the largest scale possible of nicotiana rustica in Tumut and district in the coming season? If so, what is the estimated net return per acre to growers? Is it a fact that 97 per cent, of this drug used in Australia is now imported at a cost of 5s. per lb? Will the Minister consider compelling Drug Houses of Australia Limited to increase the guaranteed price of 9d.. per lb. now offered to Australian growers ?
– I have made full inquiries into the position regarding nicotine sulphate, and we are doing what we can to make it known as widely as possible throughout the States. I havearranged for. the issue of a press statement on the subject this afternoon giving full details.
Jews FROM Shanghai.
– According to a report in the Melbourne Argus, 275 Jewish refugees are waiting at Shanghai for a ship to bring them to Australia. The report adds that they are spending their time studying the leaflets about Australia prepared by the Department of Information. Can the Minister for Immigration say whether these persons are some of the 2^000 whose entry into Australia he has recently approved? Does the Government intend to place any limit on the number of migrants of. this sort? Does, the Government propose to take action to ensure that the acquisition of migrants of this kind is offset by the arrival of a suitable proportion of migrants of British stock?
– Does the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of the A Argus story ?
– I do.
– I shall make inquiries in order to learn whether the Argus report is accurate, and whether the honorable member had grounds for his assumption that it was. I have too much to worry about to concern myself with what is published in the Argus. When I get the information necessary, I shall make a statement. At the moment, I do not propose to chase red herrings, or .even black ones, for the benefit of the Argus.
– Has the Govern- ment given consideration to the great rise in the cost of living during the past few years, whilst the minimum public service pension has remained at £104 per annum? In the light of existing circumstances, does the Government propose to increase the rate of pension?
– Some aspects of the matter raised by the honorable member were > stated by me in answer to a question in. this House recently, and I then pointed out that the pensions paid to superannuated officers is determined by the contributions made by them while they were employees of the Commonwealth.. The pension rate is determined in accordance with the scale drawn up when the superannuation fund was established and is related actuarially to the contributions made during the period of service of the pensioner. The superannuation fund was based actuarially on the assumption that the return from investments of the Superannuation Board would be 4^ per cent. Owing to the fall in interest rates, however, that yield has not been realized, and as the result the fund is not now so sound financially as it was some years ago. Because of that the Superannuation Act was amended recently to pro vide for new contributors to make contributions at higher rates than those included in the schedules of the original act. At the moment I can see no way of increasing the pension rate other than by making a direct subsidy to the fund from Consolidated Revenue. The desirability of doing that was inquired into some time ago, but I confess frankly that examination revealed that such a concession would be difficult to justify.
Concession to Election Candidates
– Is it intended to make special concessions to candidates in the forthcoming elections in respect of petrol and tyres? Alternately, is it expected that .the existing restrictions on those commodities ‘ will be lifted at such an early date that no special concessions for candidates will be necessary?
– The question of the relaxation or abolition of petrol-rationing has been under consideration by the Government in consultation with the British Government. The Australian Government is anxious not to impose a relatively greater call on the limited supply of dollars for this purpose than is made by the British people. It is estimated that if petrol-rationing were abolished the minimum monthly requirement of petrol would be 90,000 tons. The figure might rise to 100”,000 tons a month. Until further information is obtained I am not sure whether it will be possible to secure sufficient tanker space to transport such a large additional quantity of petrol to Australia. If satisfactory shipping arrangements can be made, and subject to agreement being reached with the British Government as to the expenditure of dollar funds, further consideration will be given to the relaxation or abolition of petrol-rationing. I view sympathetically the claims of candidates at the forthcoming elections for a special issue of petrol tickets. I shall discuss that matter with the Minister for Supply and Shipping.
– The tyre, position is most important;
– I am not in a position to. express an opinion on that subject at this stage. Some relaxation of tyre control has already been made. I shall discuss that matter also with the Minister for Supply and Shipping, but not quite so sympathetically.
Iron workers - Activities of Communist Party.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that all Victorian foundry proprietors intend to dismiss their employees - about 3,000 men - because of organized resignations, inspired by Communists, designed to wreck the industry? Will the honorable gentleman give to the House what information he has on the matter and if the cause be traced to Communists will he state what action the Government intends to take to curb their activities ?
– I am aware that there has been trouble in iron foundries both in New South Wales and Victoria. I am also aware that the matter has been referred to the Arbitration Court. As one who upholds the authority of the court the honorable member will agree that the matter should be left to the court to determine. I know, too, that the Chamber of Manufactures held a meeting to consider this matter, but I am not aware whether any decision was reached. The next step appears to be that the men will be given notice to terminate their employment. The period of such notice must be seven days. In the meantime Judge O’Mara has called the parties together. A conference is to take place at Melbourne at 9.30 a.m. to-morrow. I do not know whether the dispute has been instigated by Communists and others, and accordingly I cannot take action in respect of what may after all be only a myth.
Broadcasting of Proceedings - . Preservation of Recordings
– On the 19th and21st June respectively, the honorable members for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) and Griffith (Mr. Conelan) directed questions to me concerning the disposal of recordings of the proceedings of this House made during the testing period prior to the actual commencement of broadcasting. The matter was considered recently by the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, which had before it notes on the technical aspects which I had obtained from the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. . These early recordings were undertaken as an essential part of the technical procedure of adjusting the broadcasting equipment and training the staff. They naturally bear evidence of the process of adjustment, such as large variations in noise levels, and in many cases only disconnected fragments of the speeches were recorded. In the ordinary course these records would be destroyed, and the joint committee was of the opinion that this should be done. It was, however, suggested that records of the proceedings on the opening day of the broadcast from each House should be preserved for historical purposes, and the joint committee agreed that this was desirable and that the Parliamentary Library should be the custodian. It will not be possible to preserve the originals as these records, which are of the type normally used for recording broadcasts, are coated with a relatively soft compound to enable the records to be re-played directly without processing. Such records are not permanent and after a few months they become almost unintelligible. Accordingly, arrangements have been made for these records to be re-recorded on master plates which will be handed to the Parliamentary Library for safe keeping.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1946.
Wheat Export. Charge Bill 1946.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or . towards defraying the service of theyear 1946-47 asum not exceeding £45,030,000.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr.Lazzarini do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
. -I move -
That thebill be now read a second time.
Supply Bill No. 1 provided for a period of two months to the end of August. The purpose of this bill is to obtain supply for a further period of three months to cover essential requirements until the new Parliament assembles after the general elections. The amount to be appropriated is £45,030,000, and it may be summarized under the following heads: -
The provision for non-war services is based on the Appropriation Act passed by Parliament for the year 1945-46 and provides only for essential requirements. Including the amounts in Supply Act No. 1. the total provision represents approximately five-twelfths of the 1945-46 appropriations. It is estimated that after excluding special appropriations, total war expenditure for the three months covered by the bill will be £52,964,000, which is £59,543,000 less than expenditure in the corresponding period of 1945-46. Provision is included in this amount for deferred pay of men now being discharged and other non-recurring charges arising out of the war. The amount of £6,500,000 is included in the bill to meet estimated expenditure in connexion with the lendlease and reciprocal lend-lease settlement with the United States of America, and £100,000 is provided for initial expenditure under the Coal Industry Bill. The provision of £30,000,000 for war services in this bill represents the amount which it is estimated will be available from revenue receipts for the period of three months after making allowance for other obligations. The balance of war expenditure will be met from loan appropriations. As I mentioned recently in my Financial Statement, it will be necessary when the budget is framed to arrange the grouping of items now shown under war services more in accord with peace-time conditions. For the present, however, they are being shown in the same manner as in the Estimates of 1945-46. The usual provision is made in the bill for “ Advance to the Treasurer” the amount being £5,000,000. This amount is required mainly to carry on uncompleted civil works inprogress at the 30th June, and also to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. Except as already stated, no provision has been made for any new expenditure and there is no departure from existing policy.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies). adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of customs under customs tariff proposals,
Bill presented, and read afirst time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill follows the usual and necessary practice of validating before the expiry of the Parliament the collection of duties of customs under outstanding Customs Tariff Proposals. As will be seen from clause 3 of the bill, the Customs Tariff Proposals which it is desired to validate are. those introduced into the House on Wednesday, the 31st July, 1946. No absolute period of validation has been prescribed in the bill. This follows the course established by a previous bill introduced into the House,’ and therefore secures uniformity with validation acts which are at present operative. The position at present is that while the proposals validated by this bill are operative and legal they cannot be incorporated in the Customs Tariff Act until a customs tariff bill has been introduced and passed by Parliament. The introduction of a customs tariff bill will give honorable members the opportunity to debate individual items in the schedule referred to in the present validation bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of excise under excise tariff proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the billbe now read a second time.
This bill has a purpose similar to that of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill. It validates the collection of duties of excise imposed by Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 of the 31s’t July, 1946.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 2nd August(vide page 3648).
Clause 13. - (1.) The powers and functions of the Board are to include the taking of such action as, in the opinion of the Board, is necessary or desirable - (2.) In particular, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Board is to have power to make provision for or with respect to -
the regulation of prices for the sale, purchase or re-sale of coal, the values at, which coal is recorded in the accounts of any business, and of profits in the coal industry;
Upon which Mr. Harrison had moved by way of amendment-
That, in sub-clause (1.). after paragraph (d), the following paragraph be added: - “ (e) to ensure to owners engaged in the coal industry a fair profit on capital invested, and, for this purpose, where necessary, to pay bounties on coal produced, to make grants and to pay subsidies.”.
.- This clause sets out the powers of the Joint Coal Board. I desire to refer particularly to the difference between this bill and the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944 in making provision for the payment of compensation to persons whose mines may be taken over by the board. I do not speak on behalf of the colliery proprietors, but I consider that the lack of provision in this bill for the payment of adequate compensation and the attempt by an indirect method to evade the provision in the Constitution for compensation on “ just terms “ must cause concern to every individual in the community whose property may, in the’ future, be acquired under conditions similar to those proposed in the bill. The Coal. Production (War-time) Act contained a specific provision in regard to the payment of compensation in precisely the same terms as clause 20 of the bill -
The owner of a controlled mine who suffers loss (including loss of profits) or damage, by reason of anything done in pursuance of an order under the last preceding section in respect of the mine, shall be entitled to such compensation as is determined by agreement between the Board and the owner of the coal mine, or, in the absence of agreement, as is determined by an action by the owner against the Board in any Court of competent jurisdiction.
As the result of the Government’s decision to omit Part IV. of. the bill, clause 20 will disappear, and the interests of the coal-owners will not be protected in the future, as they were protected under the act. I do not raise this matter because of any interest that I have in the coal proprietors - perhaps we are a little unsympathetic with what are described as “vested interests.” - but in matters of this kind, the rights of. the whole community are challenged. An injustice which is tolerated or perpetrated in respect’ of one section of industry may later be extended to any individual. For ‘ this reason in particular, I object to the deletion of this safeguard.
Paragraph j of sub-clause 3 of clause 13 provides that the board shall have authority - to terminate, suspend, vary or modify any contract or agreement relating to or affecting the production, supply or distribution of coal, including sale transportation by land or sea, loading, discharge, delivery, storage and use;
In other words, the hoard will have power to assume control of and operate any coal-mine. In such circumstances, elementary justice demands that compensation1 shall be paid to any individual who suffers loss as the result of the exercise of that control. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) recognized the merit of the claim for protecting the rights of the individual when he stated that the matter of compensation was covered by clause . 57. ‘ If the honorable gentleman will examine that clause in the light of statements made by the Opposition, he will have to admit that it does not meet the circumstances which I have mentioned. The very fact that clause 20, which will bc deleted, provided specifically that the coal-owner should have the right to claim compensation, is evidence that further provision must be made to afford the necessary protection.
– The Commonwealth Government always considered that clause 20 was unnecessary. It was only because of the representations of New South Wales that we included the clause in the bill. ‘ Then New South Wales came to the conclusion also that the clause was not necessary.
– The Minister’s reply is different from that which he gave last week.
– It is not.
– The Minister has not shown why clause 20 was included in the first place.
– Clause 20 is contained in Part IV. of the bill. If the honorable member will read the statement which I m.ade to the House announcing the Government’s intention to omit Part IV., he will see that I stated clearly that the Commonwealth never desired its inclusion in the bill.
– Nevertheless, such a provision is contained in the act, which the bill will supersede.
– That is true.
– According to the Minister, the Commonwealth Government considered that clause 20 was unnecessary. The inference to be drawn from that statement is that the Government considers that other clauses of the bill will * adequately protect the rights of those who claim that they have been unfairly treated by the Joint Coal Board. The Minister mentioned, in particular, clause 57, which provides -
If any person claims that he ‘has sustained any loss or damage by reason of an exercise by the Board of the power referred to in paragraph [j) of sub-section (3.) of section thirteen of this Act, lie may, within three months after the exercise of .the power, lodge with the Board a claim in writing setting out full particulars of the loss or damage and the question whether any and, ii any, what amount of compensation should in all the circumstances of the case be paid to that person shall be settled by agreement between him and the Board, or failing any such agreement, by, an action by the owner against the Board in any court of competent jurisdiction.
Therefore, the only redress which an aggrieved person may have will be under paragraph j of sub-clause 3 of clause 13. But that paragraph has no relation to the case which I cited, namely, the action of the board’ in taking control of a mine in the manner in which the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner took control of and operated Coalcliff. It is estimated that the loss of output up to the 30th June in the operation ,of Coalcliff colliery was about 70,000 tons of coal. Will the Minister indicate clearly and specifically where it is provided, except in clause 20, that owners shall be compensated for losses sustained under such conditions. As far as I can see, the owners will have no means of redress whatsoever under this measure. Constitutional authorities on this side of the chamber, notably the honorable member - for Warringah (Mr. Spender), have pointed out that the Government is obliged under the terms of the Commonwealth Constitution, to provide just compensation in respect of properties which it acquires, but they have said that the Government could take control of a property without actually acquiring it, and, in such circumstances, compensation might not be payable. Any such action should be described, in my opinion, as a “ swift deal “. It should be beneath the dignity of the Commonwealth Government to incur any suspicion that it would deal in such a way with any section of the community, whether mineowners, bankers, or any other class of people. Those whose property is acquired by the Commonwealth should be compensated within the terms of the Constitution, and this committee should not tolerate the possibility of any denial of compensation to citizens in respect of property over which the Government assumes control. I ask the Minister to state clearly that coal-mine owners will be compensated if the Government takes controlof their properties and operates them at a loss, as has actually happened at Coalcliff colliery. Certain other aspects of this clause are open to grave objection, but this is the most serious matter, and it justifies our demanding an adequate explanation.
.-I also object to the absence from this clause of any provision for the compensation of mine-owners in the event of their properties being taken over and operated at a loss. The bill envisages compensation in respect of only one limited matter. Clause 57 provides that if any person claims that he has suffered any loss or damage by reason of the” exercise by the board of the power referred to in paragraph j of sub-clause 3 of clause 13, hemay make a claim in writing. That provision simply gives the board authority -
Apparently that is the only matter in respect of which any compensation may be payable. Yet the board will have power, under clause 13 to do almost everything in relation to coal production, the introduction,modification, replacement and operation of machinery, and the classification and grading of coal and its preparation for market. It may take charge of collieries and do many things seriously detrimental to the interests of the mine-owners and to the industry itself ; yet aggrieved persons will have no right to compensation. Surely the Minister will not insist on the passage of the clause without some amendment to meet this criticism.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) said last Friday that he would not provide any compensation whatsoever for the mine-owners because, he said, there had been a serious loss of millions of tons of coal in days gone by in consequence of the manner in which the collieries had been worked. It is true that coal has been lost owing to damage by fire and water, but by far the greater proportion of the loss has been incurred through no fault whatever of the owners. In this connexion I quote the following passage from the report of Mr. Justice Davidson : - .
Owing to departmental policy and industrial pressure, pillars have been left standing too long in many of the mines in New South Wales, and much of the coal will, in all probability be lost. If this coal be not lost, it will be extractable only at very heavy cost.
Mr. Justice Davidson also stated ;
Crown leases require extraction of as large a percentage of coal as is consistent with safety, questions as to the quantities left unworked being determinable by the Minister, and mining engineers support with strong evidence claims that under the policy enforced they have been compelled against their will by departmental directions and industrial pressure to adopt bad mining practices which have resulted in the total loss of large quantities of pillar and top coal.
That, largely, is a refutation of the charges of the honorable member for Hunter. The owners are not to any great degree guilty of having caused the losses. Bad mining practices have occurred principally because of action by the Mines Department of New SouthWales, and to some degree because of the reluctance of the miners to work these pillars in the early operations, so that the coal extraction may be easier when the pillars have disintegrated as the result of pressure from above and the lapse of time. Therefore, it is wrong of the honorable member for Hunter, or any other honorable member, in statements that have very little foundation in fact, to deny to the” owners the right of compensation. The honorable member for Hunter said that millions of tons of this coal has been lost forever. That is not. true. A large proportion of it in the older workings could be extracted by the system of hydraulic stowage. A good authority has conservatively estimated that the quantity that could be recovered by such means is 50 per cent. Probably an. estimate of 70 per cent, or 75 per cent, would be nearer the mark. ‘ If proper step were taken, the coal could bc recovered without great difficulty. It is true, as the honorable member for Hunter has said, that hydraulic stowage has not proved very successful in Great Britain. The reason is that the floor of the collieries in Great Britain where the coal is being worked is composed of . soft clay, which does not provide a good foundation for hydraulic stowage. The conditions in the mines of New South Wales are far more suitable. Large quantities of the coal now regarded as lost, according to the honorable member for Hunter, could he recovered and put to the uses of the community.
The powers conferred by this clause, are wider than those which, within my knowledge, have ever’ been given to a board in either this or any other country. They are more extensive than one would appreciate at first glance. By means of the definition of “ coal “, they cover not only coke and gas, but also all the derivatives of coal. Those derivatives embrace from 350 to 200 different, products, including nylon stockings, plastics, fertilizers, explosives and drugs. The board will have the power to control those derivatives, not only where they may be produced in New South Wales, but also where they may be found in articles that are imported. The power may not be exercised in that respect; nevertheless, it will exist. Why should we confer powers in relation to the products of not only our own coal mines, but also the coal mines of other parts of the world? The clause is outrageous, and I shall oppose it to the utmost of my ability.
– During the debate last week I was unable to deal with a couple of points. .
I shall not discuss the legal aspect of the much-vexed matter of compensation. But it would, be interesting were the Minister to provide for the information of the next Parliament, should he be a member of it, a statement of the paid-up capital of the mining shares held in New South Wales, their present-day market value, and* the amount lost, by the coalminers during the last ten years in consequence of strikes. I strongly suspect that the amount lost in strikes exceeds the present ‘ market value of the shares that are held, by the different companies. The point that I want to bring out is that, had the miners been prepared to work and make a levy on themselves, they could have owned and operated the mines with the money they would have had.
A very difficult position confronts my State in consequence of the refusal ofthe miners to produce coal. The loss in the Adelaide area alone is reputed to have been over £60,000 during last weekend. This may he quite all right from the standpoint of some people on the coalfields of New South Wales, but it is not so good for those who, in other States, have to depend upon supplies of coal to keep industries going. Men who are not prepared to mine coal ought to relinquish that occupation and make way for others who are willing to do so. I do not believe that a man needs to’ be descended in a direct line from about seven generation’s of Goal-miners before he can go down a coal-mine. At the rate at which matters are progressing, I shall soon be in competition with the honorable member for Hunter, because the Government of South Australia is considering the- development of coal resources in the Barker electorate. I give fair warning to the honorable member, who I am sure will still be a member of this Parliament after the forthcoming general elections, that in due course there may be a contest between him and myself on the subject of coal. No doubt we shall have the assistance of Mr. Gregory Forster, and one or- two other men who have been mentioned in the debate. We should have a rather interesting tussle. I do not wish to delay the committee, because I am perfectly sure that every member of it is anxious to get out on to beautiful green fields,’ in order to estimate what the harvest is likely to be on the 28th September. Therefore, I merely record my protest against the manner in which the bill has been brought down, everything it contains, and what it proposes to do. 1 do not believe that it will produce one additional ounce of coal.
.- I shall not lead the committee to believe that I am an expert in respect of the coal industry. Nevertheless, there, are some observations that I should like to make. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber have admitted, that the . industry presents not only a Commonwealth but also a world problem. I noticed with interest that the Australian press, a short while ago, had seen fit to send a special representative, E. W. Tipping, to the coal-fields, to make investigations and publish his impressions. The articles that he published were most illuminating. Those who have read his first article will have noticed in it the statement , that if he were offered ?100 a week he would not w ork on a coal-field. In his final article, published in the Melbourne Herald, he said this -
Cursing the miner, will not get industry one stray ounce of coal, hut the public, the Government, the directors of the colliery companies and- the miners themselves all agree that the farce must end.
Referring to Mr. Justice Davidson’s, report, he said this -
Mr. Justice Davidson recommended a federal authority, with power to grant a bounty to owners willing to work under it. He insists on enforcement of the law and maintenance of the sanctity of agreements.
On the 2Sth July, the Sunday Telegraph published an interview which its representative had had with Mr. Thomas E. O’Byrne, a member of the New Zealand Parliament, who’ has had considerable experience. I make this quotation from the interview -
Mr. O’Byrne was diffident about advising Australia how to solve its industrial problems. “ A country must work out its own troubles in its own way “, he said. “ What goes in one place mightn’t go in another. “ I believe we’re a jump ahead of you in New Zealand in most ways, and that’s one reason we have less trouble. If you give the people good conditions, there’s not much left for them to strike for.”
Mr. O’Byrne went on to say ;
I believe .there must be production with the greatest possible economy, and distribution with the greatest possible justice. If you’ve got that, you won’t have much in the way of industrial trouble.
Australia is a rich country. You need population and irrigation. You can get both if you’re prepared to spend as much in peace as you did in war. And if you get those things, together with decent working and living conditions, you won’t need to worry much about strikes.
I believe that this bill aims at those objectives. Honorable members of the Opposition,, both at the second-.reading stage and during the consideration of the- bill in committee, have traced the progress of the industry over a number of years. They have painted very dull pictures of what has occurred in Great Britain and other- parts of the world. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that he could paint a worse picture than had been painted by either the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) or the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). What we have to face are the changing facets of the problem, which is identical in Australia and Great Britain. ‘ The United Kingdom has grasped the nettle more firmly than has. Australia, because it has nationalized the industry. Up to the present, control of the industry has been exercised exclusively by private enterprise. Private enterprise has failed to produce enough coal in Australia and the other parts of the world. We should not- allow so important an industry to be controlled by either “the miners or the mine-owners. In a civilized country employers and employees should be able to come together and reason their way out of difficulties. I have been an employer of labour for many years, and I know that when difficulties arise they can be overcome by discussing matters with the men. That is the only way in which to obtain peace in industry. There is no reason why coal-mining should be different from any other industry in this, respect. The Prime Minister said that the bill represented a practical approach to the problem. Because there have been failures in the past, we should not be discouraged from making another attempt along the lines laid down in this bill. If we can achieve peace in this industry it will be in the best interests of those engaged in it, and of industries dependent upon coal. 1 hope that’ the Government of South Australia will co-operate in the working of this legislation.- In that State there is the only Liberal government in Australia ; it is the only one which has nationalized the coal-mining industry. The coal deposits at Leigh Creek were opened up by private enterprise, which made several attempts to work them, but they were abandoned. The mine was taken over by the Government of South Australia under ‘ a bill which was introduced by the Premier of that State, and carried through Parliament against the votes of his own supporters, but with the support of the Labour Opposition. That is to the credit of the Premier of South Australia. The State did not have the resources for working the deposits, so the Premier (Mr. Playford) approached the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance, and obtained a grant of £100,000. Later, he received a further grant of £50,000, and I understand that he was in Canberra recently with a proposition that the Commonwealth should advance another £5.0,000 to enable South Australia to become self-sufficient in the .production of coal. Anything .which I can do while a member of this House to assist in the successful working of the Leigh Creek mine, and to promote co-operation between the Governments of South Australia and the Commonwealth, I shall do. Just before Japan entered the war it was proposed to establish a power plant at Port Augusta, at. a cost of £1,000,000, but the project was held up because of the war. I can see- great possibilities in the way of power production by means of proper co-operation between the Commonwealth and the Government of South Australia. I believe that the . Premier of that State, if he sees that a proposi-. tion of this kind would be of benefit to his State, would be big enough to co-operate with the Comm021 wealth Government in the establishment of a power plant at Port Augusta, or Port Germein, or, preferably, on the coal-field itself. However, I understand that there might be difficulty in obtaining enough water at the coal-field for this purpose.
.- I, too, protest against this clause, which proposes to authorize a board to confiscate any mine it chooses without paying compensation to the owner. I cannot understand how the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith), who says that he is an employer of labour, can favour a proposal for the compulsory acquisition of property without the payment of compensation. Would he, or any businessman, put money into an enterprise that might be confiscated on those terms ? I hope that he understands the full implications of the measure which he is supporting. In totalitarian countries such as Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan it was the practice to confiscate property in that way, but in a democracy we expect that a citizen shall ‘be compensated adequately when his property is acquired by the State.
One. of the sub-clauses of this clause proposes the establishment of sound industrial welfare practices, including ‘ the provision of amenities in the coal industry. No one will deny that the industry is in a bad way. Mr. Justice Davidson, whose excellent report should be a guide to the Government, states -
At present, the coal industry in New South Wales is drifting directly towards disaster, and unless some greater degree of cooperation is reached there may be a repetition of the depression within ten years.
That is a serious statement. This is a matter in regard to which we should endeavour to co-operate. We should not range ourselves behind capital and labour as if they were in two separate camps. The Kandos mine .in New South Wales is a striking example of how employers and employees can work together-. In Victoria, there is the Yallourn mine which is most efficiently worked, and housing conditions are ideal. It is better to work towards such a goal than to let the industry drift, with the men being badly led by Communists. Mr. Justice Davidson gave as this reason for the lack of discipline in mines in New South Wales -
Because of this antagonism there is a grave shortage of coal, and in Victoria hundreds of men are being stood down, even in. provincial towns. In Geelong, a great cement works is putting off employees, and closing down from time to time. This is having the. affect of delaying the housing programme. The woollen mills in that district are affected because nien in New South Wales will not hew coal. We are familiar with the difficulties under which miners work, but a good deal of the trouble in the industry is a psychological heritage - a sort of “Don’t go down the mine, Daddy “ complex. As a matter of fact, the hazards of coalmining are no greater than those of other heavy industries, and improvements could be effected. If there is too much dust in the mine the difficulty can be overcome, by mechanization. If housing for miners is bad,, let us provide better houses. Above all, let there be co-operation. Why do not the unions themselves take over some of the mines? Let . them buy out a few mines, and show by their example how they can be worked. The unions- have great funds. They are in fact, the greatest vested interests in the Commonwealth.
– Rubbish !
– -I know that some of the unions are practically bankrupt because of the machinations of those who, like the honorable member for Bourke, have led the workers into strikes. At Geelong, there is the Returned Soldiers Woollen Mill which has set a fine example of co-operative effort. It is run by returned soldiers.
– There are also the Federal Woollen Mills which were sold by a government that the honorable member supported.
– I am speaking of a co-operative effort which’ can set an example to the coal-miners. If they would do as I suggest they would have the goodwill of the people of the Commonwealth, and certainly of the Opposition in this House. The trouble is that Communists are inciting the men to cause trouble. In Victoria to-day the whole of the foundries are shut down because of i 1.dns trial trouble brought about by the machinations of the Communists. All of the industrial trouble besetting industry to-day would be avoidable if the. workers were prepared to take up shares in the industries in which they are employed. If the miners were led by reason- able men these disputes which continually threaten to bring industry tostagnation would never occur. Officials of the miners federation would never dream of suggesting that coal-miners should acquire shares in the mines. There, appears to be some fear among some workmen that if they did sothey would be branded as “ little capitalists “. Has any one ever heard a -union nabob advocate investment by a member of his organization in the industry in which he is employed ? Yet such investment would be the best guarantee of industrial peace. It would not only bring about harmony in industry but would also act as an incentive to thrift, and would probably result in the saving of many pounds by individual workers which they would otherwise lose in betting or other forms of gambling. While no one desires to paint the picture any blacker than it is, it cannot be denied that irritating strikes occur in rapid succession over the most frivolous matters, and in the final results tens of thousands of men are thrown out of work. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) made no reference whatever to the disastrous effects of the continual ‘ strikes fomented by the recalcitrants in the miners’ federation; he claimed that the turmoil in the coal -mining industry was brought about solely by the actions of the coal-owners. The industry has reached its present pass because no one in the miners federation is’ prepared to advise the coal-miners to remain at work, and as the result economically. Australia is sliding down the slope. In order to bring about peace in the. coal-mining industry there must be co-operation between employers and employees; stupid class distinctions which have- kept them apart for so many years must be broken down. In a young ‘democratic country like this there should be no class distinction. It is the spirit of comradeship more than anything else that holds together a fighting force. Comradeship is merely cooperation.
– Ha, ha!
– If the grinning Minister at the table cannot see some good in that he should not bring down a bill which, will depend for its success on the attainment of co-operation between the coaL-miners and owners. If he visits the cement works at Fyansford and’ the woollen mills in the Geelong district in his electorate,, he will find that the workers are up1 in arms at the curtailment of production and consequent loss of wages brought about because insufficient coal is being hewn in New South Wales to keep the wheels of industry in motion. If the Government is so disposed it can achieve much by exercising the powers conferred by this clause. I am generally opposed to the bill, but I realize that it will be placed on the statute-hook because the Government has the necessary numbers to ensure its passage. Having opposed the second reading of the hill honorable members on this side of the chamber can now only endeavour to make the measure as workable as possible. I agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that this bill as drafted will not result in the production of more coal. I therefore urge the Government to’ give further consideration to this clause: Let the Government so amend the clause as to ensure that, as far as is practicable within the limitations of this measure, the livelihood of tens of thousands of people,- not only in New South Wales, but also in the other States may not be continually endangered. The restrictions on the use of gas and electricity in Victoria and other States have caused the greatest hardship to women and children particularly. The Government should do its utmost to induce the unions to acquire shares in the coal mines and to encourage their’ members to do likewise. The miners’ federation could purchase a coal mine, or half a dozen coal mines. The output of six or more coal mines would supply the 35,000 tons of coal which Victorian industry needs every week to ensure the full working of its industries. The working of a second shift in the mines is another means by which the production of coal could be, greatly increased. ‘ In recommending the working, of a second. shi t- Mr. Justice Davidson pointed out that one shift is inadequate to produce the coal that Australia! needs. I believe that two shifts are being worked in the brown coal mine at Yallourn in Victoria.
– What has that to do with the clause?
– The clause enables the Government to take any measures needed to improve the efficiency and competency of persons engaged in the coal-mining industry. Because of that the clause is the very crux of the bill. The Government should make every effort to ensure that coal production shall be once again as buoyant as it was years ago before the industry began to be disturbed by a series of calamitous strikes fomented by irresponsibles in the miners’ federation.
.- I feel impelled to reply to the ridiculous, and stupid statements regarding the coal mining industry made by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). The honorable gentleman displayed a complete lack of knowledge, not only of the conditions of coal-miners, but also of workers generally. He even suggested that miners should buy a few mines and run them themselves. If he had any knowledge of conditions under which miners have been living for many years he would realize that they could not jointly finance the purchase of even the smallest coal-mine in New South Wales. The honorable member doubtless finds that airy talk of that kind has. some appeal to the Australian Womens National League and other women’s organizations with which he appears to enjoy some popularity. If he mixed more with the working classes of the community he would soon learn that the workers are more concerned with securing a reasonable standard of comfort than in purchasing a mine. If the honorable gentleman had sufficient intelligence’ he could- rapidly familiarize himself _ with the conditions of the working classes and the problems that .confront the unions*
– I take exception to the remarks of. the honorable member, which I regard as offensive, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– Order! I ask. the honorable mem her for Bourke, to confine. hi« remarks, to the clause.
-I believe that I am entitled to reply to the ridiculous statements made by the honorable member.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member has not withdrawn and apologized for his offensive remarks. Now he is adding to the offence by repeating them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable member for Balaclava did not object to any specific statement. While the honorable member for Bourke is entitled to proceed, I again remind him that he must address his remarks to the clause.
– I am endeavouring to do so and at the same time reply to the statements made by the honorable member for Balaclava.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am criticizing statements made by the honorable member for Balaclava concerning the workers in the coal-mining industry and his specious plea that if the miners would co-operate with the owners the problems of the industry- could be solved. If the honorable member had his way the capitalist sections of the community would dictate the terms and conditions under which the workers would labour. We. have long passed the stage in this country where the workers were merely beasts of burden or the slaves of their employers. Nowadays employees are treated as human beings and the courts of the land prescribe the conditions under which they shall be employed. The honorable member referred to the housing conditions of the miners; but he did not suggest that the return for their labour should be sufficient to enable them to purchase houses in which they could enjoy a reasonable standard of comfort. He advanced the foolish suggestion that they should invest their accumlated savings in the purchase of coal mines. Does he know any coalminer who has accumulated sufficient wealth to become an investor in a coal mine? I am well aware of the conditions of the working people ; I have lived among them all my life; and I have yet to learn that out of their savings the coal-miners have been able to amass sufficient wealth to become shareholders in a mine. The honorable member spoke in glowing terms of what can be achieved by co-operation. Co-operation means joint effort by two parties, and there cannot be co-operation in the coal-mining industry unless both employers and employees are willing to discuss their differences amicably. In extolling the virtues of co-operation, however, the honorable member envisages action on the part of the -worker and not the coal-owner. In his opinion, the coal-owners, like the King, can do no wrong.
– Yarra Bank stuff!
– If the honorable member had received his early training on the Yarra Bank he would have a much better knowledge of working class conditions.
I ask the honorable member to deal with the clause.
– The honorable member for Balaclava is fighting the cause of the coal-owners. Let him tell them to put their own house in order before they seek to deal with the houses of their employees.
– I rise to order. The honorable member lias said that I am fighting the cause of the coal-owners. I do not know a coal-owner. I regard the honorable member’s remarks as personally offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
The. CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member for Balaclava regards the statement made by the honorable member as personally offensive, and I therefore ask that it be, withdrawn.
– I withdraw the statement. It is an incontrovertible fact, however, that the honorable member put up a very strong case in favour of the coal-owners. During the whole of his remarks he voiced not one word of criticism of the coal-owners; his whole speech was devoted to an attack on the coal-miners. If we are to achieve the much desired co-operation about which the honorable member waxed so enthusiastic efforts must be made by both the miners and the owners. In order to achieve that co-operation and to bring: about peace in the industry, an’d the fullproduction so much desired, we must remedy many of the evil conditions under which miners have been forced to work in the past.. We have to provide better ventilation in the mines. We have to remove the dust menace. We have to remove as far - as possible the menace of explosions, fires, , and floods that have caused untold troubles in the mines. We must have the full co-operation, of the mine-owners, but we have not received that so far. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to the Kandos mine. That does stand out amongst a very bad lot in that the management by mechanizati.on and in other ways, is operating the mine under reasonable condition, but honorable gentlemen would find the reverse in other mines in New South Wales. - It is because of the bad conditions in the mines that troubles recur in the industry. Without cooperation we shall not get very far. The honorable member revived the contention that a second shift ought to be worked in order to ensure the production of more coal. The honorable member forgot to tell us where he thinks the labour for the second shift can be obtained. Will he volunteer to work in a mine ?
– Will be take a few of his friends into the, mine with him? I do not think the honorable gentleman would make any better job of coal-mining than he does of politics, and he makes a. very poor fist of politics.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Bourke to deal with the clause.
– What has that to do with clause 13?
– The honorable member for Balaclava introduced the matter of the second shift. I do not know where he would get men to work it. My information is that the number of miners has been reduced by about 2,000 in the last few years.
– Because of the influence of “ Commos “.
– The honorable member is worse than the “ Commos “. Not the
Communists, but the employers, cause trouble in the coal-mining industry. They have been responsible for all the troubles in the history of the industry in New South Wales. There are insufficient’ men in the industry to work one shift, and the number is dwindling. Conditions are so bad that -the average man “will not take a job in a mine if he can get one elsewhere. As there is no prospect of obtaining the number of men necessary to work a second shift, I wish the honorable member -would stop harping on the subject.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson), if one could term it a speech, was largely made up of “ the honorable member for Balaclava”. I am the member for Balaclava. I find that whenever I speak the honorable member rises and abuses me. Apparently I get under his skin. Generally I speak in this chamber on policies, and I do not bother about persons. Nevertheless, I would do anything to oppose the socialistic ideas of the honorable member and other Labour party members. The honorable member is a typical Yarra bank speaker. I could not hope to compete with him. The fact that he was a union agitator for many years accounts for his loud voice. The honorable member has never heard of a second shift. The very thought of a second shift is sacrilege. A second shift can be worked. It is being worked in many, industries in Victoria. In Brunswick, which the honorable member misrepresents, a- second shift is being worked in factories.
– Of course it is.
– Yet. the honorable member tries to ridicule the idea of a second shift. He says that it cannot even be discussed and that it is not worth con:sidering. Any honorable gentleman who is honest will agree that I did emphasize the need’ for co-operation between employers and employees. I said ,that mistakes were made on both sides. The Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) made no reference in his second-reading speech to the misdemeanours of the miners. I refer him and the honorable member, for Bourke to the statement by .the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, who was honest and sincere in his advocacy of peace in the coal-mining industry, that a great deal of the trouble was caused by spielers and dog-trainers, who sheltered in the industry instead of going to the war, and that they should be purged from the union. The honorable member for Bourke was perhaps not a member then. - .
– Yes, I was.
– If there are rapacious or unfair employees they should be brought to book. Any difficulties connected with dust can be removed by an advance in mechanization. If houses are inadequate they can be im proved. But the .Government .must not shut its eyes to the needs of the in-i dustry. It ought to appeal to the better instincts of both the employers and the employees. One would think from the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke that miners were sweated ; but, by working only two or three days a week, they can earn £8. They have a 40-hour week. They can earn much more than £8 a week if they want to. The man who takes an interest in his own industry does good for himself and his family as well as for the country, but the gamblers who waste their money are a bad influence. The great need is for capital and labour to work in unison. I have often said that before. They should get- together and say, “ What are the problems that have to be solved? Let us define them and let us deal with them and get on with the job “. Only then will this country prosper. We should produce sufficient coal to ensure that industries shall thrive in the various States, and by their prosperity to attract large numbers of people to make Australia a great nation. To-day on the waterfront we have communist control. The Governor-General’ of the Netherlands East Indies announced that that country would not trade with Australia ‘ until the Dutch ships sailed with their cargoes for the Netherlands East Indies. Communism is threatening the democracies of the world. Honorable gentlemen ‘opposite shut their eyes to that. This is the crucial time in our history. If we do not get production, we shall, according to Mr. Justice Davidson’s report, have another- depression. Mr. H. Wells, president of the miners’ federation, once said-
Malicious and stupid suggestions that the federation proposes to abandon the strike weapon and embrace arbitration have no foundation.
His business is strikes. Government supporters never have the courage to denounce him because they are afraid of losing the support of the Communists. Mr. Sharkey, president of the Communist party of Australia, said -
Further .good work will finally convert the miners’ organization in to a really revolutionary union and a firm support for tin: struggle for socialism.
That is what members of the Government stand for. They do not criticize Sharkey. If they support this alien evil of communism that has come to Australia, let them say so. If they do not denounce communism they are a menance to Australia. It would be as well if loudmouthed men like the honorable member for Bourke declared themselves so that we shall know the real feelings of honorable gentlemen opposite.
– The Opposition attack on” this clause has been distinguished by two features, an excessive zeal for the mine-owners and a fiery zeal to .chastise the mine-workers. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) sought to imply that there is something sinister about this clause and that it is in some way or other connected with the withdrawal of Part IV. of the bill. I find it difficult to follow the logic of the honorable member for Warringah and other Opposition members. I find it very difficult to reconcile the arguments- of one member of the Opposition with those of other members. The honorable member for Warringah, said, in effect, that the withdrawal of Part IV. was a sign of the weakness of th» Government because it weakened’ and narrowed clown the bill, but the Leader of the Opposition, in his second-reading speech, which he made just after I had Announced that Part IV. of the bill would be withdrawn, said, exactly the opposite^ for- he said that the withdrawal of Part IV. would actually make the bill more drastic.
– That is exactly what I said.
– Hansard will prove that the honorable gentleman said something entirely different from what he now claims to have said. The honorable member and others have sought to imply that . something sinister is’ being done, that an injustice is to be done to the mineowners, that, instead of compensation being paid for something that the joint board might do, confiscation would occur. Opposition members have urged that provision should be made in the .bill for compensation to mine-owners for loss or damage, including loss of profits, suffered as a result of directions given’ or control exercised by the board. Let us examine ‘ just what losses or damage may be incurred by the owners. There will be three different classes of mines in the future. There will be mines worked by the joint board itself. The argument of honorable gentlemen opposite has nothing to do with them. There may be compensation in relation to mines taken over by the board, and’ there may be matters relating to losses or damage in mines controlled by the authorities, that is mines concerning which the joint board will have given directions that certain things be done. No . provision is made in this bill for compensation to be paid to the owners of mines acquired by the authority, because that provision is to be made in the bill to be introduced soon in the Parliament of New South “Wales. The Commonwealth Government has” no constitutional authority to acquire mines, for it has no general powers over production, of coal. The- only government that has the power to acquire coal-mines for and on behalf of the Joint Coal Board is the Government of New South Wales.
– Then why is paragraph g inserted in clause 13?
– Let me proceed with my argument. The honorable member can have his turn later. Provision for acquiring mines will be made in the complementary legislation when it is introduced in the Parliament of New South Wales. Therefore, the matter of compensation for acquired mines does not arise in this bill. The only point at issue is the matter of loss or damage resulting from directions issued by the Joint Coal Board to mines which are commonly called “ controlled mines “. Losses can occur only as the result of certain costs incurred by the owners of a controlled mine. What may those costs be? They may be the result of the termination of some contract or the suspension or variation of some agreement, which the owner of the controlled mine had entered into. Compensation in regard to those matters is provided for in clause 57. That is perfectly clear and distinct.
In what other circumstances may the owners of controlled mines suffer loss? As I said, the owner of a controlled mine, to suffer loss, has to incur costs of some kind. Those costs may be the result of a direction issued to him to take adequate safety precautions .and make proper provision for the health and welfare of the workers in a particular pit. Is it suggested that the owner of a controlled mine, to. whom such a direction has been issued, should be recouped for his costs incurred in regard to that matter? Certainly, that would be entirely wrong. It is not done in any other industry. In plain fact, of course, a cost such as this, and, indeed, any other costs which may be incurred by the owner of a controlled mine with the exception of those which are dealt with in clause 57, will be taken into account when the .price of coal is fixed. The Joint Coal Board will fix the price for coal; it will also fix profits. When the board fixes the price for coal sold by a controlled mine, it will take into account all the costs incurred by that mine. Therefore, a controlled mine is. not in any different position from any other type of. mine. The Joint Coal Board will fix the price of coal at all mines, whether they are controlled mines or not, on the basis of costs. If that argument is not acceptable to honorable members opposite, the only argument that they can fall back on is that the Joint Coal Board, in fixing the price of coal at various pits, will fix it so low that the controlled mine will not be able to carry on operations. But we have to assume that those who fix prices, whether it be the Joint Coal Board in fixing the price of coal, or the Prices Commissioner in fixing the prices of other commodities, will have a sense of responsibility. If it is to be accepted that the Joint Coal Board will fix the price of coal at a figure so low that the owner will not be able to meet his costs, equally well an argument may be adduced that the Prices Commissioner could fix the price “ of every article in the community at a figure so low that nobody in the whole field of industry could carry on business. The matter of compensation, as far as this bill applies, is adequately met in clause 57.
.- Clause 13 is the most important provision in this bill. I regret that the Minister (Mr. Dedman) has not seen fit to deal more adequately with the points which honorable members on this side of the chamber have raised. The honorable gentleman has handled this bill very badly. First, copies pf Mr. Justice Davidson’s report were not available to honorable members, although His Honour had spend fourteen months investigating the problems of the coal industry, and it has been alleged that the bill was drafted to implement his recommendations. Secondly, after we had thoroughly analysed the bill, the honorable gentleman did not reply to the second-reading debate. Now, we are forced to extract information from him as a dentist extracts teeth one by one. When we have asked the Minister to’ clarify various matters, his explanations have been “ as clear as mud “ ; but I am hopeful that, as the result of our persistence, he will elucidate some of the problems instead of adroitly avoiding them. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) declared that all the difficulties of the coal-mining industry were caused by the coal-owners’ lack of consideration for their employees. I am not here to defend, the owners, hut I desire to be fair.
Therefore, I direct the attention of honorable members opposite to the report of Mr. Justice Davidson, who said -
Practically none of the strikes during the war have.been due to impropriety of any kind on the part of the owners or management.
That is an unqualified tribute to the mine-owners and management. In another part of his report, His Honour complimented the mine managers on their efficiency. He described them as a competent body of men who had done ‘a remarkably good job. He stated -
Managers of coal-mines, especially in New South Wales, hold highly responsible and very difficult positions.
Owing to the industrial unrest, the attitude of some union officials and sections of the mine-workers, the activities of numerous industrial authorities, and the mass of awards and statutory regulations, the effort to fulfil efficiently the duties of the office of manager is in many instances nerve-wracking and almost intolerable.
Of superintendents, His Honour said -
The superintendents obviously have won by sheer merit the positions they occupy. It is apparent to any unbiased investigator that in the knowledge and experience they possess of all ‘phases of colliery management, including mining engineering, mining practice, the design, development and administration of pits and groups of pits, the superintendents are the most capable and efficient men in the coal industry.
Yet the honorable member for Bourke attributed all the problems and difficulties of the coal-mining industry to the coalowners, mine managers and .superintendents. In fairness to them, I direct the attention of honorable members opposite to those passages of the report. If further evidence be needed in support of my remarks, I refer honorable gentlemen to a statement by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin. After having paid a tribute to the way in which coal-owners had worked during World War II., he said -
I have told the owners that they appeared, according to all the records,, to’ have observed the decisions of the umpire.
That is an unqualified tribute to the coalowners. Yet honorable members opposite waste the time of this chamber by stating that the difficulties of the coal-mining industry are caused by the coal-owners, superintendents and mine managers. Sufficient evidence has been adduced since the introduction of this bill to prove that the troubles of the industry result from the Communist-controlled leaders of the miners’ federation. The opinions of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, and of Mr. Justice Davidson leave no doubt as to where the responsibility for the difficulties of -the industry lies.
My principal purpose in speaking on this clause is to direct the attention of the Minister to paragraph d of sub clause 1 and paragraph i of sub-clause 2. Paragraph d provides that the powers and functions of the board shall include the taking of such action, as in the opinion of the board, is necessary or desirable - to promote the welfare of workers engaged in the coal industry in the State.
Paragraph i provides that the board shall have power to make provision for - the establishment of sound industrial welfare practices including the provision of amenities for employees in the coal industry.
The purpose of this bill is to provide means for securing and maintaining adequate supplies of coal throughout Australia and for providing for the regulation and improvement of the coal indus- try in the State of New South Wales. The bill does not make provision for the coal-miners of Queensland. On their behalf, I appeal to the Minister and the Government to ensure that they shall be granted the amenities which this legislation will grant to the miners of New South Wales.
– When did the honorable member become a miners’ leader?
– I have always been a miners’ leader. The coal-miners of New South Wales were described by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, “ as saboteurs of the national war effort “ and as being “ contemptuous of the orders and directions “ of the Government “. Yet those men are to receive the benefit of the amenities which this bill will provide. According to my information, the initial cost of those amenities will- be £500,000, and the complete programme will cost an additional £1,000,000. Unfortunately, the coal-miners of Queensland, who have been engaged in the industry for a long time, have been forgotten. For 25 years, no major stoppage occurred in the coal mines of that State. Only recently, when the president of the miners’ federationMr. Wells, and another of his kind, prevailed upon them to go on strike in sympathy with the meat workers, did they break their excellent record of production? According to the press, Mr. Wells assured the miners of Queensland that tens of thousands of pounds would be made available as strike money if they stopped work. They heeded his remarks ; and that is the first major stoppage in the industry in Queensland for 25 years. Throughout the war, those miners produced more coal than formerly. For comfort and amenities the coal mines of Queensland do not compare with those of New South Wales. Our coal seams are poor ‘ in comparison with those of New South Wales. In some places the Queensland miners worked under almost intolerable conditions in order to produce coal for the war effort. Now this Government has by-passed them. Not one penny has been made available to provide them with amenities or to improve their welfare. Why should not the miners of Queensland, who have served the nation so well for so many years, be entitled to the benefits which this bill will confer upon the miners of New South Wales? Why has not the Government extended the provisions of the bill to the coal-mining industry in all States? Increased coal production in any or- every State is a matter of national importance. Why is the Government toying with the problem, giving amenities to the men whom the late Prime Minister described as “ saboteurs of the war effort,” and disregarding the welfare of those who “ pulled their weight “ during the war and did not lay down on the job? In my second-reading speech, I asked the .Minister to extend the provisions of this bill to all States. The honorable gentleman avoided the issue. Contrary to the usual practice in this chamber, he did not reply to the secondreading debate. I demand an explanation why the Queensland miners, in view of their excellent record of production, will not be entitled to the benefits of this bill. If I had more time, I should read the tribute which the late Prime Minister paid to the miners, of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia .who rendered excellent service to the nation during the war. In response to his appeal for more coal they stepped up production. They stayed on the job while the coalminers of New South Wales laid down their tools and caused many industries throughout Australia to close down. To-day, thousands of men in various industries in New South “Wales, Victoria and South Australia are out of work because coal is not available. According to some Labour leaders it will not be long before the number is increased to hundreds of thousands. All this unemployment is being caused through the action of the Communist leaders of the miners’ federation. “Mr. Calwell. - We are not “ on the air “ to-day !
– I am not concerned about that. I ask for ari assurance from the Government that provision will be made in this legislation for amenities to be made available to coal-miners in Queensland as well as those in New South Wales. Some honorable members may not be aware of the fact that I represent about 60 per cent, of the coalminers of Queensland. I have fought their battles and I have been straightforward with them all through the years. I have not been afraid to tell them where I have thought them wrong, just as I have not hesitated to tell honorable gentlemen opposite where I consider them to be wrong. I can see no. reason why the coalminers of New South Wales, who were described by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, as saboteurs- of the war effort and men who were contemptuous of the orders of the Commonwealth Government during the war, should be provided with all kinds of amenities which are likely to cost the Commonwealth as much as £1,500,000 and be treated in a more favoured fashion than the coal-miners of other. States who, during the war, did their best to provide the nation with the coal that it so urgently needed. I see that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr, Holloway) is now sitting on the treasury bench. I ask him whether he is aware that provision is being made in this bill for only the coal-miners of New South Wales? The honorable gentleman has gained a reputation’ for fair play and honest dealing in this country over a long period of years. Does he not think that the co.al-miners of all States should be brought within the provisions of the bill? .
– This is a bill relat-ing to the coal-mining industry of New South Wales.
– Has not the Minister a desire for a bill to cover all States ?
– The Queensland Government could enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government and get- the same conditions.
– Does the Minister for Works and Housing say that similaramenities and welfare funds would be available to the coal-miners of Queensland if the Government of that State made an agreement with the Commonwealth Government on the subject?
– I gave -the honorable gentleman that information during the second-reading debate, but he would not listen to what I was saying.
– Well, at. least we have gained something from a Minister. After days of debating the Government is now yielding to our importunity. I take it that the Minister is saying on behalf of the. Government that if the Queensland Government enters into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government similar terms- will be available for the coal-miners of that State.
– That is true.
– I am happy that something has been gained after several days of ‘ effort by the Opposition. Appeals were made to the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) during the second-reading debate, but without avail. We have now been able to secure an assurance from the Minister for Works and Housing as the result of an appeal made to the Minister for Labour and National Service who, as I have said, has a reputation for fair play ‘ throughout the Australian community. I am satisfied to have gained the assurance that has been given, even by this indirect means. I take it now that if the Government of Queensland is prepared to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government’ the full amenities which are to be provided for the miners of New South Wales under the provisions of clause 13 will be available to the coalminers of Queensland.
– The honorable member’s- time has expired.
.- When my time expired earlier this afternoon, I was -dealing with the possibilities that could follow from co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia in regard to the development of the Leigh Creek coal deposits. I am pleased that at least one honorable member of the Opposition realizes the value of cooperation between Commonwealth and State governments in regard to coal production. It would now appear that, at least one honorable member opposite will vote for the bill at its final stage. If the Leigh Creek coal deposits could, be developed effectively, South Australia could become largely self-contained in regard to coal supplies. The most practical method by which this could be done, in my opinion, would be by the establishment of power stations at the most suitable ports on Spencer’s Gulf, and the transmission of electric current from them to- parts of the State where it is -most needed. For a considerable time it was regarded as uneconomic to transmit electricity by wire over long distances, but that view is now known to be unsound. In this connexion I direct the attention of honorable gentlemen to a paragraph in the Canada Year-Booh 1940, which reads -
The Transmission of Electric Energy. - Until almost the .beginning of the present century it was believed that any attempt at long-distance transmission of electricity would prove uneconomic because of the amount of current absorbed or lost in transmission. The development of the high-tension transformer and of improved insulating materials resulted in the construction, in 1S07, between St. Narcisse and Three Rivers, Quebec, of an 11,000,-volt line, 18 miles in length, the first high-tension transmission line in the British Empire. Since that’ time continued technical advances have resulted in a steady growth in transmission distances and voltages in Canada, until at present power is being transmitted. ‘for instance, from the Gatineau River in Quebec to Toronto, a distance of 225 miles,, at . 220,000 volts. Greatly improved technique has also been developed in switching control and protective equipment.
Electric power is already being transmitted a. distance of 130 miles in South Australia, and if a pow.er station, or even more than one, could be- established in the locality that I have suggested, power could be- transmitted to the river settlements and throughout the western portions of the State. All through the river settlements at present power is being provided by the burning of thousands of tons of wood a year. This is denuding the country of timber, with consequent extensive and serious soil erosion. The development of the Leigh Creek deposits as the result of cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia would be of immense significance to South Australia. Investigations could be made by experts to determine the most economical way to establish power stations. After they were established power should be available to electrify adjacent railways, and this would be extremely helpful to the development of the State.
I trust that one result of the passage of the bill will be an improvement of the relations .between the mine-owners and the miners. Despite the remarks of honorable gentlemen opposite the Government is making an honest attempt to solve the problems of coal-mining and so bring about stability in industry.
– I support the views expressed by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) regarding the need to extend the provisions of the bill to States other than New South Wales. Honorable members who represent Queensland constituencies are proud of the record of the Queensland coal-miners throughout the war. They did credit to themselves and to their State. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said that everything possible should be done to provide amenities for coal-miners, but he has not indicated how that is to be done, nor have we been able to find in any of the remarks that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite any concrete proposals to’ ensure the continuous production of coal, although we all realize that -it is absolutely essential to industrial stability. The construction of- houses, which is an urgent need to-day, is being delayed because coal is not available in sufficient quantities for manufacturing and tranport purposes. For example, large stocks of galvanized iron, which is badly needed where homes are being built, have fa-cumulated at manufacturing centres, But because transport is not available the completion of homes is being seriously delayed. The coal-miners of New South Wales seem to have made up ‘their minds r.o prevent the transport of building materials from the factories. At any rate, the inactivity of many miners is completely dislocating transport services. It seems that the coal-miners of New South’ Wales intend to do as they please. They realize that the Government is so spineless that 1 1 will not.attempt to discipline them. We are facing the possibility of a complete break-down of industry. This clause devils with various powers and functions of the board. I. intend to move for the insertion of a new sub-clause.
– Order ! As there is already one . amendment before the Chair, the honorable member may not move an amendment at this stage.
– I shall do so when the amendment before the Chair has been disposed of.
.- The explanation of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) in regard to compensation was most unsatisfactory to me. The honorable gentleman suggested that compensation could be dealt, with under three headings. First, he mentioned clause 57, which deals with the termination, suspension or variation of contracts. That provision is fairly clear and reasonable. Secondly, he said that compensation would be available in the event of the board acquiring coal-mines. That, of course, is provided for in the Constitution. It is obligatory upon the Government if it acquires properties to do so on just terms.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The third class of compensation relates to the controlled mines; in other words, mines taken over and operated by the board. In tha.t connexion, the Minister propounded what to me was an. extraordinary theory, namely, that there could not be any losses on the working of such mines, and consequently there could not be any claim for compensation in respect of them.
– I said that there could not bc any losses unless they -represented certain costs.
– All losses must represent costs. ‘ The Minister said that no compensation would be claimable because the losses would be met by what he described as the price fixed for the sale of coal. We ha ve had some experience of governmentcontrolled mines in the- last few years. The example that comes instantly to mind is the Coalcliff colliery, details of the operations of which are well-known to honorable members; but’ I shall restate them, in order to refresh the- minds of those who may have forgotten them, because what happened in the past under government control will be again experienced. During the last two years, the ‘ losses on the Coalcliff colliery have amounted to approximately £60,000, the loss being £28,350 in the first year, and £27,650 in the second year. The point that I impress on the mind of the Minister, if his mind is capable of being impressed, is that, in the first year of government control, from March, 1944, to February, 1945, the production costs amounted to 24s. lOd. a ton and the selling price to 21s. 3d. a ton. In the following year, the Coal Commissioner raised the sale price to 22s. lid. a ton. But the production costs of the colliery also increased from 24s. -lOd. to 27s. 3d. a ton. Does the Minister consider it possible so to raise the selling price that the costs of production in all mines will be covered ? Does the Government contemplate that if a selling price sufficient to cover production costs in one mine 3s., 4s. or 10s. a ton higher, than in other mines, were fixed, that mine would be able to sell its product? The Minister claims to have some knowledge of economics. I cannot believe that he would attempt to base the future economics of the coal industry on such a theory. What will happen? The Coalcliff colliery has been producing at a loss for two years, for what reasons I cannot say. Does the Minister expect that colliery, to sell its output if the price be fixed at a figure that will cover costs of production, should the output of -Aberdare, Cessnock and other collieries be purchasable at a lower price ? It cannot be gainsaid that buyers , will purchase from collieries that produce at a lower cost; and the Coalcliff colliery, or any other mine controlled by the Government, will have to continue operating at a loss if it is to sell its output. It is inconceivable that argument can be adduced by the Government, or anybody else to prove that a mine can be made to operate a,t a profit merely by fixing the selling price of its output, and thus avoid claims for compensation. Let us have a reasonable explanation of the failure to make provision for the payment of compensation. The reason given by the Minister will not hold water. The bill must provide for the payment of compensation in respect of mines controlled by the Government and run at a loss. I hope that such a provision will be included in it.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), to which’ we have just listened, is a reflection of a “ balancesheet mentality “, which is the . last variety of mentality with which we should approach the consideration of this bill. If we are to speak of losses in the coal industry, we should look, not at the balance-sheet of any one mine, but at the losses inflicted on the economy of the whole country by continual industrial unrest in the coal industry. “Whenever there has been a wave of industrial unrest, honorable gentlemen opposite have stressed the. resultant unemployment, interruption of production, and other- disabilities suffered by the community. If this legislation, the core of which is this vital clause, can prevent such disruptions of the life of the community as a whole, the fact that one mine, or any number of mines, may show a balancesheet loss, will be of no importance compared with the continuance of production in other industries. I am glad that, for ‘ the first time, legislation has been introduced which does not reflect the balancesheet mentality displayed by the honorable member for Flinders.
– “What about the matter of compensation?
– The honorable gentleman was quite out of order in dealing with the matter of compensation, because it is not dealt with by clause’ 13. That clause gives to the board that is to bo set up the power -
To ensure that coa] is produced in the State in such quantities and with such regu larity as will meet requirements throughout Australia, and in trade with other countries: a power with which, I am sure, all will agree -
To promote the welfare of workers engaged in the coal industry in the State.
The introduction, modification, replacement and operation of machinery, plant and equipment for use in connexion with the production and distribution of coal, . . .
Before the war, attempts by the coal industry to modernize itself were not one of its characteristics, and the obsolescence of its technique and equipment is one of the problems which the Government is facing and endeavouring to overcome. The vitally important feature of a. sound community balance-sheet is this -
To ensure the health and, subject to this act, the safety, of persons engaged in the coal industry, including the regulation of conditions in the industry with respect thereto, and the enforcement of measures for the abatement of dust in’ mines;
The establishment of sound industrial welfare practices including the provision of amenities for employees in the coal industry;
Collaboration with other persons and authorities in the establishment and provision of amenities for healthy educational, recreational, housing and other facilities;
The regulation of employment in and recruitment to the coal industry, . . .
That last-mentioned provision is vital, because the industry is not at present attracting recrui ts . If a mine’s balancesheet shows that a profit has gone; to some private individuals such a profit is of no benefit to the community if it has been obtained by methods of working which drive men out of the industry. “We -have to face’ the fact that labour is essential in this industry; therefore, the conditions in it must be such as will attract labour. Other requirements are -
The training, efficiency and competency of persons engaged in the coal industry;
The publication of reports and information of public interest; and
Any matter incidental to all or any of the foregoing matters.
Clause 13 is one of the most humane and wise that I have seen in any bill that has come before this Parliament. The balance-sheet mentality has dominated Australian industry for many years. “When the conditions in the coal industry were depressed, no effort was made to re-train coal-miners for any other occupation. There was no effective selection of the persons entering the industry. This is a humane attempt to place the industry on a rational basis. Sir William Beveridge, in one of his social essays, pointed out that capital has quicksilver mobility; it can be switched from one channel to another “. Labour . has not quicksilver mobility. When the conditions in the mines were depressed, the miners were geared to one occupation. For years, those engaged in the industry had not acquired any other form of skill, and they were left to rot. There was no attempt to re-train coalminers in Great Britain, Australia or any other country, so far as I have been able to learn. The’ attempt is to te made to get good types into the industry. The proposed board is to be empowered to surround the industry with amenities,, and to ensure its modernization. That lias never been done’ under private enterprise. I congratulate the Minister upon these provisions. Goal-mining is not a problem in Western Australia ; we have had almost continuous production,- but I was provoked into speaking on the subject by the sheer inanity of the statement of the honorable member for Flinders concerning Coalcliff colliery, and the possibility that some mine might make a. loss. If this legislation ensures continuous production,, and the price of coal rises because the- miners have been provided with amenities, it will achive all that the community will desire of it. That is all that any of us should desire of it. In some instances, profits have been made in the industry at the expense of the real wealth of the community - the health of the men engaged in the industry.
– This clause has delayed the committee for some time, but the Minister in charge of the bill will understand that it is really the operative clause of the measure. He will appreciate, the fact that honorable members on this side of the House have, perforce, been compelled to direct their attention to it. The clause gives the board very great powers, but they are no greater than were,’ in effect, given to the coal tribunal which operated during the war, and certainly no greater than were exercised by the board appointed by me in 1916. The clause gives the board power to do all things-r- I say that advisedly. It is true that in form it stops short of conferring on the board the right to nationalize the industry, although that is, perhaps an understatement. It certainly gives the board power to acquire a mine and all properties in relation thereto. It contemplates a condition of things in which- the board calls the tune and the owners pay the piper. Under this clause, it is upon the owners that the responsibility falls, although under clause 20, the owners may have a remedy. Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 provides that the board shall- . . . ensure that coal is produced in the State in such quantities and with such regularity as to meet - requirements throughout Australia and in trade with other countries;
But this bill brings us no nearer to getting coal than we are1 to-day. History repeats itself. All this has happened before - not in another incarnation, but after World War I. In 1916, 1 appointed Mr. Justice Edmunds as the head of a tribunal to do all things necessary to bring peace in the industry, and this is what he did : He gave without preliminary inquiry, an eight hours bank-to-bank; abolition of extra shifts; an increase of 15 per cent. on contract rates, and 20 . per cent, for off-hand labour; and the abolition of the sliding scale by which wages were regulated according to the selling price of coal. Those orders revolutionized conditions in the industry. The concessions were granted on the condition that there would be peace in the industry for three years but within’ twelve months a great strike broke out. Nothing that had been done for the miners, no Concession had had been granted to them< - and they had received the most - revolutionary concession, going almost to the limit of -what they had asked for- brought peace to this troubled industry. A strike broke out, and the whole industry was thrown’ into chaos. From then until now conditions have been unsettled. The granting of concessions have not resulted in an improvement of output. In 1935, the output per man-shift was 3.33 tons; in 1945, it was 2.9S tons. The average number of days lost per employee per year rose from 11.7 in 1935 to 36.2 in 1945.
One need not labour the point; the facts stand out. We have emphasized that nothing will serve the purpose for which this bill was intended, but discipline in the industry; and not merely discipline, but discipline based, on a recognition by the miners that they owe to the State, to the Commonwealth and to the people, a duty to produce this vital commodity, without which industry cannot function. They are the men to whom the people leave entrusted the working of the mines. Our transport systems, our lighting, our social and industrial life cannot continue without coal. Hundreds of thousands of unionists in this country are having their opportunities for employment filched from them. They are living now from hand to mouth. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill what is he going to do ? What is there in this bill’ that was not in the coal regulations in operation during the war? What power does this bill confer that is not already possessed by the Government of New South Wales? What new power is there in the bill that was not exercised by Judge Edmunds in 1916? With every concession, instead of going forward, we have gone back.
.- Coal is the life-blood of industry, and the purpose of this bill is to secure the co-operation of all sections concerned in the production of coal. Various reasons have been offered why more coal has not been produced. Some honorable members have blamed the miners; others have blamed the owners. Mr. Justice Davidson’s report on the industry has been quoted extensively by several speakers. Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 of clause 13 says that one of the purposes of the measure is -
To ensure that coal is produced in the State in such quantities, and with such regularity as will meet requirements. . . .
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that this bill will get us no further. Some honorable members seem to think that it is useless to go on with the bill at all. The right honorable member . for North Sydney was Prime Minister of the Com- monwealth at the conclusion of World War T. At that time, the Commonwealth passed through a period of industrial unrest. Apparently, such a period of unrest, during which the people find it hard to settle down, is inevitable after war. Recently, the Commonwealth Statistician supplied to me figures which indicated that in 1919 there _ were 406 strikes in Australia, and. the amazing thing is that the number of mandays lost was 6,308,226. .Whatever happens during the remaining months of this year, it is impossible for the number t of man-days lost, through strikes to total more than half of that figure. I quote paragraph 22 of Mr. Justice Davidson’s report on the coal industry -
More attention should be paid by the owners to means of improving the surroundings and both surface and underground equipment of the pits in order to provide more comfort and to remove causes of irritation. For example, most of the pits are too drab in appearance, some of the workshops are badly lighted and encumbered with masses of accumulated i rubbish. Brightness and cleanliness are pleasing in any circumstances. Some workers, also, are exposed unduly to the weather and mostly there are no- suitable arrangements for having lunch in reasonable comfort. Sanitary provision ‘ underground is too often either lacking or unnecessarily crude. Care in many of these matters, and- assistance generally in improving the working and living amenities of workers, can go a ‘long way towards establishing a better foundation for the relationship of employer and employee which, unfortunately, in many centres of the coal-fields is still unhappy.
The purpose of this bill is to achieve greater understanding and co-operation between employers and employees. Next week, at the invitation, of the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, I propose to visit Leigh Creek. I understand that the amenities provided on that coal-field are astounding, taking into consideration the distance over which material has to be conveyed. If it is possible to provide such amenities in that place, the obligation becomes all the greater upon us to ensure that amenities at least as good shall be provided on all coal-fields. Let us not quarrel about this billLet us go forward on the lines laid down in it. We have been told of the1 drift away from the industry, that the sons of miners no longer desire to work in. it. Until we are able to develop other forms of power we must take steps to ensure that sufficient men shall be retained in it to supply us with ‘sufficient quantities of what constitutes the very life-blood of industry.
The fundamental problem is the question of making the industry sufficiently attractive to induce miners and their sons to remain in it. The mining stock of this country is a great national asset and it would be little short of a national disaster if the miners were gradually allowed to drift, to other occupations. No doubt there are many difficulties to be overcome in our attempt to place the industry in a position of stability and to ensure continuity of employment in every mining district, in summer and winter, in good weather and bad and, as far as possible, in good and bad times. In order to achieve that we must provide proper amenities; we must establish pit head baths and canteens; we must provide good housing and opportunities for leisure and recreation for the miner and his family. ‘Finally we must give encouragement to, and provide opportunities for, boys joining the’ industry to continue their education with a view to fitting themselves for higher positions without limitations of class or social distinction. In all the arrangements that we plan we must realize one and for all that unless we raise the status of the labour force of the industry to the level of onn of the most dignified, well respected and stable. occupations in this country, almost anything else we may plan will rest on an insecure foundation. In South Australia the Leigh Creek coal-field has been developed by the State Government with the assistance of the Commonwealth. An amount of £150,000 has been expended on the development of that field, and now almost 5,000 tons of coal is railed weekly from that field to Adelaide. The Adelaide Tramways Trust uses about 75 per cent, of Leigh Creek coal in its furnaces and other industries are using large quantities. I read recently that the Premier of South Australia has authority to compel industries to use Leigh Creek coal. It would be interesting to ascertain what action he has taken to exercise that authority. The Adelaide electricity supply undertaking has been nationalized and is now owned by the community. These desirable objectives have been reached by a Liberal government with the support of the Labour Opposition. Thus, we may thank the
Labour members of the South Australian Parliament for having helped to achieve this measure of public control. Coalminers represent only one section in the industrial field. We should unite .as one people in an effort to raise the . status of workers generally. South -Australia has suffered greatly as the result of shortages of coal. Whilst we are apt to place the blame on people in New South Wales, we must take a broad national view of the problem and endeavour to devise a scheme for the betterment of the industry that will do justice to employers and. employees alike, wherever they may be located. The Government has shown its willingness to take steps’ to ensure that sufficient coal shall be produced to meet the needs of industry. It has been said that the amenities proposed in this bill will result in increasing the cost of coal. In the national interest we have, as a matter of policy, subsidized our primary industries; is there not every justification for taking similar steps to preserve an industry that supplies the very life-blood of the .community? Every attempt should be made to induce the miners and owners to sit together at round-table conferences and endeavour to iron out their difficulties. The task of finding the solution of their problems should not be left to legal, men. It “ should be possible to call both the miners and the owners together and to work out a. plan for the future which would be satisfactory to all concerned. I have faith in the bill because I have faith in the Government, and as time progresses, and as we settle down to normal peace-time conditions, I believe that many of the problems that have confronted industry generally, will disappear. This nation will progress to a stage at which it will become one of paramount importance in the Pacific.
.- As clause 13 is the key machinery provision . of the bill, I desire to make one or two comments on particular aspects of it. There are certain criticisms which I believe should be directed towards the functioning of the board as an entity in itself. In my view the Government is making a piecemeal approach to, the whole problem of fuel and power supplies for industrial and community purposes. As a member of the Parliament for a number of years and as Minister for Labour and National Service in an earlier government, I have seen something of this industry at first-hand, and I frankly confess that I despair of any short term answer to the problems that confront it. In concentrating on the problems of the coal industry by the methods proposed in this bill the Government is avoiding* the major problem that concerns the Australian people- as a whole. Coal is unquestionably basic to our whole economy; but coal is not the only source of fuel and power available to us. It may be the most important source ; it may be the most convenient for development ; undoubtedly if we reach the potential productive capacity of the New South Wales coal-fields we shall be able to meet the needs of industry and of the community for the next few years. I doubt very much, however, whether we could meet long-term needs. The board proposed to be established under thi3 clause is to confine its attention to the problems of the coal industry. The Government should have established an authority with a very much wider jurisdiction, which would have in its membership capacity for exploring the potentialities of the production of hydroelectric power and, more important than that, the maximum use of fuel oil in industry and the development of our brown coal resources. ‘ Such an authority might even be empowered to consider the emergency use of wood where wood was found to be a useful substitute. I have yet to be convinced that the Government has fully explored the possibilities of the importation of coal from countries which produce quantities surplus to their needs. We have the experience of other countries to indicate that coal can be produced in tremendously increased quantities if intelligent methods are applied to its production. In Holland after World War I. the annual production of coal amounted to only 2,000,000 tons. As the result of rehabilitation of the industry and the raising of the status of coal-miners to that of respected and honoured workers of the community, the production of coal in that country was increased to 17.000,000 tons. Something along those lines is possible in Australia. The other possibilities I have mentioned are not merely a part of a long-term plan, but are also aspects of the general problem of fuel and power provision which might be investigated immediately. At present we are only dealing with a segment of the problem; and if we are to tackle the problem as a whole we shall have to consider fuel and oil production divorced from coal.
– What constitutional power has the Commonwealth over those other matters?
– The Minister takes’ refuge in the Maginot line of the constitutional powers of ‘this Parliament Let me remind him again that Labour to-day controls the Senate and the Bouse of Representatives in this Parliament, and that there are Labour governments in office in five of the six States of the Commonwealth. I would be surprised if . the honorable gentleman would claim that he has been thwarted in his efforts to exploit the fuel and power resources, of South Australia by the Premier of the sole remaining State, South Australia. It is of no use for the Government to take shelter behind the constitutional limits of this Parliament in matters of this kind. Has the Government ever convened a conference to consider in what way all aspects of fuel and power distribution and production should be tackled? I realize that Australia has limited hydro-electric capacity, but I have yet to be convinced that we have developed it to its fullest potential.. I know that there is limited fuel other than coal for industrial purposes, but I have yet to be convinced that our resources of such fuel have been exploited to their fullest capacity. Because coal has been in the forefront of politics of this country for the last generation, coal has been predominant in the minds of the Government and its planners. But coal represents only one section of the general problem of providing power and fuel for industry. Surely no’ one is so optimistic as to believe that by passing this bill we shall get a quick, short and complete answer to our fuel and power needs. That is the general criticism that- 1 make of the clause. This clause deals with the problem of the distribution of the limited resources of coal that are at present available to us. All honorable members are familiar with conditions in their own
States-; I happen to be familiar with conditions in Victoria, particularly during the last two or three months. Paragraph c of sub-clause 1 gives the board power .to determine how coal is to be distributed in the various States and the use to which it is to be put. As far as I can see that power merely perpetuates the general mechanism that has been operating in recent times in respect of the distribution of coal. During the second-reading stage we indicated that political interference with the work of instrumentalities such as the proposed Joint Coal Board detracts from their successful functioning. I believe that is happening to-day in the distribution of our coal. In Victoria, we have had no industrial coal for most of our important industries for seven weeks. The industries have been trying to carry on by make-shift methods. They have been using fire-wood, for instance, but that, as the Government well knows, cannot be continued indefinitely. It is my belief, which. I have yet to be convinced is wrong, that political considerations have directed the use to which the limited supplies of coal reaching Victoria have been put. It is significant that with the general elections approaching, despite the fact that - gas was rationed all last winter and early this year, and despite the unprecedentedly desperate position of Victorian industries, gas-rationing has not been reintroduced on a continuous basis. I do not wish ‘to subject the citizens of Victoria to the inconvenience of gas-rationing - I would only hope for a sufficiency of coal to meet the needs of- industry and domestic users of gas - but I do criticize the policy which, in order to avoid the odium that would, attach to restriction of the- use of: gas by domestic users, deprives essential industries of the coal that they need to produce commodities” and to provide employment. That policy is reckless, short-sighted and irresponsible, and it must have repercussions on the economy of not only Victoria, but also, as it is one of the principal- industrial States of the Commonwealth, on Australia. Either the Government is wilfully blind to this disproportionate distribution of coal) or it is condoning and supporting that policy. At question time to-day, I put a question to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), and I remind the committee that he is the Minister vitally concerned in the development of post-war industries. I asked him whether he knew that these things were going on or whether the Government had taken any action in the matter. His answer was significant. He said that the matter was within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Supply and Shipping, a New South “Wales Minister, and that he did not have first-hand knowledge of it, but that he would try to get the information for me. ‘ He went on to say that responsibility for the distribution of coal was in the hands of the Commonwealth authority, which cooperated with the State authorities. I am quite certain that he is not unaware that the Government of Victoria has taken a direct interest in the manner in which coal has been distributed and in the situation that has resulted in no coal being received by our industries for the last seven weeks. But the situation apparently has not been considered by him personally or placed before the Commonwealth Ministry. The Government cannot avoid responsibility. There should, not be political interference in these matters, because it makes .governments the subject of pressure, as is all too evident in this instance. Here we have a desire to avoid criticism and political disfavour because the consumer is directly affected:
– There is a good deal of supposition in the honorable member’s argument.
– I should be interested to have the facts, and most people in Victoria would be, too. “What would the honorablemember not suppose if gas rationing which had been: imposed with considerable severity throughout last winter and early this year; when industry was kept going, has not been reintroduced, with the result that- our principal industries have been starved of coal? Of course, there is a lot of supposition in my argument. If the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) will not give us the facts, what else can we do but suppose that political influences are at work? Until I get a satisfactory explanation I rely on the interpretation that I believe is just. Tb*>
New . South Wales railways are feeling the pinch as are other sections of the community. The railway unions have -put pressure on the Government to make more coal available to the railways. The Prime - Minister (Mr. Chifley) and other Ministers were summoned to a conference and told .in plain terms, according to the press, the demands of the railways. In that incident we have evidence of the political interference’ to which we are opposed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr.
Harrison’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mk. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Bernard Corser) proposed -
That, in ‘ sub-clause (2.), .paragraph (</), after the word “ regulation “ the following words be inserted: - “subject to appeal as prescribed.”.
.- I support the amendment. In order that, its purpose may be clear it is necessary to restate the power that clause 13 confers upon the board. . “Sub-clause 2 (g) of clause 13 provides that the board is to have power to make provision for or with respect to -
The regulation of prices for the sale, purchase, or resale of coal, the values at which coal is recorded in the accounts of any business- and of profits in the coal industry.
Before dealing with that provision I invite attention to paragraph h of subclause 3. It provides that the board shall have authority -
To suspend or exclude from employment in the coal industry, subject to appeal as prescribed, any superintendent, manager or otherperson employed in the industry who acts in a manner prejudicial to the effective working of the industry.
The purpose of the amendment is toallow an appeal where the board exercises power for “ the regulation of prices for the sale, purchase or re-sale of coal, the values at which coal is recorded in the accounts of any business, and of profits in the coal industry”. This evening we were treated to a lecture by thehonorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) upon the “ balance-sheet mentality”. I point out that clause 13 is expressed in terms of power. One matter ‘ which has impressed me is that legislation introduced by this Government almost invariably confers power upon some board. The Government itself rarely exercises the power. Clause 13 expresses in terms of power what the Joint Coal Board may do. Paragraph g of sub-clause 2 is very important because we are dealing . with a field, which, by virtue of clause 4, can cover a vast number of industries, and power is given, inter alia, to regulate the prices of coal, and of all by-products and derivatives of coal. That does not mean that one price will be fixed for coal. ‘ The board will be permitted to prescribe differential rates for various collieries. The board will have similar - power regarding the profits of coal-mines. In other words, the board will have complete power over the coal industry. It may prescribe differential rates of price for various mines, fix different values, and so affect entirely the economic working of a colliery, and determine- differential profits for various mines. I do not dispute the need to confer on the board very wide powers. If the Government controls an industry it must confer substantial powers upon the board. However, speaking in terms of power is one thing. Another aspect to be considered is in terms of obligation to people in the community. During this discussion, we have heard a great deal about the obligations owed to the coal-miner. So be it! But there is also an obligation, as I see it, to people whose money is invested in the coal-mines. I know that the answer may well he, “ Who cares about them ? “. In reply, I point out that those people are spread over a vast section of the community, and have a right to be protected. If the need exists to protect employees by allowing them the right of appeal, why should there not be a right of appeal in respect of the exercise of the power contained in paragraph g of sub-clause 2. This is a major point for discussion. During the war, the power to fix prices and profits in industry was vested, without appeal, in the Prices Commissioner. Whatever the criticisms may be of certain aspects of it, I would be the last person to dispute that the Prices Commissioner did a firstclass job. But in peace-time, the necessity does not exist to continue that arbitrary system. I know, as many other honorable members know, that in the fixing of prices, many injustices were worked. Perhaps that was inevitable in the circumstances.
Paragraph g of sub-clause 2 gives to the board such a comprehensive authority to control any particular company or mine as to have a most’ serious repercussion upon the value of the investment of every shareholder. Under this particular clause, no right of appeal is given. The authority vested in the’ board is arbitrary. The Minister said of another power given under this bill that there was no real danger in it because the acquisition of mines was a matter for the Government of New South Wales. 1 remind the honorable gentleman that we must study the clause in terms of obligation as well as of power. This clause is expressed solely in terms of power. Apart from clause 57, no term of obligation is imposed upon the board. It is true that the whole scheme must be implemented by legislation passed by the Parliament of New South Wales, but. I assume that the board to be appointed by the State will be the same body, with the same powers as . the board established by this bill. By Commonwealth and State legislation, a board will be created with complete power to control the industry and acquire mines. The Commonwealth will not be able to acquire a mine, except on just terms, but the State will be able to acquire it without any obligation to compensate the owners. This is a matter of not merely academic interest.- I desire to provide proper ‘protection for those who may suffer loss as the result of the exercise of the powers conferred by this clause. The Minister said, “After all, .the board, which may fix prices, can adjust any losses “. That might not be so. Under the general powers of the bill, there is a general authority to do exactly what was provided specifically in the National Security (Coal Control) Regulations of 1941. Regulation No. 17 provided that the Coal Commissioner may -
Direct that the owner of that mine shall .. for a time to be specified or until further order cease to produce coal at that mine.
Obviously, that position is not met by the contention that the power to fix prices will cover such an eventuality. Coal goes into the profit return for the year in which it is won, but at the same time, the capita] asset is. rapidly depreciating. Paragraph g of sub-clause 2, together with other sub-clauses, gives to the board a most extensive power to conduct a mine, to close it wholly or temporarily and to fix the price of the coal which in certain eventualities, may result in great loss to the shareholders of the company. It may be said, “Well, the board will probably do the right thing”. Generally, that is so. The authority which is set up attempts to do the right thing for the individual. But most ho.n’orable members will agree that it does not always do the right thing, because no organization is infallible. Some limitation is placed upon the power of the board to suspend or exclude a person from employment in the coal industry, so causing him loss. The Government has seen fit to allow such an individual the right of appeal. Why? Very rightly, because the individual may suffer loss, and the Government is not prepared to trust to the omniscience of the board to mete out justice to the individual in this case. Why, then, should not an equal right be given to shareholders who can prove that they have suffered substantial loss as the result of the exercise by the board of the power conferred by paragraph g of sub-clause 2? I am not seeking to give a general right of appeal in every particular case. When I use the words “ as prescribed “, I give to the Executive power to limit the right of appeal in order to prevent vexatious appeals. But -if there is real substance in an appeal, why should not the shareholders have the right to approach an impartial tribunal to determine their loss? After all, a board, no matter how competent its members may be and how desirous they may be of doing the right thing, will make mistakes. If the exercise of these, powers may result iri losses to shareholders, why should they be deprived of the right of appeal? An employee has the right of appeal against any loss that he sustains from a decision of the board. . The. Minister will not meet my contention by saying, “ This position will be dealt with by the board or by the State “. The entire bill, subject to clause 57, is expressed in terms of power. Ho obligation is imposed upon the board, although I believe that it would in most instances endeavour to do justice, to give fair compensation. Against the decision of the board in this matter, no right of appeal is provided. During the war there were occasions when the fixation of prices worked gross injustices to individuals. I recall one instance. A particular organization was. “ declared “ as having engaged in black-marketing. As the. result of that declaration, its prices were fixed at rates much lower’ than those of its competitors. After twelve months,” the Prices Commissioner admitted that a mistake had been made in declaring the firm. In the meantime, the firm had supplied, under compulsion, to the Munitions Department, articles at the fixed price. When the ban was removed and the mistake was admitted, the firm, asked the Munitions Department to make up the difference between the fixed price and the price that had been allowed to the trade generally. That request was rejected.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan)Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- I ask the Minister (Mr. Dedman) not to accept the amendment. Had the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) had the same experience as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the country had of fixing the price of coal in World War I., he would agree that the Joint Coal Board should have the right to fix the . price without its decision being subject to appeal. Australia did a remarkable job during the war with its machinery for the control of prices. People who have travelled in other parts of the world, and have been able to form a judgment on personal experience, appreciate the effectiveness of our prices control administration. Things were very different in this country during World War I, ‘when there was no proper control of prices. At that time the cost of all commodities became very high, and the workers in the coal-mining industry made a claim before the Hibble tribunal for an increase of wages. Fifty per cent, of the men received an increase, half of .them being awarded an extra ls. 6d. a day. and the other half an extra ls. a day, but the price of coal was not controlled, and the mine-owners were permitted to increase their prices by ls. 6d. a ton. At that time the average output per man in the industry, including mine managers, trappers, boys, agents and, in fact, everybody, was 3 tons a day. A simple calculation will reveal that the mine-owners made a marvellous “rake-off” on that occasion. Only 50 per cent, of the workers had received an increase of wages, but every buyer of coal, had to pay an extra ls. 6d. a ton for it. At that time the present Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir John Latham, was the Leader of the Opposition in this House, and he declared that the industry was being ruined. If the Parliament bad made an honest attempt at that time to meet the position, «we should probably not have had to face the difficulties in coal production which now face us.
The clause now before the committee is, in reality, the heart of the bill, and I do not believe that it should be amended in the way that honorable members opposite are suggesting. I said in my secondreading speech that I hoped that the provision which clothed the Joint Coal Board with power to provide amenities for the miners would not be regarded as contentious. I also said that I hoped that the miners themselves would realize the need for some penalties in respect of their own colleagues who refused to observe the law, and that it would be’ recognized that this measure was -an honest attempt on the part of the- Government to ensure that reasonable concessions would be made to men who took their lives in their hands day after- day to go down into the bowels of the earth to win coal for the whole community. This subject should be discussed on common-sense and notsentimental grounds. The coal-miners must be regarded as an important cog in the industrial machine. Coal is basic to success in all industries. Honorable gentlemen opposite may criticize the bill as much as they like, knowing that they will “ hit the headlines “ in the newspapers by so doing, but they must admit, surely, that the miners should be treated sympathetically. These men, who have been subjected to such bitter criticism, provide the life-blood of industry. Without the product of their -work it would be impossible to maintain industrial activity, transport services or domestic amenities.
Provision is being made in the bill for a proper housing scheme for coal-miners. This is long overdue. Honorable members opposite who are critical in this connexion cannot know anything from personal experience of the difficulties and indignities of having to rear a family in a shanty with an iron roof and bag sides.
– The pioneers had to do it.
– But the pioneers were not expected to do it forever. I know how wretched such conditions can be, for I reared a family of three children, in a, bag shanty of this description, and I am not ashamed to say so. But I have been elected to this Parliament todo something to improve the lot of the coal-miners, and I intend to do the best I can for them. If honorable gentlemen opposite can hold briefs for the mine-owners, I certainly intend to do the best I can to help the miners. It is a. pity that those who hold these- briefs foi the mine-owners do not know more about the daily life of the coal-miners. If ‘ they had such a personal knowledgeof the industry as I have, they would not have said many of .the things that we ‘ have been obliged to liston to in this dtebate, and they would be more humane in their outlook. I have seen, recently, in France some of the housing schemes that have been provided for workers there and they are worthy of the highest praise. I have also seen housing schemes in Great Britain, which have reached a considerable stage of development. If. any such schemes had been attempted by the coalmine owners in Australia our positionwould have been very different.
This bill also seeks to protect the health of the miners.. The Joint Coal Board that is to be established is to be given power to deal with the dust nuisance. I know of a father and two sons under the age of 30 years whose lives have been utterly ruined by coal. dust.
The honorable member is- now somewhat wide of the clause.
– I point out, Mr. Chairman, that the clause provides that th, board may take such action as it deem* fit to provide for the welfare of. workers engaged in the industry. In fact it covert practically every aspect of coal-mining. It is almost wide enough to justify another second-reading speech. But I donot desire to take full advantage of the broad scope of discussion that it opens. Although I am so conversant with all the details of the industry, and am apt to become emotional when I speak about it, I wish ‘ to keep my remarks on this occasion within definite limits. I am pleading for consideration of the welfare of coal-miners, who work hard and have never been disloyal to their country.
– That may be so, but they are not the only ones to be considered.
– The coal-miners provide the basic requirement of every industry of the country.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause.
– If an honorable member interjects while I am speaking I like to reply to his interjection. I do not wish to runaway from the points that are raised, though that is the habit of some honorable gentlemen opposite. I believe that the coal-mining industry should be re-organized, and that this should be carried out in a spirit of cooperation. The mine-owners and the miners should get together. ‘The troubles of the industry will never be solved until a proper spirit of co-operation develops between the mine-owners and the workers. “We shall not settle the problems of the industry in this Parliament. They can be settled only by the people actively engaged in coal-mining. However if we take legislative action to ensure that amenities shall be provided, we shall go a long way. to overcoming the difficulties of the present situation. I have appealed to the men working in the industry, and I appeal to them again, to overlook the many broken promises and all the harsh bargaining of the past. I notice that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is smiling. This is not a subject for smiles. I advise the honorable member to examine the pages of Hansard in order to inform his mind of the attitude that his late father took towards this industry.We need the utmost sincerity in dealing with this subject. The coal-miners are providing an essential service to the community, and this must be recognized. Only so will peace be achieved in the post-war years. It is of no use to come into this House with a brief for the coal-owners.
– I suppose the honor able member will not tell me that he has no brief for the miners?
– The honorable member forWarringah has an elaborate brief from Mr. Gregory Forster, but it is a pity that he has not also an intimate knowledge of the industry.
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter must address the Chair.
– The honorable member would accept a brief from the Fascist, Eric Campbell, of the New Guard, or from anybody else.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Irevert to the amendment. It might be a good thing if, when debating such matters, honorablemembers were to refrain from indulging in sentiment, which does not affect the issue. We have heard more than one speech on coal by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). He usually induces such a tense atmosphere that every member on this side of the chamber is almost impelled to burst into tears, but he does not add very much to the debate. I am reminded of Micawber who, having an account to pay, gave his IOUand said, “ Thank God, that is settled.” That is about the equivalent of the honorable member’s approach to this bill. He has said, in effect, “Here are the powers; the problem is now settled “. I have already pointed out that for a long time substantial powers have been vested in the Coal Commissioner. During that period, the honorable member for Hunter has been given every facility, at the expense of this country, to act as liaison between the coal-miners and the Government. All that I can say is, that his liaison has not caused much progress to be made. It is abouttime we devoted ourselves to the business before the committee. The proposal is that paragraph g of sub-clause 2 shall be amended so as to give the right of appeal to an independent tribunal to the person whose prices have been fixed, whose values havebeen determined, or whose profits have been limited by the board.. I have not, during the whole of this debate said one word in criticism of the coal-miners. I have endeavoured to deal with the matter on the basis of a problem that has to be tackled, and have sought to draw attention to what, in my view, are important matters. This, I believe, is an important matter. On more than one occasion, we have heard it said that the Government proposed, with the coming of peace, to abandon as quickly as possible, unnecessary regulations. I have already conceded the necessity to give wide powers to the proposed board. But I have resisted, and I still resist, giving to any board, during a time of peace, wide powers which impinge on the rights or interests of individuals, without giving also to those individuals the right of appeal. That is the principle for which I stand. It seems to me to permit of very clear enunciation. Is every problem to be approached from the standpoint merely of what power is to be given to the Government or to a board, or’ is there to be a corollary approach, namely, how do the problems or the .exercise of the powers bear on the community? I agree that every exercise of a power by a Government should not involve the payment of compensation to an individual; because, in some sense, every power affects every individual. But when it is conceded, as it is in connexion with this bill, that the right of employment is an interest that must be protected, what differentiation can there be in principle between tho position of an individual so affected, and that of a person whose money is invested in a company? Is the latter not also affected, and should he not have the right of appeal? In a similar category is the person whose property has been acquired. I must refer to such a case, in order to give expression . to the principle. Such a person is . usually given the right to have the amount of compensation determined by a court, if agreement cannot be arrived at. I am not seeking to do that, here. All that I propose is that to the Government shall be left the matter of providing for an appeal, under conditions which it regards as fair, to a board of its own appointing. In other words, I am not attempting to lay down any- more than the principle that, in the circumstances envisaged by the exercise of the powers conferred by the bill, there ought to be the-‘right of appeal. When I last spoke, I mentioned a case with which I am acquainted. There are many other cases that I could cite if time permitted. The
Prices Commissioner, whose good faith I do not challenge in any way, determined that a company had been blackmarketing. It was proved, and he admitted twelve months later, that his decision was entirely wrong. He could do nothing to repair the damage that had been done to the company, because he had no power to pay compensation, his power, being confined to the fixing of prices. The company had no recourse except to the Government. I know, because I had some association with the matter, that the Munitions department, when approached, said, “ That is too bad. . You supplied goods, at the fixed prices. .Although we know that the prices were wrongly fixed, none the less no compensation is payable to you by the Government”. The point that I make is that by this particular power, as anyone who reads it will acknowledge, most complete authority is given to deal with any aspect of industry. Profits can be fixed. Indeed, it has been said that if you fix the profits of an industry you, in effect, determine its economy and its management. I am not concerned about a company, as such. It has been said that a company has *’ neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned”. But I am concerned about something that seems to escape the attention of members of this, chamber too frequently, namely, that companies are artificial entities, composed of human beings, who have money invested in them. On more than ohe occasion, I have had to deal with small estates. Most of the shareholdings are small. The individuals have no rights except those that they can express through the company; and if you strike at the company without giving to it the right of compensation, or the right of appeal against what is conceived to be unjust, “you strike at the shareholders. This matter does not partake of party politics. I believe that the Minister would seek to give the remedy that is sought. It may be that he cannot commit himself at the mo.ment. All’ that I a.ck is that the amendment shall be considered. Refusal to consider it will necessitate a division. If the Minister undertakes to have’ it considered before the bill is disposed of by the Senate, I shall be satisfied. I believe it ,to be of first-class importance that, in time of peace, no power, shall be so exercised as to cause substantial loss to the properties or liberties of individuals, without the right of appeal to an independent tribunal being given. That is the basis of the whole of my argument, and I hope that it commends itself to the committee.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). To the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was left the submission of the case for the amendment. He sought to make a comparison between ‘ thi3 provision and that which relates to the exclusion of persons from the industry. He argued that, because an appeal tribunal was prescribed in respect of those latter persons, it followed that an appeal tribunal should also be prescribed in relation to the regulation of prices for the sale,, purchase or resale of coal, and the values at which coal is recorded in the accounts of any business. [ suggest that there is no comparison between the two cases. It is true that an appeal authority is to be set up in respect of persons who ‘may be excluded from the industry by the Joint Coal Board. That authority will probably consist of a stipendiary magistrate, a representative of the employees, and a representative of the employers. An appeal authority of that nature will be able to adjudicate on a matter such -as the conduct of an individual in the industry just as well as, if not better than, the Joint Coal Board, because the individuals composing it will have had very much more experience of such matters than will .the Joint Coal Board. On the other hand, the board will have r.he advice of the Prices Commissioner, [n fact, it will be composed of experts in the matter of prices. The honorable member suggests that, over and above this authority dealing expertly with prices, and with a full knowledge, of the whole of the circumstances, .there should be an appeal authority which, in effect, would bc’ a super-authority on prices.
– Decisions by the Commissioner of Taxation are subject to appeal to the Taxation Board of Review.
– The honorable member made a comparison between regulation of prices in the industry and the exclusion of any employee from the industry. I claim that a comparison cannot be made between the two. I conclude by saying that the Government does not intend to ‘ set up any appeal authority in relation to prices, for the ‘same reason that, the Government of which the- honorable gentleman was a member did not set up any appeal authority when it established the Prices Commission.
.- The sub-clause to which an amendment has been moved deals with the regulation of prices for the sale, purchase or resale of coal, the values at which coal is recorded in the accounts of any business - that is a very important and necessary function - and the profits in the coal industry. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) seems to be playing “ a lone hand “ on his side of the chamber. Another honorable member submitted the amendment, but did not speak to it. The honorable member for Warringah has spoken’ to it twice. Apparently, no-other honorable member on his side is supporting him. What is the cause of the concern that he has shown? There are three matters which, I believe, ought to concern every member of this Parliament : first, the success of this legislation,, and of the board that is to be created by it, in the production of coal; secondly, and not the least, the public interest in the price that will have to be paid for coal; and thirdly, the return which the shareholders should get on the capital they have invested in the industry. Not one word has fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Warringah in regard to the public interest in what it will have’ to pay for coal. In pre-war days, when prices were not fixed, I did not hear him argue that there ought to be constituted a tribunal to hear appeals against the prices charged by the coal-owners. Why is he so concerned to-day? He has never said a word about the placing of any limitation on the price charged for coal. His whole concern is for the shareholders’ in the industry. What happened before the war? The coalowners charged just what they liked. If any new amenity were given to’ the men, or if the cutting price of coal rose, the coal-owners recovered the extra cost and move, because they had the undisputed right to fix the price of coal. They “ socked “ the public in those days to whatever degree they chose. It is true that during the “war there was a restraining influence through the Prices Commissioner. But the Prices Commission may not continue to function, in which event we should re- vert to the old system, and the coal-owners would again fix prices which the public would have to pay. I am wondering whether, in that day, the honorable member would suggest setting up an appeal board in the public interest to decide whether or not the public was being exploited. The next point is this: The powers of the board are set out in the bill. They are very wide, but the limits imposed upon them are prescribed in the bill. The honorable member supports an amendment to provide that the prices fixed by the board shall be “ subject to appeal as prescribed “. In other words, there is to be an entirely visionary board of appeal, the powers of which are not prescribed, but it shall have power to review the decisions of a board whose powers are, in fact, definitely prescribed. Before the war, and before the setting up of a price fixing authority, the coal-owners fixed their own price for coal. Not only that, but when the owner of a coal-mine also happened to be the owner of a shipping line or a steel company, he charged about one-half of the recognized price of coal to his own subsidiary company, and made up for it by charging the public double that price. Alternatively, if such an owner charged a fair price for the coal supplied to a subsidiary firm, he must have charged an unfair price to the public. I believe it to be important that. the board set up under this bill should have full control of the industry, including the fixing of the price of coal. It should have power to fix the price to the public, and also power to investigate the price at which coal is recorded in the books of any business. This power is important in the case of owners of coal-mines who control subsidiary companies. Who, ] ask, could be better qualified to fix the price of coal than a body which was in control of the whole industry? It i? proposed to give the board power to discipline the coal-miners and the owners, and even to take control of a mine where necessary in the public interest. The functions of the board include the preservation of peace in the industry and the getting of coal, to ensure that the users shall not be exploited, and that the shareholders shall receive a fair return on their capital. In view of those various functions, who could be better qualified than the board itself to determine a fair price for coal? Who could be better able to decide exactly what was the cost of producing coal, and to ensure that owners who control subsidiary companies do not charge half the fair price of coal to those companies, and “sock” the rest of the community in order to get their money back? The coal board should be in a better position than even the Prices Commissioner to fix a proper ‘price for coal, and the Prices Commissioner has been the subject of many eulogies this evening, although he must sometimes have made mistakes. Indeed, no one ever did anything of any importance without sometimes making mistakes, but it will be generally agreed that, bearing in mind the many problems with which he hadto deal, the Prices Commissioner has done a good, all-round job. However, I say that even if this visionary, board of appeal- should be the Prices Commissioner, he could not be better qualified to decide the proper selling price of coal than the board set up specially to deal with the whole industry. Moreover, I believe it to be important that there should be this over-all control of the price of coal because it would be . possible, . in the absence of any control of prices, for the coal owners to -destroy the effect of this legislation by the simple process of raising prices to whatever level they liked, so that the public would lose confidence in the plan as a remedy for the difficulties confronting the industry. They could make the scheme unworkable. Therefore, it is important that the board - which possesses vast powers enabling it to bring workers and employers together, to put out of the industry persons, whether employers or employees, who are disturbing influences, and to provide amenities in the interests of the workers - should have .power in the first place, also to fix the price of coal, and, secondly, to scutinize closely the opera. tions of mining companies which juggle their books to suit themselves, and in order to exploit the public. As I have aid, without this power the far-reaching purposes of this legislation could be negatived. No argument put forward by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) to-night was in the public interest. He never mentioned the public interest from first to last.
– At the very start of my speech I said that it was in the interests of the public that an appeal authority should be constituted.
– That is about all he said which touched upon the interests of the public, and even then he was confusing the public interest with the interest of the shareholders in. the mining companies. He spoke of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) telling a “ sob story “, but it was he himself who treated the committee to a tragic sob story, the purpose of’ which was to support the proposal that the mineowners should have an “ open go “ in the fixing of prices. He mentioned the poor widows whose probates he had dealt with, and for whom he had found a few shares in. a mining company hidden away somewhere.. His suggestion was, that if we refused the owners the right to fix coal prices, all -these poor widows would have to go to Lidcombe for the rest of their clays. I have” heard the honorable member speak to his brief .before. To-night he appeared to be speaking to a brief which lacked the support even of the other members of his own party. There was certainly no enthusiasm among honorable members opposite for the amendment. Even the honorable member who ‘ moved it did not speak to it, but the honorable member for Warringah spoke twice. I shall he interested to note how much enthusiasm the honorable member’s colleagues will evince for the amendment. The honorable member’s speech was nothing more than a specious plea for the coal-owners. It is evidentthat he does not care for the welfare of the industry, and not one word did he say in favour of protecting the general public against exploitation by the coalowners.
. -The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) apparently believes that no honorable “members on this side of the House are prepared to support the amendment. Well, I support it, and I propose to show how fallacious was the argument of the honorable member in opposing .the amendment. The subclause provides that the board shall have power to regulate the.’ price for the purchase or sub-purchase of coal, and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has asked that this power be subject to appeal as prescribed. The Minister in charge of the bill has’ refused to accept an amendment to this effect. Evidently, the Government believes itself to be omnipotent, and to, be incapable of making - a mistake. It will not listen to argument nor accept any amendment.
I listened carefully to the ‘speech of the honorable member for Dalley, who based his argument on the ground that the coal-owners could charge whatever price they chose for coal, and. from that he went on to say that the board should have power to fix prices. He used a charming- expression when he said that the coal-owners would “ sock “ the public in order to recoup themselves for the concessions which they made to their own subsidiary, companies. This was a fine example of parliamentary language from the Speaker of the House. Most Speakers are content to remain Mr. Speaker, and do not take part in debates. The honorable member for Dalley also said that the board would be better qualified than the Prices Commissioner or any appeal body to fix the price of coal, and. that there should be an over-all price, as otherwise- the owners could smash this legislation. .Those’ remarks show the honorable member’s supreme ignorance of economics. It is not the mine-owners who fix the price of coal ; that is done by the buying public, and the users of coal. It is they who, ultimately, determine the price of coal.
– What rot!
– Listen to the whitehaired sage from Brisbane who, apparently, is well versed in all the principles of economics ! Let us see what happened in regard to coal prices in New South Wales during a period of ten years. According to the report of the Board of inquiry appointed by the Government of New South Wales, consisting of Mr. Justice Davidson, Mr. >S. McKensey and Mr. F. Lowden, the .price for coal at the pit’s mouth in 1928 was 17s. 6d. a ton. In 1929, it had fallen to 16s. “6d. a ton. In 1930 it was down to 15s. 5d. and in 1931 to 13s. 8d. I ask honorable members to mark what dreadful rises of price were perpetrated by these “ atrocious “ coal-owners, who were castigated by the honorable members for Dalley and Hunter. As a matter of fact they should have been raising the price of coal, smashing the coal industry and sucking the life-blood out of the public. But what happened? In 1932 the price of coal at the pit mouth was down to 12s. 2d., in 1933 to lis. 6d., in 1934 to 10s. lid., and in 1935 to 10s. 6d. In 1936 there was a “heavy” rise of 2d. to 10s. 8d., and in 1937 these desperadoes increased the price to lis. Thus, over a ten-year period, except for two small rises totalling 6d. a ton, there was a consistent fall of the price of coal. Yet the honorable member for Dalley says that the coal-owners would endeavour to force the price so high that the public would be unable to pay, and that they would wreck the Government’s scheme for the rehabilitation of the industry. The answer to these charges is contained in the figures in Mr. Justice Davidson’s report. The honorable member for Dalley spoke of the necessity for appointing the coal authority to fix the price of coal. It has been clearly shown that it would- be against the interests of individuals and corporations to allow such an authority to be the final arbiter of its own decisions. I have no time for the doctrine expounded by honorable members opposite of one law for the coal-miner and another law for other sections of the community. This Parliament should hold the scales of justice evenly. There should not to be an appellate jurisdiction for one section of the community and not for another. What has been our experience of government-controlled mines? In the conclusion arrived at by Mr. Justice Davidson, whose report on the coal industry has not yet been printed - we have to .take it for granted that the extracts issued by the Government are not watered down or censored versions - we learn that he had this to say about the New South Wales coal-mine -
It cannot be claimed that the State mine at Lithgow, Since its foundation, in 1916, has been a notable success.
Originally it was not well laid out. The first working places are approached by a transport road more than 88 chains in length from the shaft.
When, after being in operation for eleven years, control was transferred to a board, the sum of £271,941, forming portion of the total debt of £581,941, had to be written off as a loss.
Later in the report Mr. Justice Davidson said -
If the purpose of opening the mine was to avoid exploitation of the Government Railway Department in prices by private owners oi collieries, that purpose is not being achieved. The department is paying 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. per ton more for coal from the State mine than the price at which coal of equal quality could be obtained, from private producers in the vicinity.
The case of the Coalcliff colliery has been referred to frequently during the debate on this measure. The latest figures show that during the period in which the mine was operated by the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, the loss on that colliery amounted to approximately £70,000. However, I am willing to use the earlier figures mentioned by Mr. Justice Davidson -
Operations at the Coalcliff colliery from the 9th March, 1944, to the 31st December, 1945, resulted in loss to the extent of about £37,000.
Thus, through inefficient operation of the mine, the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner incurred colossal losses. How then could such an authority dispense evenhanded justice to owners and workers alike? As the result of the losses on the Lithgow mine, the price of coal to the New South Wales Railways Department was increased, not by the rapacious coalowners, but by the grasping State government raising the price by from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. a ton more than the price quoted by private .producers in the Lithgow district. Obviously the coal authority could not dispense even-handed justice to the owners . and ‘ thus admit its own inefficiency. The interests of the public will never be conserved as long as justice is meted out to one section of the community and denied to another.
– I would not have risen but foi the intrusion in the debate of our noble friend from Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) who apparently employed the methods he employs in other situations in this chamber, in respect of which we might apply the saying that justice may be blind but it has a good look over the top of the bandage across the. left eye. The honorable member castigated the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) for suggesting the establishment of a board of appeal. The honorable member for Warringah and I are unlike in that he is a lawyer and I am not, though I have heard it said not infrequently that I am something of a bush lawyer.
– -The honorable member for Warringah is a cold-blooded lawyer.
– He gave a very hot-blooded exhibition to-night. The honorable member for Dalley said that such a board of appeal would be a purely visionary body wi th visionary powers. I find on analysis, however, that the very words which the honorable member for Warringah is attempting to incorporate in the amendment occur in paragraph Te of sub-clause 3, which provides that the board shall have power to suspend or exclude from employment in the coal industry, subject to appeal as prescribed, any person employed in the industry who acts in a manner prejudicial to its effective working. I would like to know from the honorable member for Dalley, or from any Minister who may happen to be present - the only one I see at the moment is the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), who is apparently widening his knowledge of the geography of Moscow so that he may know his way about there in the near future - whether the board of appeal as prescribed for employees who lose their jobs is in the nature of a purely visionary body with visionary powers. The point has been well taken by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) that the function of the law should he to administer even-handed justice to all. We should not allow a state of affairs to develop in which injustice may be done either to persons or .corporations. As the honorable member for Warringah pointed out, corporations, are only aggregations of individuals and should be as justly dealt with as, their individual members. Having delivered his bolt the honorable member for Dalley has himself bolted. He reminds me of the hit-and-run motorist who does not wait to see whether the damage to his victim is greater than that sustained by his own car; He has endeavoured to put into the mouth of the honorable member for Warringah words which, he did not use. I listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Warringah and I cannot recall having heard any reference to widows - I would be delighted if Hansard could produce one to-morrow morning. In his minor capacity as a mere member of this chamber, the honorable member for Dalley has been guilty of a misstatement which he would view very seriously if he were occupying his more exalted position as Speaker of the House. When that misstatement was pointed out to him he did not have . the decency to admit his error. Obviously he ha3 endeavoured to attribute certain words to the honorable member for Warringah without first taking the precaution of checking the accuracy of his recollection of them. He may, in due course, have something more to add to this debate. Perhaps .he will repeat his performance and, like’ the hitandrun motorist, again deliver his blow and run away.
– I do not intend to follow the example of honorable members opposite, who ranged at will instead of confining their remarks to the precise amendment before the committee. The honorable member for Dalley will find quite a substantial body of support for the amendment on this side of the chamber. Indeed it is a matter for some surprise that such a reasonable amendment should receive anything but support from all honorable members. I rise principally to direct attention to several implications in the clause to which attention has not yet been drawn. Honorable members on the Government side have reiterated the intention of the Government to dispense with all war-time regulations, including the control of . prices. Yet honorable members will observe that the clause seeks to enshrine for all time in the legislation of this country price control in respect of one particular commodity - coal. Of course, there is nothing new in that; it is but one more piece of evidence that the miners are to be treated in the matter of pensions, as a class apart, that they are to be given industrial tribunals which are denied to other sections of the community, that they are to be allowed to select their own chairman, and are to be -treated much more generously than other members of the community. This bill is further evidence of the Government’s appeasement of the miners. If the price of coal- is to be fixed for all time, it is only reasonable that those ‘ affected shall have the right of appeal.
– The Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) seems to think that I did not say sufficient about the amendment when I foreshadowed it before the sitting was suspended. He was absent from the chamber as he is absent now. He built his objection to the- proposal that there should be the right of appeal on the false premises that the members of the board will be experts. The bill contains no provisions setting out who shall be members of the board. Clause 5 under which the board is to be set up merely states -
The Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governor of the State for the constitution, subject to this act, of an authority which shall be known as the Joint Coal Board.
But the hill says nothing about the proposed membership of the board. Mem.bers of -the board might be experts or they might not be experts. Already there is an agitation among the coal-miners for the appointment of the president of the miners federation, Mr. Wells.
– Is he not a Communist ?
– Of course he is. That is probably why he is given so much consideration by the Ministry. Operating a coal mine is not such a lucrative business as honorable members opposite would have us believe. Many of the mines are losing money. Who would invest in a coal mine to-day? It is a lucky mine that earns 3 per cent. Coal mines are one of the worst investments. The amendment is perfectly reasonable. The Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill set out that seven members of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board were to be representative of. the wheat-growers. If it was reasonable for that legislation to specify the membership of the board set up under it, although its decisions are to be subject to the Russian idea of veto by the chairman, it should be good enough for this legislation to set out the membership of the proposed Joint Coal Board. The Minister is relying on the fact that Labour rules in New South Wales. But that Government might be changed. Many things change. The Minister himself changed, for he first stood as a Liberal candidate in a plebiscite. Then he stood against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in Victoria as the endorsed- Country party candidate. He has “ ratted “ on three parties. His statements cannot, be relied on. He criticizes us because we want to ensure that a section of the community that is entitled to protection shall have it, whereas the Minister has made it possible for the board to consist of three Communists. I made only a few brief remarks before dinner, because I regarded the amendment as so reasonable that I expected it to be accepted without ado, but the Minister is not big enough to accept any amendment from this side. He’ turns ‘down everything that we suggest.’
.-! should not have risen again on this clause but for the need to reply to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) who introduced personalities into the debate. T cannot be accused of personally attacking fellow members in the manner that he attacked me when he accused me of “ running round at the expense of the country as a liaison officer who has never improved coal production “. I deny the honorable member’s statement. If he would attend the sittings of this House a little more frequently instead of accepting briefs to defend people hostile to this country he might be aware . of what is happening in the Parliament. The gentleman hostile to this country whom the honorable member defended fraternized in Germany with the late Hitler and on his return to Australia said what a good person Hitler was. His name is Eric Campbell.’ Does the honorable member remember defending him ?
– About fifteen years ago.
– I can say without being egotistical that I have gone to the mines early in the morning and seen some disputes developing that the public does not get to hear of. . At one mine the matter of 18s. was holding up productions I paid the money out of my pocket and got the men to work, but I have yet to see the honorable member refund money to widows whom he charges exorbitant rates for arranging the probate of their husbands wills.
– That would be “scabbing” on the lawyers.
– I have yet to hear of the honorable member doing a cheap job for any one. It is apparent that the amendment is designed to justify the right of the coal-owners to exploit this country. The amendment would free the owners to fix any price they like for coal. That is what happened during the first World War. Prices on other commodities soared when the price of coal was unchecked. The report by Mr. Justice Davidson on the’ coal-mining industry recommended improved methods of mechanization of the coal mines and this bill is designed to give effect to that proposal. Mechanization increases production, but my experience is that miners who prior to mechanization were earning £2 a day were told that they had to operate the mechanical unit for 33s. a day or less. That meant an immediate reduction of their wages. They naturally resent losing money in operating a mechanical device which gives a greater output per man, about 30 tons of coal a day as against 10 tons. The increased output should -benefit the nation, but mechanical production does not result in cheaper coal. The coal-user still has to pay as much for mechanically filled coal, as he had to pay for coal won at a greater cost under the old method. The only firm who - benefits’ from mechanization . is the owner of the machinery. Why should not the country benefit from coal produced’ more cheaply and in greater quantities because of mechanization? If the miners were assured that mechanical units would not put them out of work but would enable them to earn the same money as they earned before, they would welcome mechanization. I am pleased that the Minister has refused to accept the amendment. I am confident that the committee will reject it.
– -Had it not been for the figures given by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) I would not have spoken. The honorable gentleman spoke about the extraordinary amount of coal that can be mined by mechanical units. He said that coal production has increased to a remarkable degree, but ‘that the same price was being paid by the purchaser. Either the honorable member does not know the economics of the coalmining industry, or he is seeking deliberately to mislead the House. Between 1940 and 1944 the coal output per man day decreased from 3.40 tons to 3.09 tons. Those figures entirely disprove the statements of the honorable member for Hunter. During the same period, salaries and wages rose from - £3,947,695 to £6,337,309. Therefore, whilst production per man day declined, salaries and wages increased. Obviously, the honorable member for Hunter was sadly astray in his knowledge of the economics of the industry.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Bernard Corser’s amendment) ‘be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr, W. J. F. Riordan.)
Majority . . 12
Question resolved m the negative.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), paragraph (g), after the word “ industry”, the following wordsbe inserted: - “ for the States of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as the State of New South Wales”.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the establishment of sound industrial welfare practices, including the provision of amenities for employees, shall be extended to the coal-miners in Queensland, Victoria andWestern Australia. The initial cost of the amenities proposed under this bill is estimated at £500,000, and the cost of the complete programme may entail the expenditure of an additional £1,000,000. During
WorldWar II. the coal-miners of Queensland, Victoria andWestern Australia stepped up production ; but despite all the efforts of this Government, the miners of New SouthWales reduced their output. Yet the Government proposes that they shall be the only section who shall benefit under this bill.
– Order! This bill relates to an agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales only. The Chair cannot accept the amendment, because it is outside the scope of the bill.
– I rise to order. This is a bill for an act “ to provide means for securing and maintaining adequate supplies of coal throughout Australia and for providing for the regulation and improvement of the coal industry in the State of New South Wales, and for other purposes “. Included in the “ other purposes “ should be the provision of amenities for the coal-miners of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, whose, patriotic efforts in stepping up production during World War II. have been so ably described during this discussion by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). Surely the Government will not be so conservative as to withhold those amenities from the coal-miners of Queensland, who work under such bad conditions in the State coal mine at Collinsville, and whose housing is the worst in Australia !
– Order ! The Chair has ruled that the amendment is outside the scope of the bill.
– This clause is the kernel of the bill. It is true that there are 63 other clauses, but without clause 13, they are worthless. This provision sets out in extenso the functions and responsibilities of the Joint Coal Board. . Earlier, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to all the benevolent features of the clause. If a listener did not have the bill before him he would be inclined to wonder why honorable members have occupied hours in discussing the clause. The honorable member stated that one of the functions of the board would be to introduce modern equipment into coal-mines, and he availed himself of the opportunity to blame the colliery proprietors for the present conditions of labour in the pits. If the honorable gentleman lived nearer to the centre of things in New South Wales, he would know that his statement was unjust. Recently. the use of modern plant, which had been in operation in a south coast mine for some years, had to be discontinued because the miners refused to operate it. Either wittingly or otherwise, the’ honorable member for Fremantle acted unjustly in placing the blame for the non-modernization of the industry on the owners. He mentioned also that one of the functions of the board would be to recruit personnel for the industry, and establish sound industrial welfare practices, including the provision of amenities for miners. If those were the only purposes of clause 13, honorable’ members would not have discussed them at such length. Unfortunately, the clause deals with other subjects. For example, paragraph g of sub-clause 3 provides that the board shall have authority -
To acquire any coal mine and to operate any mine acquired by or vested in it.
This is not a new power, for it has been in the possession of the Goal Commissioner for a long time, but it has not brought harmony into the industry. Last week .31 mines were idle in New South Wales, and even to-day eight are idleIn spite of this, we are expected to believe that by vesting this power in the new Joint Coal Board we shall revolutionize the industry. The new board is to be given authority to control or acquire mines, and to do the many other things specified in the clause, but the authority already in existence has similar power, the exercise of which has not solved the problems of the industry.’ Coalcliff colliery has been under control for a long time, but we know that for many months there has been a serious loss of production in the mine. The mine at Wonthaggi, in Victoria, also has been operated by the State Government at a loss of many thousands of pounds a year for a long while. The losses have cost the taxpayers of Victoria, in the aggregate, about £1,250,000. The State mine at Lithgow, in the electorate of the Prime Minister, has also been the subject of adverse comment. The Prime
Minister himself has said that it tells a sad and sorry story of State control. Surely honorable members must recognize the futility of this method of attempting to solve the problems of the industry. I ask the Minister to explain what will happen if the coal-miners refuse to work under this legislation. I read in to-day’s newspapers that the miners are holding a meeting to determine their attitude. What will happen if they decide that they will not abide by the law? We have to recognize that these men have defied the regulations issued by the Government in the past, they have summarily rejected instructions issued to them by the Prime Minister, and they have challenged every move that has been made to control the industry. If the miners of New South. Wales refuse to be guided by this legislation what new appeasement policy does the Commonwealth Government, acting in “collaboration with the New South Wales Labour Government^ intend to adopt? Because I consider that nothing whatever will be gained by the passage of this measure, I oppose it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 - (3.) If the Board after receipt of the report is of opinion that the safety of employees at the coal mine is, or is not, or is or is not likely to be, endangered by all or any of the matters referred tq in sub-section (1.) of this section; it is to have power, by order, to direct the owner of the coal mine and any other person to . do or refrain from doing all such matters or things in relation to the operation of coal-mines as are specified in the order:
Provided that no such order shall derogate from any provisions of the law of the State prescribing requirements to be observed for securing the safety of persons engaged in or about coal-mines.
– I ask the Minister to explain the meaning of this clause. Sub-clause 1 provides that when any question arises at. a coal mine as to whether the safety of appliances is endangered or is likely to be endangered by any methods of working then in operation or proposed to be put in operation, the hoard is to have power to refer the question to an inspector of coal mines in New South Wales, and to an officer of the board with a request that the matter be at once considered and reported upon. Sub-clause 2 provides that when any such question has been referred to an inspector or to an officer of the. board, an inspection is to be made at once and a report .prepared. Sub-clause 3 provides that if the board, after the receipt of a report, is of opinion that the safety of employees is, or is not likely to be, endangered it is to have power to direct the owner of the coal-mine and any other person to do, or refrain from doing, certain things ; but there are two important provisoes. The first is that no such order shall derogate from the provisions of the law of the State, prescribing requirements- to be observed for securing the safety of the persons -engaged in the mine. The second is contained in clause 17 which provides that the board shall, as and when required by the Prime Minister or the Premier of the State, furnish reports with respect to the policy it is pursuing and the Prime Minister may, in agreement with the Premier of the State, issue directions to the board’ on matters of policy, and it is to be the duty of the board to observe and carry out any direction so given. This is surely an extraordinary .situation. The clause is intended to insure safety in coal-mines, but orders or directions that are. made in this connexion may not derogate from the law of the State, and, in any case, the Prime Minister is given ‘ power under another clause to issue directions irrespective of the nature of any reports that have been furnished. What then- is the real value of this clause? For a long time the Minister for Mines in New South Wales, Mr. Baddeley, has prevented the extraction of coal in pillars on the ground that it endangers the safety of the men, and this has considerably reduced the volume of coal extraction. In the opinion of Mr. Justice Davidsons the extraction of coal in pillars does not endanger the safety of the men. This is shown by the following observations of His Honour: -
Owing to departmental policy and industrial pressure, pillars have been left standing too long in many of the mines in New South Wales, and much of the coal will in all probability be lost. If this coal be not lost, it will bc extractable only at very heavy cost.
Crown leases require extraction of as large a percentage of coal as is consistent with safety, questions as to the quantities left unworked being determinable by the Minister, and mining engineers support with strong: evidence claims that under the policy enforced they have been compelled against their will by departmental directions and industrial pressure to adopt bad mining practices which have resulted in the total loss of large quantities of pillar and top coal.
Miners are opposed to’ early- extraction of pillars by mechanical means for the reason that .as they formed them by hand work in the solid workings, they should have thebenefits of the easier task o’f taking them down when crushed in process of time.
For the same reason there is opposition to rapid extraction so that the lighter and more profitable task may last longer.
These views have led to restrictions upon the number of pairs of men employed in manual work extraction of a pillar.
As a result, the desired attainment of maximum speed of extraction is impossible; the speed more closely approximates to the minimum.
Pillars containing millions of tons of coal have also been left standing for many years in the mines in Western Australia and Queens- laud.
In the intersts of the Commonwealth a strong controlling authority should be appointed with powers, amongst others, to take some measures for the prevention of these practices in order to save irreparable losses of valuable fuel which must otherwise ensue.
In spite of these observations by Mr. Justice Davidson, the Minister for Mines in New South Wales is to continue to 1 have authority to enforce his prohibition against pillar extraction, which has militated against the maximum extraction of coal. It seems thai the Prime Minister is to have an over-riding authority. That appears to me to be altogether wrong. Certain authority is to be given to the Joint Coal Board, but it is expressly limited by the proviso in sub-clause 3 and by the provisions of clause 17. I ask the . Minister whether these provisions’ are not inconsistent with *he recommendations of Mr. Justice Davidson. .If the honorable gentleman says that they are not inconsistent, will he explain the grounds on which he bases his opinion?
– It must’ be borne in mind that this measure has been introduced as the result of an agreement between the ‘ Commonwealth Government and the Government of New. South Wales. The effect of the clause is that the safety code which has been in existence in New South. Wales for a long time will remain in existence. The code stipulates a number of safety provisions that must be observed, including diameter widths, tunnelwidths, ventilation shafts, and so on. The circumstances that prevailed prior to the introduction of this legislation will continue in force until such time as any new recommendations made by an inspector of mines and an officer of the board may . be put into operation. As the honorable member has said, in certain instances, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Mines in New South Wales may direct certain officials of the Mines Department to make reports on safety matters. The safety code as it stands will be preserved; but when a matter arises requiring the State Inspector of Mines to make a decision, he will act in conjunction with an officer of the board.
– Only for the purpose of making a report.
– In respect of any matters on which previously the inspector of mines had to make a decision under the safety code of New South Wales, that officer will make a report to the hoard and it will make the final decision. Therefore, the position referred to by the honorable member for Warringah in which, according to him, the Minister for Mines of New South Wales made a certain decision in regard to the extraction of pillars, will not exist. Whether or not the extraction of pillars relates to safety, the board will make the decision and that decision will be final.
. -I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), the proviso be left out.
Later, I intend to move for the insertion of an additional sub-clause, to read - (7.) An order of the Board made under this section shall not be invalidated merely by reason of the fart that it derogates from any provisions of the law of the State prescribing requirements to be observed for the securing of the safety of persons engaged in or about coal mines.
The Minister has not correctly stated the position. He has stated that the safety code of New South Wales, as it stands, is to be preserved, but that the decision of the board will have effect when a matter is referred to it, whether or not the decision is opposed to the safety code. The Minister (Mr. Dedman) must know that that could not be the position under the provisions of the bill as drafted, because the Coal Mines Regulation Act of New South Wales, ostensibly for safety reasons, prevents the use of machinery for the loading of coal in pillar workings exceptwith the consent of the State Minister for Mines.
– That state of affairs is preserved by the bill.
– As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) points out, that power is to be preserved by the bill. The State Minister for Mines has consistently exercised it so as to prevent the use of loaders for pillar extraction for purely industrial reasons. The honorable member for Warringah has read pertinent statements in regard to this matter from the conclusions and recommendations of Mr. Justice Davidson, a man of high standing in the . community, who was chosen by the Commonwealth Government to make one of the most searching investigations that has ever been made of the coal, industry. He was a trusted officer of the Government until he presented his report. Then, the Government denied him, not once, twice or thrice, but in every possible way. It went right outside his report, and ignored his recommendations. Mr. Justice Davidson said -
Owing to departmental policy and industrial pressure, pillars have been left standing too long in many mines of New South Wales, and much coal in all probability will be lost. If this coal be not lost, it will be extractable only at very heavy cost.
The reason, as I have pointed out, is to’ be found in the use by the State Minister for Mines of the power referred to in the proviso to sub-clause 3, which reads -
Provided that no such order shall derogate from the provisions of the law of the State prescribing requirements to be observed for the securing of the safety of persons engaged iti or about coal mines.
That, proviso will make binding on the Joint Coal Board and the Commonwealth Government the observance of the instructions issued by the State Minister for Mines, the Honorable J. M. Baddeley, to his officers, for prevention of the use of machines in coal mines. The bill is merely camouflage, a pretence to the people of Australia that the attempt will be made to do what the Minister well knows cannot be done, under it. If the amendment be accepted, the position will be made perfectly clear. “We have had a long dissertation from both the Minister and the honorable > member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) in regard to the uprightness and honesty of the members of the proposed board. It is to be composed of supermen, of “ angels “. If they are to be so highly qualified, why are their decisions not to be given effect? “Why is their authority to be whittled down, and given to a man whom Mr. Justice Davidson has said in his report, not once, but several times, betrayed his trust at a time when coal was required more desperately than it had been previously in the history of the nation, because we were at war. To-day, men and women in Adelaide are deprived of their employment because a collier has not arrived. The conditions in Victoria have been described by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). Yet the Minister obstinately refuses to derogate from the authority of the Minister for Mines in New South Wales and the political pressure under which he bends.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 .(Insurance).
– The Joint Coal Board is to have power to establish workers’ compensation insurance schemes, and to .require any employer in the coal industry in the State to effect with or through it all workers’ compensation insurance in respect of his employees in that industry. I should like the Minister to state whether the proposal is to scrap the existing Workers’ Compensation Court in New South Wales, and to set up entirely new machinery for the hearing of claims for compensation. Will a new court investigate claims that are resisted, or will the matter be inquired into by the board, without the appearance of counsel and the observance of the rules of evidence?
– It is not proposed that, the existing machinery shall be scrapped. The clause sets out quite clearly what the board is to have the power to do. It will be empowered to establish workers’ compensation insurance schemes, and to require any employer to insure in any such scheme. To that degree, the employer will be prevented from insuring with companieswith which he has insured in the past.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 (No industrial conscription).
. - The clause reads -
Nothing in this act shall be deemed to authorize any form of industrial conscription.
We have heard a great deal about the disciplinary powers which the bill will confer upon, the board, and of how the board will,- in effect, implement the recommendations of Mr. Justice Davidson so as to restore some semblance of order to this chaotic industry. The only power in relation to discipline is contained in paragraph k of sub-clause -3, of clause 13, which gives to the board the authority -
To suspend, or exclude from employment in the coal industry, subject to appeal as prescribed, any superintendent, manager or other person employed in the industry who acts in a manner prejudicial to the effective working of the industry.
That is the only specific power. There may be general powers, but if they exist they are not discoverable. Since ‘ the Government desires to impose the authority of law on the coal industry - so it is said - the Minister should explain the meaning of the clause. Political phrases are used, and at some time or other they must be given legal signification. I understand conscription to be compulsory enrolment or directions to a body of people. It is usually spoken of when force is applied to compel a person as ohe of a number to do or to abstain from doing anything; for example, if a person is called up for service in the Australian Army, and refuses to obey the call, he is subject to a certain penalty. I should like to know from the Minister whether this provision will prohibit any authority under the act from being exercised so as to prevent persons from leaving work, or to compel them to return to work. I know that physically they cannot be compelled to do anything, t am speaking of an order directing them to return to work. If employees were directed to return to work, and having failed to comply with the order, were subject to the sanction of punishment, would that be industrial conscription? If it would be, . what real disciplinary powers are being conferred? If may be that the interpretation would not go so far as that; but it is possible that it would. The matter is arguable. I should like to know what the clause really means. ‘In particular, if men leave work and refuse to return to it under an order of the court, can they be punished -for their refusal, having regard to the provisions of this clause?
”. - The best explanation that I can make is that the clause means what it says. If, in consequence of a dispute in this industry, a competent court orders men to resume work and they refuse to do so, then, as [ understand the position, the court dealing with the matter will he able to impose certain penalties: I do not say that disciplinary action might take the form of inflicting a fine, or that a direction given by the Arbitration Court, or some similarly constituted body, could be construed as industrial conscription. The power to exert pressure on workers to continue to work regularly is provided iri another clause. For instance, the board is to have power to exclude any person from working in the industry, and presumably one of the reasons for doing so would be that he had failed to work regularly, or had persistently absented himself for long periods from his work without proper cause.
Clause agreed to.
Part IV. - CONTROL op Coal Mines.
Division I. - Power of Board to take Control of Mines.
Clauses 19 to 27.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to-
That Part IV., comprising clauses 19 to 27 be left out.
Clause 28 agreed to.
Clause 29- (7.) There shall be credited to the Coal Industry Fund all moneys becoming payable to the board other than moneys payable to the funds specified in sub-sections (2.), (4.) and (6.) of this section. (9.) The moneys standing to the credit of the Coal Industry Fund shall be applied in meeting any expenditure incurred under this Act and under the State Act (including any allocations to the ‘ Welfare Fund and to . the Workers’ Compensation Fund) other than expenditure specified in sub-sections (3.) and (S.) of this section and expenditure prescribed under sub-section (8.) of this section.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That, in sub-section (7.) the. figure “ (6.) “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof, the figure “ (5.) “.
– Clause 29 provides that, for the purposes of the act, there shall be kept in the books of the board a workers’ compensation fund, a welfare fund, a coal industry fund, and such other funds as are prescribed, and it ‘then goes on as follows: -
There shall be credited to the Workers’ Compensation Fund ail premiums and other moneys received under any workers’ compensation insurance scheme established .by the board and any other moneys received by the board for the purposes of the scheme or allocated to the fund by the board.
Is it intended that the Government shall assume liability for the New South Wales Miners’ Pension Fund which, I understand on the authority of actuaries, is insolvent to the amount of £10,000,000?
.- I draw. attention to the provision in subclause 1 of this clause which provides for the establishment of a welfare fund. When clause 13 was before the committee, I sought to move that .miners’ in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia should be entitled to participate in the benefits provided by this fund, but I was ruled out of order. Will the Minister in charge of the bill say whether the Government intends that the miners of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia who, during the war, did good work, shall share in the amenities provided by the ‘welfare fund ? The late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, described the coal-miners of New South Wales as saboteurs of the nation’s war effort, and at another time he declared that they were not playing the game. Is it intended to provide a welfare fund for men who have not done a job of work, while nothing is to be provided for the miners of other States who continued at work faithfully?
– I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis).
– Will the honorable member include Tasmania?
– With the greatest of pleasure. Mr. Justice Davidson, at page 35 of his report, says that at Collie, in Western Australia, housing, conditions for miners are reasonably good, whilst those at Ipswich are among the best in Australia. He goes on to say that at Muswellbrook and Kandos housing is good, while, on the contrary, housing conditions are seen at their worst at the State mine at Collinsville, in Queensland. In that State there has been a Labour government for practically 36 years.
The’ CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member may not go beyond the provisions of this bill, which deals with an arrangement entered into between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales.
– I hope that the Government will not allow such beastly conditions to continue in a State mine in Queensland, where there has been a Labour government for the last 36 years. I ask the Minister to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Moreton that such practices should be stopped, practices which are now permitted by a Labour government: I hope he will take action to make the Government of Queensland live up to the standard set by private enterprise at Muswellbrook and Kandos.
.- The Commonwealth is *not assuming liability for the New South Wales miners’ pensions fund. As for the point made by the honorable member . for Moreton (Mr. Francis), I have no doubt that the Commonwealth, if approached by any State, would be prepared to make an agreement with it on the same lines as that between the Commonwealth and New South Wales.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to- : That, in sub-clause (9.), the figure “ (5.) “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ (0.) “.
Clause, as ‘amended, agreed to.
Clauses 30 to 37 agreed to.
Clause 38 (Coal Industry Tribunal).
.- This is the clause which provides for the establishment. of a coal industry tribunal, and of local industrial tribunals. Therefore, it is one of the most important parts of the bill. In this measure, I observe some significant departures from the regulations previously in force. Mr. Justice Davidson examined this aspect of the industry very carefully, and I refer honorable members to pages 28 to 31 of the summary pf his report. Mr. Justice Davidson discussed the operation of the tribunals themselves, and then dealt with the failure of. governments, particularly of this Government, to support the decisions of the tribunal. The clause provides for the establishment of a coal industry tribunal, which is to consist of a person who is, or has been, a practising barrister or solicitor of the Supreme Court of the State for a period of not less than five years. That is significant, because the Commonwealth Government has recognized, apparently, that it made a grave error when it allowed the chairmanship of the coal tribunal to get out of the hands of persons legally qualified. These tribunals’ were appointed by regulation in February, 1941. At that time, the Government of which I was a member subscribed to three principles which it proposed to ‘apply in the settlement -of industrial disputes. The first was that there should be available an expert, competent and impartial body to deal with disputes as they arose; the second was that there should be no interference by the Government with decisions given; and the .third, was that the Government would back up with its full authority the decisions of tribunals once they were given. In accordance with those principles we created the central reference board and the local reference boards. There was some criticism at that time of our action in establishing separate tribunals for the coal industry, and I believe that there was substance in that criticism. We have tended to’ over-emphasize the separateness of the coal industry, and to isolate it from the rest of the community. That is partly due to the prominence which the industry has assumed in political discussion, and to the importance of maintaining the production of coal. Whatever the rights or wrongs may have been, we did respond to the request that there should be available in the various districts tribunals which could deal promptly and impartially with disputes that might arise on the spot, and which might not be conveniently brought before the Arbitration Court. At the same time, we were aware of the danger- of departing from the principle of control by the court. We. knew, also, that determinations in the coal industry might affect other industries where similar conditions prevailed. Therefore, we were careful to retain as chairman of the coal reference board a judge of the Arbitration Court. We then placed in control of the local reference boards men with some practical experience in the industry. Two were actually officers or former officers of the miners’ federation, and another, Mr. Connell, was at the time a foreman, or supervisor in one of the mines, and, accordingly, a man of practical experience. Mr. Justice Davidson criticized the appointment of persons directly connected with the industry. I do not agree with that criticism. I incline to the view expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that direct knowledge of and participation in a particular industry should not automatically disqualify a man, or render him incapable of performing a quasi judicial function in the post to which he- is appointed. The Prime Minister mentioned Judge Drake-Brockman, who carried out his functions successfully and inspired confidence in those .who came’ under his official jurisdiction. That tribute to the work of Judge Drake-Brockman was confirmed by the coal-miners themselves when they stipulated that he should preside over the Central Reference Board. We had v the machinery established - the link with the Arbitration Court through the chairmanship of the judge, the’ direct experience of the men forming the district reference board, and the ready access of miner and owner to the local board. In the scheme which we laid down we were careful to ensure that the operations of the local boards should be confined to local and domestic matters. We provided that where a matter was deemed to extend beyond the particular area, a decision on which might have had repercussions in other areas or on other1 industries, the matter should be dealt with by the Central Reference Board. I mention those facts because the Labour Government which succeeded us departed from the principles that we established in a way which, I believe, caused many of the subsequent difficulties in the industry. The power of the Central Reference Board was restricted, and the scope of the local boards was extended. The regulations which we drafted were put into operation in February, 1941. In December, 1941, the Curtin Government, by an amendment of the regulations, introduced for the first time the practice of the Minister intervening in these industrial matters. We know what subsequent havoc was caused by that practice. Those who . were parties to a dispute, on finding they, could not get the decision that they wanted from the local tribunal or the Central Reference Board, went to the Minister in the hope of getting it from him. Later, in 1943., there was a more serious development which so weakened the authority of the Coal Tribunal thatthe Government has had to revert to the arrangement set out in this clause. The chairmanship of the Central Reference Board was taken out of the hands of the Arbitration Court judge and placed in the hands of an authority who had no professional training or experience. The subsequent history of the central coal authority made inevitable the reversion to the chairmanship ‘ of a more qualified man, .as is proposed in this clause. 1 mention these facts because Mr. Justice Davidson has been critical of the way in which these boards have operated. I believe- they were never given a fair test
On the principles which we laid down in the original regulation. The’ first step in the ‘ weakening of the boards by the introduction of the Minister into the scheme, and later the disastrous step of taking the chairmanship out of the hands of a qualified judicial authority, considerably weakened the operation of the boards. Mr. Justice Davidson commented that a dangerous drift from the principles of compulsory industrial conciliation and arbitration which the Australian people have supported for many years, developed during the war towards a departure from the basic requirement of disinterested, independent and highly qualified referees, and limiting the right of appeal from minor tribunals. In our regulations we gave the right of appeal from minor tribunals, but the Labour Government eliminated that right of appeal and a great deal of confusion developed as the result. Mr. Justice Davidson then pointed out that the ministerial duties performed by tribunals in making and interpreting awards are more important and farreaching than the purely judicial duties of imposing and enforcing penalties under the acts, in view of the heavy bur- ‘ dens, financial and otherwise, such awards and interpretations may cast upon the industry and upon consumers. He advanced the case in favour of having a judicial authority able to supervise the conduct of these boards and to give the kind of determinations one would expect from a judicial officer on matters that came before him. He pin-pointed what we believe to be the most serious weakness of all when he said -
The principal defect in the Arbitration system lies not within itself but in the failure of the Governments to support the decisions of the Tribunals and to enforce the penalties against strikes and lock-outs.
Later he elaborated that statement and I regard his words as of such importance as to justify their inclusion in Hansard. He said -
Reliance upon the sanctity of agreements and upon the efficacy of the law can only exist when it is beyond doubt that the law will be allowed to take an unimpeded course to safeguard the rights of all parties. Reasons have been stated at length in earlier chapters of this Report to support the conclusion that a long-term agreement between associations of colliery proprietors and the unions would be a futility with the present industrial relationship on the coal-fields and it has been made equally clear the flouting of awards .and orders of -legal tribunals is an every day occurrence with strikes and stoppages of production as a concomitant. This state of affairs can never be rectified whilst unions can rush to Federal and State Ministers with every grievance of disappointed litigants. Confidence would be quickly restored if the Government would decisively affirm, without qualification, and support unreservedly the rulings of their Courts.
I believe that sums up without any further argument on my part the principles which should be adopted in this matter. It concerns the policy which we as a Government applied. In no instance did we override the decisions of . the tribunals. “We established them and backed them up with” all the authority we could, and supported their decisions. I believe that- if the present Government reverts to the practice of having a qualified judicial officer in control it will do much to eliminate the present defects.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable gentleman has risen I shall take my second period now. “Whilst I commend the return to the practice of having a judge as chairman of the central authority I regret that the Government has not taken the logical further step of making the appointee a judge of the Arbitration Court. It is important to have uniformity in questions, of industrial principle. Those who have experience of industrial disputes know there is no more potent cause of friction than the feeling in ‘ one industry that some other industry had been granted a concession which should have equal application to both. That is why it becomes imperative that there should be liaison between different members of the Arbitration Court, so that in dealing with matters that come before them individually they may ensure that the greatest uniformity is maintained through all sections of industry. I believe it is a mistake to dissociate a judge who is to preside over the central authority from the Arbitration Court itself. Here again we isolate the miner and the mine-owner,, and we engender in their . minds a belief that they are working in an industry which is apart from the industrial life of the Commonwealth. We accentuate the tendency to which Mr. Justice Davidson has referred as a neurotic complex on the coal-fields, a feeling that coal-miners are a tribe apart from the rest of the community. I hope that the Government will carry the reverse process one stage further, and insist that the judge who is appointed as chairman of the central coal authority shall also be a member of the Arbitration Court.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 39 to 41 agreed to.
Clause 42- (5.) The Tribunal shall not exercise, with respect to any matter which it determines is a local matter, any of the powers specified in this section, unless the dispute or -matter is likely, in the view of the Tribunal, to lead to industrial unrest in other localities, but is to refer that local matter to the appropriate Local Coal Authority for settlement.
.- I move -
That sub-clause (5.) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following subclause: - “ (5.) The Tribunal may, if it thinks fit, exercise any of the powers specified in this section notwithstanding that the matter is one which it determines is a local matter.”
Clause 42 deals with the power of the coal tribunal to which I have just referred, but a limitation is placed upon the power of the central coal authority. If we establish a central tribunal over which a judge will preside, a limitation should not be placed upon the capacity of the tribunal to deal with any matter, even a local matter. In the main, it will permit local matters to be dealt with by the local board, but, occasionally, a matter might arise which, although ‘ it appears to be local, contains such an important question of principle that the central board decides to deal with it. The amendment will remove the limitation on the capacity of the central authority, strengthen it, and avoid the danger of the determinations to which I have referred spreading to other industries. I am convinced that it will give a better result.
– The Government does not propose to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). It appears to me that what ‘ he, wants . done is amply covered in the sub-clause as it stands. If it is a matter which in the opinion of the tribunal should be dealt with on other than a local basis, all that the tribunal has to do is to determine that it is not a local matter. Then it can exercise jurisdiction in the dispute. -So I see no necessity for the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 43 agreed to.
Clause 44 - (1.) Any award or order made by the Tribunal in respect of a matter which is within the jurisdiction of the Court shall be binding on the parties, shall be filed in the Court and shall thereupon have effect in all respects a.nd be enforceable as if it were an award or order of the Court. (2.) Where, at -the hearing before the Tribunal, an agreement as to the whole or part of any industrial dispute is made in writing between the parties thereto, and the dispute is one which is within the jurisdiction of the Court,’ the agreement shall be filed in the Court and shall thereupon have effect in all respects and be binding on the parties and enforceable as if it were an award of the Court.
.- I address myself to clause 44 because the Government has not seen fit to adopt my earlier suggestion that the chairman of the Coal Industry Tribunal should be. a judge of the Arbitration Court. Therefore,’ because I believe it is so important that there should be central control over the industry by the Arbitration Court, I propose an amendment that will have the effect of giving an appeal from decision of the tribunal to the Arbitration Court. I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (3.) An appeal’ shall lie to the court in manner prescribed from any award or order made by the tribunal “.
The amendment is quite clear. If the Government will not have a judge of the Arbitration Court as chairman, there should be the right of appeal from that tribunal on questions of principle to the Arbitration Court. It does not necessarily follow that an appeal would be automatic. The tribunal itself could determine whether it would grant leave to appeal. I assume it would not grant such leave unless it considered that the matter raised such issues as the Arbitration Court should deal with.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment. It is obvious that if it did so it would cut right across its conception of how disputes in the coal industry should be handled.
– Why can the Minister not accept the amendment? After all, Mr. Justice Davidson strongly recommended the preservation of the arbitration system. The Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) has never told us whether the legislation to be introduced in the Parliament of New South Wales will be similar to this. I assume that if it is similar a provision for the creation of this trbunal will be contained in that legislation. If the State bill is amended in a manner similar to that proposed by the honorable member for Fawkner, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will be in an awkward spot. It seems to me only reasonable to carry out the recommendations of Mr. Justice Davidson, particularly as the Government always claims to be in favour of arbitration.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 45 agreed to.
Clause 46 - (4.) At any time before a decision has been made, or a settlement has been effected, by a Local Coal Authority in relation to any matter before it in pursuance of paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of this section, the Local Coal Authority is to have power, if it thinks fit to refer, and, if so requested by the Board or the Tribunal, is to refer, to the Tribunal the question whether any of the matters in dispute is or is not a local matter or is or is not a matter appropriate to be dealt with under this Part.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (4.), after the word “Tribunal”, first occurring, the following words be inserted: - “or any party to a matter before it”.
Under the clause the local authority may itself refer to the central tribunal for decision the question of whether a matter should be dealt with by the central tribunal. It can also do it if requested by the board or tribunal, and I propose that any party to a matter may also ask for such a reference to the central tribunal. It does hot follow that the central tribunal would necessarily deal with it, but it would be cognisant of it. The Minister may reply that the tribunal has the right to do this, but in many cases these matters are dealt with by the. local authority and the central authority is unaware of them.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The working of the tribunal would be clogged with matters referred to it by parties to disputes which were being considered by the local coal authorities, and 1 think that the. provision of the bill whereby the tribunal itself can decide to intervene in a matter makes the amendment unnecessary.
.- I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (6.) An appeal shall lie to the Tribunal in manner prescribed from any award or order made by a Local Coal Authority “.
The right of appeal was in the original regulations. There has been dissatisfaction by both parties to these disputes that no appeal lies from a decision of the local authority. Frequently, matters dealt with by the local tribunal raise questions of principle which the central authority ought to decide. There have been many cases in which dissatisfaction with the decision of the local tribunal has led to strikes, because those dissatisfied could not take that matter on appeal to the central authority. There have been some remarkable somersaults bythe local tribunals. They have given decisions and strikes have occurred. Then two or three days later they have reversed their decisions because of the pressure applied by the strike weapon. That has led to more strikes. I think better work would result if there were the right of appeal from local tribunals to the central tribunal. The central tribunal would not necessarily grant leave to appeal, but it would hear the claim for the right to state an appeal and decide whether the appeal was justified. In that way there would be protection against frivolous or vexatious appeals.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment. We gave this matter full consideration and came to the conclusion that it would be best to leave it as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 47 to 54 agreed to.
Clause 55 -
On the hearing, determination or decision of any dispute, industrial dispute, or matter by the Tribunal or a Local Coal Authority under this Act an organization may be represented by a member or officer of the organization, and. any party not being an organization may be represented by an employee of that party, but no party shall (except by leave of the person who is hearing, determining or deciding the dispute, industrial dispute or matter and consent of all parties) be represented by counsel or solicitor or paid agent.
.- I move -
That the following words be left out:- “ and consent of all parties “.
If the amendment be made it would still leave in the hands of the tribunal or local authority determination of whether or not the matter warranted representation of the parties by counsel, solicitor or paid agent. It is utterly unreasonable that in cases of great complexity or which raise involved legal issues, if the tribunal itself decides that legal representation should be permitted, one party should be in the position to deny the advice and assistance which the tribunal would get from such representation.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The clause follows a formula which is not uncommon in regard to tribunals of this kind. One of the complaints about these tribunals is that the proceedings are unduly prolonged when it is possible for the parties to be represented by counsel, solicitors or paid agents. It is to avoid the protraction of proceedings that the Government intends to prevent such persons from appearing before the tribunal.
Wednesday, 7 August 1946
Clauses 56 to 64 agreed to.
New clause 11a.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That, after clause 11, the following new clause be inserted : - “11a.- (1.) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other section of this Act. where, in pursuance of Part IV. of the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944, the Commissioner has issued an order authorizing any person (in this section referred to as ‘the authorized controller’) to exercise functions of control in respect of a coal mine in the State and that order is subsisting immediately prior to the date of the coming into operation, of this section, then, upon that date -
the order shall have effect as an order of the Board;
the authorized controller shall hold office subject to removal by the Boa rd :
any power, function, right, privilege, obligation or liability of the Commissioner arising from the order shall be transferred to the Board;
any power or function of the authorized controller shall be had or exercisable by him subject to the directions of the Board in pursuance of the State Act: and
any persons who are employed in or about the mine to which the order relates and who, in pursuance of that, Part have become officers or employees of the Commissioner, shall become officers or employees of the Board. “ (2.) Nothing in this section shall affect any liability of the Commonwealth arising under section twenty-two of the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944, in respect of anything done or suffered, prior to the date of the coming into operation of this section, under any order of the Commissioner under Part IV. of that Act.”
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Nationality - Reportof Committee appointed to consider the practical and legal difficulties involved in the possession, by husband and wife, of different Nationalities.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1946 -
No. 20 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 21 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 22 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department ofWorks and Housing W. E. Potts.
Financial Assistance to States - Reports by the Commonwealth Grants Commission upon the applications submitted for additional Government assistance in 1945-46 under the States Grants (Income Tax Reimbursement) Act 1942 from the Governments of the States of -
Life Insurance Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 101.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders - Rubber (Relaxations) (Nos. 5,6).
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - Liquid fuel (Restriction on sale of motor spirit in containers) - Revocation.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Rules - Trial of prisoners of war.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Orders - Deferment of banking business (2).
Regulations-Statutory Rules 1946, No. 128.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Act - Regulations Statutory Rules 1946, No. 103.
House adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Forty-hour Week : Commonwealth Representation before Arbitration Court.
Unemployed Youths : Vocational Training
What steps are being taken to deal with the vocational training of unemployed youths?
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation : Lidcombe Factory
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Dairying Industry: Subsidies.
asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Northern Territory : Soya Bw Production.
asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
In view of the varied uses of .the soya bean, and its food value as discovered by soldiers in Malaya, will he arrange for Mr. Shand to investigate, on behalf of the. Northern Australia Development Committee, the possibility of extensively growing crops in the Katherine River Valley, Northern Territory, and- on other northern rivers of Queensland and Western Australia ?
– Following the recent transfer to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of the Army farm at Katherine, the council is starting experimental work there, concentrating on testing new crops and forage plants, including soybeans. Soybeans have not proved very successful in most other tropical countries, and it would be unwise, in the view of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, to recommend extensive cultivation in the territory until their value has been proved by careful experiments. It is considered that the sending of an officer to the region would be more appropriate when the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research experimental plots are sown and have reached the stage where some value may be obtained from the visit.
Egg Control Fund.
asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Taxation : Administration.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr.- Chifley. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Commonwealth Bank: ‘ Mortgage Bank Department.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
As at the 30th June, 1946 (a) How many applications for loans had been made in each State tinder the Mortgage Bank provisions of the Commonwealth Bank Act; (6) how many had been (i) approved, (ii) rejected and (iii) undecided; and (.c) what amounts were involved in each case under (a) and (6).
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follows’ : - (a), (6) and (c). Statistics in respect of the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank from its inception (27th September, 1943) to 30th June, 1946, are as follows: -
Public Service : Staff Reductions.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to .the honorable member’s questions are ae follows : - 1 and 2. The Government has not considered any “ drastic retrenchment “ of temporary employees. It is a fact, however, that by reason of the curtailment of a number of war-time activities, the work of some Commonwealth departments has diminished and in consequence the employment of some temporary employees will cease as the need for their services disappears.
CivilAviation : North- Westair Lines Limited and Butler Air Transport Proprietary Limited.
askedthe Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I am not aware of any sufficient reason why the departmental files dealing with the affairs of these two companies shouldbe made available for inspection,but if the honorable memberwill indicate any specific information that he desires, I shall see whether it can be made available to him. road Construction.
– On the 31st July, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked (a) whether the Government knew to what purpose the subsidy paid to the States during the war under theFederal Aid Roads and Works Agreement was applied, and (b) whether the Government, in formulating its new agreement with the States, would make a condition that federal aid should be provided only for actual works.
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Works Agreement the Commonwealth grants to the States tho equivalent of 3d. per gallon of customs duties on imported petrol and 2d. per gallon of excise duties on locally refined products. This money is to be spent on the construction, reconstruction, maintenance or repair of roads, except for the equivalent of½d. each of customs and excise duties which, in addition to the above purposes, may be used on other works connected with transport as the States think fit. The details of actual expenditure from these funds are not known to the Commonwealth Government. (b)The honorable member’s suggestion will be borne in mind when renewal of the agreementis being considered.
– On the 31st July, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked a question concerning the continuation of import licensing and licences for the importation of control cable for civil aircraft.
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following information: -
It is not practicable to estimate any termination date for the import licensing controls by which imports from both sterling and non-sterling countries are kept within the limits of the foreign exchange available for current expenditure. It is the Government’s policy, however, to remove the controls as soon as the balance of payments position will permit. In the meantime, progressive relaxations have been and will continue to be made whenever possible. At present over 60 per cent. of the normal imports from the sterling area are not subject to any licensing control. There have been norepresentations to either the Minister or the Department of Trade and Customs that control cable for civil aircraft is in short supply, and no licences to import aircraft cable have been refused. On the contrary, licences for 79,300 feet have been granted in the last eighteen months. A reduction of 1,700 feet was, however, made in the quantity covered by one licence as the Department of Civil Aviation could supply immediately an equivalent quantity in the particular specifications required.
– On the 31st July, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked a question concerning the allocation of newsprint. The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following information. -
Owing to difficulties which have arisen during the past few months in procuring newsprint overseas in the quantity which has been approved for importation during 1948, the Minister is not satisfied with the supply position in Australia at the present time. He would confirm, however, that, with the lifting of certain controls- carr/ in the year, governmental administration- and supervision in the particular fieldi) affected ceased to operate. It should perhaps be mads clear to the honorable member that the import quotas for - (a) newsprint for the production of daily, Sunday arid weekly newspapers,’ and those for lt) newsprint for books, periodicals, job and general printing and (or the manufacturing of stationery, are kept separate, and importation is effected through different channels. The use of newsprint for the production of newspapers is still subject to the- provisions of the National Security (Metal Foil and Paper) Regulations and those provisions are being enforced. They do not, however, go so far as to lay down a policy as to the matter which a newspaper proprietor shall or shall not publish with the newsprint available to him under hie quota allocation for the production of his newspaper. Because ‘ of the world shortage of newsprint the supply position in the quota for the production of newspapers is difficult and it is necessary to continue rationing’ of its use for such purposes. As the honorable member has previously been advised, the control which, formerly applied under the regulations to the use of paper in the production of books, periodicals and stationery and for ‘job and general printing, was removed as from 1st March, 1340, and the indications arc that the quota of newsprint for these purposes is sufficient for requirements. Furthermore, following’ the cessation of1 hostilities, printing paper of a quality better than newsprint is becoming available for the production of books and periodicals. Some merchants holding stocks of newsprint in the quota for the production of books and periodicals claim to be. overstocked and have been pressing for permission to export some of their stocks. This development has been countered’ by the imposition of an export prohibition.
– On the 1st August, the honorable’ member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked a question concerning the importation of tinned, plate from . the United States of America.
The Minister foi- Trade and Customs has supplied the following-information : -
No import licences have been issued for the importation of tinned plate from the UnitedStates of -America. The only tinned plate being procured from this source is- under Government Cash Purchase and- is being distributed in Australia under the control of. tha Tinned Plate Board. Furthermore, no import licences for tinned pluto from any sources have been issued except those approved and sponsored by the board:
– Speaking on the motion, for the adjournment of the House on the 30th July, the honorable member for
Flinders (Mr. Ryan) made representations concerning the use of tinned plate by Gartside- Brothers.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
Because of tho acute position in relation to the supply of tinned plate it has been necessary to reintroduce the control over its end use with the object of ensuring that tinned plate is used in the most economical manner and not for the canning of any goods for which alternative containers, not using tinned plate,, could be secured;
The restrictions arc similar to those which operated during the war and they provide for the elimination of the smaller type of containers in certain instances- where ‘these represent a wasteful use of tinned plate.
In the case of Gartside Brothers at Dingley, however, when it became apparent that this firm’ would have difficulty in changing over immediately, steps were taken to arrange for the company to continue in hill production until- such time as the change-over could bc effected, thus ensuring that no dislocation of the activities of the company would he caused:
– On the 30th July, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy) asked a question concerning statements by Mi-.’ S. A. Mortimer, secretary of the Royal Automobile Club, Western Australia, relating to petrol prices. The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
No information is available concerning New Zealand costs and prices, but it can be said that Mr. Mortimer’s detailed figures regarding the make-up of the Australian wholesale price are incorrect. The only payments to Consolidated Revenue- from petrol are collection* resulting from duties imposed by Parliament. There is no truth in -the suggestion that an amount of £2,000,000 OT any other sum is being collected on petrol by an irregular inflation of the wholesale price. If the honorable member can furnish me with a copy of Mr. Mortimer’!: full statement, consideration’ will be given to hia suggestion that the matter be brought under the notice of the president of the Royal Automobile- Club, Western Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 August 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460806_reps_17_188/>.