17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
Conditions on “ Dominion Monarch “ - Compassionate Air Passage.
-Last Friday, I handed to the Minister for Repatriation a telegram that I had received from Adelaide in regard to the conditions on’ the bride ship Dominion Monarch. Has the Minister received a reply from the captain of the ship, in response to the inquiry that I asked him to make?
– The honorable member handed to me a telegram that he had received from the husband of a bride on Dominion Monarch, which was carrying 143 wives, 107 children and ten widows, a total of 260, and was then, I understood, about to enter the Red Sea. Because of concern in regard to the accom- modation on the vessel, I sent a message to the captain, and received this reply -
Accommodation fitted in this ship for Australianexservicemen’s dependants was speciallyconstructed for them by sea transport and approved by the Australian Government representatives in London. Some wives dc not approve being berthed in eight or ten-berth dormitories.There are no complaints regarding food and general amenities.
Occupation Force in Japan: Supply of Soap; AmenitiesDemobilization - University Studies - Illness of Relatives: Transport.
– A friend of mine has received from his son who is with the Australian Occupation Forces in Japan a letter from which the following is an extract -
I am going to ask you to do me another favour. The canteen supplies here are terrific as far as the Army is concerned. Our ration is half a cake a fortnight, so I am going to ask you to get gome for me and forward it on, as it is impossible to make half a cake do one for a fortnight. From what I can see of this Australian contingent, the bulk of the canteen supplies from Australia go to the “ Pomms “. One instance : 32 cases of canteen goods arrived here on the RiverMitta about a fortnight ago, and the Indians copped the whole issue.
-Order ! Can the honorable member not condense that? Mr. BRYSON. - The letter endsSo now you can sec why I am asking for the soap.
Will the Minister for the Army invests gate the position and arrange for Australian . troops in Japan to be supplied with adequate supplies of soap?
– The CommanderinChief of British Commonwealth Occupation Forces has complete authority andpower to deal with all such matters on the spot. I shall communicate with him to ensure adequate supplies of soap.
– Numbers of young men still in the armed forces who have matriculated are desirous of taking up a course of study at a university. As some time has elapsed since the termination of the war I ask the Minister for the Army whether he is in the position to indicate that all. such matriculated persons still in the services who desire to take up courses of study will be released by early in 1947 in order to do so ?
-This subject received a great deal of consideration from my colleague the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction when the demobilization scheme was being evolved. The honorable gentle- man sought the advice of the Universities Commission, and’ that body, in turn, conferred with the Australian universities. Because of lack of accommodation and other factors the university authorities intimated that all they would request for the time being was that persons who had successfully completed one year of study in an Australian university should be granted accelerated discharge. To give accelerated discharge to tens of thousands of matriculated persons would have been impracticable at that time, on the best advice available to the Government. The subject was subsequently considered by Cabinet which decided that, accelerated discharges could not be given to all who wished to. begin a course at a university, any more than it could be given to all other persons who wish to learn a trade, such as plumbing or carpentering, because every accelerated discharge that was given involved calling upon another person to serve longer than he would otherwise have been required to serve. However, the Leader of the Opposition has now asked whether something can be done ‘ to ensure that persons still in the services who wish to. begin university courses next year may receive accelerated discharges. I give an assurance to the righthonorable gentleman that the most sympathetic consideration will be givento his suggestion. The Government is desirous that those whose studies were interrupted by war service shall be allowed to enter upon university coursesor apprenticeships of various kinds without unnecessary delay.
– Many persons, qualified for discharge, are not being released because they are regarded as key personnel.
Mr.. FORDE__ I gave the honorable member an assurance yesterday that the procedure in regard to the release of key personnel was . being completely overhauled by a special committee appointed for the purpose. The Government is anxious that demobilization shall be completed at the earliest possible date, but taking an overall view of the picture, a splendid job has already been done.
-I have received a letter from the broken-hearted, mother of a member of the Royal Australian Air
Force who is a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. She desires that members of that force shall be granted leave, because many of them are suffering a nervous breakdown. She says that she has received a letter from her son; who had “ never written in that strain before “. This is a portion of the son’s letter -
I don’t know what is the real cause of it, but most of the jokers here have the hills closing’ in on them, as we put it, but you go around feeling as though you are in a cage from which you can never escape.
Sis letter went, on to say that there are no cafes at which food can be obtained; that food is scarce; and the men have to exist on tinned meat. The worst feature is that which I am now about to relate. This woman said in her letter that recently a neighbour’ had informed her that both she and her mother had wept when they had received advice from their brother and son respectively that one of his colleagues, a member of the Australian Imperial Force in the occupation force in Japan, had committed suicide by throwing himself under a train, so as to escape from the conditions under which. he had been living. Can the Minister for Air obtain some amenities for Australian members of the occupation force in Japan ? ‘ Will he consider the granting of leave, in order that these men may escape for a time from the conditions in which they are placed to-day?
– I can hardly be expected to have absorbed all t.he details of the letter from a heart-broken mother which the honorable member has read to the House. I promise to have inquiries made. I find it very difficult to understand why anybody should feel so aggrieved as to weep about persons who volunteered to serve in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.
– Because of their having been neglected.
– All that I can say is that complaints have not previously come to -me. Had the honorable member, instead of ventilating the matter in this House, brought this complaint to m’ notice, I would have been most willing to have it” investigated. Even in Australia persons commit suicide without waiting for <£ the hills to close in on them “. I am not at all unsympathetic ‘in regard ‘to the conditions of the men who are serving in Japan. The Government has endeavoured to provide the best, possible conditions for them. So far as I know, this is the first complaint that has been made about unfair treatment of members of the Royal Australian Air Force. I regret that the honorable member has raised the matter in. this House.
– Reports have appeared in the press in regard to the inadequacy of the amenities provided for the occupation force in Japan, and I have also received, letters on the subject. The . health and morale of men must inevitably deteriorate when so many of. them are stationed in an eastern country with not much to do. I ask the Minister for the Army whether suitable hospitals have been hired, camps provided, and leave arrangements made for these troops? What is the strength of the personnel engaged in providing amenities for them? How are those personnel employed? Has the amenities branch in Melbourne had staff and equipment ready for some time for embarkation for Japan? What is the reason for the delay in embarking these personnel? When will they leave Australia?
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia - Minister for the Army). - by leave - This matter has been raised by several honorable members, and this morning I read in the press a further statement on the subject in an article by Mr. Massey Stanley. That statement is incorrect, and I have- no doubt whatever that Lieutenant-General Robertson did not make certain statements which have been attributed to him. Massey Stanley, in the article appearing in the Daily Telegraph, is reported to have” stated that ‘ Lieutenant-General Robertson would ask General MacArthur whether the American forces can temporarily extend the amenities the Australian Government has denied. The Australian Government has not denied amenities to the Australian troops, and as I have already indicated, , it is the policy of the Government to provide amenities and leave facilities for our Australian . troops in Japan to the greatest extent practicable.
Lieutenant-General Robertson, in a recent message to Army and defence headquarters, had stated that he had come to the conclusion -that the only way to provide for British Commonwealth Occupation Force troops in time to enable them to have relief during hot summer and autumn months, was to request the appropriate American authorities to hand over a percentage of United States operated centres for operation by the British Commonwealth Occupation Force on a sterling’ basis. Lieutenant-General Robertson had stated that he proposed taking such action. He was clothed with the necessary power to act in the best interest of the troops.
The. Australian troops number 12,600 out of a- total of 37,300 of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and it is pointed out that a small advance party of Australian troops arrived in February this year, and other troops followed in April, May and June. On the last occasion, when this question was raised, I intimated that Lieutenant-General Robertson had been asked to furnish his recommendations as to any additional amenities or facilities that, in his opinion, should be made available. On the 31st July, a signal was received by the Joint Chiefs of Staffs in Australia from LieutenantGeneral Robertson stating that the fundamental problem in regard to amenities “was to provide civilized surroundings for the occupation troops. It will be appreciated that his responsibilities relate to all troops of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and not merely the Australian troops.
The signal continued that- the area occupied by these troops did not include any Japanese city where men could find anything approaching western facilities, and he considered the solution of the problem could be found in (a) providing adequate clubs, cinemas, libraries and education facilities in garrison centres; and (b) providing leave centres at attractive resorts outside British Commonwealth Occupation Force areas. He advised that he was submitting detailed recommendations for the provision of adequate clubs, cinemas, library and education facilities, . but these detailed recommendations are still awaited, and will receive urgent attention as soon as they come to hand. In the meantime, the Australian Amenities Service have provided goods to the value of £160,000 for Australian troops, and, in addition- to equipment already forwarded, 200 tons of equipment was now in course of transit to Japan. In addition, the Australian Comforts Fund provided £45,000 for the establishment and conduct of leave centres for Australian troops. Four cafeterias and non-residential club3 for other ranks had already been selected, and the plant and equipment for these was already in Japan. In addition, buildings have been selected at Kyoto and Kobe for the establishment of holiday leave hostels. These will provide accommodation for 250 persons who may spend their leave there free of cost, on a basis similar to that provided for American troops. Another- centre which will provide accommodation for 500 personnel is being, established on Kyushu Island. Two canteen cars are being prepared for attachment to British Commonwealth . Occupation Force troop trains. These are of a buffet type and similar to those already provided by the American Red “Cross for American leave trains. The suggestion in the Daily Telegraph article’ that Lieutenant-General Robertson is turning to the United States authorities for the provision of amenities is most misleading. Lieutenant-General Robertson has already advised that the United States authorities, who have been longer in the field and have established facilities, recognized the needs of the British Commonwealth Occupation’ Force, and discussions have been proceeding for thcallotment from their resources of accommodation for our troops on leave in areas under the United States Army control. This involves the expenditure of dollars to cover the free accommodation for our leave parties in such areas and hostels, and such expenditure has been authorized by the Government and communicated to Lieutenant - General Robertson.
As already indicated, the Government is doing everything possible to ensure adequate recreational’ facilities ‘ andamenities for our troops in Japan. The problems that have to be surmounted in Japan in providing these facilities are for Lieutenant-General Robertson himself to overcome, and the Government has given him full authority to act in this direction. To the degree that assistance can be rendered from Australia, provision of equipment and supplies has been forwarded in accordance with Lieutenant-General Robertson’s requirements.
The joint Chiefs of Staffs in Australia are aware of the desire of the Australian Government, and also of the other governments participating in the British Commonwealth OccupationForce, that full amenities shall be provided for the troops of that force in Japan. Their representatives have recently visited Japan and returned to Australia, and fully realize that the normal scale of provision of amenities has proved inadequate because of the devastation of the countryside and the lack of entertainment facilities available in the area occupied by those troops. They know of the practical difficulties that have to be surmounted and are doing everything possible on behalf of all the participating governments to meet requirements. They have the full authority of the Australian Government, as well as of their own governments to take what action is necessary. The difficultiesto be surmounted are physical and not financial, and everything possible is being done to overcome them. On reading the newspapers, particularly the statements such as those attributed to Mr. J. W. Bavin, president of the Air Force Association, that the story relating to amenities was amost deplorable reflection on the Australian Government and its inefficient administration “, it is evident that frantic efforts are being made by biased and jaundiced political influences to exploit these complaints for party political purposes and to influence the soldiers’ vote.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation in a position to reply to the question which I directed to him on the 26th July last regarding an ex-serviceman named Stevens who used the whole of his deferred pay to provide his fare to England by air so that he could see his dying wife? I learn that her condition has since improved. The amount of the fare was£325. Mr. Stevens’s workmates contributed £20, and his employers will pay him half his wages during his absence. Will the Minister inform me whether the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act provides for the granting of assistance in cases of this kind, so that Stevens’s deferred pay may remain his inviolate right? If not, will the honorable gentleman consider calling together the useful repatriation committees in city areas for the purpose of raising funds to provide for this kind of emergency?
– When the honorable member asked this question a few days ago, I instructed my department to ascertain whether the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act empowered us to assist this man. The report on the matter arrived this morning, and I shall hand it to the honorable member later. I do not believe that the act empowers us to refund his fare. As the honorable member suggested, the act may require amendment to meet such cases, and Ishall examine the matter.
– Some time ago I asked a question in regard to the need for collecting a levy of2s. a bale on wool, under the provisions of the Wool Use Promotion Act 1945. The Government has stated its intention to put into the fund amounts approximating£7,000,000, comprising £2,500,000 derived from handling sheepskins and £2,500,000 from he export of processed wool in the form of tops, noils and waste, under order of the British Government, and an adjustment of price with textile manufacturers on cloth exported from Australia, representing approximately £2,000,000. All these amounts were received by the Central Wool Committee, and frozen by the Treasury. Will the Minister consider now cancelling that section of the 1945 act dealing with the levy on wool-growers of 2s. a bale? Can the Minister tell the House what is the contributory charge paid by growers in New Zealand and South Africa for the joint ownership scheme in those countries?
– Some of the questions asked by the honorable member are a little involved, but it appears that he wants to know whether the contributory levy of 2s. a bale paid to the Australian Wool Board by the growers for publicity and research purposes is to be dispensed with, and whether the Commonwealth subsidy of 2s. a bale is to be paid in the future. The Commonwealth contribution of 2s. a bale will continue and the levy on producers of 2s. a bale will be suspended and the required amount paid to the fund from the 5 per cent. contributory charge now imposed on wool. I might mention that in New Zealand and South Africa the contributory levy paid by growers is1½ per cent.
The Senate : Clerk of Papers
– Has an appointment been made to the position of clerk of papers and accountant in the Senate, as advertised in Gazette No. 91 of 1946? If so, was the position given to a returned soldier? If not,what reason can be given for so serious a departure from the provisions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act and the avowed policy of the Government?
– Appointments to the staff of the Parliament are made either by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the President of the Senate. As the person mentioned by the honorable member is an officer of the Senate, the question should properly be addressed to the President of the Senate.
– Is the Minister for Air yet able to give any details about the proposal for the reconstruction of the Mascot aerodrome, including the date when the job is expected to be finished. Can he give an estimate of the cost, and is it proposed to establish a flying-boat base in conjunction with the aerodrome? How many menwill be employed on the undertaking?
– A statement is being prepared for publication, which will contain all this information. It is estimated that between £5,000,000 and. £6,000,000 will be expended on the first part of the project. The area of the airport will be enlarged, and will include a flying-boat base which will probably be the most suitable baseof its kind near, any Australian capital city. It will be the international airport for Australia. About 10,000 persons will be eventually employed in the area.
Fares - Conditions on Migrant Vessels.
– I have received a letter from a resident in my electorate who recently returned from Great Britain to Australia with his wife and two daughters on Orbita. He complains that the fare of £109 sterling for each passenger was exorbitant, the accommodation on the vessel bad, the food poor, and the conveniences filthy and inadequate and that there was general overcrowding. Is the Minister for Immigration aware of these complaints about conditions on Orbita, and if so, does he believe that conditions of that kind will encourage migrants to come to Australia? In the circumstances does not the honorable gentleman believe that a portion of the passage money should be refunded to the people concerned, and that an officer should be sent from Australia House. London, to inspect such vessels before they sail from the United Kingdom?
– I am aware of the complaints made by some at least of the travellers on Orbita ; they were of such a character that I immediately cabled to the Resident Minister in London, Mr. Beasley, a request that investigations be made as to the conditions under which passengers had to travel and the fare charged, which was claimed to be extortionate. The charge quoted by the honorable member, £109 sterling, is certainly much higher than this Government and the British Government will agree to pay under the free and assisted passage scheme. The Resident Minister in London is doing his best in very difficult circumstances, and I am sure he will make the fullest investigations possible. Officers of my departmentwill inspect Orbita before it leaves Sydney on the return voyage to London. The honorable member will agree ‘that there are many difficulties associated with immigration for which neither the shipping companies nor the Australian or British Governments can be held responsible.
Delivery of Parcels in the United Kingdom.
– I have received a number of complaints that parcels sent by Australians to their relatives in the United Kingdom are not reaching their destinations. Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General have inquiries made to ascertain the reason why so many parcels are not delivered to the addressees, and will he indicate what steps are being taken to ensure that deliveries are effected in the United Kingdom?
– I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral to examine the complaint made by the honorable member. If there be ground for the complaint I hope it will be found that the Australian postal authorities are not responsible. If it be discovered that the defect lies overseas we shall ask the British postal authorities to do what they can to see that parcels sent from Australia reach their destinations in the United Kingdom in a satisfactory condition and with their contents complete.
Price of Export Lamb
– Will the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture now indicate what will be the export price per lb. for first-grade lamb this export season?
– The price has not yet been determined, but we are aware that it will be considerably in excess of .that obtained in earlier export years. As a matter of fact, the prospects for lambraisers are now better than they have been at any other time in the history of lambraising in Australia.
Retirement of Over-Age Officers
– Is the Prime Minister aware that a circular has been issued to government departments with instructions that the services of retired officials st present employed temporarily shall be dispensed with hy the 31st August? ls he also aware that, owing to the difficulty of accommodating staff in Canberra, a number of experienced retired officials doing valuable work will be discharged without the possibility of their replacement by younger men? Is it a fact that the work of some departments will be seriously affected if these instructions are strictly enforced? If so, will the Prime Minister take steps to alleviate the position, by retaining retired officers in positions where ex-servicemen or younger officers cannot be obtained to carry on the work?
– I am aware that that circular has been issued. The general belief, which, I think, is supported by the organizations associated with the Public Service, is that an opportunity should be given for younger men to fill the higher positions when public servants have reached the retiring age of 65. It is true that it is necessary in some cases, because of special qualifications, to retain men after they have reached the retiring age. I shall discuss the latter part of the honorable gentleman’s question with the Chairman of the Public Service Board, whose advice is sought about these matters, and let the honorable gentleman have a reply.
Strike at Renowned Extended Colliery.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the strike at the Renown Extended colliery, near Lithgow, yesterday was due to the stealing of a man’s pants. If so, does he regard the strike as frivolous? What action is proposed either by the Government or the miners’ federation, to discipline the men concerned?
– I agree that the man would be cold without his pants.; nevertheless^ the strike, if it occurred, would be frivolous. All I know about it is what I read in the press. I shall refer the honorable gentleman’s question to the Minister for Supply and Shipping,, who controls the coal-mining industry.
– During the war the Commonwealth Government subsidized the users of jute goods, notably wheat bags and sacks of various kinds for produce. The sugar-growers’ organizations of New- South Wales and Queeusland inform me that they have asked the Prime
Minister more than once to extend this concession to the sugar industry, but their representations have been rejected. The amount involved is more than £500,000. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited has agreed that any subsidy payment made on account of sugar bags shall be returned to the growers. As the sugargrower did not receive any increase of price during World War II., although costs of all kinds increased, will the Prime Minister inform me why he has denied to this industry the subsidy which is granted to almost every other user of bags? Will the right honorable gentleman reconsider the matter and, if necessary, receive a further deputation on the subject?
– The sugar-growers organizations of New South Wales and Queensland submitted to me a request for the extension of the subsidy to the users of sugar bags. On the first occasion on which the matter was raised, the amount involved was £300,000. Since then, apparently, from the figures mentioned by the honorable member for Richmond, the amount has increased. It is true that a subsidy is paid to wheat-growers and wool-growers in respect of the jute goods that they use. But sugar-growers receive extensive subsidies on the fertilizers that they use. The particular reason why the request for the extension of the subsidy to the users. of jute goods in the sugar industry was rejected, was that the Tariff Board had inquired into the industry and reported that its financial position was very satisfactory. The then Minister for Trade and Customs, Senator Keane, submitted the whole of the facts to Cabinet, which considered, in view of the report, that no justification existed for subsidizing jute goods for the sugar industry. However, the fertilizer subsidy, which is paid to all primary producers, was continued. Recently, I received further representations from the sugargrowers’ organizations, and I promised that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator J. M. Fraser) and I would re-examine the matter. - We determine on behalf of the Government the payment of subsidies in connexion with the stabilization of industries. I shall reexamine this matter in view of the fact that some changes may- have occurred since the Tariff Board submitted its last report.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government has given any consideration to the decentralization of taxation offices. Because of the increased volume of the work in the capital cities a great deal of congestion has occurred. I believe that this would be relieved by decentralization. 1 desire that offices should be established in big cities outside of the capital cities, with authority to receive returns, issue assessments and collect payments.
– This subject has been under consideration for some time. The honorable member ‘for Bass, in particular, has raised it with special reference to Launceston.
– Newcastle has a larger population than the whole of Tasmania.
– I have discussed the matter with the Commissioner of Taxation. As soon as men of a suitable standard and capacity are available, the endeavour will be made to decentralize administration, as far as possible, by establishing branches in large centres other than capital cities.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any assistance was given by am Government department or any permanent or temporary .Government official in the preparation of the propaganda film “ Indonesia Calling “ ? I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs hasviewed this film. Has he made a report to the Government as to whether or not it reflects accurately the attitude of the Government to the matter with which it deals? The film will circulate in Australia, and possibly abroad, and- may be interpreted as an official propaganda film. If the Government believes that it does not, accurately reflect its attitude, what action does it propose with a view to ensuring that those who view it will clearly understand that it is not an official film?”’
– I read a short newspaper article in regard to a film dealing with Indonesia. Neither the Government nor anyof its officers was connected in any way with the preparation of the film. Whether or not it is suitable for public exhibition is a matter which, I imagine, must be decided by the Commonwealth Film Censor. I was unaware that the Minister for Trade and Customs had viewed the film. He has not made any report to me on the matter. I have not given any thought to whether the Government should disclaim responsibility for any films exhibited in picture theatres. Films of all sorts are screened. The fact that the Government has not placed its imprimatur upon a film should certainly be sufficient indication to the public that it is not sponsored by the Government. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Trade, and Customs.
Reconstruction Training Allowance
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction review the allowance that is paid to persons undergoing reconstruction training courses, particularly adult students, with a view to raising the allowance to at least the a moun t of thebasic wage ?
– The allowance paid to students undergoing reconstruction training courses has been the subject of consideration by Cabinet on several occasions. On the last occasion, Cabinet decided that the present rates are adequate to meet the circumstances. However, I shall have another look at the matter.
– by leave - On the 17th January, 1946, the Australian Government declared its intention of placing the Territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system established by the United Nations. Similar declarations were made by the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand concerning their mandated territories in Africa and Western Samoa respectively.
The United Nations Charter provides that the terms of trusteeship for each territory to be placed under the trusteeship system shall be agreed upon by the “ States directly concerned “, including the mandatory power, and approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
In his statement to the House on the 13th March, 1946, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) indicated that the House would be informed of the Government’s proposals for bringing New Guinea within the trusteeship system. Consultation with other States which may be regarded as directly concerned is now taking place, and. as yet there is no definitive text which can be placed before the House.. A draft agreement, however, has been prepared as a basis for our discussions with other governments. I shall read the articles of this agreement to honorable members at the. conclusion of this statement, thus affording an opportunity for expression of views on the principles which the Government will be following in the negotiation of the agreement.
There are two fundamental considerations on which the Government bases its attitude in the negotiation of the trusteeship agreement, namely, the fact that Australia will have complete and exclusive power in controlling the administration of New Guinea and that the only limitation upon this control is the obligation to carry out the duties imposed by the Charter.
The Commonwealth of Australia, as the administering authority, must have full powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction over the territory. This was the position tinder the mandate, and the Government is resolved that it must continue. The Territory of New Guinea, in which so many of our men died in battle against the Japanese, is of such importance to the safety of this country that nothing but absolute control could be accepted by any Australian government. Moreover, the welfare of the native peoples demands such control.
The Minister for External Affairs made this point very clear in his statement to the House on the 13th March of this year, when he declared that “ in order to be acceptable to Australia the new agreement must, like the present mandate, designate the Government of Australia as the exclusive administering authority in the territory. Like the present mandate it must also permit the territory to be administered as an integral portion of the territory of Australia and under Australian laws, subject, of course, to the general duty laid down in the Charter and also contained in the mandate to promote the welfare .and advancement of the inhabitants.”
Furthermore, under the provisions of the United Nations Charter, to which this country is a signatory, the administration may make use of volunteer forces, facilities and assistance from the territory in providing for the defence of New Guinea. We could not do this under the old C mandate terms. The Government, moreover, intends to go farther and to ensure that its complete administrative authority will be utilized to the full in providing, where necessary, ‘for naval, military and air bases in New Guinea and for the erection of fortifications. No agreement would be considered by us which restricted in any way our right to provide for the defence of New Guinea and consequently for the safety of Australia. I must emphasize that such comprehensive defence measures were not possible under the old mandate. By bringing the mandated territory under the trusteeship system we are permitted to plan and carry out measures directly relevant to the security, of Australia- itself.
The second consideration of fundamental importance is that we shall recognize and gladly accept the general duty, laid down in the Charter, to promote the welfare and advancement of the inhabitants of New Guinea. This obligation to advance the social, economic and political development of the inhabitants is not new. A similar duty was imposed by the mandate. The Charter has simply redefined, clarified and elaborated that obligation. There are clearly set ont in Chapter XII. of the Charter the basic objectives- of the trusteeship system. At San Francisco last year our delegation was prominent in securing recognition of the principle that all members of .the United Nations responsible for the administration of dependent territories recognize in relation to them the principle of trusteeship, that is, that the main purpose of administration is the welfare of the dependent peoples and their economic, social and political development.
It is our responsibility to ensure thar. the. welfare of the inhabitants shall be the motive inspiring all such administrative acts. That duty we have discharged in the past as the mandatory power. Under the trusteeship system we shall likewise be faced with the necessity for advancing native welfare, and we must be prepared to discharge whatever responsibilities fall upon us in the execution of our obligations. The Charter, furthermore, require.Australia, in return for its full control, to give an account of its stewardship in the form of an annual report drawn upon, the basis of a questionnaire formulated by the Trusteeship Council.
The initiative in drafting the terms of the trusteeship agreement rests with Australia. Until the agreement is approved by the United Nations Assembly the right,? existing under the mandate continue in being. Before any trusteeship agreement in respect of New Guinea can be approved by the General Assembly and enter into force, Australia must, under the terms , of the Charter, be a -consenting party to it.
Eventually, Australian legislation will be required to give effect to the trusteeship agreement and to make the appropriate amendments in the New Guinea Act. As the General Assembly will not meet until. September, at the earliest, it will not be possible to bring the necessary measures before the House during the present session.
In conclusion, I should like to read to ‘ honorable members the draft terms which we propose to use as a basis for our discussions with other governments. These terms commence with the following preamble : -
The Territory of New Guinea has been administered in accordance with article 22 of the Covenant of the League ‘of Nations and in pursuance of a mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised on- His behalf by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Charter of the United Nations, signed at S.m Francisco on the 26th June, 1945. provides by article 75 for the establishment of an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia now undertakes to place the Territory of New, Guinea under the trusteeship, system, on the terms set forth in the present Trusteeship Agreement.
Therefore the General Assembly of the United Nations, acting in pursuance of article 85 of the Charter, approves the- following terms of trusteeship for the Territory of New Guinea, in substitution for the terms of the Mandate under which the Territory lias been administered :
The Territory to which this Trusteeship Agreement applies (hereinafter called the Territory) consists of that portion of the island of New Guinea and the groups of islands administered therewith under the Mandate dated the 17th December, 1920, conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised by the Government of Australia.
The Government of Australia (hereinafter called the Administering Authority) is hereby designated as the sole authority which will exercise the administration of the Territory.
The Administering Authority undertakes to administer the Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and in such a manner as to achieve in the Territory the basic objectives of the international trusteeship system, which are set forth in article 76 of the Charter.
The Administering Authority will be responsible for the peace, order, good government and defence of the Territory and for this purpose will have the same powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction in and over the Territory, as if it were an integral part of the Commonwealth of Australia, and will be entitled to apply to1 the Territory, subject to such modifications as it deems desirable, such laws of- the Commonwealth of Australia as it deems appropriate to the needs and conditions of the Territory.
It is agreed that the Administering Authority, in the exercise of its powers under article 4, will be at liberty to bring the Territory into a customs, fiscal or administrative union or federation with other dependent territories under, its jurisdiction or control, and to establish common services between the territory and any or all of these territories, if in its opinion it would be in the interests of the territory and not inconsistent with the basic objectives of the trusteeship system to do so.
The Administering Authority further under- takes to apply in the Territory the provisions 1 of such international agreements and such recommendations of the specialized agencies referred to in article 57 of the Charter as are, in the opinion of the Administering Authority, suited to the needs and conditions of the Territory and conducive to the achievement of the basic objectives of the trusteeship system.
The Administering Authority may take all measures in the Territory which it considers desirable to provide for the defence of the Territory and for maintenance of international peace and security.
Detention of ACI - Jones.
– I am concerned about the statement published in the Canberra Times that ACI Jones, who had been kept in detention for 111 days awaiting court-martial, and was sentenced to detention for 28 days, has been kept in the Royal Australian Air Force for the last two months although his sentence was suspended as the result of an . official inquiry. On the 10th July the Minister for Air advised me, in answer to a question, that the discharge of ACI Jones had been arranged. I now ask the Minister whether the discharge of this man has been effected? If not, can the honorable gentleman explain the failure to effect it?
– As. I recently informed the House in answer to a question by the honorable member, I was under the impression that ACI Jones had been discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force. I have read the paragraph in to-day’s Canberra Times, a newspaper that I find the time to read before I come to the House because it is published in pithy form and does not take long to read. When the case was brought to my notice, I was given to understand that immediate effect had been given to the suspension of the sentence upon and the discharge from custody of ACI Jones. I’ also understood that action was being taken to discharge him from the Royal Australian Air Force. According to the press report, however, such action has not yet been taken. I have directed that if ACI Jones is still in the Royal Australian Air Force” he shall be discharged immediately. Arrangements to that end should be completed within the next few days. If he is then still in the Royal Australian Air Force, I shall ask for an explanation of the incorrectness of the information previously furnished to me.
Mr.FRASER. - Can the Minister say when the apple and pear growers in the Winsole, Penrose, T along and Exeter districts will receive the payments due to them from many years under the. acquisition scheme? The payments have been held up because of litigation, and the growers are in urgent need of the money.
– The whole matter of compensation for fruit-growers is held up because of the delay in getting a final decision from the High Court, which has been dealing with the matter. The officers of the Apple and Pear Acquisition Board were required to make submissions, and these have been before the Court, but there has been delay because of the accumulation of work.
-Has the Prime Minister read the comment by David McNicoll in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that by the time the Criminal Investigation Branch has finished its inquiries into the defunct Division of Import Procurement, the Commonwealth Government would have no alternative but to appoint a royal commission? In view of this exceedingly grave reflection upon an important section of a Commonwealth department, will the Prime Minister make a statement on the subject either now or before the House is dissolved?
– As a matter of fact, I did read the paragraph in Mr. McNicoll’s article which was publishedyesterday, and I understood from it that some investigations were being made by the Criminal Investigation Branch. I was not previously aware that investigations werebeing made, nor that any improper practices were alleged in connexion with the working of the division. I shall certainly ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has any knowledge of these matters. For the time being, there is no need for me to make a statement about something of which 1 know nothing.
.- by leave - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-36, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the. result of its investigations, namely: - The erection of the Batman Automatic Telephone Exchange, Flinders-lane, Melbourne.
I explained this proposal to the House on the11th April, 1946, when I moved that it be referred to the Public Works Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave -I recently promised the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) that I would make inquiries whether quantities of galvanized iron, wire netting and barbed wire could be made available to farmers, and also in regard to the allegation that there were enormous quantities of these materials lying in Queensland awaiting distribution. As honorable members are aware, supplies of these items are in acute short supply, and it has been necessary for my department to distribute the production of these items to all States on an equitable basis. From inquiries made of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, it is understood that 24,000 feet of wire netting in Brisbane has just been declared surplus to requirements and will shortly be disposed of. In addition, a further quantity of 126,000 feet at Townsville has also recently been declared surplus and will shortly be allocated. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to furnish my department with information concerning any large quantities of housing and fencing materials that are available for disposal.
When disposal is subsequently made within a State my department makes any necessary adjustments of’ that State’s quota. At the present time, my department has no advice other than I have stated from the commission that there are any large quantities of galvanized iron, wire netting ‘and barbed wire that have been declared surplus to requirements and thus available fpr disposal. If specific information as to the locality where the material is alleged to be stored is furnished, the matter will be investigated further with the Disposals Commission and the Army and Air Force authorities.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that practically all the McCormick-Deering tractors released by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission are being taken over by State and Commonwealth departments to the exclusion of primary producers? Will he confer with the Minister for Supply and Shipping, with a view to having some of thetractors made available to primary producers so that they may carry on their important functions?
– I do not know whether the allegation by the honorable member is correct, but I shall confer with my colleague, and ask him to male; inquiries. I am sure, that he will do the fair thing in regard to the distribution of tractors.
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) agreed to-
That leave he given to bring in a hill for an act to amend the Tuberculosis Act 1045.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the bill is to amend the Tuberculosis Act 1945 by substituting a :new section for the existing section 0, which provides for the payment of special allowances to sufferers from tuberculosis and their dependants. The Tuberculosis Act was passed by the present Government in October, 1945, to give effect to its plan to strengthen the attack on tuberculosis by means of improved diagnostic and after-care facilities, treatment in suitable hospitals and the payment of special allowances to sufferers and their dependants. With a view to encouraging the States to establish additional diagnostic facilities, provision was made under section 4 for the Commonwealth to subsidize, on a pound for pound basis, the expenditure of the States in the maintenance of diagnostic facilities such as clinics, dispensaries, and X-ray equipment, established after the commence-: ment of the act. For this purpose the Commonwealth has provided the sum of £50,000 per annum for distribution amongst the States, as determined by the Minister. Under the same section a further sum of £50,000 -per annum has been provided for payment to the States, also on a pound for pound basis, for the maintenance of after-care facilities, on the same basis as for diagnostic facilities. Provision has been made in section 5 under which the Commonwealth will pay to the States a subsidy of six shillings for each daily occupied bed in approved tuberculosis hospitals established after the commencement of the act. This payment is subject to the condition that no charge is made for accommodation or treatment in the public wards of the hospitals. Section 6 of the act as it now stands . provides for the payment of special allowances to sufferers from tuberculosis and to dependants of sufferers, provided such payments will assist in preventing the spread of tuberculosis or promote the better treatment of the disease. For this purpose the Government set aside the sum of £250,000 per annum. In attempting to give effect to the objects of the section, however, policy and administrative difficulties have arisen, because there, is no power, such as is provided in sections 4 and 5, to make grants to the States” for this purpose.
It is now proposed to’ amend the act by repealing section 6 and substituting a new section whereby the Commonwealth’ will make available to tie States the sum of £250,000 per annum, to be distributed as determined by the Minister. This will bring section 6 into line with sections 4 and 5 of the act. The money will be payable to the States upon the condition that it shall be applied by the States during the year in which it is received, in making payments to, or in respect of, sufferers from tuberculosis, or the dependants of such sufferers, with the objects of - (a) encouraging such sufferers to refrain from working and to take treatment; (o) minimizing the spread of tuberculosis ; and .(c) promoting the better treatment of tuberculosis.
The States, owing to their constitutional powers, have a large share of responsibility towards tuberculosis sufferers, and this Commonwealth grant should make a valuable contribution towards the problem, particularly when it is supplemented by existing State agencies. The States will be entirely responsible for the distribution of this money and will select the people to whom payment should be made.
Proposed new section 6 contains a special provision- to the effect that payments made to tubercular sufferers and their dependants by the States, whether from moneys provided by the Commonwealth under the section or from their own moneys, will not be treated as income in tie hands ‘ of the recipients for the purpose of applying the means test under tie Invalid and Old-age Pensions, Widows Pensions and Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Acts. This provision will ensure that these moneys will be applied fully to the worthy objects set out in the new section, without in any way affecting pensions and benefits payable under the acts to which I have referred.
Debate (on motion by Sir Frederick
Debate resumed from the 4th July (vide page 2238), on motion by Mr. Holloway -
That the hill he now read a second time.
– The purpose of this bill is to amend the Patents Act in various respects. The bill itself is, of necessity, very technical, although some of the matters dealt with in it are of some general importance. However, the bill possesses no party character at all. I want to make comments on about four points that arise in the bill, and 1 particularly urge the Minister to take those points into consideration and and not proceed with the bill any further at this stage. After all, there is no very great hurry about any’ of its provisions, and it would be unfortunate if changes in the patents law were made without full consideration of the various” points of view. I illustrate that by turning at once to the points I intend to emphasize. Clause 2 deals with the publication of complete specification. . There is considerable delay, which I recognize as being owing to staff difficulties in the Patent Office, in examining applications, and, as the result of that, a complete specification may be lodged and a very substantial time elapse before the matter comes to finality. The delay, as the Minister pointed out, is ‘ serious, because it abridges the inventor’s right in his invention, by abridging the life of his patent, which operates from the date of application. But I notice that the words in the proposed new provision are these -
After a complete specification has been lodged, the Commissioner shall publish in the Australian Official Journal of Patents, Trademarks and Designs a notification that the complete specification is open to public inspection and, thereupon, the complete specification and provisional specification -(if any) shall be open to public inspection.
In his second-reading speech, the Minister’ indicated that the design of’ that provision was “ to provide for the publication of the complete specification forthwith after lodgment at the Patent
Office”. So I take it that the intention is that, forthwith, after the complete specification has been lodged, there is to be publication in the manner described in the remaining words of the proposed new section. On that, I point out to the House that the Official Journal is usually despatched, or it was when I last knew of it, each week to the patent offices of all principal countries. Therefore, if the proposal be carried out, the complete specification of an invention will be published in those countriesshortly after the filing of the complete specification in Australia, and that will seriously affect the validity of subsequent overseas patent applications of the inventor. Let me make that quite clear. The inventor puts in a complete specification in Australia. He, perhaps, intends to secure protection in other countries. Time must elapse between his filing his complete specification in Australia and his making application abroad, unless he has the great fortune to bring hisinvention to a final satisfactory state very early in the piece. If, in fact,the inventor, having filed the complete specification in Australia, proceeds by the ordinary course of the post to take steps to make applications in other countries, his applications may be confronted when they arrive by the fact that his invention has been published in those countries in anticipation of the claims that he is making. This advance publication of his invention in another country may turn out to invalidate his application when it is made in that country. I suggest very earnestly for the consideration of the “Minister that the real remedy is to insert at the beginning of the clause the words “ not less than three months “. The proposed new section would then read -
Not less than three months after a complete specification has been lodged the Commissioner shall publish …
Then the inventor would have three monthsof grace in which to forward his applications inother countries..
The next point arises on clause 7, which deals with what the lawyers call “ a threats action “, in the patent law, the kind of action provided under the principal act when threats are made of legal proceedings on behalf of some in- . vention that turns out to be invalid.
There is a provision in section91a ofthe principal act dealing with the matter.It is now proposed in this bill to substitute a new provision. Clause 7 provides-
Section ninety-one a of the Principal Act it repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “91a. -(1.) Where any person, by means of circulars, advertisements or otherwise threatens any person with any action or proceedings for infringement of a patent, or other like proceedings, then whether the person making the threats is or is not entitled to or interested in a patent, or is or is not interested in an application for a patent, any person aggrieved thereby may bring an action against him and may obtain a declaration to the effect that the threats are unjustifiable and an injunction against the continuance of the threats, and may recover such damages (if any) as he has sustained thereby, unless the person making the threats satisfies the court that the acts in respect of which the proceedings were threatened constitute or if done would constitute -
an infringement of a patent in respect of a claim in the specification which is not shown by the plaintiff to be invalid; or
an infringement of rights arising from the publication of the complete specification in respect of a claim therein which is not shown to be one which would be invalid if a patent had been granted in respect thereof.
The person who writes the actual threat will, perhaps in nine cases out of ten be a solicitor or a patent attorney. The proposed new section goes on to deal with the cases of a solicitor or a patent attorney by saying - (2.) Nothing in this section shall render any solicitor or patent attorney, in respect of any act done by him in his professional capacity on behalf, and with the written or telegraphed authority, of his client, liable to any action or proceeding under this section, provided that the solicitor or patent attorney produces the authority for inspection by the person threatened or satisfies the court that the authority was received by him but has been inadvertently lost or destroyed. ‘
So the solicitor or the patent attorney will be liable to a threats action, unless he can produce or explain the nonproduction, unless he can prove - let me put it that way - written or telegraphed authority from his client to write the letter containing the threat. That is a very far-reaching restriction on the ordinary relation between solicitor and client. It is a novelty that a client who consults a solicitor and instructs him to take charge of a proceeding for him should have to give any written authority to the solicitor to issue a letter, which is a perfectly normal step in proceedings of that kind. In the same way, it would be a remarkable evasion of the ordinary position of a solicitor or patent attorney if, being threatened in this way, he was able to prove that his client had told him to write the letter but was not able to show he had got authority from his client in writing. That seems to me to be an entirely unnecessary invasion..
– I thought lawyers insisted on having everything in writing.
– No. The Minister will perhaps be surprised to be told that 95 times of 100 a solicitor who acts for a client has acted for him many times, and. there is no question of getting written authority. They act on the basis of mutual confidence. But this provision will make it necessary that the solicitor or patent attorney shall protect himself in relation to correspondence of this kind by securing the written authority of his client.
The third point I want to mention is contained in sub-section 3 of proposed new section91a. It says -
The High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any action or proceeding under this section.
This, I venture to say with great respect to the draftsman, is a complete oversight. The threats action usually produces a counter claim for infringement, as the honorablemember for Warringah (Mr. Spender) knows. The man who has been threatened with proceedings says, “ Very well, I shall tackle you. You are the defendant in my action for damages for your threats “. Then the man who made the threat replies,” You are infringing my patent and I shall sue you for infringement “. Consequently, in the experience of patent lawyers, it almost inevitably happens that an action for threats will produce a counter-claim for infringement. The threats action may, under this proposed new sub-section, be brought in the High Court, but infringement proceedings can be brought only in the Supreme Court. There was, at one stage, a proposed patents bill in which it was intended to give jurisdiction to the High Court in infringement proceedings ; but until jurisdiction is given to the High Court in infringement proceedings, it is absurd to say that the man who is claiming on the “ threats “ may go into the High Court, and the other person who wants to take the normal counter-action must go into a Supreme Court. That is a serious anomaly, and until the High Court is given infringement jurisdiction, the proposed sub-section should not be agreed to.
The last matter to which I desire to refer arises in clause 8, which provides for the insertion in the principal act of the following new section: - 112b. - (1.) A person shall not falsely represent that he or any other person is the patentee of an invention. (2.) A person shall not falsely represent that any article sold by him is patented in Australia or is the subject of an application for a patent in Australia.
That is. a very wise provision, andI entirely agree with it, but I’ am at a loss to understand why proposed new subsection 3 has been inserted. Proposed new sub-section 2 is in perfectly general terms, and in quite effective terms, but proposed new sub-section 3 states - (3.) For the purposes of this section -
As honorable members know, many patented articles made abroad, for example inthe United Kingdom or the United Statesof America, have stamped upon them the word “ patented “, or the words “patent applied for” or the number of the patent given in the United States of America Patent Office or the Patent Office of Great Britain. If that article comes into Australia, as it very frequently will for sale, the label, stamp or mark cannot be removed; and yet there may be a serious danger of the seller of the article being prosecuted for- a breach of this proposed new sub-section, because a person shall be deemed to represent that an article is patented in Australia if there are stamped, engraved or impressed on it the words “ patent “ or “patented”. In my view, that matter deserves very careful thought. I consider that proposed new sub-section 3 should he left out. Surely the language of proposed new sub-section 2 is perfectly adequate. It is a very simple matter of fact to decide whether a man is putting * on the goods some mark which suggests that they are patented in Australia, ff, in the view of the tribunal, that is the effect of the label, then he is guilty of a breach of this proposed new section. But if the label states quite plainly that the article is patented in some other country, then in the interests of ordinary international trade, no barrier should be put in the way of goods so marked being sold.,
To summarize my speech, I invite the Minister to consider the points which I have raised about the publication of the complete specification, about the provision for another authority from client to solicitor or patent attorney in a threats action, about the anomaly created by subsection 3 of proposed new section 91a, and about articles which come into Australia marked with some reference to a patent abroad.
– in reply - Knowing the “ qualifications of the Leader of the. Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to deal with patent law, my colleagues and I must and will take notice of the points that he has raised. I do not desire to take any action which will in any way destroy the efficacy of, this small bill to achieve its three objectives. The first is to encourage and assist the development of Australian industries by informing them as quickly as possible about pending patents or changes of technological method. We do not want them to tool-up, and generally prepare to make articles, only to discover later that a com petitor abroad has a new process of manufacture which’ will make their method obsolete. In addition, we do not desire to clutter up and increase the work of the patent examiners by obliging them to devote a. great deal of time to examining provisional applications which sometimes are not followed up with complete specifications. As the Leader of the Opposition will agree, that must be short-circuited. We. desire also to protect the patentee, whose rights in a patent are reduced by the momentum of scientific changes. Sixteen years now seems to be a much shorter period than it was in the last century. If we waste two or three years of .that period before we- can announce that the patent is sealed and admissible, we shall do a great deal of harm.
-I agree with that view. The object of the bill, is most commendable, but the measure itself is a little short of perfection.
– Those three objectives must be preserved. The officials of the Attorney-General’s Department will carefully examine the suggestions of the Leader of the Opposition. I am prepared to agree now to the deletion of sub-section 3 of proposed new section 91a, which provides that the High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear’ a “ threats “ action. Why should not the whole of the proceedings be heard by the Supreme Court?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
Section ninety-one a of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “(3.) The High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any action or proceeding under this section.”
– I move -
That proposed new sub-section (3.) be left out.
I did not move the amendment which, in my second-reading speech, I suggested to clause 2, because the Minister (Mr.
Holloway) has been good enough to state that the matter will be examined. I do not desire it to he determined in a hurry, because it is extremely difficult.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 (False representation as to patents and patented articles).
– I understood that the Leader of the Opposition desired to submit an amendment to proposed new section 112b, contained in this clause.
– The Minister has’ promised to discuss with his technical advisers the other points I raised.
– That is so. At this stage I cannot accept the other suggestions of the right honorable gentleman.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to. .
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 25th July (vide page 3117), on motion by Mr. Scully -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- When I obtained leave on the 25th July to continue my remarks I had completed what I wished to say on the. necessity for the introduction of this bill. I intend now to discuss the policy being applied under the existing legislation, and, in particular, to devote some attention to the need to encourage the marketing of beef, lamb and pig meats on the weight, and grade basis. This, in my opinion, is absolutely necessary if we are to ensure a better return to the producers. Sales by auction on commission should be abandoned. It is also necessary to take action to avoid the wastage that occurs in stock through trucking and untrucking at auction sale-yards. We have heard a good deal in the course of this debate’ about the high quality of New Zealand or, as it is called, Canterbury lamb. One important reason why New Zealand lamb and young beef can be marketed in such good condition . is that the stock is not required to undergo long train journeys. In fact, only a minimum of time, elapse? between the removal of the stock from the pastures and the slaughtering of it at the abattoirs. The procedure in Australia, is quite different, for generally speaking, our lambs and young cattle have to be trucked for long distances from the pastures to the sale-yards and the abattoirs or factory, and during such journeys the stock suffer considerable wastage. In New Zealand the abattoirs “are usually situated close to the pastures, and as a rule only about 8 hours elapse from the time that the stock leave the pastures until the meat is hanging in the chilling chamber. In Australia it frequently happens that three days elapse. The wastage starts immediately the stock leave the pasture. This occurs through the absorption’ by the animal of juices or, as the trade says, the sap, owing to the animal being without food. The retention of this sap is important if we desire to win a better name on the English’ market. The sap, or “ sogginess “, is retained in the New Zealand, meat. I believe that our auction sale system, involving, as it does, long train journeys, results in heavy economic loss in weight and quality. We must do everything possible to avoid this.
The attitude adopted by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) to this bill was extraordinary. Early in his speech he objected to the provisions in the measure which conferred certain powers on the Controller of Meat Supplies. He said that the Minister ought to have more direct responsibility and should not be able to shelter behind the Controller. He then objected to the transfer of power from the Controller to the board and later said that, as the Minister would have certain authority over the board, the Minister would be in the position of a czar. First of all, therefore, the honorable gentleman objected to the transfer of power from the Controller to a board, and then he objected to the Minister having authority over the board in certain respects. He also criticized the actions of the Controller during recent times, although his colleagues, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), highly praised the Controller for the work he had done during .very difficult days. The honorable member for’ Indi attacked the controller because of actions taken by him to oblige processors to observe the law ‘of the land in regard to price control.
– That is ridiculous.
– It is not ridiculous; it is the truth.
– The law of the land has nothing to do with ceiling prices.
– Of course it has.
– The honorable member for Forrest is misrepresenting the position.
– The honorable gentleman objected because the Controller of Meat _ Supplies was endeavouring to ensure the observance of the economic policy of Australia, which includes prices control. That policy is breached only by persons who place food on the black market. It is rather strange, that the honorable gentleman should have defended actions of that kind on three occasions in this House. He did -so when there was black marketing in fodder, again when there was a strike by meat operators because they could not make enough profit to suit themselves, and on the third occasion when there was black marketing in pig meats. Yet, he will flap the Union Jack in this House until it is in shreds.
– I take the point of order that the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) is’ reflecting upon a member of this House. ‘He has stated that the honorable member for Indi supports black-market operations. That is not only incorrect, but also objectionable te the honora’ble member for Indi and other honorable members on this side of the House.
– There is no point of order in the matter raised by the honorable member for Richmond. If the statements of the honorable -member for Forrest are personally offensive, the honorable member aggrieved by them may seek to obtain redress. So far as the Chair can determine, the statements of the honorable member for Forrest may be answered during the course of the debate.
– It is rather strange that the honorable member for Richmond should find it necessary to take exception to my statements, although the honorable member to whom I referred is in the House. The honorable member for Indi makes statements about other Honorable members during their absence from the chamber, and in that respect differs from me. On three occasions, honorable members opposite . have condoned by their actions in this House, black marketing throughout this country. Ceiling prices’ are essential if we are to continue to supply butter, pork and pig meats to Great Britain. Honorable members opposite would feed the already overfed, while denying to the people of the United Kingdom the opportunity to obtain food at the prices at which Australia’ hatcontracted to supply it. As the honorable member for Indi was the spokesman for the Australian Country party, that party must be held responsible for the policy that he expounded. He objected to control, first by the Controller of Meat Supplies, secondly, by the Australian Meat Board, and, thirdly, by the Minister. The only concrete suggestion that he made in the course of a long speech was that the bill should be rejected. He want? a “ free go “, not orderly marketing under a grower-controlled board. His policy throughout has been to return’ to the open market.. He would allow the whole of our primary products to pass into the hands of the speculators and profiteers. He said that the board is a “ political sham”. The policy adopted on the three occasions I have mentioned proves that the Australian Country party is a <: political sham “.
– I have not been able to agree with the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) on_ many occasions since 1 have been a member of this House; butI concede that it would be in the best interests of the export of our fat lambs if more freezing works were opened in inland centres. Lambs that travel long distances do not usually arrive at their destination in as good a condition as those that can be killed shortly after leaving their pastures. It must not be considered, however, that occasionally lambs that have travelled long distances are not better than those that have travelled a short distance. Lilydale, in Victoria, is approximately 40 or 50 miles from Newmarket, whereas the distance to Patchewallock is 300 miles. Lambs from Lilydale, loaded into trucks at 11 a.m., are handled in the market on the same day, whilst lambs from Patchewallock, which are trucked on a Sunday night are not handled at Newmarket until the following Tuesday; yet these latter are in better condition in the market than are those from the adjacent grazing or fattening area of Lilydale. Nevertheless, it is important that killing centres should be opened in different districts of Victoria and other States. This system has been tried in Victoria, works having operated at . Ballarat, Murtoa, Donald and Bendigo. Some of those works proved .a dismal failure. The works at Ballarat and Bendigo are functioning, but those at Murtoa have been closed. I was pleased to hear recently that the Donald works will be reopened during this season. The trouble previously was caused by the adoption of the weight basis of killing. This resulted in so many lambs being put into the works that, within a week or so, some of them could not be killed and had to stand in the yards because of lack of sufficient killing space.
– That did not happen at the inland killing works.
– It happened at Murtoa, and that was one indirect reason why the works had to close. On that account, certain lambs were “ docked “ and were designated second quality and third quality, although they were first quality when they entered the works. That difficulty can be overcome. I am not using it as an argument against the extension of the system. Any extension of inland killing which the Minister may see fit to make will have my unqualified support.
This is an important bill. The honorable member for Forrest has made many references’ to the Australian Country party. When he spoke previously, he stated that that party had advised certain fat lamb-raisers not to mate Downs ram* with their ewes. That charge is misleading. I have advised many personsnot to mate Downs rams with their ewes. The matter is governed by the circumstances. We know that Downs lamb is the best for export purposes. A statement in general terms, and having such wide implications as that of the honorable member for Forrest, would make it appear that the member’s of the Australian Country party were advising producers not to raise the best class of lamb.
– Does the honorable member deny that members of the Australian Country party gave that advice ?
– I do not deny it. But the honorable . member either has attempted to confuse the issue or has no knowledge of lamb-raising; because there are occasions on which, as the Minister knows, it is not in the best interests of the industry to mate Downs rams with certain ewes. Foi- example, some parts of northern Victoria occasionally experience a series of droughts. In such circumstances, ewes are mated with Border Leicester rams, the reason being that, in a dry season when lambs cannot be fattened, the grower has a good store line. One would not think of mating a Downs ram with a very fine Comeback ewe, but one would mate it with a Border Leicester or an English Leicester or a Romney Marsh ewe; because, the result of mating a Downs ram with a fine Comeback ewe would be to throw back to the merino, .which would not be a good export lamb. Therefore, the decision, depends upon the district in which the lambs are raised, factors to be taken into consideration being freedom from drought and the breed of ewe being mated. Consequently, members of the Australian Country party against whom the charge has been made, have done the right thing, not the wrong thing. Perhaps I should thank the honorable member for Forrest for having drawn attention to the matter.
– In other words, the advice was not to breed any lambs for export.
– Not at all. Does the honorable member know that, at the Newmarket saleyards, the largest in Australia, if not in the world, the biggest proportion of the fat lambs sold are bred from Border Leicester rams, for the sole reason that they are bred in certain districts and make a good store line if they cannot be fattened? Downs cross lambs which cannot be exported as fat lambs are not much good for any other purpose. The honorable member has either tried to confuse the issue or lacks knowledge of the subject.
– I have grown more lambs than has the honorable member.
– I have been handling them all my life. Because of the time that has elapsed since the bill was last discussed, its purpose may not, be quite clear to some honorable members. It is “ a bill for an act to provide for the transfer of the powers, authorities and functions conferred upon and exercised by the Controller of Meat Supplies and the Meat Canning Committee appointed under the National Security (Meat Industry Control) Regulations and the National Security (Meat Industry) Regulations respectively to the Australian Meat Board during the continuance of the National Security Act 1939- 1946, and the regulations thereunder “. I believe that the authority in question should rest where it now resides, so that, when any action is taken, it will not be attributed to the so-called producercontrolled board, but the light will be thrown on those actually responsible. The only result of the restriction of open competition, of which there was an example in Victoria recently, is to cause loss to the producer. The reason given by the Minister for the introduction of this measure cannot be accepted. He has said that its object is to stop black marketing. It has bren claimed that because meat was sold above ceiling prices at Newmarket and elsewhere, purchasers could not retail it with1 out themselves resorting to black marketing. The price fixed for the one bid at auction was stated to bo in relation to the price permitted in retail sales. Hon orable members will recall that this onebid system did not last long. Having acquired meat for a time, the Minister decided to allow the business to revert to the conditions that obtained prior to his intervention. When the restriction wa..imposed, chaos ensued at Newmarket. A few of the producers sent their stock tn the saleyards,- but the majority of them withheld supplies until the restriction? were lifted. The effect of that withholding of supplies has been reflected in the heavy winter yardings, which, during the last eight or ten weeks, have probably been heavier than those that had been experienced for many years. That this invasion of the market is not in the best interests of either the producer or the consumer will readily be realized. When it appeared that prices would be permanently lower on account of the enforcement of the restriction of one bid, many fatteners sold their stock in the paddocks, at rates much lower than those which had prevailed before the auction. They sold them to speculators and other persons with whom true producers do not want to deal to a great degree. As . I have said, the rates were much lower than those which prevailed before the auction, and were definitely lower than those that have prevailed since the restrictions were lifted. It is well known that, generally speaking.” there is only a limited time in which to market fat stock if they are to be sold in prime condition. Especially in wintertime, when feed is short and the weather is cold, there may be just one week in which stock can he marketed in order to get the maximum return. It is probable that when chaotic conditions prevailed in the Newmarket sale-yards a good proportion of the stock passed this peak period, and the owners will never have opportunity to recoup the losses then sustained. It is, of course, recognized that we cannot provide against an act of God, but it is also true that, many of the stock lost in the disastrous floods of the western districts of Victoria would have . been sold in Victoria before that date bad normal conditions prevailed at Newmarket. If the Government proposes in future to take action which might lead to such chaos, it should, not shelter behind a board which allegedly represents the primary producers. All the indications are that restrictions similar to the onebid provision at Newmarket may be introduced again, and if that is done chaos must result. I maintain, that in such a case the spotlight should be focused, upon those really responsible.
.- During the course of this debate it has been interesting to note the line-up of the Liberal party and the remnants of the Australian Country party, who are now in poor favour with recognized farmers’ organizations. They are being supported by the vanquished Liberal party, which has fought every attempt by the farmers to shake the middlemen and food speculators off their backs. An unholy combination of men who have consistently betrayed the organizations of genuine farmers is suddenly blossoming forth. as the champion of a newly formed organization. It was obvious, of course, when the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) was questioning the bona fides of the Australian Wool and Meat Federation and, in particular, pointing the finger at the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Federation, that he was grieved .because he was not able to dictate the policy of those organizations.. The members of the New South Wales Wheat Growers Union have a stake in the meat industry equal to that of any other organization of similar calibre, affiliated with the Australian Wool and Wheat Federation. It is obvious that the Opposition, particularly the Australian Country party, is. attempting reprisals, and using another organization for the purpose.
In naming the two meat producers’ organizations, and in providing for majority representation of producers on the Australian Meat Board, the Government has gone immeasurably farther than did the previous government when it gave the producers only minority representation. Yet we find the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and ‘ the Deputy Leader (Mr. McEwen), expressing dissatisfaction with the composition of the board, and being cheered on by the Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Harrison), who would not know beef from mutton unless they were cooked. The Liberal party appears now to be deeply interested in obtaining representation for the newly formed organization with a rural name. ‘ What is the reason for this nascent interest in rural affairs? The tie-up between the Australian Country party members, who are peeved because they cannot dominate recognized producers’ organizations, and the Liberal party, which believes in the law of supply and demand, and which, therefore, has never been in favour of farmers’ organizations, stimulates the belief that the Primary Producers Union is either the foster-child of political parties in the Opposition, or that it is expected to be more pliable than the recognized farmers’ organizations.
There is nothing in the name of this new organization to indicate what section of producers it claims to represent. We know that all growers of wheat and wool are stock-owners, and have a vital interest in meat prices. We know that among the members -of the organization are no persons who do not own any stock. That cannot be said of the Primary Producers Union, which ‘ might include - and no. doubt does include - persons who have not the remotest interest in meat or stock. I understand that some of the members are berry-growers in the Dandenong Ranges, some are market gardeners, others apple-growers, whilst there are other producers whose interests are not even remotely connected with meat.
The Minister has pointed out that the board will consist of four representatives of the lamb and mutton producers, two of the beef producers, and one of the pig producers. Parliament is not asked to take a step in the dark. It is proposed to set up a meat industry board, and we know that this measure ensures that such a board will be appointed.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in reading his speech, and reading it very badly?
– The honorable member is merely referring to his notes; he is not reading his speech.
– Honorable members opposite do not like to listen’ to anything that gets’ under their skins. All last week they were hurling innuendoes across the floor of the House, but when we throw something back they winge. However, they will’ not stifle my voice. I am here to speak for the primary producers, and I will do so. Is Parliament expected to examine the views expressed by producers’ organizations in order to find out whether they are in accord with the political views of members opposite? That is actually what members of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party want. The bill provides for majority representation of the meat producers on the board. Those who have no political axe to grind will not ask for more. “ Therefore, I support the measure.
.- L support the measure, believing that it is an advantage upon, previous legislation providing for the handling and disposal of meat. Honorable members will realize that meat is a difficult commodity to deal with - for governments, for primary producers, for butchers and for processors. Meat is very perishable, and its production depends upon the- seasons, lt is true that, before the Avar, there was an Australian Meat Board, but it ceased to operate when war broke out. An attempt was made” under the National Security Regulations to bestow, its powers upon the Australian Meat Industries Commission, but unfortunately the Senate disallowed the regulation. Subsequently, the whole matter of meat export control became, the concern of the present meat board, established under National Security Regulations. Now. that the war is over, the Government believes that a new board should be established, and it has provided for the . constitution of a board to deal with the control of meat exports. The bill provides that the board shallconsist of twelve members, with a chairman appointed by the Government, seven representatives of various sections of meat-producers, and the other members representing publicly owned abattoirs, privately owned moat works, and the workers engaged in the industry. If the board is properly selected it will be thoroughly representative. I have no doubt that it will” prove to be satisfactory, because the members will be selected from persons nominated by the various interests concerned.
The board will discharge most important functions. Under the terms of the meat agreement with Great Britain, the whole of our exportable surplus will be sent to Britain for a specified number of years. The board will have authority to purchase meat on behalf of the Commonwealth, to advise the Government generally, and to be the main authority dealing with the subject. The board will be also authorized under its licensing powers to prevent the licensing of any exporter unless he, under instructions from the board and the Minister, is prepared to accept stock on a graded basis. That is a marked advance on previous legislation. It will ensure the protection of the producers from speculators and dealers, and from the great’ meat trust operating in Australia. When people of that kind depress markets as the result of questionable methods or the eliminition of their ‘competitors - and they hav, done- that repeatedly . in- the past- -the primary producer has’ recourse to operating on the weight and grade basis at the works which will be financed by the Meat Board. 1 am glad that this measure has reached .a stage which will ensure its passage during the life of this Parliament. The substantial producer representation on the board’ and the ‘powers to be vested in the board constitute a marked improvement on the set-up of meat board.established by earlier administrations. In that regard the measure gives effect to the policy of this Government in contrast to that of former governments. Here are some interesting statements relative to the operation of legislation introduced by earlier administrations in connexion with this industry:-
The tardy recognition by the Federal Government of the vital importance of primary production in the national Avar effort is entirely in keeping with the attitude of indifference manifested by the same political forces over the past decade. Whilst secondary industries supplying equipment and foodstuff? are accorded production costs, plus a profit as’ a matter of course, primary producers arc being compelled with varying success, to use political pressure in an effort to obtain production costs for essential foodstuffs commandeered by the Federal Government. Upon the various boards constructed by the Federal Government to handle primary commodities there is evidence of political patronage rather than of a desire to provide suitable and adequate representation for those who produce and own the products. ‘
No Labour man, no political propagandist, could have uttered truer words about the incapacity and political shortcomings, of governments which held office in the national Parliament for a decade prior to March, 1941. I did not make that statement but I was interested in it as it had been made in Ballarat, and I found on inquiry that it had been read to -the twenty-sixth annual conference of the United Country party held in Ballarat in March, 1941, and that it was published over the signature of no less a person than Mr. George Bowden, now the honorable member for Gippsland in this Parliament and a prominent member of the Australian Country party. If a representative of the Labour party had made such a statement it would have immediately been characterized as partypolitical propaganda. What was the composition of the Commonwealth governments to which the statement refers? For nine years prior to 1941 composite governments supported by honorable members opposite were in office in the National Parliament. In such a government in 1941 the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), held ministerial rank as did also the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). The right honorable’ member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), was a member of the governments in office for almost the whole of that period. Thus Australian Country party supporters had been associated with those governments over a long period of years, yet the best the annual conference of the United Country party could say about them was that they had been guilty of political patronage and that during their term of office the farmers had experienced the greatest difficulty in obtaining their just dues. It is true that when the statement was made the honorable member for Indi’ was not a member of the Australian Country party; he was then on the “ outer “ having been associated with the break-away faction; but he was on the crawl back and not long afterwards was again received into the fold. However, conditions did not improve for the primary producers, particularly the pig producers of this country, until October, 1941, when a Labour government came into power. . From then onwards conditions improved substantially and continuously for the primary producers.
– And political patronage was rampant.
– Irrespective of the truth or falsity of that statement, political patronage could not have existed in a more marked degree than it did during the regime of governments composed partly of members of the party which the honorable member himself supports. If it be true that political patronage exist? to-day the worst that may be said is that we are following in the footsteps of previous administrations in which members of the Australian Country party held office.
I should like to say a word or two about inland killing in which the honorable member . for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) affirmed his belief to-day. Many loose statements have been made about that subject during the debate on this bill. I believe in inland killing. Many years ago the farmers of Victoria raised the necessary money with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government to finance and operate co-operative killing works at Ballarat, Bendigo, Murtoa and Donald. The honorable member for Wimmera hae told us that those works were dismal failures because they had operated on the weight and grade basis, with the result that sheep were kept too long in the stock-yards before being killed.
– That statement applied only to the meat works at Murtoa.
– The Murtoa works failed because they were too close to Donald, with the result that they were unable to draw lambs from a sufficiently wide area. If the works at the other centres were dismal failures it was not because they had operated on the weight and grade basis but because of the machinations of subtle, keen, clever ‘ representatives of the great meat combine which, when it found that the farmers had established their own co-operative works, sent, agents into the areas in which the works were located and wheedled the farmers away from their own , cooperative concerns by offering them an additional 5s. or 6s. on the hoof if they would take their stock to the combine’s works. One of the directors of a co-operative works who was a member of the Victorian Parliament confessed in the Parliament that he had sent his lambs to W. Angliss and Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited because he thought he would get a little more for them. As the result of the loss of patronage brought about in that way” the works collapsed financially and they had to be taken over by the Victorian Government. Their collapse can be attributed solely to the operations of the great meat combine and the speculators who batten and fatten on the primary producers of this country. Another factor which caused the collapse of these works was the existence in Victoria of a composite government of the Nationalist and Country parties. It was so inefficient in its administration of the affairs of the State that when it was followed by a Labour government in 1929, and Mr. Slater became Minister for Agriculture and I became his Assistant Minister, we found that the Victorian inland killing works, which at that time were being operated by a board of directors responsible to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, were gradually getting further and further into debt. “We found that the directors were going out into the paddocks and buying lambs oh a speculative basis, and- that if after processing and export to the United Kingdom the market collapsed, the works had to meet the loss. We discovered further that they were no longer killing stock on the weight and grade basis. The shrewd, competent, and wise Labour administration quickly issued, instructions to the directors of the works that henceforth they were not to buy on a speculative basis, that they were first to obtain firm orders from London and to buy on the basis of such orders, thus ensuring that no further losses would be made. In addition they were instructed to operate on the weight and grade basis. From that time ‘ onwards the works improved. These are the facts concerning the closing down of the great inland killing works in Victoria. I have dealt at length with this matter in order to clear up misconceptions and to inform the mind of the honorable member for Wimmera-, who obviously knows very little about it. fitting suspended from Z4-4 to 2.15 p.m.
– When tire sitting was suspended, I was about to1 refer to speeches made in this chamber on and before the 25th July about the handling of pig-meats. It is significant that, knowing of my intention, all the members of the Australian Country party are absent from the chamber. They saw fit to attack me in my absence. I have no objection to members of this Parliament using its facilities to state a case on any matter or to attack me or any one else, because that is their right, and I claim no immunity from attack, even in my absence, but it would be common decency for them to be here when I am about to defend myself. On the 4th July, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and I had a verbal passage at arms. He referred to a meeting of the Victorian Ham and Bacon Curers Association in Melbourne in 1945, and said, that at it an inspector was appointed, of course by the Government, to police the pigmeat prices, and that I was in the chair. I was under the impression then that he was referring to a meeting in Melbourne on the 16th May this year, and 1 interjected, “Yes, 1 was present”. But. as he developed his speech, I realized thai he was referring to the 1945 meeting, and. later, I made the following personal explanation : -
I, perhaps, misled the honorable member foi Indi (Mr. McEwen) when I said that I wa> present at the meeting at which he alleged I occupied the chair. I neither attended nor chaired the meeting at which, according to him, an exporter was appointed an inspector of pig-meat prices. It is true that from time to time, by invitation, I have attended meetings of the Newmarket Meat Producers Association, and other primary producer organizations of one kind and another, and I know that the honorable member has attended similar meetings, for he has been working hand in glove with such organizations in their various ramifications.
That was my only comment. I made it quite clear that I was not at the 1945 meeting. I made no reference in that statement, because it was merely a personal explanation, to any subsequent meeting, but the honorable member for Indi, in this chamber, on the 25th July, in my absence, practically repeated his allegation, notwithstanding that, after my personal explanation, he had accepted my denial. ‘He said - l am bound to point out that the decision to appoint an inspector who was empowered to go to country auction sales is said to hav.e been made at a meeting. I emphasize that that meeting possessed some authority. Ultimately its authority was the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. By virtue .of the powers vested in him under National Security Regulations, the Minister was not at the meeting in person, but his delegate was there.
That is the meeting at which the inspector “as appointed -
It has been suggested that the delegate whs the honorable member for Ballarat.
He qualified the charge that I had been present by using the words “ It has been suggested He read a letter .sent by the secretary of the Victorian Ham and Bacon Curers Association, Mr. Johnston; who had seen a. press report of my statement during the passage -at arms. The report was not exactly complete. The honorable member for Indi read that letter and led the country and this Parliament to believe that, I was a liar. Since then I have been informed by letter that the secretary of the Victorian Ham and Bacon Curers Association, on The 29th July, sent the following telegram to the honorable member : -
Received your reply regarding meeting bacon curers. Advise meeting referred to in Hansard no connexion with meeting which Mr. Pollard attended where advice given was that pig prices should conform to pig plan price.
– Did Mr. Johnson give the honorable member my answer to the telegram?-
– No; but the honorable member has not been decent enough to make a personal explanation exonerating me.
– He has not had a chance.
– I have received another’ letter from the chairman of the Victorian Ham and Bacon Curers Association - 1’ feel that an explanation is due to you concerning a letter which was sent to Mr. McEwen, M.H.R., by this association following on a press’ statement which alleged that you denied being present ut a meeting of Bacon Curers and Pig Operators.
The inference in this statement was that the meeting ‘‘referred to ‘ was that convened by the Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies in May, 1940, whereas in fact the discussion which took place in Parliament concerned the appointment of an inspector in 1945.
Tho meeting which was convened by the Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies in May of this year was at the request of members of this association, and also the pig operators willi a view to devising some plan whereby prices being paid in the markets for pigs could be stabilized at the prices laid down in the Pig Meat plan, and also of ascertaining il margins in canning contracts were such a* to permit operators to pay prices in excess of the plan price.
That clarifies the situation, except that I desire to point out that, notwithstanding that I had denied being at the 1945 meeting, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) saw fit to repeat the allegations of the honorable member for Indi in the following terms : -
The honorable .member for Ballarat did not chair the meeting. However, he was present at . the meeting and he addressed it as a representative’ of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. This fact was not disclosed by the honorable member for Ballarat. He lead the House to believe that if he were there at all, he was present only in an innocuous capacity.
He well knew that he was misrepresenting the facts. The truth is that from back in 3.945 the Controller of Meat Supplies was’ having difficulty in obtaining the co-operation of the ham and bacon curers and processors in adhering to the pig-meat plan, although he valiantly struggled with the problem that confronted him. At some date before the 16th May, in ‘ response, no doubt, to repeated complaints that had reached him and because of the observations of hi* officers at the market, he decided that an attempt must be made to bring the pigmeat plan into effective operation as regards price margins, and he convened the meeting of the ham and bacon curers and processors held on the 16th May. It was attended by the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies, who telephoned to me and suggested that I attend.
– Did the honorable member attend as Assistant Minister for Commerce and Agriculture?
– Not as Assistant Minister, but as Assistant to the Minister.
– I attended as a member assisting the Minister. I have no hesitation in saying that I attended in that capacity, but I did not attend, as was suggested in this House, at the request of the Minister.
– What authority did the honorable member have to attend?
– I am telling the story. I attended the. meeting. ‘ I offer no’ apologies for what.’ took place or what T said.
– The honorable member, could attend only as- the honorable mem- hor for Ballarat.
– If I were accustomed to sheltering in funk-holes I would not have gone, but 1 did go, and, before the meeting opened, I discussed the situation with the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies, who gave me the following memorandum to read: -
During the first four months of the present year no control has been .exercised over slaughterings.
Curers have been placed on quota for local sales of bacon. In addition to this orders ire being carried out for supply of bacon to Australian Military Force, and for export on account of the British Ministry of Food. The balance of curers slaughterings were intended for shipment as frozen pork to the United Kingdom.
During this period it has been found that the total sales of bacon to the local trade have exceeded the quota to a considerable extent and very little Kas been - placed into store by curers for export as frozen pork. Furthermore, prices have continued at levels very much in excess of the Pig-meat Acquisition Plan schedule.
In addition, I perused the weekly return submitted in accordance with . the requirements of the pig-meat plan by the ham and bacon curers and processors of Victoria, and; without exception, those returns indicated that they had substantially pierced the ceiling prices for pigs on the hoof. Furthermore, in the week ended the 4th May, the returns indicated that 924 pigs that should have been sent to the people of Great Britain to assist them in their hour of need were put on the local market. As those pigs were withheld from export to Great Britain, and, as the pig-meat plan was being broken down, I had no hesitation, .after the meeting had been opened with the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies in the chair, in addressing .it in the plainest and strongest- terms that I could muster, believing that it was essential, from many points of view, that I should do so. Aftei the chairman had opened the proceedings and stated the position that existed, I appealed to the curers and processors to adhere to the plan. I mention in passing that also present were the Deputy Prices Commissioner and one of his staff.. I did not definitely state what would be the policy of the Commonwealth Government if the buyers did not play the game, but I did say that their own admissions and returns plainly showed that ‘ they had broken away from a plan to which the Government required adherence. I said that, in my’ opinion, if they did not return to the plan and play the game, the Government would have no hesitation, I believed, in . instructing the Prices Commissioner totake action, perhaps by reducing the margin between the price of the pig on the hoof and the price of bacon to consumers. Nothing else was said. ‘ Those at the meeting appeared to realize from that statement that something was required of them. Immediately, they decided to hold’ a meeting among themselves, and announced that intention to the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies, the Deputy Prices Commissioner, and myself. I have nothing to hide in this matter. As no other room was available, I suggested that the departmental officials and I should retire in order to allow them to discuss their business in private. They replied, “ We having nothing to hide, and we do not object to your remaining in the room “. While they held their conference at one end of the room under their own chairman, I conversed at the other end of the room on general matters with the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies and the Deputy Prices Commissioner. I did not desire to hear, nor have I the faintest idea of ‘what methods the bacon curers and processors discussed to secure adherence to the plan. After they had concluded their business, their chair- - man reported to the Acting Deputy Controller of Meat Supplies and myself that they decided to adhere to the pig plan.
– By what method?
– They did not reveal the method. They said that they would pay the prices prescribed in the plan. According to allegations .. made in this chamber recently, the bacon curers and processors could observe the plan only by defying the Victorian Lot-splitting Act. All I can ‘say, to those who made the allegation, is that I do not believe it to be a fact. I do not know their methods, but I do know that the Acting DeputyController of Meat Supplies and I did not advise them to ignore the Victorian Lot-splitting Act or even eliminate competition’. It was their business to decide how they should play the game, bring into operation a system of fair dealing’ between man and man, and observe the requirements of the pig-meat plan.
– By appointing only <>ne bidder.
– That is a “ curly “ one.
– As I proceed, I shall give the honorable member for Gippsland some “ curly “ ones. They further reported that they would again discuss the plan, and hold another meeting a week later for the purpose of examining their progress. On the 25th July last, one honorable member stated in this House that that meeting was a “ secret conclave”, and claimed that the representatives of the producers should have been present.” The meeting was not a secret -conclave. No meeting of any section of the trade which is attended by the honorable member assisting the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and departmental officials could possibly be a secret assembly. From time to time, the Prime Minister and other Ministers have adopted the practice of conferring with outside authorities on particular subjects of immediate concern to the Commonwealth. About a week ago, members of the Australian Country party in this Houfe condemned and abused the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture because be did not call into conference on the wheat legislation the representatives of the Primary Producers Union. If the honorable gentleman had conferred with them, they would have met him in his office unaccompanied by any one else, and ‘ the discussions might have meant that finally the Minister, being impressed by their contentions would have agreed to incorporate in that measure a provision which would benefit the wheatgrowers but could affect adversely all other sections of the community. Such a con ference could not be called a “ secret conclave “, and in the same way, the meeting to which I referred was not a secret assembly.
– The producers considered .that they should have been represented.
– At any rate, it was not a secret conclave. .
– It was a good imitation of one.
-It is interesting to note that the Ham and Bacon Curers Association in effect repudiated the remarks of the honorable member for Indi. In addition, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) repudiated his references to Mr. Cullen, a member of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association. The attack which the Australian Country party has made on this bill suggests to me a defence of black marketing. What is the difference between black marketing in primary products, and black marketing in motor cars or wearing apparel? There is none. In those circumstances, the Government was perfectly justified in endeavouring to prevent that kind of operation.
What is’ the pig-meat plan? The scheme came into operation in 1943 as theresult of the recommendations of the Meat Industry Commission and the pig producers. It prescribed the price which should be paid to the producer, and the price at which operators should sell to the public and make meat available for export. The plan substantially improved the position of pig producers. In 1943. when the honorable member for Indi was a Minister in the Menzies Government, pig prices were at a disastrously low level. According to the Argus of the 20th. March, 1941, the price of prime lightweight pork was 29s. 6d. to 34s. 6d. ; medium, 35s. 6d. to 40s. 6d. ; heavy to 45s. ; and extra heavy to 48s. The price under the plan is £6 13s.
– Not for pork.
– No, for baconer. The price of pork is correspondingly high. According to the *Argus report, the price for prime porkers was 6d. to 0£d. per lb.; good, to 5 3/4d ; medium, 5d. The price of baconers was 5d.-.to 5$d. per lb.; good to 4-Ad. To-day, under the plan, the price is . 9d. per lb. I agree .that it is difficult for a person to judge on the hoof the weight of a pig to within a few pounds. The honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Richmond know, that persons who are familiar with the stock business can judge the weight of a lamb to within h couple of pounds.
– Will the honorable member inform’ me whether the plan has resulted iri a reduction of price to the consumer ?
– The honorable member for Richmond should know that at the meeting to which I referred, the Acting Deputy Prices Commissioner, as the result of the revelations, told the bacon curers and processors that if that kind of thing were possible, he would conaider whether the margin between the price to be charged to the public and that which the processors were then paying to the producers should be reduced.
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– in reply - The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) .has dealt thoroughly ‘ with the purposes of this bill, and the criticisms which honorable members opposite directed against it. The object of the measure is to transfer the powers, now exercised by the Controller of Meat Supplies to the board which will be established by this legislation, and at the outset, I believed that honorable members could not possibly object to it. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) made many statements of such a questionable nature that they destroyed the whole force of his argument, and filled his listeners with a sense of repugnance. He lowered the standard of this Parliament. The honorable member for Indi was supported, although less offensively, by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who appeared in a new role. In the past, he was always- a clean fighter, and played the game. On this occasion he made innuendoes and. uttered half-truths. The honorable member for Ballarat effectively replied to both honorable members.
This Government has treated the meat producers with greater generosity than, was shown by members of the Australian. Country party who were Ministers in” the Menzies Government. The honorable member for Ballarat referred to the exceedingly low prices which were paidto pig producers before the Labour Government took office towards the end of 1941. Equally low prices were payablefor fat lambs and other meat. In 1941, ‘ before we took office, the prices for pigmeats and fat lambs in Australia collapsed.. That disaster was caused by thecessation of shipping as the result of the Japanese threat. Although the primary producers appealed to the Menzies Government -for assistance, no effort wasmade to relieve their plight. Under theauthority of my predecessors, the Department of Commerce warned lamb producers not to joint their ewes at that: time. Pig-meat prices also collapsed. On the border of my electorate, there is a. big market for pig-meats. Because of theunprecedentedly low prices, some producers took their pigs back to their farms, some sold them for as low as 5s. each, and others were prepared to give away a pig with young pigs. ‘ That was the - kind of “ protection “ which members of the Australian Country party afforded to meat producers on that occasion. About that time, the honorable member for Richmond, who was Assistant Minister for Commerce, visited New Zealand, where a Labour government was in office. It had the same problems as those which confronted the Commonwealth government of the day. What did the honorable member find? The Labour government rose to the occasion, and purchased all the meat at export parity and placed - it in cold storage. The government expended millions of pounds, and, in doing so, took enormous risks; but ultimately, when the shipping services were restored, the whole of the meat was exported to the United Kingdom which required it so urgently, and the producers - of New Zealand-, under the Labour Government, ‘ were adequately protected. .
When the honorable gentleman returned from New Zealand did he recommend that the Australian Government should act as the Government of New Zealand had done to protect the fat lamb and pig producers from absolute ruin? He did not. He was not prepared to take any risk. That is the difference between the treatment of the producers by a Labour government and by a so-called Country party government which was Country party only in name.
I wish to refer to despicable suggestions and innuendoes made during the debate that certain persons in the organization of the Controller of Meat Supplies had made a “ rake-off “. More objectionable statements have never been made in this House, and an unjustifiable stigma has been cast upon officers who have been responsible for the sale of meat. Such attacks upon public officials debase the standards of Parliament. An unfair blow has been dealt at persons who. are not here to defend themselves. Yet the right honorable gentleman forCowper (Sir Earle Page) in the same debate, spoke in high appreciation of the efficiency of the Controller of Meat Supplies and his staff. I have attended meetings in the capital cities of Australia from Brisbane to Perth in company with the Controller of Meat Supplies and members of his staff and I have been pleased to hear the eulogistic references which have been made to them for the sympathetic consideration they have given to the primary producers of Australia. That very fact gives the lie direct to the baseless allegations that have been made during this debate. I have no more to say, except that I hope, for the sake of parliamentary propriety and the maintenance of a high standard of debate, we shall not witness another such exhibition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-Is it the pleasure of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole ?
Honorable Members. - Yes.
. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) whether, as the persons who will sit on the board as representative of the Prices Commission and the Rationing Commission are to act only in a temporary capacity, and as the National Security Act and the regulations thereunder are to expire at the end of December, we may take it that the Government intends that meat-rationing shall end at that time, or does the Government intend that rationing shall continue ?
. -It is impossible to answer the honorable member’s question at present. The action to be taken at the end of December following the expiration of the National Security Act will depend largely upon the position in regard to meat supplies in the United Kingdom at that time. I cannot say any more on the subject at this juncture.
Bill agreed to.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The question is that I report the bill without amendment.
– I rise to order. I ask. Mr. Temporary Chairman, whether the bill was taken as a whole ?
– The Chair asked whether it was the pleasure of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole. The committee agreed. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) then rose and. asked a question of the Minister. The question was then put and carried.
– I rise to order. The question was put in such a way-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
-That is air very well, but we are entitled, as members of the committee, to discuss questions that are put from the Chair. A certain amount of conversation was going on when you. sir, put the question and it precluded some of us from hearing you.
– The Chair put the question in a sufficiently loud voice. Honorable members. despite conversation that might have been proceeding, should have understood what was being done. After all it was a normal proceeding. If the honorable member was not giving attention to the business the Chair cannot overcome that.
– Honorable members cannot hear everything that is going on.
– Order ! The honorable member will not be permitted to canvas the matter.
– But I am permitted to say this: the purpose of this committee is to discuss a bill clause by clause, but you, sir, put the bill as a whole.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in disputing the ruling of the Chair?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is not strictly in order, but the Chair desired to hear his view. Having heard it I shall put the question -
That the bill be reported to the House without amendment.
– I rise to order. I agree that the question that the bill be taken as a whole was put, as I heard it put, but that is not the vital matter. Through some inadvertence - I know that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was conversing with a colleague on the terms of the bill - the question was put without, his hearing it. Is it not now competent for the bill to be recommitted so that the points which the honorable member desired to raise may be raised ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That can be done only in the House. The position at present is that the bill must be reported to the House. The House may then decide to recommit it.
– I protest against the bill having been put through the committee as a whole. That is not fair to honorable members who may wish to debate particular clauses.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The committee agreed to the bill being taken as a whole.
– It is scandalous if we cannot debate the business putbefore us. It is absolutely scandalous.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member may not proceed along those lines.
-I have been thwarted twice in my efforts to discuss the bill.
– Order !
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I move -
That the bill be now recommitted to ‘a committee of the whole House for reconsideration.
My reason for doing so is that I consider it was quite wrong for the Chairman to put the question, “ That thebill be taken as a whole “. The measure contains eight clauses. The usual procedure is that each clause shall be put to the committee separately. Sometimes a chairman, in order to cause a bill to be passed quickly, especially if it is an embarrassing measure, may ask whether it is the pleasure of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole. I do not regard that as correct procedure. The clauses should be called one by one. When that question was put to the committee some honorable members were otherwise engaged. Honorable members are entitled to an opportunity to consider each clause, andI protest most strongly against the method adopted to push this bill through. I desire to discuss certain aspects of ministerial control of the meat industry, and, particularly, the provision to establish a producer-controlled board, having special regard to a short provision which the Minister had included in the bill in order to make the board subservient to the political party in office for the time being.
– The honorable member may not debate the purpose of the bill. He must confine his remarks to reasons why it should be recommitted.
– That is what I am proceeding to do. The measure should be recommitted because honorable members were prevented from discussing certain important features of it which abrogate the right of producers to control their own industry.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member entitled to discuss the merits of the measure in this manner?
– The honorable member for Richmond may only” state reasons why the bill should be recommitted. He may not discuss the merits of the bill.
– I am not discussing the merits of the bill. I am dealing with the manner in which it was passed through the committee stage. You, sir, may not have been in the chamber at the time, but the fact is that the Temporary Chairman ofCommittees (Mr. Barnard) put the question while members were temporarily engaged otherwise, and within a couple of seconds declared the question carried. There were certain reasons why the honorable gentleman may have done this. He may have been trying to expedite the business, but he also may have been trying to protect the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) in connexion with the class of legislation which he is trying to push through Parliament. I am not able to say what his reason was.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– The only reflection on the Chair was the action of the Temporary Chairman himself. In a few minutes a bill designed to control the meat industry, to create a producercontrol board, and to transfer power from the Controller of Meat Supplies to the Minister has been put through the committee as one question, instead of clause by clause. At the com- mittee stage honorable members are accustomed to analyse the various provisions of a measure. I rose to discuss certain vital aspects of this bill, but I was told as soon as rose that I was too late. That is one of my reasons for moving for the recommittal of the bill. This Parliament is a deliberative assembly. The duty of both ministerial and opposition members is to analyse such legislation as the Government submits to the Parliament. At times, the analysis by members of theOpposition may be destructive. At other times, even ministerial supporters may admit that it is constructive. It must be conceded that opposition members have a duty to perform.
We represent in this House at least48. per cent. of the total electorate.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in discussing any matter other than the question of whether the bill should be recommitted?
– The honorable member for Richmond is en- , titled to give reasons in support of his motion for the recommittal of the bill. The Chair is paying close attention to his statements. Should he transgress the Standing Orders, he will be called to order.
– The honorable member for Fremantle is a new member and not acquainted with the rules of procedure of this House. When a bill is. introduced it has to pass the first, second and third readings. It is well known that after the second reading the House resolves itself into committee where the clauses of the bill are discussed seriatim. Honorable members are then afforded the opportunity to submit amendments to the clauses individually if theyso desire. My objection is that, before an opportunity was given to discuss any clause in this bill, the Temporary Chairman of Committees (Mr. Barnard) put the bill as a whole with such expedition that members of the Australian Country party were prevented from discussing different . clauses. During the second-reading debate, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully), and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), made certain references to what I had said in regard to the exercise of power by the Controller of Meat Supplies.
Mr.Pollard. -Is the honorable member in order in citing statements by the Minister or by me during the secondreading debate in support of his evasion of the question. As a. matter of fact, he was “slow on the jump”.
-Order ! That is not a point of order.
-My name was mentioned during the second-reading debate, and I could reply only by addressing my remarks to certain clauses in committee.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr, W. J. F. Riordan.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 11th July (vide page 2386), on motion by Mr. Hollow ay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is rather an involved measure, and the circumstances with which it proposes to deal may not be known by many members of the Parliament. There are aspects of it, and principles embodied in it, which I believe demand our close scrutiny. The Minister (Mr. Holloway) said, in his second-reading speech, that honorable members on both sides of the House would wish to redeem the pledge given to our bona fide tradesmen that pre-war practices and customs would be restored, and that we would also wish to provide a just measure of rehabilitation for men who had served in the fighting forces.With both of those sentiments, I am certain, all members will agree. The bill purports to give effect to undertakings that were given to unions and employers when the dilution agreements were made, and it is claimed that it will assist in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. I propose to address myself to both of those aspects.
First, however, I should like to make some remarks dealing with the history of this’ matter. Early in 1940, it became clear that Australia would need to expand rapidly and extensively its facilities for making munitions. At that time, the role which Australia was to play in the war had not been so clearly defined as was the case later. Japan was not in the war, and it was believed that large numbers of troops would not be sent from Australia, but that Australia would have an important part to play as a manufacturer of munitions, and in the supply of foodstuffs and goods of various kinds. At that time, reference was frequently made to our position as the arsenal of the Pacific. If we were to expand our capacity to manufacture munitions, it was clear that we could not do so by using only qualified tradesmen in the traditional fashion. Tradesmen in the metal trades group, who were in key positions, had gone through five years of apprenticeship. Some had been elevated by their employers in the workshops, but only if they showed that they had acquired the necessary degree of skill. The craft unions had guarded very jealously and justifiably the rights of their members, as, indie past, had other organizations associated with trades and professions. They had stipulated that those who were to receive the title and the advantages of tradesmen should be properly qualified. However, the war could not wait for everything to be done in the prescribed way. The emergency of war called for emergency measures. Just as in Great Britain an arrangement was entered into between the representatives of the Government, the employers and the employees for what was termed the dilution of the metal trades, so we in Australia tried to bring about a similar result here.
It was my responsibility, as the Assistant Minister for Supply at the time, to preside at discussions early in- 1940 on these important matters. I think I can say with justice to those who attended these conferences that they were worked out with, skill, and certainly to the great advantage of the producing capacity of Australia, especially regarding munitions. The negotiation of the agreements was not easy. Strong views were held by the representatives of the employers and the employees. The early discussions were led, so far as employees were concerned, by representatives of what is, perhaps, the most powerful ‘ and significant union .in Australia, the Amalgamated Engineering Union. It was largely as the result of the leadership of that union that other trades followed suit, and joined in the dilution arrangement.
The success of the agreement reached is evidenced by the Minister’s statement that 50,000 men were added to the various trades. Although many have now returned to their normal occupations, 20,000 of this added number still remain in the metal trades. I have mentioned’ the Amalgamated Engineering Union, but there- were five trades con- cerned - engineers, boilermakers, blacksmiths, electricians, and sheet metal workers. Some trades would not come into the scheme, and for that reason we should be more appreciative of those that did. The Minister, when introducing the bill,’ concluded his speech by expressing his appreciation of representatives of the organizations of employers and employees who had participated in the negotiations. I, as the Minister who negotiated the agreement at the time, also wish to express my appreciation, and that of other members of- the Opposition. Without wishing to make any invidious distinction, I feel justified in paying a special tribute to Mr. Cranwell, who led the’ Amalgamated Engineering Union during the war. That union has given loyal and unstinted service to the Commonwealth. It exercises a position, of great _ authority and importance because its workers are in key positions- in practically every establishment of importance in Australia. In spite of the undoubted power which the union could exercise by departing from constitutional practices in industrial matters, it has consistently “ played the game “.
Honorable members will obtain some idea of its importance when I cite the figures associated with the introduction of dilutees. According to information placed before the Arbitration Court by a representative of the union, of the 50,000 dilutees engaged during the war, 37,000 entered the engineering unions, and of those 1S,000 are still employed in the industry. There is, of course, another engineering union, the Australasian Society of Engineers, but the principal union, numerically, and the one which took the lead in negotiations with the Government and the employers, is the Amalgamated Engineering’ Union. : In September, 1939, its membership was 28,000. It reached a. peak figure of 72,000 in 1944, and its membership is now, I understand, 64,000.
I now pass on to the statement of the Minister ‘that this bill honours the undertaking contained in the dilution agreement. Some honorable members will naturally wish to know what those undertakings were. They were embodied in a comparatively short and simple document known as the Dilution Agreement. If I read some of the clauses of this document, it will be clear what we had in mind at the time. They are ac follows: -
To ensure that the full resources of available labour may be organized and applied in the best possible way to meet the demand for skilled labour, and that by careful planning and selection the problems arising when the ti ma arrives to return to normal working conditions will be minimized,- the scheme set out in the subsequent paragraphs is approved.
Clearly, there is a good deal of misunderstanding in the minds of many people, including members of Parliament, as to the arrangements made at that time. It willbe seen that, in the first place, we set outto add to the number of men working in the munitions industry, and secondly,to provide that recognized tradesmen would not be dismissed before dilutees - in other words, the first to come should be the last to go. I emphasize this because some persons have sought to read into the agreement a limitation on the capacity of the Government to provide for the rehabilitation of servicemen. Quite clearly, it would have been impossible at that time to lay down any hard and fast rule regarding the rights of servicemen. Nobody could predict what would have to be borne by those who worked in the factories. It might be, and proved to be the case in other countries, that the factories would be subject to attack from the air; or that, in the event of invasion, they might even be in the battle line itself. Thus, no one could determine the rights of factory employees as against members of the services. We could not tell for example how long the men who enlisted in the forces would be required to serve. The war might be over in twelve months; it might not be over for ten years, and consequently no government with any sense of responsibility would have endeavoured to determine where its obligations ended. We did not attempt to do that, nor has any government since we were in office done so until this measure was brought before us. Whatever this Parliament believes should be done with respect to the absorption of certain members of trades or professions among returned servicemen, nothing that wasdone by the government of which I was a member would limit its capacity to do so. The Minister told us that the purpose of this bill is to honour the undertakings given under the Dilution Agreement. Honorable members will find that it goes much further than that. I do not criticize the unions for pressing for the restrictions which they believe should be imposed. They have a very considerable membership to look after; they know that their trades have expanded under the impact of the munitions programme, and they may foresee difficulties in maintaining in constant employment during a period of possible declining production all those who have come into the metal trades. It is natural that as far as practicable they should seek to restrict the admission of other persons into their callings. They may regard the limited absorption provided in this measure as a gesture of willingness . on their part to rehabilitate ex-servicemen. I shall examine how extensive that absorption is likely to be. By this bill the Government is establishing a very much greater protection than was contemplated in the Dilution Agreement, a greater protection than has ever been known before in the history of this country. We are limiting not only the right of the employer to revert to pre-war practices and, if he so desires, elevate or up-grade his employee as in the past, but we are also, making it virtually impossible- for certain groups of persons to find their way into .the trades covered by this bill. “ I have already mentioned that there are five important trades so covered. If honorable members wish to get a quick view of how extensive that limitation is likely to be, I suggest that they examine the schedule to the bill where they will see that the trades come under the headings of engineers, boilermakers, blacksmiths, electricians and sheet-metal workers.
– -In fact the whole of the dilution trades.
– -That is so, but their members comprise a very substantial section of industry. They constitute not merely the heart, but also most of the body of the metal trades group. The protection accorded to the members of the unions by this bill will create an unchallengeable vested interest and impose a serious limitation upon the rights of thousands of young ex-servicemen to enter the trades and trade classifications set out in the schedule to the bill. This limitation on the entry of members might almost be- described as a reversion to the practice of the mediaeval guilds.
I turn now to the position of exservicemen. As I pointed out earlier the Minister has claimed that one of the principal functions of the bill is to provide a measure of rehabilitation. I am certain the Minister is -fully aware that the bill would have a very doubtful constitutional validity if it were not purely a rehabilitation measure. Consequently we must examine just how sound and warranted is the claim that the bill does in fact provide a measure of rehabilitation. The num bers of those who have had trade experience in the services within the respective categories- is enormous. We would get some idea of the problem that would confront us should all of them, desire to engage in those classes of work. Quite clearly many thousands of them will not wish to do so. Indeed the applications already received suggest that only a very small proportion of those who had experience during the war, either in the Army or the Air Force - I have not been able to obtain the figures for the Navy - will seek employment in the metal trades group.
– Could a migrant tradesman secure employment .under this bill ?
– The honorable member refers to a fully qualified tradesman from Great Britain ?
Mr.- White. - Yes.
– I believe he probably could; that would depend upon the unions. As far as’ I am aware, there is nothing in the bill which would limit hi; right of entry. I am informed by the Department of the Army that excluding, personnel specifically enlisted as tradesmen, 14,400 persons were trained in the Army during the war within these trade classifications. I have been informed by Army authorities that the number of specifically trained tradesmen who entered the forces would more than equal the number trained while members of the forces. We may assume that the total number who had served in the Army and had trade experience, either received in the Forces or prior to their enlistment, would be approximately 30,000. The Department of Air is unable to supply up-to-date figures. Some statistics which were compiled in September, 1945, however give an idea of the numbers involved. At that time there were 38,700 personnel in the” metal trade? mustering, of whom 13,000 had been tradesmen on entry. That indicates that 25,700 had received training in the metal trades group while in the Air Force. -Mr. Holloway. - Many of them would be motor mechanics.
– No; I asked the Air Force authorities not to include motor mechanics and drivers. That they are definitely within the groups I have mentioned is clearly shown from the following list of musterings which have been included in the figures I have cited: -
– They are tradesmen?
– Whether they would be classified as tradesmen in the pre-war sense I am unable to say, but they were so classified in the Air Force. They either entered as fully fledged tradesmen or underwent a period of training before being drafted into those musterings.
I propose now to examine how the bill has dealt with the problem of the rights of those ex-servicemen and their opportunities for entry into the metaltrades groups. The bill provides that in the first instance there shall” be this protection for the recognized tradesman. It does not give priority to the dilutee tradesman over the limited number of persons who may go into the trades from the Forces. In practice it is difficult to see how such opportunities will exist for any substantial number of ex-servicemen if the dilutee tradesmen are to be retained in their positions. That is one aspect of the bill which I believe should be given the most careful consideration. The Minister has told us that there were still 24,000 dilutee tradesmen in the metal trades. Compared with many exservicemen, they would not have had any experience of note when they entered the trade. They engaged in the calling in a civilian capacity. On the other hand tens of thousands of ex-servicemen who did not have trade experience before they went into the services got their training while members of the Forces. Contrast the relative position of those two groups. In one group there are 24,000 persons who are now employed in the metal trades and will apparently remain there.
Only a fractional number of those who received their training in the services are likely to be able to find their way into the metal trades industry. Whether or not it is so specified in the bill, a definite preference and priority will be given to the dilutee tradesman who served in a civilian capacity over the dilutee tradesman who served in the fighting Forces. I ask the House to bear that point in mind.
– That means that a dilutee tradesman is to be given preference over , an ex-serviceman?
– Yes. That is how I view the purport of the bill. If I am mistaken I should like the Minister to point out my mistake. The second point is that the bill makes provision for some of these people who have been in the services to receive a period of training and subsequently to be taken into the metal trades. They are described as trainee tradesmen. Another group is described as probationary tradesmen. In order to come within those categories they must first go through an elimination process. In the first instance there is automatic exclusion of those persons who had trade experience beforethe war but who had . no trade experience in the services during the war. I emphasize that, because it means that in practice a man who had two or three years of experience before the war as, say, a motor mechanic, but enlisted and saw active service with a combatant unit, such as the infantry or the artillery, or as a fighter or bomber pilot, is automatically excluded from the right to be trained ; whereas the man who received trade training during the war and perhaps saw no fighting at any stage, but served in the trade in which he was trained, does get the right, which, as I shall show, is a very limited right in practice, of training and subsequent absorption in the metal trades. This Parliament cannot accept for a moment a provision that would exclude men with some trade experience, whose sole disqualification is their service in fighting units during the war.
– They had. some trade experience before enlistment?
– Yes. I know of many of them. In committee,I propose to move an amendment that would have the effect of admitting them for consideration and training in the trades in which they have had experience.
That is one point. The other is that the right is given to those who had experience during the wax in a trade. Here again, although the bill is flaunted as a measure of rehabilitation, it restricts the right that existed under the regulations that it will replace. The regulations provided that if a man had trade experience during the war, he could be given a period of training. In other words, he may have served in a trade capacity for one or two. years and later gone into service, and, even if he did not have any trade experiencein that service, he would have still been eligible for. training under the regulations. So the bill, far from extending as a measure of rehabilitation the right of these men, has severely limited the field of those who will be eligible for absorption. In order to give the House some idea of how severe that limitation is, I say that I have been told that if the same rule had applied from the outset as is laid down in the bill, 50 per cent. of those accepted by the local committee for absorption would have been excluded. Therefore we have evidence of the hollowness of the claim that this isa rehabilitation measure. It actually restricts the right that previously existed under the regulations. There are many thousands of persons with the sort of experience that the bill purports to cover. Figures have been given to me in respect of Victoria. To the12th July, 273 applications had been forwarded to the five local committees by the reestablishment division of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. That division makes its own eliminations before it sends applications to the local committees. It does not send applications that it believes have no prospect of success. It sends the applications of those who it believes should receive the consideration of the committees. Of the 273 applications - I emphasize the figure of 273 out of many thousands - only 27 have been accepted, and 56 have been rejected, and the rest have not been dealt with finally. I do not know how many of the applications that are. not yet dealt with would be automatically excluded by the provisions that the Government has inserted in this bill. The point that I bring to the notice of the House is that even the amendment that I will move in committee will not be of very much value, unless there is a considerably larger absorption than the figures at present available suggest if taking place.
Another proposal that I make for the consideration of the Parliament is that there ought to be some direct representation of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia upon the committees that are to be set up under this bill. The rehabilitation rights of ex-servicemen are directly involved, and it is only just that the committees set up to examine those rights should include people who have had war service and, as representatives of the league, are prepared to give direct personal attention to the rights of members.
– The league has no representation at all?
– No prescribed representation. I originally contemplated moving an amendment that would add two representatives of the league to the central committee and to the local committees in the States, but I thought that it might be argued that that would overload the committees, even against representatives of the employees. SoI thought it would be far better and,I hope, acceptable to the Government, that one at least of the representatives nominated by the employers and employees should be members of the league. I am certain that many members of the. league are engaged in the engineering trade.
– The Minister emphasises what I say. It should not be difficult for the union to nominate a member who is also a. member of the league. Similarly, on the employers’ side, there are many representatives who would be eligible under that head. I hope that is one amendment that the Government will accept.
My third amendment will be to clause 41, which provides in sub-clause4 -
An application . . . shall, unless a Local Committee in a particular case otherwise permits, be made within six months after thedate of discharge of the member of the forces or after the twenty-second day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fortysix . . . whichever is the later. [n other words, March this year. Six months .from then will be about a fortnight hence. So I suggest that the Minister look at the figures in relation to Victoria - only 273 applications! Yet hundreds of thousands of people have been discharged from the services. Because little publicity has been given to this scheme, I am. certain that few of them are aware of their rights.
– Only 83 applications have been dealt with.
– Yes. The Government has been, apparently, aware of the difficulty of placing such a short limit of time on applications for training under the Reconstruction Training Scheme, because f am advised that it recently extended the period under which those applications may be made to twelve months after the date of discharge, or the 30th June, 1947, whichever is the later. If it is fair- to extend the period of eligibility for training under the Post-war Reconstruction” training scheme, it is equally fair that the Parliament should extend the period of eligibility under this scheme, at least until twelve. months after the date of the discharge or the 30bh June, 1947, whichever is the later.
That is all I desire to say at this stage on the bill, but I think the House will have heard enough to realize that it goes a great deal beyond what the Minister has -said. Our undertaking to the trade unions under the dilution agreements must be honoured, and all parties would desire that. But the hill goes a long way beyond that. In regard- to its second aspect, the Minister has erred in the other direction. He claims that it is a measure of rehabilitation of exservicemen. I do not accept it as- such and I am certain that no other honorable gentleman on this side does so. Judging by the communication that we have received from the representatives of exservicemen and by the disappointment expressed by those who have already realized that their rights to admission to the trades are f rustrated by the application of this measure, I believe that there is a vast body of indignation in the community against the bill. The Minister has the reputation of being a fair and reasonable man, and I do not wish to detract from that. I believe that, conscious as he must have been of the need to get a measure of agreement on this matter, he may not have realized the full extent of the exclusion of ex-servicemen with trade experience before or during the war. Consequently I hope that as the result of the matters being debated openly, he will accept as reasonable the amendments that I intend’ to move. I have not drafted an amendment .so far that would go the whole way, although’ I believe that the Parliament should do that. I have not drafted an ‘amendment that would bring in the man who had trade experience before the war and enlisted immediately on its outbreak, and therefore had no experience during the war in either his own or any other trade. To that extent even the amendments that I have suggested remain unsatisfactory.
– Why not bring them in, too? Many air-crew members are excluded.
– Frankly, I had my amendments prepared before I became aware’ that that group was excluded, although it might well be included. It would be a travesty of justice if the Parliament were to pass a measure to disqualify from training men who served in combatant .units from the outbreak of war.
The DEPUTY .SPE AREE.- Order! - The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) clearly showed the defects of this bill, and I very much question the need for it. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) said in commencing his second-reading speech -
This is intended to give effect to the undertakings given to the unions and further’ to assist in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen.
I think the honorable member for’ Fawkner has shown that the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen does not come into the bill. On the contrary, it excludes them and makes their position more difficult. Therefore, it is on that point principally that I desire to make a few observations.
I say advisedly that many men enlisted, particularly in . the Royal Australian Air Force, who had experience in trades before they entered the service, and who now cannot be considered as tradesmen. At the outbreak of the war, I was commanding officer at the Initial Training School at Somers, in Victoria, where I saw the records of every man who passed into the establishment to be trained for air crew. I noted that large’ numbers of the men had been employed in the categories of engineers, metal workers and electricians. Later some of them became pilots, observers and air gunners and achieved high distinction in the service. Because of their determination to serve as air crew they were away from their trades for a number of years. Had they not been able to make the grade as air crew, or had they any physical defects, they would have remained in their trade in the Royal Australian Air Force. I am sure that the Minister will recognize that this bill will do a great injustice to many outstanding young men. I cannot say why he did not think of them when this bill was being drafted. Now that the omission has been brought to his notice, I hope that the scope of the bill will be widened so as to include those who were tradesmen or had some experience in a trade before the outbreak of war. The post-war Air Force is not attractive to these young men. The Government has not yet announced a suitable establishment, but has stated only that there will be an Interim Air Force and personnel may enlist in it for a period of two years. In those circumstances, many former members of the Royal Australian Air Force willdesire to return to the trade or calling to which they belonged before their enlistment. Some worked as bank and insurance clerks, or as business executives. Many of those who distinguished themselves as much as men with the best education were the young men in the mechanic class, who had worked at the bench or forge. Their names became famous in the service, yet this bill will exclude them. I exhort the honorable gentleman to remove this hardship. The bill will create more confusion in industry, but if the Government insists on passing it, the measure should be just.
Let there be preference to those who left the workshop to go into the front line to fight! Preference should not be extended to the man who, whatever his reasons, worked in Australia during the war.
When the honorable member for Fawkner was speaking, I asked what would be the position of British tradesmen who came to Australia as migrants.
– If the migrant had been a tradesman in the services or got his trade experience in the services, he would probably be excluded, just as our own people are.
– What a prospect at a time when the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is issuing booklets ad lib to advertise Australia and encourage men trained in the building trade to migrate here! This bill will defeat the objects of the Minister for Immigration. I have received the following letter from the Returned. Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial Leagueof Australia, exImperial sub-branch : -
Our organization is of the opinion that British ex-service personnel on the whole are getting a rough deal. They have been promised a fair go on paper, but what are the actual facts. These men get little or no consideration when it comes to employment and training because of a clause in an instruction given to rehabilitation officers for their guidance that reads as follows: - “United Kingdom ex-servicemen and women selected as eligible and suitable for training will rank after Australian ex-servicemen and women where there is competition for training vacancies “.
Our members contend that British exservice personnel have been automatically barred from training because by the time that Australian personnel have been absorbed (which at the present rate will take years) our men will have graduated to he useful members of the community per medium of the pick and shovel or as genera] labourers.
This bill will impose an additional hardship upon this class of person. In my opinion, this Parliament is passing too much legislation. Too many authorities are planning other men’s lives. Their ideas are put forward to receptive Ministers. I know that the Minister in charge of the bill is steeped in industrial affairs, and I have no doubt that the trade unions instruct him that he must preserve their vested right in industry, and ensure that they shall receive preferential treatment. That is the reverse of the policy of preference to ex-servicemen I invite the honorable gentleman to explain how former members of the services and immigrants will fare under this bill.
[4.6 J. - This measure affords me an opportunity to direct attention to further examples of the Government’s shocking bungling of the rehabilitation of exservicemen, and to its deplorable treatment of .ex-servicemen anxious to engage in useful trades. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who introduced the bill, said that one of its purposes was to assist the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. But it is futile to talk of assisting, their rehabilitation while the Government is content to allow the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs to continue. It is evident that in addition to red-tape strangling effective rehabilitation, certain trade unions are determined to prevent men who fought for their country from engaging in useful trades. A few days ago, the Sydney press reported that Mr. Roy Jackson, secretary of the federal shipwrights and ship constructors organization, declared, first, that soldiertrainees .were not admitted under the post-war reconstruction training scheme, and, secondly, that there was not enough work to admit soldier trainees who, in any case, were too old and. had had the opportunity before the war. of entering a trade. Earlier, in Brisbane, a man with three years’ service in the Royal Australian Air Force in Darwin and overseas, was thrown out of work because’ the local branch of the Amalgamated. Society of Carpenters and Joiners would not accept him a3 a member.
– Order! I remind the Leader of the Australian Country party that this is not a bill for the rehabilitation of exservice personnel. It refers only to certain trades.
– The Minister, in his second-reading speech, stated that one of the purposes of the bill was to assist in the re-establishment of servicemen.
– This is not a reestablishment bill.
– It provides a measure of re-establishment.
– Does not the handling of re-establishment ‘and the admission of trainees to the various unions come within the scope, of the bill?
– If the right honorable gentleman can show me that this bill has any relation to shipbuilding or carpentry, the Chair will hear him.
– Boilermakers, who are mentioned iri the bill, are connected with shipbuilding.
– I rise to order. I inform you, Mr. Speaker, that in- the first schedule you will find reference to coppersmiths, who are employed in shipbuilding. I point out also that the Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that the bill was to assist the rehabilitation, of ex-servicemen.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to paragraph b of the preamble, which states -
And whereas it is necessary - to make provision for the training, and employment of members of the Forces, as defined in this Act, in the trades to which this Act applies, as a measure of .rehabilitation of those members:
Boilermakers and electricians are persons who normally have a great deal to dowith shipbuilding, and they are certainly covered by this bill.
– If any further evidence be required, I direct attention to the schedule which shows various trades that are associated with shipbuilding.
– The Chair is not . assisted by the point of order raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). Paragraph b of the preamble states that it is necessary - to make provision for the training and employment of members of the Forces, as denned in this Act, in the trades to which this Act applies . .
This bill applies to a certain number of specified trades. Honorable members will note in clause 3 reference to certain regulations dealing with the engineering, boilermaking, blacksmithing, electrical and sheet-metal trades. They will notice, also, in clause 5 that the bill is divided into eight parts, dealing with preliminary, . the engineering, boilermaking, blacksmithing, electrical and sheet-metal trades, incorporated provisions, and miscellaneous. I can find nothing in “ miscellaneous” which will enable nae to extend the debate on the bill to shipwrights and carpenters. Any remarks within the scope of the bill as indicated in paragraph b of the preamble will be in order.
– I assume that the purpose of the bill is to facilitate the. placement in industry of ex-servicemen. For that purpose, the District Officer appointed an advisory panel, consisting of the principal of the local technical college,’ an employers’ representative, a member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and an employees’ representative. The function of this panel was to place trainees with suitable and reputable firms and establishments in order to ensure that they should receive adequate training in the trade that they- had chosen. In theory, the scheme was an excellent one, as it would have cut out a lot of the red tape and delay involved in having to forward the matter to Brisbane for approval. Unfortunately, the Australasian Council of Trades Unions intervened through Mr. Dawson and Mr.. Hanson, employees’ representatives, who objected strongly to this revolutionary practice of proceeding to train men as carpenters, painters! plumbers, &c, without having first obtained permission from the respective union officials at the trades hall.
– Order! The bill has no relation to carpenters, painters and plumbers.
– Are not- plumbers mentioned in the bill?
– No. There is no reference to plumbers as such.
– I shall deal with the particular method which is being adopted in the employment of technicians who do come within the scope of the bill. In Queensland, the panels which have been established for what has been described as the “ efficient and suitable placement “ of these men, are subject to union dictatorship. An instruction has been given that in no instance must a major decision be made in the absence of the union representative. The whole position is very unsatisfactory, because the books of the various unions- have been closed. These advisory panels meet, but they are only toying with the position. The arrangement is farcical. All protestations and complaints have been of no avail. It is futile for the Minister to pretend that the purposes of this bill caD be implemented under the conditions which exist, at all events, in Queensland.
– I marvel that honorable members on the Government side of the House have made no attempt to reply to the charge? that have been levelled against the Government in connexion with this ‘bill, which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who, introduced it, told us was a measure to assist in rehabilitating ex-servicemen. It may be that honorable gentlemen opposite are critical of the measure, or that they do not regard it as a rehabilitation bill ; but the fact remains that they have not answered the serious charges that we have made. I do not wonder at the doubt as to whether this is a rehabilitation measure, because when the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) made certain observations concerning the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen you, Mr. Speaker, called him to order and said that this was not a rehabilitation bill. I can understand you making such a mistake. It is high time that the exservicemen should know where they stand in regard to this measure and, in fact, to Government policy generally. By the introduction of this bill the Government is seeking to give peace-time permanency to regulations promulgated to meet a war-time emergency. I , fail to understand how the two sets of circumstances can be reconciled. .During the war the regulations to which I am referring which, by the way, were framed largely by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who was then in ministerial office, served a very good purpose; but now that peace has returned and we expect a considerable expansion of industry to occur in Australia, I can see no reason why such restrictive provisions should he applied to industrial employment. Surely it-must be recognized’ that if our vast industrial potential is to be developed, there must be a considerable expansion of employment. I cannot understand, therefore, why the Government should -seek to continue in peacetime restrictions which were intended only to meet the emergencies of war.
In claiming that this was a rehabilitation measure the Minister, in his secondreading speech, said -
The bill makes provision for the admission to the engineering, boilermaking, blacksmithing, electrical, and sheet-metal trades of exservicemen who have had sufficient training and experience in .those trades while in the forces to enable them, after a reasonable period of probation or training in employment, to reach the standard of skilled tradesmen.
I was greatly heartened when I heard that statement, until I noticed one “ catch “ in it. The honorable gentleman referred to “experience in these tradeswhile in the forces “. That caused me to examine the measure more closely. The Minister having -made a statement of some’ considerable importance, immediately qualified it by saying -
At the same time, I must warn honorable members that the Australian engineering industry, despite its expansion since 1939, has not unlimited absorptive capacity, and, therefore, one function of the committees provided for in the bill will be “to avoid the overloading of industry, which would result in the ultimate unemployment of both ex-servicemen and recognized tradesmen.
– Is that not desirable?
– If the honorable “member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) or the Minister could forecast what our industrial circumstances will be during the next two or three years in relation to the absorptive capacity of industry, something might be said for it, but our industrial potential is practically unlimited, and we should anticipate a big increase of employment, particularly in the industries mentioned in the schedules to . the bill. The Minister said, in effect, “We are going to do certain things, but I must warn you that something is going to happen “. I shall show what is going to happen.
I wish to revert for a moment, however, to remarks made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) when the Re-establishment and Employment Bill was before this House. At that time Opposition members’ criticized the Government’s, proposal to establish an employment service. Our criticism has since been amply justified. The technique of the reestablishment and employment legislation is being continued in this bill, for the exserviceman is being used as a stalking-horse. This is not a rehabilitation bill, as I shall prove before I resume my seat. The measure., has been designed, in . fact, to give to trade unionists complete control of their respective trades, and to apply restrictive measures to ex-servicemen who wish to enter various trades. Our exservicemen have won the right to just and generous treatment, and they are entitled to be re-admitted to industries in which they served, many of them as apprentices, prior to enlistment; but if anything reveals the insincerity of the Government and its supporters in regard to ex-servicemen this bill does.
The measure creates a close preserve in ;the dilutee trades for members of unions, 95 per cent, of whom, were not on active service. Ever since demobilization began, and in fact ever since the passage of the Re-establishment and Employment Act, it has been apparent that Ministers, by instructions given to various committees, Hy press statements and by answers to questions in this Parliament, have been endeavouring to . discourage ex-servicemen from seeking to enter dilutee trades. An answer which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction gave to a question which I asked him yesterday is further evidence of this fact Government policy, is becoming more positive in this respect as the days go by, for Ministers are saying to exservicemen in effect, “ You must not enter this or that trade “. In fact, some trade unions have closed their books even against apprentices formerly engaged in the trades concerned. Consequently these men will be denied the right to resume work in the callings of their choice. A specious reason given to excuse this action is that the absorptive capacity of the industry may not permit of the reemployment of the men. By this means ex-servicemen are being debarred from taking advantage of the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. Only a very limited number of them will be able to secure employment in’ the trades mentioned in the schedules of the bill. Do honorable gentlemen opposite take the view that we shall have no development in the engineering, boiler-making, blacksmithing, electrical and sheet-metal trades? That seems to be the assumption on which this bill is based. Actually we should be preparing for a considerable expansion -in these industries. lt is true that a handful of exservicemen may gain admission to these trades, but an unqualified preference will be given to members of the unions concerned to the disadvantage of ex-servicemen who may desire to obtain such employment. This, of course, is in line with the policy of the Australasian Council of TradesUnions, the body controlling this Parliament for the time being. That policy has also been expounded from time to time .- by honorable gentlemen opposite, but it is unjust and a complete violation of the promises ma’de to the men of this country when they entered the armed forces. Such a situation’ should not be tolerated by the great body of men and women who rendered such glorious service to Australia in its hour of need. In view of what I have said it will be realized that the promise of preference that was given to servicemen when they were fighting has been so emasculated that the preference is now nothing more than a sham. This is particularly so in view of the exclusion of ex-servicemen from the dilutee trades.
I suppose that the greatest prospects of industrial expansion in Australia areto be found in these trades, yet the Government is doing its utmost to prevent or- discourage ex-servicemen from entering them. It is well that this fact should be made clear at this juncture. The policy that is being applied in these dilutee trades is similar to that’ being applied to the coal-miners. The Government is seeking to sectionalize the industries of this country. It is separating certain classes of the community from other classes. I do not desire to discuss in detail .the dangers inevitably associated with such a policy, but it is deplorable that such a procedure should be applied not only to coal-mining. as is shown by many provisions of the Coal Industry Bill which we passed yesterday, but also to the dilutee trades referred to in the schedule to this bill. Only a few ex-servicemen who possess certain qualifications will be able to enter these trades, as I shall later show. Secondly, he may apply for the status of probationary tradesman and, having had sufficient experience, apply for that of recognized tradesman. Thirdly, he may apply for admission as a trainee tradesman and, when proficient, apply for the status of recognized tradesman. These three grades are hedged round with all possible qualifications, which render them almost abortive in relation to ex-servicemen. Let us consider the effect in four of the five trades. Up to the 2nd August, 1946, HS8 applicants had been accepted in New South Wales for entry to the “ dilutee “ trades, and 253 applicants had been rejected. I invite ministerial supporters to explain to the House and the country the figures I am placing before them, because they refute the Government’s claim that it is anxious- that exservicemen shall be rehabilitated. In the engineering trade, 344 applicants were accepted and 207 applicants were rejected. In the blacksmithing trade, two applicants were accepted and no applicant was rejected. In the boiler-making trade, 13 applicants were accepted and 27 applicants were rejected. In the electrical trade, 29 applicants were accepted and 20 applicants were rejected. These figures do not take into account the many hundreds of ex-servicemen who had had technical training prior to and during their war service, and whose applications have not seen the light of day because they- did not come within the restricted categories prescribed by the regulations.
– Does the honorable, member claim that every applicant should bc accepted ?
– That is not my suggestion. I am pointing out that the preference provisions of the Reestablishment and’ Employment Act give to ex- servicemen with the necessary qualifications the right to enter ana’ be trained in their -chosen trades and callings. It seems obvious that the Government does not propose even to facilitate entry to trades of apprentices who relinquished their articles to join up with the armed forces. Men who did not possess the necessary qualifications would not apply for admission to a trade.
– They do.
– I propose to show that very few of the many who have had experience, and who desire to enter a trade, will be allowed to do so. A recognized tradesman must have secured the whole of his experience during the period of his war service. That means that he must have had five years’ service in the , trade concerned while he was in the armed forces. Where could experience for that length of time have been gained ? Lt appears to me that it would have been possible only, in an engineering unit.
– There is no five years’ limitation. Where does the honorable gentleman get that?
– He must have gained the whole of the experience while he was a member of the forces, usually a- period of five years. I assume that the Minister ‘does . not propose that the provisions of industrial awards shall be violated, by allowing these men to be classed as tradesmen’ after training that has lasted for only three years. If that be. his intention, I should like him to state it. If he agrees that a man. could become a tradesman in the armed forces in three years, vast industrial possibilities will be opened up. If we accept the principle that only men who have had. five years experience during their war service shall be accepted as recognized tradesmen, what number of men will be brought into industry? Only in engineering units could such conditions exist. But we do not accept that principle. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) nas pointed out, this bill places a premium on the non-fighting branches of the services, because a man who had had some experience in any of these industries prior to enlistment would be precluded from deriving any advantage from the provisions of this bill if he had been so -unfortunate as to enlist in the Air’ Force as a- pilot, or in the Army as . a commando or in an artillery unit. Unfortunately for his civil rehabilitation, he fought with arms for the preservation of the conditions that are now denied to him. On the other hand, a man who belonged to a unit that did not have active service experience, such as workshops in an area not even subject to bombing, may come under this bill.
Let us consider the position of probationary tradesmen. In order to qualify for admission to that grade, .an exserviceman must have’ had training and experience in the forces during the period of the war, and be so experienced in the trade concerned that he can acquire the skill of a recognized tradesman in that trade within twelve months. In this in- ‘ stance, the duration of the experience while in the forces is to be four years.
– Not necessarily.
– I am interested in the Minister’s interjections; because, if a’ man who has had two years’ experience in the forces can become a recognized tradesman after twelve months training, what becomes of the principle that has been established in .regard to training under industrial awards?
– The honorable gen-‘ tleman does not worry about that.
– I do. The Minister’s interjections are most illuminating, and I should like him. to elaborate on them. It will be noted that a large number of ex-servicemen who obtained experience as dilutees or added tradesmen prior to enlistment, but whose actual experience in the trades during service in the armed forces, lasted for less than four years, . will be excluded from the benefits of this legislation. In this connexion, it should be noted that there has been a serious departure from the terms of the regulations to which the. Minister now seeks to give effect as a permanent peace-time measure, because those provide that the experience of probationary tradesmen need have .been secured only during the war period. The bill, however, provides in effect that only some of his experience need have been secured during his war service.
I pass on to the trainees. In order to qualify for admission to this grade, the applicant must have received in the forces during the period of war training and experience in the trade concerned.
That is interesting. If honorable members can grasp the full significance of it, they will realize how restrictive- it is in its incidence. The next requirement is that the applicant must be certified by a regional training committee as being eligible for benefit under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. This requirement will necessitate, in most instances, that the serviceman must have been under the age of 21 years upon enlistment. Therefore, even if the intension be to admit many trainees who are. eligible, . vast numbers of ex-servicemen who were over 21 years of age upon enlistment, but who had had trade experience prior to enlistment and either had or had not less than four years’ experience during their service in the forces, will be ineligible. Actually, however, it appears that extremely few trainees are being admitted, and that exservicemen who would normally be eligible are turned away when they apply to the regional training committee in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, being told that the “ dilutee “ trades are “ saturated “. It will be noted that no provision exists for industry to avail itself ‘ of the valued experience that has been gained by thousands of ex-servicemen, both in civil life prior to enlistment and during their service in the forces, because their experience does not happen to fall within the restricted categories that are necessary to gain admission to the scheme. The experience and training of these men will be lost to industry for all time. This loss should be viewed in the light of the projected expansion of industry. A probationary tradesman or a trainee who gains admission to the scheme will still have difficult hurdles to negotiate. - Let me give a few examples. Trade committees will have full discretion in the matter of the admission of applicant ex-servicemen to a trade. There will be no obligation on them to admit any appli-.cant, even though he may have the neces- sary qualifications. I do not suggest that a trade committee would deliberately exclude an ex-serviceman who possessed the necessary qualifications. But I do say that a committee which has the responsibility of making such a decision should at least have on it a representative of ex-servicemen. The Government has not made any provision for the representation of ex-servicemen on these committees. Under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, the endeavour has been made to provide ex-servicemen with representation on bodies that adjudicate on their claims. This is supposedly a rehabilitation measure, yet I have proved that under it ex-servicemen may be prevented from engaging to any great degree in different trades and callings. The possibility exists for , a veto to be exercised against an exserviceman, yet no provision is being made for his protection, which could be afforded by a representative of the exservicemen’s organizations, who would have a complete understanding of the problems that are peculiar to exservicemen. The committees will be able to select numerous pretexts for not admitting applicants. Several indeterminate factors can influence their decision. One of them is the “ absorptive capacity of the trade concerned “. This expression “ absorptive capacity “ keeps bobbing up like “ that blessed word Mesopotamia It has been mentioned again and again by the Minister and is always associated with attempts to resist the admittance of returned soldiers to trade unions. Even a trained economist would have difficulty in determining what is. meant by the absorptive capacity of a trade. It is to be presumed that the trade committees will be guided by the demand, for tradesmen obtaining at the present time. This takes no account of the needs of industry when it expands as is expected. I- have pointed out that the Government is not seised of the possibility of trade expansion in Australia. The committees will have on them representatives of the employees as well as the employers, and the chairman will- be a government nominee. I have no doubt that they, as Labour spokesmen have said, will be used to keep the unions a close preserve for privileged unionists as against exservicemen.
– That has never been said on behalf of the Government.
- Hansard is full of quotations which I myself have made to that effect. It has been said by representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. These matters are history. The policy of the Government is to protect jealously the rights of unionists, and committees are to be appointed which are to consider the applications. of ex-servicemen for admission to industry. .Between the Government and the committees, the unfortunate exserviceman will be ground as between the upper and nether millstones. If the Government proposes to continue, with this iniquitous measure under the guise of a rehabilitation bill, it should at least give the organizations of returned soldiers representation on the committees which are to decide whether or not they shall be admitted to industry.
.- I have examined this . measure, and would not have spoken on it were it not for the distortion practised by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). Since I have been in the House, whenever anything is put up to pit servicemen against their civilian counterparts, it falls to the lot of the honorable member for Wentworth to do it. He has a phobia for dividing the people upon matters on which they are really indivisible. As an ex-serviceman myself, I take exception r.6 what he has said on this ‘bill to-day. 1 1 is one thing to mount the tribune like a puppet Mussolini,’ and say what the Government proposes to do for the returned soldier is wrong, but it is another thing to find work for returned soldiers, something: which the Opposition has never been able to. do. The speech of the honorable member constituted, the negation of true preference to ex-servicemen. It was mere sabre-rattling; there was no sincerity in it. Whenever he finds that his arguments lack the basis of common sense, he rushes the returned servicemen stunt. If I may be pardoned the use of a simile, let me say that, during the three years that I have been in this House, whenever the honorable- member for Wentworth comes riding into the chamber it is on the back of the returned soldier: His behaviour is disgusting, his language immoderate, and his argument not .worth answering. ‘ He said that there were two groups in the community, servicemen and unionists. It is obvious that he has made no study of the subject. Even Sir Thomas Blarney, who could never by any stretch of the imagination be called a supporter of the party to which I have the honour to belong, admitted that SO per cent, of the men in the’ forces under his command were trade unionists. Thus, if this Government should do something against the interests of servicemen the implication is that it would be doing something against the interests of its own union supporters. Still the honorable member seeks to apply his “divide and conquer “ technique, although he should be well aware of where it originated. There may he difficul ties -associated with the application of this plan, but’ there can be Australians who really believe that the measure is designed to damage the interests of Servicemen. To suggest that it is so designed is a most dastardly playing at politics, and servicemen will not thank .the honorable member for Wentworth for trying to whip them into a fury over an imaginary injustice.
In this -bill, the Government seeks to carry on the great work of reestablishment which has been very successfully begun. We admit that there are great gaps yet to be filled. The job is not easy, and will take years to complete. During the war, the whole .composition of the community was disrupted. Clerks, counterhands, engineers and men of all. callings were taken into the services. Now the operation has been put into reverse, and the replanning for civil life is slow and tortuous. However, the Government is sincere, and its plans, if given a chance, will work. This bill deals with the great problem of dilutees in industry. Tht honorable member for Wentworth made a great deal of his contention that some ex-servicemen might not be placed in industry. It may be useful to remind him that the agreement between the employers, employees and the Government on this subject was negotiated by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), with’ the approval of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart); and the Minis,ter for Transport (Mr. Ward). The agreements were found to be acceptable, and under them the country was geared to a 100 per cent, war effort. The result is history. We must now realize that we cannot overburden industry by an oversympathetic attitude towards those who have been on service. The honorable member for Wentworth contends that these men should be admitted to any and every union in any numbers. Presumably, when industry could not carry them any longer, they could go on the dole. ‘The Labour party has remembered what followed the “ boom and bust “ policy which applied previously - that there were a few happy years, after which came the depression. This bill represents a part of the Government’s planned programme, which is designed to prevent another such occurrence. The Minister showed a touch of statesmanship when he warned honorable members of the danger of placing men indiscriminately in industry, which in a little while might not be able to keep them in employment. Against this, the honorable member for Wentworth, with a flamboyant wave of his hand, said that industry in Australia is expanding. If it is, no thanks are due to members of the. Opposition. Industry is expanding, but it is a planned expansion. The honorable member tried to paint a gay picture of flourishing industries, with everybody marching forward to greater prosperity, but the fact is that the Government must plan carefully and see just what load industry can carry.
The honorable member devoted much of his speech to complaints against the possible exclusion of exservicemen from trades. It is possible that some ex-servicemen employed as specialists in the forces are ready to find employment immediately in industry. Their interests are secure. It is utterly absurd for the honorable’ member to assert that this bill has been drawn with the deliberate purpose of injuring ex-servicemen. On the other hand, it is a supplementary measure to the general rehabilitation plan, which includes ex-servicemen as well as civilians, and provides for our economic development in the years to come. The measure deserves nothing but praise, because of its level-headed, carefully-thought-out provisions. We must view things as they are. It is not right for the honorable member to talk glibly of unions-accepting thousands of applications for membership by ex-servicemen. Of course, the honorable member for Wentworth belongs to the era of the Battle of Omdurman. lie has never been able to envisage total war. He thinks of war in terms of horses and flashing sabres, as’ does the honorable, member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who -fell from his horse some years ago, and whose capacity to think has been retarded ever since. The plan of the Government provides for the man who made the bombs as well as the man who piloted the aircraft which dropped them. It provides fox the man who used a rifle and bayonet, as well as the man concerned in their manufacture. Unless honorable members, realize those things, it is obvious that they have not given much thought to the contents of this bill.
– This purports to be a bill for the regulation of tradesmen’s right of employment in certain trades, the employment of members of the forces in those trades, and for other purposes. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), in the course of his second-reading speech, laid great emphasis on the obligation of the Government to promote rehabilitation. He also emphasized the provisions of the existing dilution agreement, -entered into in May, 1941. He said that that agreement, was a legacy from a conservative govern-‘ ment, and that the present Government now had to “ clear up the mess “. We are becoming’ used to talk of that kind. But a brief examination of ‘the dilution agreement will lead us to the conclusion that there is no substance in the Minister’s arguments. He said that the Government’ believed that the agreement unduly prejudiced the prospects of rehabilitation of a number of ex-servicemen, and that therefore it had negotiated with employers and’’ employees and that this bill was the result. The agree- . ment was signed on the 8th May, 1940, and is expressed in very simple language. The Government says that as thu result of the agreement, it must now bring down this legislation. I point out however that this bill marks an entirely new departure and establishes a completely new principle in Commonwealth legislation. The Government has said, in effect, “ We must bring down this legislation because, as the result of the dilution agreement, it has become almost impossible for us to provide for the rehabilitation of exservicemen “. The agreement is contained in twelve short clauses, which read -
Memorandum of agreement between Commonwealth Government, Amalgamated Engineering Union and Employers’ Association regarding temporary relaxation of existing customs to overcome difficulties due to shortage of engineering tradesmen for war requirements.
It is hereby mutually agreed -
In view of the abnormal conditions created by the war it is recognized that a temporary relaxation of existing customs affecting the employment of men to do skilled work is necessary, where it can be shown that tradesmen are not available and production may be prejudiced.
To ensure that the full resources of available labour may be organized and applied in the best possible way to meet the demand for skilled labour, and that by careful planning ami selection the problems arising when the time arrives to return to normal working conditions will, be minimized, the scheme set out in the subsequent paragraphs is approved.
That all propositions for dilution will be consolidated under one Commonwealth Governmentcontrolled scheme.
All available engineering tradesmen, provided they are competent to do the work required, will be employed. No tradesmen shallbe debarred onthe ground of age or minor disability if the Local Committee is satisfied that he can perform the work required of him.
No skilled man or apprentice will be called up for service in the Armed Force’s unless his skill as an engineer is fully availed of, and those now engaged and not required for skilled work will be discharged.
If sufficient tradesmen are not available, applications will be called from persons of eungineering or appropriate classifications willing to undergo an intensive course of training on engineering work: Provided that after a period of training, determined by the Local Committee, in a technical school, or in an approved industrial establishment, during which he will be paid by the employer, the basic wage, the trainee will be entitled to be paid by the employer not less than the wage prescribed in the appropriate Industrial Award, Agreement or Determination for the work to which he is allotted: Provided further that the trainee shall be required to sign an agreement to serve if and as required by the Local Committee constituted under this scheme for the period of the war in the performance of the duties for which he is trained.
In the event of the provisionsof clause (5) not being sufficient to meet the demand for skilled tradesmen, applications may be called from alternative classes of workers willing to , be trained and paid as provided in clause (5).
A register will be kept of all men so trained, a copy of which will be supplied to the Union and to the Employer Organizations concerned. Changes of trainee personnel made under this scheme will be registered by the employer on a standard form, a copy of which will be supplied to the worker affected to the local representative of the Union, and the Department of Supply and Development and the Employer Organization concerned. No “ recognized “ tradesman is to be discharged because of a reduction of work in his section whilst any of the “ added “trademen are employedwithin that section, and when skilled labour becomes available restoration of the pre-agreement practices will be made.
There shall be a Central Committee functioning under the administration of the Department of Supply and Development consisting of a representative of the Department, the employers and employees.
A Local Committee comprising equal representation of employers and of the employees, with a representative of the Commonwealth Government as Chairman, will be set up in each State for the purpose, subject to the direction and control of the Central Committee, of determining any matter arising in the State under this scheme, and without limiting the scope of the functions of such Committee, the duties will include: -
The disposition of’ men training and trained in accordance with the provisions of this scheme;
The approval of industrial establishments desiring to be utilized as training establishments;
The determinationas to whether any and what number of trainees should be allotte to any factory, and whether such numbers should be increased or decreased;
The recommendation of the persons who shall be registered, or, if registered, who shall be removed from the register; and, in collaboration with the local Technical Education Advisory Committee -
The exercise of a general supervision over the theoretical and practical training under this agreement;
The determination of the degree of proficiency of trainees.
Any dispute regarding matters of principle, on which agreement cannot be reached, will be referred by the Chairman of the Local Committee to the Central Committee.
The number of tradesmen added in any establishment or factory by the provisions of this agreement shall not be included in the number of tradesmen on which the proportion of apprentices is based for such establishment or factory.
Nothing in this agreement shall be taken to deprive any employer of any rights under any existing Award, Agreement or Determination.
This agreement having been approved to meet the exceptional circumstances referred to above will not be used or cited in any proceedings before a Federal or State wage-fixing tribunal, and/or in any other way.
Signed on behalf of -
The Commonwealth Government - F. H. Stewart. Minister for Supply and Development.
The Amalgamated Engineering Union - Joseph Cranwell, President.
The Metal Trades Employers’ Association - John Heine, President.
The Victorian Chamber of Manufactures - P. C. Oake, Secretary.
The South AustralianChamber of Manufactures Incorporated - H. H. Winterbottom, Secretary.
Melbourne, 8th May, 1940.
It will be seen that in May, 1940, when this country was in the gravest danger, an agreement was made under which the unions wereto relax existing customs so as to permit the introduction of dilutees under such conditions aswould afford absolute protection to recognized tradesmen; There is, as will be seen from a perusal of the document, no foundation for the claim that there is need for this legislation, or that there is any problem of rehabilition as the result of the dilution agreement.When the war came to an end theonly task that had to be undertaken was to preserve the rights of recognized tradesmen as against the so-called added dilutees.No one disputes the necessity to do that. But is it necessary to approach that task by legislation of this kind? Not at all; it could be carried out effectively, as indeed it was intended to be carried out, by the Arbitration Court. An examination of the bill shows that it goes vastly further than the mere carrying outof what the Minister agrees was the real essence of the. problem, namely, the preservation of the rights of recognized tradesmen as against dilutees. There was no question, arising from the agreement, of the preservation of the rights of recognized tradesmen as against those of men who served in the war, and it is well that that should be made plain. Under the bill, the rights of the recognized tradesmen will in substance be extended and consolidated above the rights of all other people, including dilutees or ex-servicemen. Dilutees are not in terms referred to in this legislation; but they are already in the trade. The only way in which people will be able to get into the trade now will be by permission of a local committee. That is the substanceof this legislation. In simple language it means that the Government will establish what I understood Labour always fought against, namely, a monopoly more vicious than those usually made the subject of its attacks, a mon opoly of men inside a trade who will keep it a close preserve for themselves. The bill is divided into parts covering, amongst other things, the engineering, boiler-making, blacksmithing, electrical and sheet-metal trades. Each of those trades is made the subject of a definitions clause. All of the trades are then brought within the provisions of Part VII. of the bill . which is headed “ Incorporated Provisions “, which is the very essence of this legislation. It will be observed that it is intended that the recognized tradesman in the sense of the man who was engaged in the trade before the dilution agreement was made, shall be protected against everybody; the only persons who are given no rights at all, and indeed, from whom rights are to be subtracted by the bill, are exservicemen. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has said that this Government is desirous of assisting ex-service-: men. If that be so all I can say is that in this legislation it has been very much overborne by the union. If the unions themselves had been given the task of drafting a bill to protect the interests of their members, I can not imagine that they would have produced a more satisfactory measure than this. No doubt they’ were consulted and their lawyers had a good look at the bill before it was brought before us.
In the incorporated provisions in Part VII. clause 34 establishes a central committee which is to have power to give directions on any matters referred to it by , a local committee, to issue directions to local committees, to determine the form of certificate to be granted to any person, and, finally, to advise the Minister generally with respect’ to any action considered necessary to give effect to Part VII. of the bill. The decisions of the Central Committee are to be final and it may act on any evidence it thinks fit. Clause 35 prescribes that a local committee shall have power to determine any matter arising in the State in which it is established and without limitation of that very general power it may authorize the employment of probationary and trainee tradesmen, and direct the removal from the register of the name of any probationary or traineetradesman. I point out that in clause 44 power is given to an employee already in the industry to appeal even to the supreme court of a State against a decision of the local committee directing, approving or. consenting to his dismissal. Under clause 35 however, no power of appeal is given to a person who is refused the opportunity to become a probationary or trainee tradesman. What is even worse still, no power ‘ is given to the probationary or trainee tradesman to appeal if his name is removed by a local committee from the register. Under .clause 35 the local committee is also to have power to issue certificates of recognition as a reL cognized tradesman and to act in any manner it thinks fit without challenge on the part of the man concerned. It is also to have power to consider, and to issue ‘ directions to employers in relation to any matters in dispute regarding the claims of persons under this Part - and note these words - “ or under any other law of the Commonwealth-“ to employment in any trade to which Part VII. applies. So, irrespective of any law of the Commonwealth contained in any award, a local committee may issue directions to employers relating to employment in any of the specified trades. When a local committee gives directions - and no doubt ultimately power will be taken to make regulations to- carry out the provisions of the bill - it will have in substance the power of determining the future life of a large number of people, particularly of ex-servicemen, and it is to have power to do that arbitrarily, without any right of appeal against its decisions. The next serious provision is in clause 41 which prescribes that if a local committee . is satisfied, upon application by any person, that that person is a recognized tradesman within the meaning of the definition of “ recognized tradesman “, or ‘ a member of the forces who has, during the period of the war, acquired, by reason of his service in the Forces, the skill necessary for the performance of work ordinarily ‘ performed by recognized tradesmen, the committee may, if it thinks fit, issue to that person a certificate of recognition as a recognized tradesman. Let us stop there a. moment.
Consider the two sub-clauses. Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 reads -
If the Local Committee is satisfied that be is a recognized tradesman . . .
That is in the case of the boilermaking trades, a person who was employed as a tradesman prior to the 29th of November, 1940, and other dates in ‘ 1940 in the case of other trades. Whether a man who, prior to this agreement, had . been recognized as a tradesman or not, it should not be left for anyone to say whether he shall be re-engaged in the industry or riot. I should like the Minister to pay some heed to what I am saying. All that the sub-clause provides is that the local committee is not obliged, even if it is satisfied that an applicant is a recognized tradesman, to issue a certificate of recognition.’ The committee has complete discretion to say, “ No, we will not issue a certificate. We do not see fit “. If that power does not ‘lend itself to the utmost abuse, I should like to know any power that does. Is the Commonwealth Parliament to embark on a series of legislative acts, of which this is proposed to be the first, under which so-called tribunals will be able to affect the lives of thousands and thousands, of people .in this community by having the power to determine that they shall or shall not be permitted entrance to the. metal industry or some other avocation. That is what this bill provides. Then,, dealing with other people, the clause says - (2.) If a Local Committee is satisfied that an adult member of the Forces who, during the period of the war, has had training and experience in the Forces in a trade to which this Part applies could, within a period not .exceeding twelve months, acquire the skill necessary for the performance of work ordinarily- performed by a recognized tradesman, the Committee may, on the application of that member, authorize the employment, subject to the provisions of section forty-three of this Act. of that member as a probationary tradesman …
All that is subject to ‘ clause 43, with which I shall deal in a moment. What will happen if a man discharged from the forces goes to the local committee and says, “ I want to. go into the trade, because I believe that. there is a future in it”? Despite what the Minister has said about the saturation point in the metal trades, the employers have not been consulted .on opportunities for expansion, and I know from experience that there is a great dearth of trained men in the trades. An ex-serviceman in some branches of the metal trades, for example, sheet.-metal work, has no chance whatever of becoming a sheet-metal worker, because I know of no branch of the services in which he could have got the necessary experience. He is out straight away. But a man who wants to .become a member of, say, electrical trades, must first be an adult and then the local committee must be satisfied that during the war he had training and experience in the forces. It does not matter what other experience he may have had. He may have had training as a dilutee and then gone into the forces, where he had no opportunity for further training. He cannot apply.
– -Nonsense !
– Let the Minister tell me then under what provision he can apply. I will not be told that it is nonsense. It is the Minister’s bill. He must, have read it. He must know all about it. Let him tell me the clause under which he can apply.
– I will tell the honorable member when the bill is in committee.
– Tell me now in order that I may make an effective second-reading speech.
– He can apply, to the local committee.
– Under what conditions can he apply to the local committee’? If the Minister will not tell me now, I shall ask him again in committee’ where provision is made in the bill for those cases. I give only one example, that of a dilutee who has had some war experience in a trade and then left it to serve in a non-technical unit of the forces. The question I shall ask in committee is where in the bill provision is made to cover his case.
– He is entitled to reinstatement in the position he occupied before joining the forces. The honorable member knows that as well as I do.
– But the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment
Act are for all practical purposes excluded from operation as far as the trades specified in this bill are concerned.
– No: the men in that group are covered.
– Sub-clause 2 of’ clause 41 cannot apply, as a probationary tradesman must be an adult and must satisfy the local committee that he could, within twelve months obtain the necessary experience. That in itself is limiting. I have good reason to believe that that provision was made in order not toaid but to exclude ex-servicemen.
– An ex-servicemen could not get that experience in twelve months.
– Of course not. 1 come now to trainee tradesmen. Subclause 3 provides - (3.) If a Local Committee is satisfied that a member of the Forces who -
during the period pf the war has had’ training and experience in the Forces in a trade to which this Part applies; and
It is well to turn to clause 43 with this final observation’ on the powers of the local committee : The aspirant has to’ go through the gateways held- by the local Committee, and, even then, only a man of a certain type can qualify under the provisions of clause 41. A probationary tradesman, must be an adult whom the committee is satisfied can, within twelve months, acquire the necessary skill. A trainee tradesman must be one who, amongst other things, could within a reasonable period - and no indication is given of what a reasonable period is - acquire the skill necessary for performance of the work ordinarily performed by recognized tradesmen. No indication is given of what that is. In both cases there is no appeal if the application is rejected.
– He goes to the central committee if he is not satisfied with the decision of the local committee. The honorable member has read the bill and says that he knows all about it.
– I do not know all about it. I said that the Minister knew all about it. Would he mind telling me where it is provided that a man turned down by the local committee can go to the central committee? If the Minister does not answer me now, I shall have to ask him in committee. The power is given to the local committee in clause 41. The local committee isin substance an arbitrary body. The provisions relating to probationary and trainee tradesmen are subject to clause 43, which reads - (1.) Subject to the provisions of this Part, the provisions of Division 2 of Part II. of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 shall apply in relation to employment in the trades to which this Part applies.
That makes it appear that the Parliament is extending preference in employment to ex-servicemen, but when the bill says “ subject to the provisions of the act “, it substantially cuts down the whole of the preference conditions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act. Before I leave that, I point out that clause 45 says -
So there is a distinct writing down of the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. An application must first be considered by the local committee, but clause 43 provides - (1.) Subject to the provisions of this Part, the provisions of Division 2 of Part II. of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 shall apply . . .
Then it says - (2.) An employer shall not, in the engagement or elevation of any person to carry out work ordinarily performed by a recognized tradesman of a particular classification, engage or elevate -
– That was the promise made to him by the dilution committee.
– No such promise is contained in the dilution agreement. Time after- time the allegation has been made that that promise was made by the dilution committee, but on the11th May. 1946, Mr. F. T. Perry, president of the Australian Metal Industries. Association, was invited to attend a meeting in, Melbourne of the central engineering trades committee to discuss the future terms of the “ agreement “. At that meeting. I am informed, he restoration of prewar practices and customs in relation to the employment of bona fide tradesmen was fully and frankly considered and discussed. Mr. Perry, on behalf of the metal trades employers of Australia, agreed that the enunciation of the undermentioned principle would be a full and proper implementation of the winding-up of the “ agreement “. This was assented to by the Amalgamated Engineering Union andthe Australasian Society of Engineers. It was agreed -
Conditions in the industry to be those operating prior to the signing of the dilution agreement on8th May, 1940, which means that the custom of the trade was to recruit tradesmen in the greatest percentage of case’s in the industry, through the apprenticeship system or other approved training scheme.
It is well to disclose what the agreement provides, because no greater rights can exist than are provided in it. Reverting again to the bill, paragraph a of sub-clause 2 of clause 43 gives to the recognized tradesman preemption in respect of engagement or elevation over any one else in a job, regardless of whether a probationary tradesman or even a full tradesman who has given most distinguished military service overseas and is much more competent. So long as the recognized tradesman is competent’ - no degrees of competency are provided for -he is given complete priority over everyone. This bill is designed to consolidate the interests of men already in the trades.
Mr.White. - It is the reverse of preference to ex-servicemen.
– Of course it is. Then sub-clause 4 of clause 43 provides - (4.) An employer shall not, without the consent of a Local Committee -
So there is no choice between recognized . tradesmen. All are to be brought under the control of the local committee. In time of war, I could understand the need for some of these provisions, but, in days of peace, I shall resist them with every argument that I can advance.
Then it was said that the purpose of this bill is to protect the rights of both the employers’ and the employees under the dilution agreements. I direct attention to the fact that in existing awards power exists for an employer to dismiss an employee for inefficiency. As honorable members will see, sub-clause 5 of clause 43 provides -
The provisions of sub-section (4.) of this section shall not prevent the exercise by an employer of any rights which he possesses under any law or any award, order, determination or industrial agreement to dismiss an employee for malingering, neglect of duty or misconduct.
Sub-clause 4, of course, provides that an employer shall not, without the consent of a local committee, dismiss a recognized tradesman or probationary tradesman. From sub-clause 5 the word “inefficiency” has been omitted. “Why? That is a direct denial of the rights of the employer, Which are contained in the dilution agreement and which, we were told, this bill will preserve. Provision is made for some, but only some, of the decisions of a local committee to be reviewed. Accordingto the “statement of the Minister, an appeal is allowed to the central committee. I point out that under clause 44, only a very limited right of appeal is permitted in special cases, because sub-clause 1 provides -
Where a local committee has directed or approved or consented to the dismissal of a person from employment, or the refusal by an employer to engage or elevate a person in employment, and that person or the employer considers that the direction, approval or consent is not justified by the provisions of this part, he may request the Chairman of the local committee to refer the matter to the central committee, and the Chairman shall, as soon as practicable, refer the matter accordingly.
If the person concerned is dissatisfied with the decision of the central committee, he may appeal to a judge of the Supreme Court. Now, this clause limits the appeal to two cases, first the refusal of an employer to engage or elevate the . employee and, secondly, the dismissal of a person from employment. So far asI am able to observe, all other cases under clause 41, such as the refusal by the local committee to grant a certificate that a man is a recognized tradesman, will not be made the subject of appeal.
– Clause 45 takes it a little further.
– Sub-clause 1 of clause 45 provides that -
A person shall not be entitled to make an application to a court of summary jurisdiction under section 28 of theRe-establishment and Employment Act 1945, in respect of a failure . to engage him in employment in a trade to which this Parliament applies unless the matter has first been considered by a local committee.
Iremind honorable members that section 28 of the Re-establishment and Employment Act states -
Where any person whom an employer has refused to engage in employment considers that, having regard to the provisions of the last preceding section, the employer should have engaged him in employment, that person may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction constituted by a Police, Stipendiary or Special Magistrate for anorder under this section.
The magistrate can then deal with the matter, and order that the person shall be employed and given the preference which the act prescribes. That absolute right has been cut down by the bill.
– It has not.
– That is a matter of opinion. I know the real reason for this clause. When the person appearsbefore the magistrate, it will be pointed out that the matter has been dealt with by the local committee.
– No. The reason is that we do not desire the person concerned to waste timeby going to court when the local committee can determine the matter.
– If the court has complete jurisdiction in the matter, why should not the person concerned have the right, at his own option, to go there?
– If he does not get justice from the local committee, he can go to the court.
– He can go to the court only in respect of preference.
– The honorable member is trying to evade the issue.
– I am not.
– The honorable member has been snared by his own cunning.
– Do not the provisions of a special act such as this, -in respect of employment, override the general act which deals with all employment? I direct attention to the opening words of sub-clause 1 of clause 43, namely, “ Subject to the provisions of this Part”. They mean “except insofar as this part provides otherwise, the Reestablishment and Employment. Act shall apply”. The implication is that this bill will reduce the efficacy of the Reestablishment and Employment Act. Therefore, when the person ultimately appears before the magistrate under the preference provisions, he will be confronted with the decision of the local committee.
– The honorable member would explain his point much more quickly if he had a good case.
-I am not one of those who says that the Minister always answers a question fairly. I have heard him, on occasions, give an unfair answer. Sub-clause 2 of clause 45 provides -
In any prosecution of an employer for a contravention of section forty three of this act- and clause 43 imposes an obligation upon the employer to employ, not an ex-service man, but persons other than exservicemen - and in any proceedings against an employer under section twenty-eight of the Reestablishment and Employment Act 1945, it shall be a defence for the employer to prove that the act or omission with which he is charged or which is called in question was directed, approved or consented to by a local committee duly or, on review or appeal, by the central committee or a court and that the decision of the local committee or central committee, as the case may be, does not stand reversed as the result of review or appeal.
Obviously when the person appears before the court, he will be confronted with the finding of the local committee. The whole purpose of these provisions is toprevent the applicant from appearing before the court under clause 28, unless first he is heard by the local committee. The local committee may decide that he shall not be engaged, and the employer then will have an absolute defence. Yet the Minister claimed that this bill will assist ex-servicemen. If this is the Government’s idea of. a fair deal to exservicemen, it is not mine. I have no desire to divide this community into those who are ex-servicemen and those who are not. I have some conception of the meaning of a ‘total war effort. The Parliament has, however, passed legislationdescribed asthe Re-establishment and Employment Act. That legislation was supposed to represent the high policy of the Labour party towards granting preference in employment to exservicemen. In every way, the Government is now destroying the efficacy of the act. Why? Because in all industrial matters which are presented to this Parliament for its formal approval, the Government must adhere to the policy laid down by the trade unions.
– in reply - After having listenedto the speeches of honorable members opposite, one might be excused for thinking that we had’ no experience to guide us in the regulation of tradesmen’s rights of employment in certain trades. Most honorable members will recall what happened after World War I. A Minister in a Nationalist government appointed me to assist to draft the vocational training scheme. After the scheme began to operate, I was elected to a small appeal board for the1 purpose of watching how employers treated exservicemen who were trainees, ensuring that employers trained ex-servicemen as Thoroughly as they were obliged to. do under the agreement, and making certain that employers assessed the full value of the ex-servicemen from time to time, so that the taxpayer’s would not be cheated. We had to protest against the action of some employers in keeping ex-servicemen driving bakers’ carts instead of training them as bakers and pastrycooks. We had to fine certain employers, and re-assess the values of their ex-servicemen employees because they would not do it. But what taught us most was the experience of the number of men who could not be absorbed into industry. We discovered the danger of having an unbalanced industry by allowing some industries, to free themselves altogether from any responsibility to “train exservicemen while other industries were overloaded. Therefore, surely we are wise in endeavouring to ensure that we shall maintain a proper balance in industry for. the purpose of meeting the somewhat hopeful, but I am sure quite logical, forecasts of honorable members opposite, that Australia is about to experience a period of “full employment in its secondary industries. Honorable members opposite may not have intended to be unfair, but I regard as unfair their action in regarding this as .a debate on the issue of preference iri employment to ex-servicemen. The truth is that preference does not enter into this bill at all. The. only persons who are dealt with, are ex-servicemen, and the matter of preferance between ex-servicemen does not arise here. The Ee-establishment and Employment Act contains a section providing for preference in ‘ employment to ax-servicemen, but the scheme proposed under this bill is in addition to the training provided under the act. It is an additon to the ordinary proportion of apprentices to men in the engineering boilermaking, blacksmithing, electrical and sheet metal trades. This scheme has been arrived at voluntarily by the unions and employers. There is no suggestion of preference except in regard to the selection of the right kind of ex- servicemen, according to the training that they had in the past, to determine whether they will be able to qualify and maintain, their families in the future , in those particular trades.
– Are not the tradesmenautomatically secured, and,’ in that way,, have preference?
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) is-‘ generally fair. I shall deal later with the matter which he raised. Surely honorable members opposite recognizethat the matter of preference in employment to ex-servicemen does not arise here. All the- references to the necessity to fulfil our promises to rehabilitate ex-servicemen after the war are not relevant to this bill, which deals only with the training of exservicemen.
The second purpose of the bill is- to honour the promise given by the honorable member * for- Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) as. the representative of the government of the day. The agreement was partly drafted by. the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt).
– The bill goes a long way further than that.
– If all the things that the honorable member for Warringah- (Mr. Spender) imagined, and some of the things upon which the honorable member for Fawkner grew expansive, were involved, the bill would undoubtedly go a; long way further than I said.
– I shall’ be happy if the Minister will show me where I was wrong.
– The only matter apart from the training of ex-servicemen in certain trades is the desire of the Government to honour the promise which was made by a previous administration and renewed by this Government. The Government, with which honorable gentlemen opposite were -associated is just as responsible as this Government is in this matter. One honorable gentleman has said, “ I would not promise, anything “, whilst another has said, “ .1 would make all the promises in theworld to tradesmen while their trades’ were being diluted during the war, hut I would not promise them anything after the war “. That, as a matter of fact, has been the practice of all governments. But there was no need to make promises for the war period, because everybody was working. A total of. 119,000 men received training during the war, and the training. was given with the assistance of the unions. The promise made by the previous Government and re-affirmed, .by this Government was that if any men had to be dismissed after the war, the recognized tradesmen would be the last to go. We all hope that there will be no need to dismiss anybody. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), has told us that our industrial potential is such that we may reasonably expect an. expansion ‘of employment of some hundreds per cent. I hope that he is proved right. I hope, also, that in our lifetime there will be no need for anybody to be dismissed. All the signs and portents suggest that that will be so,
We should be able to discuss this subject without heat or bias, for we all desire to do the best that can be done for ex-servicemen. I ask honorable gentlemen, therefore, to look at the subject dispassionately. We should bear in mind, first, that this measure is to have application only to the five trades specified in the schedules and, secondly; that in peace-time only skilled journeymen and apprentices are employed in these ^killed industries.
– What about elevated men ? Many tradesmen were elevated during the war.
– I wish to deal in order with the various points that have been raised. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) ha’s issued a challenge. I am. confident that I can show that his interpretation of the clauses to which he has referred is ‘ incorrect. It has been argued that men who had some experience before they enlisted, but had no experience during their service, will be penalized under this measure. It’ would be almost impossible to find more than a. very few men with pre-war experience who are not adequately, covered. I know of a few special cases, as f am sure other honorable members do.
– Hundreds of men in the Royal Australian Air Force will not be covered
– I think that the honorable gentleman is in error in that regard. In these five- technical trades all journeymen and apprentices will be covered. In respect of. the journeymen there is no difficulty, and in. respect of apprentices, the difference between the wages they would receive as apprentices and -the full wage of a- journeyman will be made up to’ them partly by the Government and partly by the employers. In these trades the number of apprentices is maintained, in normal times, up to the limit of the law. No manufacturer worthy of the name would risk allowing the number of skilled artisans in his employ to fall below what it should be. It is true that that happened during the . depression years, but at that time no government was willing to spend any money -on technical training and no scheme was provided for the dilution of industries.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite resisted the application of technical training schemes.
– That is not so. The point is, however, that journeymen and apprentices are completely covered. In years gone by, improvers were employed in these industries, but that was in the bad old days, and dead-end occupations of that kind are no longer sanctioned. I make it clear that men who had experience before they enlisted are . covered, and the employer and the Government have agreed to make up the difference between the wage for apprentices and that for journeymen in the case of men who are now over 21 years of age. but have not completed their training.
– I agree with that.
– There may have been a few men ‘who had some training in these industries in backyard factories or with their fathers before the war, but who were not apprentices. There cannot have been very many of them, although I admit that some young fellows sixteen years of age or thereabouts gave a wrong age in order to get into the forces. If these young men had received some training without being indentured they were, of course, breaking the law. But even men who had some training in such circumstances could make application for consideration, though, as I have said, the number would not be very great.
Mr.White.- Wh at about motor mechanics?
-They are not in these trades.
– They are specifically mentioned inthe first schedule.
-It is possible that a few miscellaneous persons have received some training. Other men may have broken their apprenticeship in order to enlist and they may, or may not have had some training while they were in the forces. It is open for them to make application to the expert committees for special consideration.
-but the committees cannot give a certificate to any one who lacks the specified qualifications?
-That is true.
– What about young men who partly served an apprenticeship before joining the forces but received no training whatever while overseas and now are more than 21 years of age?
– Such individuals would be covered by the bill.
– If thatis the view of the Minister will he not accept an amendment to put the matter beyond doubt?
– I do not think that it is necessary to do so. Any persons who are not covered by this measure would come within the provisions of the Re-establishmentand Employment Act.
– I am concerned about the young men who broke their articles.
– The honorable member is now breaking new ground. If men abandoned their articles-
-They didit in order to enlist.
-The fact remains that theydid not have to do so; but even they would not be disqualified. I have dealt with the caseof apprentices who had two or three years’ experience before they joined the forces. They will be able to resume their training where they left off, even if they had no training while they were on active service.
– Must an employer receive such men back into his employment or will the Government find them jobs elsewhere?
– It wouldnot matter very much which course was taken, but my view is that the employer would be required to take them back.
– Some men did not sign articles. I am concerned about them.
– As a matter of fact, they are the only class of men to whom the arguments of honorable members opposite apply. Only two points have been legitimately taken against the bill. I have received some correspondence from branches of the Returned Sailors. Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia asking for an explanation of certain provisions of the measure.
-I believe that the federal president of the league has written to the Minister.
– That is so. Mr. Millhouse seems to be much more satisfied with the bill than does the honorable member forFawkner. Some honorable members oposite have suggested that men who had some training before they enlisted would be debarred from re-entering the industries in which they were then working. That is not the case, The men would be able to resume their training at the point where they ceased it in order to enlist. It would be ridiculous to prevent them from doing so. Many men will be better fitted for training because of their war service.
The next point with which I shall deal relates to representation on the expert committees that are to be established.. Honorable gentlemen opposite have suggested that there should be a direct representative of ex-servicemen on these committees.
-There should be one exserviceman on each committee in each State.
-I do not consider that to be necessary, because, as I have already pointed out, no question of preference arises. The points at issues will be purely technical. There are large numbers of returned men in these industries in all States, but, in any case, it is essential that the men to be examined should come before experts capable of assessing their efficiency. For this reason it would not matter whether a member of a committee was an ex-serviceman or not. Only experts could say, with authority, whether a person who appeared before a committee was 40 per cent., 50 per cent., or 60 per cent, efficient in respect of his technical knowledge. As a matter of fact, the chairman of one of these committees is a returned soldier. I refer to Mr. White, chairman- of the committee in Western. Australia. It should be remembered that thousands of men who enlisted at about the age of 30 years were already fully trained artisans and there is no reason why some of them should not be appointed to these committees. It would be desirable, in the interests of the servicemen themselves, that they should appear before experts rather than before a committee whose members had been appointed only because they were exservicemen. Experts would be able to test all the men who appeared before them strictly on their technical knowledge and training.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Under the bill, an appeal will lie from a local committee to a central committee, and if the decision of the second committee be not satisfactory a further appeal may be made to the court. Men who can be regarded as being in the borderline class will have the right of appeal to the committee, and if they can show that they possess the necessary qualifications they can be examined and attache’d to a trade. There cannot be many in this class, apart from men who. had followed their trades, prior to enlistment, and these would return to their former positions and be regarded as tradesmen. Those men who do not possess full qualifications will commence their employment at the full award rates of wages. As the employer cannot be expected. to, and would not, pay the full rates in such instances, and the difference will have to be paid by the Government out of revenue contributed by the. taxpayers, there must be some control of .the’ number of applicants accepted.
Whilst it is not obligatory that members of the committees shall be exservicemen, there is no reason why exservicemen should not be nominated and be elected to the committees. Probably 50 per cent, or more of the members of the engineering and allied trades, are exservicemen of either World War I. or World War II. This fact would be likely to assure the election of exservicemen to the committees.
For the reasons that I have given, neither ‘ the Government nor I can see any logical reason for accepting the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). If I could see any reason, I would certainly accept them. I believe that their incorporation in the measure would weaken rather than strengthen it.
The honorable member for Wentworth cited some figures in relation to the number of applicants accepted and rejected. I have been supplied by telephone with quite different figures! up to the 24th July, in relation to the engineering trade only in New South Wales. These show that 225 probationary tradesmen have been approved and 42 not approved, and that 107 trainee tradesmen have been approved and 30 not approved.
Maybe the bill has one “weakness. I am not convinced that it is a weakness; nevertheless I intend to make the position secure. . Honorable members will recall the Footscray test case, in which the .Crown allegedly was an offender. The Government has realized how difficult it is for an ex-service ‘man or women to prosecute the .manager of a government factory, with the Crown as the defendant. The Solicitor-General. Professor Bailey, with the assistance of his staff, is preparing amendments to both this bill and the Re-establishment and Employment Act, in order to make sure that the Crown will be placed on exactly the same footing as any other employer. The. Government desires that it shall be just as easy for a man ot woman to prosecute the manager of a” government factory or workshop as any other employer. The amendment has not yet been completed’; consequently, I shall haveit inserted when the bill is being con-sidered in the Senate. I -trust that that will be regarded as satisfactory. From the outset, the intention of the Government has been that an ex-service man or woman should be able to obtain satisfaction under the law, whether the Crown or a private employer is sued.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 19
Question so. resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Definitions).
.- I should like the Minister to give me some information about the definition of “ recognized tradesman which runs as follows: - “ recognized tradesman “ means a person who, in relation to any trade to which this Part applies -
Assuming that a certificate is given, or that a man complies otherwise with the requirements laid down, what is there to compel a union to admit him as a member? Several cases, have come before me of men who have been fully qualified for a particular occupation, who have been offered employment, and against whom no personal reason can be advanced for refusing to accept them as unionists, yet they have been refused admittance to a union. That, in itself, is a sufficient bar to employment, because the Minister knows that in the’ metal trades no unionist will work with a non-unionist. It would be useless for a man to obtain from the committee a certificate of recognition as a tradesman unless such a recognition entitles him to membership of the union pertaining to the craft in which he wishes to work. Paragraph a of the definition which I have just quoted defines a recognized tradesman as a person who was employed prior to the 8th May, 1940 as a tradesman. That was the date of the dilution agreement, and I should like to know whether the provision limits recognition to persons who were tradesmen in Australia at that time or does it cover persons who were tradesmen elsewhere, such as British servicemen who might have been good tradesmen before that date? Paragraph d of the definition provides that a recognized tradesman means a person who has been granted a certificate of recognition as a recognized tradesman. Does that mean that it is open to the committee to give such a certificate, irrespective of the qualifications stipulated in paragraphs a, h and c?
.- This bill seeks to restore in the unions concerned pre-war. practices. I understand that, before the Avar, recognized tradesmen included those persons who had qualified by apprenticeship in a particular trade, and also those who had been elevated, by their, employers, and were thereafter paid tradesmens’ rates. Such persons were regarded by their employers and by the unions also as fully qualified, and were accepted by the union for membership as fully fledged tradesmen. I now ask the Minister to state, out of his long experience in industrial matters, what is the approximate number of such persons in the unions under review, and what proportion of them would to-day be recognized as tradesmen under the provisions of- the bill. .
The point raised by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. .Spender) about tradesmen who come here from other countries is important. The Minister for Migration (Mr. Calwell) said that it was proposed to bring to Australia 1,000 building tradesmen. Can the Minister inform the committee what will bc the position of those men when they arrive ?
.- In this clause, “recognized tradesman” means a person who was employed prior to the 8tH May, 1940, as a tradesman. Tt is not stipulated that such a person shall have worked, at his trade within recent years. He may have been out of the trade for many years. Thus, the status of a member of any of the 31 trades listed in the schedule is preserved, even though he may not have worked at his trade for years, and he is given priority over an air force fitter who worked on high-speed engines or on maintenance .jobs. Such a person must go before a committee iu order to prove that he is fit to be recognized as a tradesman, and on the committee there need not be one returned serviceman. There may be. a serviceman on it by chance, but noi; by virtue of this bill. This clause loads the hill against the servicemen. I regard the bill as unnecessary. It is a piece of skilful camou flage, and’ this is the principal camouflaging clause. Why should a- man who worked in Australia at good wages all. throughout the war - he may have had good reasons for not joining the forces, but the fact remains that he did not - beable to obtain permanent employmentand full security, while the man who served in the forces cannot be immediately classed as a tradesman, and must rank second in priority?
The Government says it hopes that whole industries will migrate to Australia. We join in that hope, and I seeno reason why it should not be fulfilled, if we are sensible in our politics, and in our taxation policy. However, if thisbill is passed in its present form, the: position of qualified tradesmen from overseas who come, to Australia will not be clear. When he was .speaking, 1 asked the Minister to define the positionof tradesmen migrating here from GreatBritain, but he did not make the position clear.
– The bill defines a “recognized tradesman” as a person who was employed - prior to the Sth May, 1940, as a tradesman. As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) pointed out, that was the date upon which the dilution agreement was made’, but I want to know what effect this provision will have upon an apprentice who did not complete histraining until 1941, who then became a recognized tradesman in his industry, and later went overseas and served in thi, armed forces for a period… Such a person cannot have served for the requisite period at his trade, and he was not a. recognized tradesman on the Sth May, 1940. Perhaps the- Minister will say that, he is covered by paragraph *b of the difinition of “ recognized tradesman “, but 1 should like the position to be clarified.
The point made about the closing of the books of unions to persons over 21 years of age is important, and the practice is a menace to servicemen. I should like to know what action the Minister proposes to take to ensure that the books shall be re-opened. , In the Reestablishment and Employment Bill, there was a clause to compel unions to accept servicemen as members, ‘but that power has not been exercised,’ despite protests from. honorable members. What will be the position of servicemen who .have fulfilled their indentures and other requirements at a date later than that set down in the agreement? If he be given recognition in the particular trade in which he proposes to engage, what action will the Government take to see that he will get union recognition ? As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender.)’ this bill will enable the unions to exercise a form of industrial, dictatorship. They will be able to refuse membership of their organizations if they so desire. If a union believes that it has sufficient members to cover the absorptive capacity of the industry it will refuse to open its books to newcomers, [f a non-unionist is employed in any shop a union will declare a strike in that particular shop until such time as the nonunionist is discharged. This bill has been represented as a rehabilitation measure; that in itself pre-supposes that the Government intends to give full effect to its promise of full preference to exservicemen. If that be so, the Minister should have no difficulty in saying what action he proposes to’ take to safeguard the interests of trained men who do not come within the provisions of the bill, and to state definitely whether, on being recognized as tradesmen, they will have the right to join their appropriate unions. - Mr. ROSEVEAR (Dalley) ‘ [8.32].- Following the movement of large numbers of people into the engineering trade just after the outbreak of the war, I was appointed a member of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee which was established by the Menzies Government. In the course of my service on that committee, I had ample opportunity to see the working of the dilution scheme and the benefits it brought to. the war effort. I am amazed, therefore, to’ hear criticism voiced by honorable members opposite of the definition of what is known as a “ recognized tradesman “. The definition of a “ recognized tradesman “ in the measure now before us is much broader and more generous than that contained in the original dilution agreement signed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick
Stewart), and in the second agreement signed by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt).
– I negotiated the agreement in the first place.
– Similar agreements were also signed by the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) and the Minister, for Transport (Mr. Ward). I propose briefly to traverse the original agreement in order to show quite clearly that thedefinition of “ recognized tradesman “ has been considerably widened in this bill. ,
– That is not the point.
– With respect to the honorable member, I contend that it is relevant to the point. This bill deals with certain regulations which were promulgated following the making of an agreement between the Government and certain trade unions, under which it was agreed that the unions were to forgo a number of customs and’ usages of their particular trades. One of the principal unions affected by the agreement was the Engineering Trades Union which had a very rigid system of apprenticeship and tradesmanship. In the engineering trade before the war, no man was recognized as an engineer unless he had served a fulltime ‘apprenticeship at his .trade. When it became necessary to expand the engineering trades to meet wa’r requirements and . the number of engineers available was insufficient to cater for that expansion, the unions were approached and readily agreed to admit dilutees to the industry, subject to the important safeguard that after the war had terminated the Government would agree to revert to the customs and usages previously obtaining in the trade. The original agreement signed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) as Minister for Social Services provided that, as soon as the necessities of war no longer existed, the men who had sacrificed the customs and usages of their trade in order to submit to dilution would have their former rights restored. During this debate, there has been a lot of talk about trade union tyranny. The original agreement provided -
No “’ recognized “ tradesman-
A recognized tradesman at that time was one who had served a full apprenticeship - is to be discharged because of a reduction of work in his section whilst any of the “ added “ tradesmen are employed within that section, and when skilled labour becomes available restoration of the pre-agreement practices will be made.
– That is all right.
– I am endeavouring to point out that the honorable member is trying to repudiate the provisions of the first agreement. I repeat that at that time there was no recognized tradesman other than the man who had served a full-time apprenticeship.
– No up-graded men?
Mr.ROSEVEAR.- There were no upgraded men then ; there were no dilutees. No persons who had not completed fulltime apprenticeship were being paid- full rates of wages.
– Does the honorable member contend that at the time no men had been elevated to the position of tradesmen and were being paid as such?
– Yes. A recognized tradesman in the engineering industry was one who had served his full apprenticeship. The Engineering Union was then completely organized, and the agreement to keep recognized tradesmen in employment while other men were put off was part and parcel of the principle of preference to skilled unionists. Not only was the agreement signed by the ministerial representative of the parties opposite; it also recognized that the unionist, while forgoing the time-honoured principles of his union in order to meet the exigencies of the war, would have his full’ rights restored to him after the war had terminated. It was realized then that in the event of work slackening the, first men to go would be the dilutees or added tradesmen. Let us look at that clause about which there has been so mucb discussion. The clause provides - “ Recognized tradesman “ means a person - who, in relation to any trade to which this Part applies -
That was the date of the first agreement -
That gets right back to the original position. The man had to be either employed as a tradesman at the prescribed date or an apprentice who had served his time and had gained a certificate. But this is where this bill broadens the definition. The third classification covers “ one who has completed his course of training as a trainee tradesman to the satisfaction of a local committee “. Prior to the signing of the first agreement, nobody was a recognized tradesman until he had served a full-time apprenticeship. This clause makes provision for the inclusion of men who had completed to the satisfaction of the local committee a course of training, as a trainee tradesman. The next important definition relates to trainee tradesmen. A trainee tradesman is defined as “ a member of the forces (not being an apprentice) whose employment as a trainee tradesman in a trade to which this part applies; for the purpose of undergoing a course of training in an industrial establishment, has been authorized bya local committee “. Honorable members will see that this interpretation of a recognized tradesman is infinitely broader than- the definition included in the original agreement signed with the union.
I come now to the right of the unions to close their ‘books. While the provisions of this bill remain the law, the unions will not be in a position to close their books except on the advice of a local committee, and there are good reasons for ‘believing that that might be done because the committee is representative of the unions and the employers. If the employers were of opinion that a greater number of men were needed in a particular trade, surely they would not agree to the union closing its books. But the representatives of both employers and employees, and the chairman appointed by the Minister, might come to the conclu..sion that the trade was overmanned, and that the prospects of the industry were such that new men should not be introduced. Surely, in the event of a setback or economic depression, the partly trained men would be the first to be dismissed. The committee, as a responsible body, would be able to gauge the man-power requirements of the industry. That is all-important. It is rubbish to talk about faking ex-servicemen into this scheme, if here are no safeguards whereby, at any particular time, some responsible body an say, “ The prospects of this industry are not bright, and there seems little possibility of its expansion. You should” not be encouraged to join it”.’
– That argument could be applied to every industry.
– Does the honorable member believe that he does the ex-serviceman a good ‘ turn by inviting him to seek employment .in an industry whether there is work in it or not? “What would be the use of saying to such a man, “ Come into this industry.. We shall train you, but as soon as we experience a setback, you must be the first to be r brown out?” In the last analysis, the employer would always give preference to the most skilled tradesmen in his shop. Honorable members would not do exservicemen a good turn by inviting them to go into an industry, the ramifications of which they do not understand. The conditions of the industry will be much better understood by a committee consisting of representatives of unions and employers presided over by a chairman nominated by the Minister. In’ the circumstances which I have outlined, such a committee would say to the man, “In your own interests, you should consider looking to another industry for employment. If you join this industry, you might waste a couple of years of your life in being trained for a trade which cannot permanently absorb you “. All of us remember that after World War I. men were encouraged temporarily to go into industries which were doomed to fail. We no longer desire to put square pegs into round holes. Every man should he given an opportunity, as far as is practicable, to follow the calling for. which he is best suited. This bill, in effect, not only broadens the interpretation of “ recognized tradesman “, but also says to the man who has been in the services, “ Provided there is work” or prospects of continued employment in an industry, here is an opportunity which you probably never had .before to learn a useful occupation “. I have followed this matter very closely. Frankly, as a trade unionist, I had. grave misgivings when the engineers were the first to sign the agreement, because I know how easy it is. years afterwards, for one of the contracting parties to shirk its obligations, and that is exactly what is happening to-day. When the agreement was negotiated on behalf of the Menzies Government, Ministers did not talk about ex-servicemen. The added tradesmen, the dilutees, were wanted then, but the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) said to-day, “ They are all right in war-time, but, in peace-time, I will fight them to the last ditch “. He meant that he would sign a solemn agreement or support a Ministry that signed a solemn agreement in order to ensure the production of the weapons of war, but -that, when the war. was over and he did not need munitions to protect his hide, he would repudiate his pledge.
.- I did not intend to speak at length on this clause; but the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has given such a distorted version ‘ of the attitude of the Opposition that I must state the facts clearly for the benefit of the committee. Apparently he did not have the benefit of hearing the full debate on the second reading, because, speaking on behalf of and with the full authority of the Opposition, I said that we intended fully to honour the obligation that we accepted’ in entering into the dilution agreement when we were the Government. The honorable member referred to the fact, that the agreement was signed by the then Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) ; but, if any responsibility for the agreement is to be taken, I take it, because, as Minister assistin gthe Minister for Supply and Development, I negotiated and carried the agreement through to the point at which the parties, were agreed and the arrangement was submitted to the Cabinet. I have followed it with great interest ever since. “We would not have divided the House on the second reading had the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) not indicated that he would reject the three amendments that I foreshadowed in my second-reading speech, which would “do nothing to prejudice the rights of the unionists under the agreement, but would do something to preserve the rights of the servicemen, whom this bill is ostensibly designed to benefit. The dilution agreement was designed to give us when we were plunged into war the necessary rapid expansion of the munitions industries by an infusioninto the metal trades of a group of men who had not qualified through apprentice-, ship for the work. The. ready lead of the Amalgamated Engineering’ Union, which is affiliated with its counterpart in Great Britain, in accepting dilutees, was followed by the other four unions. I assured the unions on behalf of the then government that the main clause of the agreement enshrined the principle upon which this discussion revolves, namely that preference in employment would be given to the recognized tradesman, who was denned as a person who was in a trade and accepted as a tradesman when the agreement was made, over the added tradesmen, on the basis that the last to come should be the first to go. No recognized tradesman was to be displaced while added tradesmen remained- in employment. We are as determined to honour that pledge as is the Government. Although we commented -that the bill gave a stronger right of protection to recognized tradesmen than the dilution agreement gives, our criticism was of the exclusion from the bill of a large body of men with trade experience, not apprentices or qualified, but men like motor mechanics or others with some trade experience, who served in the forces. The honorable member for Dalley says that in effect in that agreement we gave preference to unionists and excluded ex-servicemen. That was never an’ element of our discussions. It is to the credit of the unions concerned and to the Government and the employers that they tried to deal with a situation that no ohe at that time could judge with authority. Who knew in 1940 whether the war would last twelve months or ten years, or whether our factories would be in the front line of attack, bombed out ‘ and shattered as in Great Britain, or invaded as in France and Russia? They were matters that we could not consider as within the scope of reality. We could not even realize how the war would develop. But we could determine the respective rights of recognized tradesmen and added tradesmen, and that is what we set out to cover in the agreement. We have no intention of departing from the principles set out therein. After World War I. the Minister spoke about this. Governments took action to facilitate the entry of returned men into trades and professions. Accelerated courses were given at the universities to ex-servicemen in _ the professions of law, medicine and dentistry, and I have no doubt that in the trades similar assistance was given to them to get back into civil life. Our criticism is of the failure of the Government to give a reasonable opportunity to tens of thousands of ex-servicemen who, during the war were trained in mechanical or technical units and desire to go into the civil counterparts of the trades in which they were engaged. We know that this, is not an easy problem. I earlier cited the enormous growth during the war of the membership of unions associated with metal trades. The membership of the Amalgamated Engineering Union rose from about 29,000 in 1939 to the peak figure of about 74,000 in 1944. Even to-day 64,000 persons are members of the union, and, unless a considerable expansion of the engineering trade occurs, obviously there will not be scope for a vast body of men to enter’ it. In the Army and Air Force alone the men engaged in the trades affected by this bill numbered about 60,000. Many of them were tradesmen when they enlisted, and no doubt most of these will want to return to their civil trades. Our strongest criticism has been directed to the three points that I will cover later with amendments. I do not intend to go into those matters now. I merely rose to state my view of the correct position of the Menzies Government and the employers’ organizations that negotiated the dilution agreement with the unions. That .agreement stands. We want to honour it, and, as between .the recognized tradesmen and the added tradesmen, the principle the last to come should be the first to igo must apply. But added tradesmen will get practical preferonce, although the bill is discreetly silent on that point, over men with a comparable training and service in the forces. The added tradesman is on the job. There is no proposal to displace him. The Minister has. told us that there are still 24,000 added tradesmen in the trades to-day. In Victoria of 273 applications for training only 27 have been approved. There must be tens of thousands of men with training equal to that of the dilutees still in the services or demobilized. There are 24,000 added tradesmen still in the trades as against the 27 ex-servicemen accepted for training in Victoria. I imagine that the proportion of men accepted in the other States is about the same. If that does not signify practical preference given, to the added tradesmen, I do not know what does. I do not criticize the added tradesmen, who did a valuable job during the war, but they have had no greater training and have no greater rights than the men who were- trained in” the forces. The added tradesman is a member of his union, and under this legislation, without the safeguards of my amendments, he will receive preference in practice over the men whose training was received as members of the forces. He will have absolute preference over added tradesmen with two or three years trade experience before the war who served during the war in combatant units. These servicemen are absolutely excluded from the metal trades group while the provisions of the bill remain unchanged. The Opposition adheres to the dilution agreement, but insists upon amendments that will give nothing short of bare justice to the .serviceman who is entitled to his opportunity in these trades.
.- I hoped that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) would speak before I rose again.
– I will speak.
– I am glad of that. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has engaged in his usual practice - rather unworthy of a man occupying the Speakership of the House of Representatives - o£ making false allegations against another member for the purpose of bolstering his arguments.
– They were not false.
– I .shall deal with the honorable member in a moment. I can deal with him when he joins in committee consideration of a bill, even though his high office protects him in the House.
– Order! Deal with the clause.
– I will, and in doing so I will deal- with the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley. He said that I had said that the dilution agreement was all right during the war, but that when peace came it was a different matter. That is completely false. The honorable member must know it is false, or he did not listen to the’ debate on the second reading, because what I said was that, under the terms of this bill, a. right was vested in the local committee to prevent an employer from dismissing men. I said that that was all right to meet the exigencies of war ; but I went on to say that in, time of peace it could not be justified. What I said had nothing to do with the subject that we are now discussing. The honorable member for Ea wkner (Mr. Holt) made our position on this bill clear. We stand four-square for carrying out the dilution agreement, the terms of which I read to honorable members, and from the terms of which no warrant can be found for the exclusion of ex-servicemen from the benefits of this bill. This bill will do more th’an extend the provisions of the dilution’ agreement. It will exclude ex-servicemen very largely from entering the industry.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his. remarks to this clause, which deals with definitions.
– I am dealing with the definition of “ recognized tradesman “. i The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member is discussing the general purposes of the bill.
– With great respect, I am not able to discuss this clause without having regard to the purposes of the bill. The measure contains various definitions and provisions relating to recognized tradesmen, and I am pointing out that when I asked three questions, the honorable member for Dalley did not answer one of them. “ Recognized tradesman” means a person who, in relation to any trade to which this part applies -
The first question which I asked ‘was: Is this intended to be confined solely to the persons employed in Australia prior to the 8th May, 1940, as tradesmen? If. the answer be in the affirmative, this provision will exclude ex-servicemen from Great Britain who may migrate here; I have received a copy of a letter which the Ex-Imperial Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s League addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service seeking to have the definition clause widened so as to include British ex-servicemen who have the qualification of tradesmen. The honorable gentleman replied by telegram, as follows - .
Definition member forces Tradesmens Rights Act same as definition in Re-establishment and Employment Act. No intention to amend Re-establishment Act. Therefore, unable amend Tradesmens Rights Act.
I point out that, apart from the complete non sequitur in the telegram, the definition of “ member of the Forces “ in the Re-establishment and. Employment Act does not include British ex-servicemen. If this bill excludes British ex-servicemen, we shall know where’ we stand, and, no doubt, the Government will give reasons for its decision. .
A “recognized tradesman” is also a person who, in relation to any trade to which this part of the bill applies - >
Does it mean that a person may be granted a certificate in respect of any industry or any trade, regardless of whether he complied with the specific qualifications contained in the bill? That question is clear, and I am entitled to an answer. It may be that many dilutees have already received certificates. I do not know. But I should like to know whether power is given, by virtue of this definition, to the local committees, to grant certificates of recognition to any person whom they think fit, irrespective of whether he was employed prior to the 8th May, 1940, and was an apprentice, a trainee or a probationary trainee. Surely I am entitled to an answer to that question !
My third question is, assuming that a man. has been granted a certificate of recognition as a recognized tradesman, is the union obliged to accept him as such? I pointed out, when dealing with clauses 35 and 41, that a local committee had power to determine whether a person shall or shall not follow one or more of the trades mentioned in the bill. If a local committee refuses to grant to that person a certificate, he had no appeal from its decision. What I seek to discover is, assuming that he does get a certificate, what obligation, if any, is imposed upon the union to accept him ? He has to apply to a local committee for a certificate, obtain a certificate, seek employment, be told that he is a non-unionist, ask the union to admit him as a member, and perhaps be met with a refusal. It- will be futile to tell me that that will not occur. I know of specific instances of such occurrences in other industries. I am not very much persuaded by the argument that a local committee will know whether saturation point has been reached in any particular industry, and consequently will not issue a certificate unless there is room for more employees. It does not follow that a man, having got the certificate, will be entitled to follow his avocation. Our protest upon this bill can be made quite plainly. We are wholly in favour of protecting the rights of the men who were employed as tradesmen prior to the dilution agreement. As I said in my second-reading speech, the purpose of the agreement was to protect those men against dilutees. The whole basis of our contention, which has not yet been met except by alleging that it has been answered, is that as the result of these definitions and the consequent provisions of the bill operating them, ex-servicemen will be excluded except under limited conditions. ‘ They must satisfy a local committee, and if its decision be adverse, they have no remedy. Those are my three questions, and I hope thai they will be answered. Honorable members must concede that I am entitled to know precisely what interpretation the Government has placed upon the definitions.
.- I listened in vain for some convincing argument by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) against my submission that the interpretation of the persons who will be acceptable under this scheme is infinitely broader than the agreement which was signed by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) on behalf of the government of the day. The honorable member for Fawkner endeavoured to cloud the issue by mixing the teem “ added tradesman “ with that of “ recognized tradesman “. He would have us believe that at the time the agree- ment was signed, there were classes of people other than the recognized tradesmen and the apprentices who were learning to be recognized tradesmen. Of course, there were not, and the award covering the engineering trades at that ‘time specifically precluded any unapprenticed youth or woman from doing anything which could be described as work for journeymen and apprentices. So no confusion can arise regarding the conditions existing at the time this agreement was signed.
I emphasize that the agreement did not contain any ‘provision nearly so generous as the provision in this bill. Definitely the agreement provided that in the event of the slackening of work, the whole of it should be monopolized by members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union who were recognized tradesmen and had served their apprenticeship. That meant, in effect, preference to unionists. This bill is not. a measure for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen except in the sense that in the formulation of the legislation, there is recognition that the engineering industry is expanding, the prospects are good, and there is a likelihood of permanent employment in it. For that reason, the situation is visualized that not only recognized tradesmen, but also dilutees and added tradesmen will have permanent jobs. In addition, there will still be room for ex-servicemen who desire to enter the industry. The honorable member for Fawkner built up a man of straw with the object of knocking it down. He visualized thousands of men entering the industry. Of course, that is foolish. I challenge the honorable member to prove that thousands of servicemen had three years’ experience as apprentices in this trade. About six months after the outbreak of World War II., and from that time onward, men who had three years’ experience in the trade were not allowed to enlist. Therefore, the situation visualized by the honorable member does not exist. When early in 1940 the agreement was signed between the Government of which he was a member and the union, the necessity for the arrangement Was a clear indication’, that the manpower authorities would not allow men to drift out of an industry that .the Government was endeavouring to build up with added tradesmen and dilutees. It would have been utterly foolish for the man-power authorities and the military authorities . to permit thousands of men with three years apprenticeship in the engineering industry to drift into the forces. Six months after the time of which I- speak, in order to encourage greater production, the factories were paying a full journeyman’s wages to men who were entering their last year of apprenticeship; I make those statements in order to emphasize the almost desperate position of this industry at the time when the honorable member for Fawkner considered that thousands of men were drifting from it. The conditions about which he spoke could not possibly have existed. The honorable member for Warringah said that he stood four square by the original agreement, entered into by the Government of which he was a member. What did the honorable gentleman mean by that remark? He has not been able to controvert what I have said concerning the definition of “recognized tradesman” in this bill, which is infinitely broader than the definition in the agreement made by the Government of which he was a member.
– I shall deal .with that matter under the relevant clause. Will the honorable member answer the questions that I asked?
– I propose to do so. The honorable member asked what would happen in respect’ of a tradesman who came to Australia from’ overseas. That question is answered in paragraphs a and b of the definition of “ recognized tradesman “. The definition provides that a- - “ Recognized tradesman “ means a person who, in relation to any trade to which this Part applies -
– It does not say in Australia.
– If it said in Australia there might be something to argue about.
– I do not think that the Minister would give the same reply to my question.
– I do not care what reply the Minister. would give. I understand plain English as well as the next man. To be qualified as a “ recognized tradesman” a person must have been employed as a tradesman on the 8th May, 1940. That is quite clear. Therefore tradesmen from overseas are ‘ amply covered. Paragraph b relates to a person who - has qualified or qualifies by service as an apprentice for employment as a tradesman.
It is not stated that the qualification must be gained in Australia., If a trades^ man from Great Britain came to Australia - and I suppose we shall be glad to receive as many artisans from Britain as we can get - he would be qualified under the bill if he were a tradesman on the 8th May, 1940. That disposes of the first question asked by the honorable member. The honorable gentleman’s next question concerned men who had been granted a certificate of recognition as a recognized tradesman. The local committees that will be authorized to grant these certificates will consist of two representatives of the union, two representatives of the employers and a repre sentative of the Minister who’ will be chairman. Surely it will not be suggested that the employers’ representatives will vote for admission to any trade of a man who is an absolute “ dud “.
– No one has suggested that.
– A person who is granted a certificate by one of these committees will be entitled to recognition -as a tradesman. ‘
– We all know that.
– If the honorable gentleman knew it, why was he so stupid as to ask the question? It is not likely that the representatives of the employers would agree to grant certificates to men regardless of their qualifications. If such men were certificated they would become a burden on industry, and there must be a safeguard against that kind of thing.
– Will the union be under any obligation to accept as a member persons who are granted certificates by these committees?
– I take it that these committees will act by general agreement. The representative of the Minister will hold the balance between the two parties, and in the case of disagreement it will rest with him to say whether a man shall be granted a certificate of recognition or not. I understand that the trade unions involved in this matter are heart and soul behind this proposed legislation. I do not visualize, in such circumstances, that when these committees grant a certificate of recognition to a “person there will be any reason why he should not be received into the union. The honorable gentleman, as a matter of fact, has been setting up men of straw in order to knock them down’. If the representative of the Minister reported intolerable action against the spirit of this measure, I have no doubt that the Minister would have power to remove the person causing the trouble. The difficulties forecast by the honorable member for Warringah are not likely to arise, and I cannot for the life of me understand why honorable gentlemen opposite are objecting to the broadening of the definition of men who will be eligible to come within the scheme.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has spoken twice on this clause and so is not able to speak again, but he put his case at considerable length and in words of almost one syllable, before he could induce the honorable member for- Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to descend from his elevated position to the floor of the chamber to put his construction upon paragraph a of the definition of “ recognized tradesmen “ and to explain what he thought of the entitlement of British ex-servicemen to recognition. The point could have been resolved easily and in a few words by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). Even now the Minister could say, by interjection,, whether in his opinion, British ex-servicemen come within the ambit of the scheme. I should be glad to hear him express himself.
– When the honorable gentleman resumes his ‘seat I shall try to answer two or three questions that have been raised.
– This question could be answered by a simple “ Yes “ or “No”. The British ex-serviceman is in or out. It is extraordinary to me that so many speeches should be needed to extract a simple explanation from the Minister. I do not know what authority the honorable member for Dalley has to interpret the clause, but it is significant that the Minister has refrained from giving an explanation. We shall wait with interest to hear whether the Minister confirms or disavows the- explanation given by the honorable member for Dalley, who used an incredible number of words in endeavouring to evade the real issue that is being raised. I frankly confess that I know more about live-stock than about the technicalities of trade unionism. I have never known a horse more difficult to get into a crush, nor a heifer more difficult to get into a bail, than the honorable member for Dalley has been to get into the ring to deal with this issue, which, after all, is so simple that it should not require either eloquence or a great deal of talk to determine. We wish to know whether the certificate of recognition as a tradesman that will be granted to individuals by these committees will carry with it entitlement to membership of the appropriate trade union, or whether it will be just another “ scrap of paper “. There is no mystery, about the issue. The honorable member for Dalley jigged about like a tap-dancer in endeavouring to avoid dealing with that issue. Will the Minister tell us plainly whether these certificates will entitle the holders to trade union membership, for unless they do, they will be worthless, for they will not enable a man to get a job. If that is the position a certificate will be a sham. I ask for an answer to two. simple questions: Is the interpretation put on the definition by the honorable member for. Dalley the true one, and will the men who are granted certificates by these committees be entitled to union membership?
.- I am glad that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) descended from his high place as Speaker of the House to discuss this subject in the committee, because he has made it perfectly clear that the status quo of unionists as at the 8th May, 1940, is to be preserved) and they are to enjoy No. 1 priority.
– Why should that not be so?
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) believes in unionism before patriotism. Perhaps it is as well that I should mention here, that I have received a letter from the New Guinea Returned Soldiers Association objecting to the slur cast upon returned soldiers by the honorable member, and stating that it had .written to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) requesting him to ask for an apology from the honorable gentleman for the remarks he made. It can be said of the honorable member for Bourke -
His footballing cheers,
And political jeers
Equip him for everyday work.
The honorable member for Dalley . has clearly shown that the trade unionist comes first and the ex-serviceman second. If any doubt existed on that point, it has been resolved by the text of the bill. . According to this clause, a probationary tradesman means “ an adult member of the forces whose employment as a probationary tradesman in a trade to which’ this Part applies has been authorized by a local committee “. A trainee tradesman means “ a member of the forces, not being an apprentice, whose employment as a trainee tradesman in a trade to which this Part applies, for the purpose of undergoing a course of training in ‘an industrial establishment, has been authorized by a local committee “. Therefore, an adult ex-serviceman must be either a probationary tradesman or a trainee tradesman. The persons who are to be protected are those unionists who were members of a union in 1940. Some of them may have gone overseas, but the majority remained in Australia. The essential thing is that all except those who were unionists in 1940 are in a different category; they are ticketed men. Is it necessary that a man should have a licence to work in this country after he has been on active service in its defence for from four to six years? That appears to be the ‘ position. Surely the honorable member fo*r Dalley has enunciated a policy of despair in having expressed the fear that these unions may be swamped with applications for membership. We do not want that. But at least we should be optimistic, and believe that production can be so expanded as to absorb these men. Otherwise, the unionists will have all the work preserved for them’.. Whilst some men are to be protected, - others who have had technical experience in the armed forces may he denied the right to bc described as tradesmen in the country for which they fought. That is the issue, without exaggeration. Many of these nien are skilled tradesmen. I have heard it stated that from the outbreak of the war approximately 30,000 men were given technical training in the Royal Australian Air Force, and became skilled craftsmen. The . Air Force established its own technical training schools, and staffed them with excellent instructors. I pay tribute to the unions, which assisted to provide instruction in those schools. The Melbourne No. 1 Engineering School was larger than any technical school in Australia. There, were over 100,000 men and women in the ground staffs of the Royal Australian Air Force, in a total force of approximately 180,000.
All of those 30,000 technically trained persons will be labelled probationers or trainees, notwithstanding that they can pit their skill against that of any other person. They will have to appear before a committee consisting, of two employers and two employees, with a Government representative as chairman. The members of the committees may be the fairest persons in the world. But why, in a democratic country, should not a man be permitted to obtain employment according to the degree of his skill.? All the members of the engineering unions are not highly skilled, nor have all of them passed through an apprenticeship. In the 31 classifications of tradesmen there are these -
Ground engineers, aircraft mechanic and ground engineer and aircraft mechanic, as specified in Classification No. 57 of -clause 3 (<*) of the Consolidated Award - Aircraft Industry of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration; tradesman ground engineer or aircraft mechanic holding no certificate; motor cycle mechanic; motor mechanic; and motor tuner and tester.
Many such men have not served an apprenticeship. Preference is to he given to men in .the aircraft industry who worked in an aircraft factory for good wages and lived at home throughout the war. On the other hand, this legislation will operate against the man who went through a Royal Australian Air Force technical training school and fitted himself to service a Spitfire or to become a flight engineer, or who may have piloted a £100,000 bomber such as the Lancaster in operational flying. Yet, in his native land, he is to be junior in the matter of employment to another man who happened to be a member of a union in 1940, even though that man may not have worked in his trade for years. I have asked the Minister to say whether that statement of the position is wrong in any respect. This is one of the most dangerous and unfair bills that have been introduced in this Parliament. Merely because a man is a member of a union, it is likely that employment will be guaranteed to him, whereas the exserviceman is to be placed in the discard unless a committee permits him to be admitted to a trade after a period of training or an apprenticeship, no matter how skilled he may be. What will happen should there be a depression? There are portents of one in other countries, and over-control here will force one. There is a clause which provides that” a man may be dismissed for certain reasons, but inefficiency is not one of them. The ex-serviceman who has had valuable technical training will have to take the labouring jobs, and do pick-and-shovel work. I hope that the Minister will not allow that to happen, and that he will accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Fawkner for the inclusion of these men in the scheme. If he does that, there will be no danger of the fears that I have expressed being realized. But if he does not, we cannot accept as a promise of adjustment any statement that he may make.
.- Clause 10 deals with definitions. These are exactly the same as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) helped to draft when the dilution scheme was first brought into existence. The only difference between the proposal now before the committee and that for which the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) was responsible, in the evolving of which the honorable member for Fawkner played a prominent part, is that, by mutual agreement between employees and employers, other training facilities are being provided for ex-servicemen. Therefore, the very thing which the objectors, want to have done is being done. This addition was volunteered by union representatives and employers when they discussed in conference the discontinuance of the dilution scheme. The question asked repeatedly is: Who will come under the definition of “ recognized tradesman “ ? Recognized tradesman means any person who was employed as a tradesman prior to the Sth May, 1940, when the dilution scheme was first brought into existence; any person who has qualified or who qualifies by service - as an apprentice for employment as’ a tradesman; and any person who has completed his course of training as a trainee tradesman, as well as those men who broke their apprenticeship to serve in the forces overseas, ex-servicemen who are probationary tradesmen, and recognized tradesmen from Great Britain.
– Does it also include any tradesmen from Malta, the United States of America, or any other country?
– I would not go that far.
– Why not?
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) appears to consider that there is something sinister in this proposal because trade unions are associated with it. That is the very feature of it which provides a safeguard. The five skilled trades affected are part and parcel of the scheme. The engineering trades have already accepted as members, and admitted to employment, recognized tradesmen who have been discharged from the British Navy, and they will admit as many ex-servicemen from overseas as can show by the tickets that they hold that they are engineers, fitters or turners. The Amalgamated Society of Engineers has branches everywhere in the British Empire. It is one organization. The honorable member for Fawkner knows that as well as I do. Some members of it are continually travelling and working in different parts of the British Commonwealth. Naval tradesmen have been recognized as tradesmen under this scheme, and are working in engineering trades, in Australia. Others who follow them also will be recognized as tradesmen. It is expected that the scheme’ will terminate within three years. Within six, eight or twelve months, probationary tradesmen will become recognized tradesmen, and those whose apprenticeship was broken will be in a similar category in less than three years.
– But they cannot be employed now as recognized tradesmen.
– How could- they be, if they are not tradesmen? I do not think that the honorable member for Balaclava has a grip of the matter. An ex-serviceman who has given good service overseas may have obtained a smattering of engineering knowledge iri the Royal Australian Air Force. The honorable member says that these men got their training’ in one of the ]’ services, but are now in a worse position than recognized tradesmen under the act. As a matter of fact, such men are themselves aware that they are not fully trained tradesmen, and we want to train them fully. They will go into “ the scheme as trainees, and after two or three years they will be classified as recognized tradesmen. In the meantime, they will receive the wages of recognized tradesmen, the Government making up the difference between that wage and the wage that they are, for the time being, qualified to receive. How can there be anything harmful to servicemen in that ? The honorable member for Balaclava said that he can almost visualize the approach of another depression, and that if that should happen the ex-servicemen will get a very bad deal. As a matter of fact, this scheme is necessary in order to protect the servicemen if there should be a depression. Of course, no one really believes that’ there will be a depression, provided the country is run by a decent ‘government like the present one. However, if there came a depression, the first persons to bo put off will be the dilutees. They will have to make way for recognized tradesmen, including ex-servicemen.
Mr. Anthony. Can dilutees become recognized tradesmen by undergoing training?
– But they are _ in the jobs now.
– It is true that the dilutees are already in the trades, but when tradesmen re-enter the trades in greater numbers, the dilutees will probably go back to the positions of process workers. I helped to draw up this scheme, because I followed the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). Senator McBride wanted the tool-makers to break up the work and to up-grade fitters and turners so that they would be able to do some of the work of tool-makers. We wanted 7,000 tool-makers for 1940-41, but there were only between 500 and 600 in the whole of Australia. I remember that the board room where we met was strewn with hundreds of precision tools which were needed for the making of munitions. We were shown blanks from which the precision tools would eventually be made. We asked how much could he cut off the time devoted to the work by the actual precision workers, and eventually the time was broken down and down until only the special precision part of the job was left to the tool-makers.
I have satisfied the honorable member’ for Balaclava that ex-servicemen willqualify very soon as recognized tradesmen. Then he retorts that that is no good* to him unless the unions will accept exservicemen as members. The answer is-‘ that the engineering, unions have never yet closed their books against any one.
– What about the tally clerks ?
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has twice addressed himself to this clause, and the Minister did not interject. I intend now to ensure that the Minister is not interrupted, and I will not cai] honorable members to order again.
– The irrelevant interjection of the honorable member for Balaclava shows that he has already lost his case. As I have said, the engineering unions will not close their books against new members. They have been parties to the scheme from the- beginning. Were it not for their cooperation, Australia could not have made such a splendid war effort. Therefore, it is in bad taste to suggest that members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which has done so much for the country, would refuse to let ex-servicemen work with them, even if they were recognized tradesmen. I have so much faith in the men associated with the union that I have not the slightest fear that they will act in the way suggested. Honorable members opposite have also suggested that unless servicemen are. accepted by the unions they will not be allowed to work. I- will not admit that that is correct.
– I thank the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) for the trouble he has taken to explain points to members of the Opposition. He is. one Minister who does know his job. I should like him to explain the position regarding electricians, with reference to servicemen who qualified, perhaps after having had some prior experience, during their period of service in one of the armed forces. Such, men are thoroughly qualified, and are ready to receive certificates. What is their chance of obtaining employment? I represent an important industrial centre where many Royal Austraiian. Air Force men qualified during the war as electricians, but they are finding it difficult to obtain employment.
, - First, the honorable member wants to -know what will. happen in regard, to electricians who served in the forces, and then he asks why can they not get a job at their trade. It may be that “there are not enough jobs in the electrical trade for all first-class electricians. In that case some of them will have to do something else in the meantime. I remind the honorable member that electricians are qualified to come under this scheme. A man who has worked as an electrician in ‘the forces can, after a period of training, become qualified to receive a certificate. There are also State apprenticeship commissions which issue certificates to plumbers, enginedrivers and electricians qualifying them to work at those trades. When the men have fully qualified, they must still compete with others in order to get jobs. The electrician who has served in the forces will get a certificate if he goes through with the training scheme.
– What about the wireless air-gunner?
– He would very soon get his. certificate.
.- The Minister has somewhat belatedly explained two of the points raised by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). I do not know whether to describe his explanation as more and more about less and less, or as less and less about more and more. If the law were to lie interpreted in the court, not according to what is written in the act, but by what a Minister said during the committee stages of the bill,, it would be easier for lawyers to interpret the law. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender)’ asked whether it was intended that this clause would cover the position of ‘migrant British ex-servicemen.
– The answer is “Yes”.
– I remind the committee that the Minister said earlier that it would cover migrant ex-servicemen from the United Kingdom. When, by interjection, he was questioned as to the position of other Empire ex-service personnel, he said that it would cover migrant ex-servicemen- from the British Dominions. There should be no- doubt about what is actually meant. The clause itself is silent on the point; it merely provides for the inclusion of persons who were employed as tradesmen prior tq a certain date. Only two interpretations can be placed upon the language in which it is expressed. It either applies solely to Australian citizens, or it applies without limit to any tradesman who may come to this country. If there is no limit to its application it would cover a tradesman from Sweden equally with one from the United Kingdom. The Minister’s explanation has only added to the confusion of the committee. It is not proper that the committee should be invited to translate into law words which the spokesman . of the Government either cannot or will not interpret. The Minister can find no greater justification for saying that the clause applies to British ex-service personnel who may migrate to. Australia than for saying, that it covers a migrant Maltese ex-serviceman. If it has application only to Australians at least we can understand its implications; if it is to be construed as having general application we do not know what its implications are. If it applies without restriction, the more migrants to whom this entitlement is conceded the more inevitably will be the occasions when Australian ex-servicemen .will be excluded from the- benefits of the Reestablishment arid Employment Act. It is clear that .the benefits of that legislation are to be overridden by the provisions of this measure at the discretion of a” local committee. The more people brought into this country and granted certificates of recognition the more occasions will inevitably arise when local committees will have to. decide whether, a certificated person who is not an exserviceman shall be entitled to be employed in preference to an Australian exserviceman, notwithstanding the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. Obviously the greater the number of people covered by this provision the less justification will there be for imposing on our own Australian exservicemen, who at the moment are not entitled to certificates of recognition, the conditions contained in the provision relating to trainee or probationary tradesmen.
– That is not likely to happen. I have already said some engineers who were formerly in the British Navy have already been admitted. That does not mean that the door will be left wide open and that preference to Australian ex-servicemen will be destroyed. The whole scheme operates for a period . of only three years, and the number of migrants who will come to this country . during that period will not be very great.
– Whilst the Minister’s reply is satisfying in some respects, I point out that his. words in debate are not the law. The law is embodied in the act which is passed by this Parliament. On the one hand the honorable gentleman would have us believe that the Commonwealth Government is entering into an agreement with the British Government for migration on a grand scale; on the other hand he now admits that not many. British ex-servicemen will come to Australia in the next three years.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member is. not in order in discussing immigration.
– I do so only insofar as immigration is intimately connected with the provisions of the clause. Immigration’ on a grand scale would automatically bring to this country very many men who would be entitled to receive certificates.
The second question raised by the honorable member for Warringah was whether the issue of a certificate of recognition carried automatic entitlement to membership of a union. We endeavoured to get the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) up to the barrier on that issue, but he shied away. We would, at least, have expected the Minister to say whether the issue of a certificate will in fact carry such an entitlement. The. honorable gentleman, however, merely replied that the books of the Amalgamated Engineering Union are already open, and he expects them to remain open. The provisions of this bill, however, extend farbeyond the sole organization referred to. by the honorable gentleman. What has he to say in respect of the other unions? The real issue is that we have before us a proposed law, under which Australian ex-servicemen may be given certificates of recognition, but their entitlement to become members of the appropriate union, and thus secure employment, is to be dependent on the union itself. The Minister says that the Amalgamated Engineering Union had a verygood record during the war, and that, therefore, we can be assured that it will do the fair thing in the admission of new members. The wheat-growers of this country also had a very good record during the war, but the question as to whether they should continue to grow wheat was not left to the determination of their organizations.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Order! The wheat industry is not involved in this bill.
– An ex-serviceman who desires to engage in a rural industry, the name of which I shall not mention-
– The honorable member may not discuss rural industries on this clause.
– Such a man must go to a government authority in order to secure permission to engage in his chosen occupation; but an ex-serviceman who, because of his training, is entitled to. become a registered tradesman, is dependent upon the decision of a nongovernment authority, to wit, a trade union. The Minister has failed completely to give asatisfactory explanation of these two simple but important points.. I trust that we maybe able to get the honorable gentleman to face the barrier and not shy away from it.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.-I suggest that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) should go back to his farm and milk his cows and yard his calves. From the outset of his remarks he showed clearly that he knows very little about unions and, as he continued his rambling talk, he displayed his complete lack of knowledge of industrial matters. The agreement which this bill proposes to honour was made, in the first instance, between the government of the day, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and the employers in the engineering trades. The Government proposes to carry out the terms of’ that agreement by this’ bill.- The provisions of the measure, . however, are a little more liberal than those contained in the original agreement. Honorable members opposite are raising .bogys, in an endeavour to cloud the real issues. Although they supported the government which was a party to the original agreement in 1940, it is clear that they are now seeking to repudiate its provisions. That is typical of their hostile attitude towards the industrial movement. Ever since I became a member of this Parlia-1 have become increasingly aware of the fact that honorable members opposite believe that anything that emanates from a union or an industrial organization must be scotched. The Opposition must come into the open instead of beating about the bush. Honorable members opposite deny that they are advocating repudiation of the agreement made between the Menzies Government and the unions affected by dilution. If they are not trying to have the agreement repudiated, they must support the bill.
Mr. Anthony. If the honorable member listened to our speeches he would know that we are not seeking to repudiate the agreement.
– Honorable- members opposite have raised all sorts of side issues : “ Will artisans who come to this country from overseas be recognized tradesmen? Will’ apprentices be .able to qualify as recognized tradesmen ? “ What happens to people who come to Australia next year, the year after or in any subsequent year does not matter as far as this measure is concerned. It gives effect to the agreement entered into with the unions by the Menzies Government.
– The honorable member lias not read the bill if he thinks that.
– I have read the bill and I have read a little of the agreement that the honorable member negotiated.
– Well, read the whole of it
– Stand up to the agreement.
– We do.
– The Opposition wants to bring in all sorts of irrelevancies. Only a few minutes ago the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), made his usual wail about preference to ex-servicemen. He has been wailing about that for years, but when he was a Minister of the Crown, he ignored his. opportunity to give them preference. A man who advocates a policy should have the honesty and sincerity to apply it when he has the chance.
– On a point- of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member has said that I have not given preference to ex-servicemen. That is absolutely incorrect.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is not a point of order.
– If the honorable member for Balaclava were able to understand words, he would know that this bill goes as far as possible to help, exservicemen. Its prime purpose is to restore to the tradesmen in the engineering and other trades covered by the bill, the conditions that they had before 1940, in accordance with the promise of the Menzies Government that this would be done if the unions would accept dilutees during the war. The members of the organizations concerned in the agreement carried out their part, and it is this Government’s duty to do it’s part by putting them back in exactly the same position :as they -occupied before the agreement was signed. Further than that, the Government is providing, in plain terms, in the definitions, for exservicemen who were not tradesmen when they joined the services but gained some engineering knowledge in their service in the Army, Navy or Air Force. I recommend the honorable member for Balaclava to read clause 10. He will then see that “ probationary tradesman “ means “ an adult member of the forces whose employment as a probationary tradesman in a trade to which this part applies has been authorized by a local committee “. That bring the exservicemen, about whom the honorable member cries so plaintively, into the scheme. It gives them an opportunity of training in a skilled trade that they would hot have attained had they not joined the forces.
– A lot of .them are trained.
– Yes, in various ways. The honorable member referred to men skilled with aeroplane engines. They are covered. If. the honorable member had read the bill properly, he would know that.
– I appeal to the Chair to protect me from the attacks of the honor-, able member for Bourke.
– Order !
– It is up to the Chair to do so.
– The honorable mem-, ber has been here for many years and never learned anything.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder ! I ask the honorable member for Bourke to address himself to the clause.
– In addition to carrying out the agreement entered into by the Menzies Government, this Government is providing ex-servicemen with preferential treatment. Opposition members are not so much concerned about carrying out the agreement and giving preference to ex-servicemen, as with their primary object of attacking the Amalgamated Engineering Union.
– Nothing of the sort!
– That is true. The attack of honorable gentlemen opposite on the Amalgamated Engineering Union is similar to attacks that it makes on all sections of the industrial movement whenever opportunity offers in this cb amber. The attack, of the honorable member for Balaclava is not on the agree- ment or the bill but on the union. The honorable member, as well as other honorable members opposite, have said that because some one has had some training somewhere and has a smattering of knowledge as the result of duty with’ the armed forces he ought to be able to get into the engineering trade, and the suggestion that goes with that claim is that they will be non-unionists. I know many exservicemen. They do not want to get into any trade for which they are npt qualified, and, above all, they do not want to avoid trade union membership. On the contrary, when they return . to civil life and get’ jobs, the first thing they do is join the union appropriate to their jobs. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), asked, “What about the books of the unions being closed ? “, but we heard of only one union whose books have been closed, the Tally Clerks Union, which is a very small organization. My experience of the industrial movement, which is considerably greater than that of any honorable member opposite, is that the books of the unions are open to anyone who can competently fill the positions covered by their constitutions and rules. I ask honorable members to go through the list of unions and check whether that is. not correct. The Amalgamated Engineering Union has admitted to membership all people qualified as engineers that have sought to join it. That applies also to the Waterside Workers Federation. The miners’ federation will take more members if they can be got. The unions associated with the building trade will take, all that they can get. The only qualification needed is skill in the trade or calling covered by the’ union. That is the case throughout the industrial movement. These Aunt Sallys that honorable members opposite put up for us to knock down are’ an indication of their hostility to’ the industrial movement.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) are scarcely worth replying to, and 1 would not belittle myself by replying to most of them. I rose to answer certain statements of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) about who shall be ‘ recognized as tradesmen. I have the greatest admiration for the Amalgamated Engineering Union. It ranks with the Australian Workers Union amongst the Australian trades unions and it did an excellent job in the war. It did negotiate an agreement for the dilution of its membership with trainee tradesmen, and it must be’ recognized that it has” certain rights in the protection of the livelihood of its members who have given many years to learning their trade. That is not disputed by us. “What we do claim is that, although the agreement was entered into with the union in May, 1940, lots of things have happened since then. After that many young men were taken forcibly from their various vocations and flung into the armed forces and other tasks when the Labour Government introduced conscription, both military and industrial. We not only entered into an agreement with the Amalgamated Engineering Union. We also gave, an undertaking to the men in the forces that if they returned they would be given the opportunity in this country to make a decent living. Because we believe that Australia is under an obligation to them we propose that the definitions in this clause should be widened to include more ex-servicemen. I pay tribute to the Minister for Labour and ‘National Service for being one of the most .helpful Ministers that we have had handling a bill in this chamber during the Labour regime. He is always courteous and desirous of giving real information instead of handing out abuse. I, therefore, hope that he will give more mature consideration than is usually given to constructive amendments offered from this side.
– Will the honorable member accept the Minister’s decision?
– I will accept whatever decision is given by the electorate on the 2Sth September. The decision “then given will be the decision in this matter. The Minister was candid. He said that paragraph a of the definition of “ recognized tradesman “ meant that a tradesman coming to Australia from the United Kingdom could be classed as recognized tradesmen under this legislation. He evaded further questions as to the other countries who.°e tradesmen coming to Australia could hope to be recognized for the purposes of this legislation, but there was no need for him to evade the questions. He. was perfectly right when he said that a person with the. necessary qualifications coming from the United Kingdom to Australia would come within the definition, and he would have been equally right if he had said that people with similar qualifications coming to Australia from other countries would also come within the definition, because the authority that will issue certificates of recognition will be the local committees. They will be appointed at the will of the Minister and will be removable at his will. It follows that they will have to accept his directions. Whoever is the Minister will be able to direct that artisans from the United Kingdom or any other country migrating to Australia shall be recognized as tradesmen if their trade is covered by this measure. I would not have it otherwise, because I hope and bebelieve that many skilled men of all kinds will be coming to this country from Great Britain and other European countries that were so badly battered during the war. ‘ I do not wish to go into the matter of immigration at this stage, but I do know that it is necessary that there should be latitude for the admission to trades in this country of persons who have learned their trades in the countries of the old world.
– They will be absorbed into the unions in the same way as immigrants were in the past.
– I am glad to hear that statement, but honorable members on this side of the chamber would be more heartened if they knew for a fact that that would be so. Many exservicemen, who have a higher- degree of preference than foreigners, are debarred from entering certain trades or joining certain unions. Doubtless, the Minister is perfectly sincere when he states that he. believes that the Amalgamated Engineering Union will accept skilled men once they receive their certificates, but the bill does not contain an assurance that that will be so. An ex-serviceman may undergo training for a period, and then discover that the books of the union have been closed. Despite the remark of the honorable member .for Bourke- (Mr. Bryson) that it ‘might lead to nonunionists seeking employment, we are sufficiently realistic and practical in this matter to know that no man will be able ‘ to obtain employment in the engineering trade unless he belongs to the union.
A considerable number of exservicemen come within the definition mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner. They were tradesmen or had been partly trained in the engineering trade prior to their enlistment or call-up for military service. Many of them did not join technical units- in which they could pursue their trade, and, therefore, they will be disqualified under this clause.
– As a matter of fact, they do not exist.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) speaks with a much more authoritative voice in this chamber than does the honorable member for Bourke, and he suggested that if the gates were opened, the time might come when there would be too many tradesmen in the industry. Therefore, he emphasized the necessity to restrict the numbers of men entering it.
– A. man who worked at the trade before he enlisted would be re-established in it at the point where he left off.
– Not necessarily. I have a personal knowledge of a few men who were employed in certain branches of engineering. They had not completed their training when they enlisted. They entered, not a technical unit in which they could pursue their trade, but an infantry battalion. If they had entered a technical ‘unit in- which they could have continued their trade, they would have been qualified to register.
– There are no such cases.
– The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has compiled a list of these men, giving their names, units, services rendered, and previous experience. Actually, the number of these men is considerable. If it were not, the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley this evening would not have been necessary. But he expressed concern at the possibility of too many people being trained in the industry. In my opinion, the Government should accept the amendment.
– We have arrived at the battleground which the Opposition foresaw when the Re-establishment and Employment Bill was being debated last year. On that battleground, we shall test whether a man’s right to work in this community shall be determined by his membership of a trade union, or the service which he rendered to his country in war-time. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) is one of the most suave and disarming members of this Government. His answers are those of a man who has learnt the art of not antagonizing the Opposition or his own supporters, because he never gives an answer which provokes another question. This evening, he has not succeeded in dealing with the important matter raised by certain honorable members on this side of the chamber. Despite what the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) may say, men who had no trade at all joined the services and were trained in the Navy, Army or Air Force in certain trades. In addition, certain men known as dilutees were trained to do certain jobs in industry. Those are” the ones who are now under discussion.
– That is not what the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said.
– I support the honorable member for Richmond, because I know from personal experience when I was Minister for the Navy in 1940, I was not able to prevent certain skilled’ tradesmen from leaving Cockatoo Island and Morts Dock in Sydney, where they were urgently required to repair ships, because they desired to enlist in the forces. That could occur only under the voluntary system which was in force at that time. I have never believed in the voluntary system, because I consider that in war-time the government, in order to make the best use of the resources of man-power and materials of the country, must be able to direct where men shall work and materials shall be” used.
– What about finance?
– I include finance. If we allow skilled tradesmen to join an infantry battalion, it .stands to reason that we must replace them with unskilled tradesmen, who must be trained to do the jobs which have become vacant and to fill other jobs which were created as a result of the exigencies of war. The discussion to-night relates to that classof person.
The burden of the Minister’s charge is that certain members of the Opposition are attempting to evade the fulfilment of an agreement reached between certain. Ministers in May, 1940, and certain heads of trade unions. At that time, I was the second senior Minister, but I did not know until a long time after I had left the Government that the agreement existed. When the honorable member for Dalley ,(Mr. Rosevear) first referred to it, I challenged the accuracy of his remarks. But Labour Ministers knew of the existence of the agreement,, and every provision contained in it. If that agreement bears and must bear the interpretation which they desire to place upon it this evening, I ask why was it not brought forward last year when we debated the Re-establishment and Employment Bill? That is the important point. At that time, the facts should have been made clear. The right to work is a matter of great importance in this community. For some time past, and no doubt it will continue during our lifetime, the right of a nian to work has been determined more and more by his membership of a certain union. The arbitration laws prescribe the rates of pay that shall apply only to members of industrial organizations. No other persons are so protected. Although those matters are outside the scope of this bill, it is important for us sometimes to see the shape of things to come. “ The vehemence with which certain honorable gentlemen opposite, have debated the merits of this case does not dispose of the fact that the honorable member for Fawkner is .doing his best to give effect to the. terms of an agreement. The fault, if any, lies with the Government because it did not disclose when the Reestablishment and Employment Bill was under consideration,. obligations which it had to certain tradesmen.
– Why did not the honorable member for Fawkner raise the matter last year?
– The Government is’ in charge of the legislation introduced in this chamber. Amendments submitted by the Opposition do not receive consideration, and are not accepted. If one of our amendments, other than one of a trivial technical nature were accepted, it. would be an occasion for us to treat the whole chamber to a champagne supper. It just cannot happen. The bills which the Government introduces into this chamber are as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. They have received the imprimatur of the Labour caucus, and cannot be altered. On this occasion, the onus was on Ministers to disclose, when the Re-establishment and Employment Bill was being considered, the existence of certain agreements with the trade unions. Apparently, the honorable member for Fawkner and others believed that those matters were covered. Now, Ministers say that they were not. They place on this agreement a different interpretation from what the Opposition and particularly those members who participated in the negotiations place upon it. Of course, that is not a new experience. In politics, business or private relations, an agreement reached in 1940 under one set of conditions may bear an entirely different interpretation to-day. However, the issue will have to be resolved, not in this Parliament, but by our masters.
– Despite the assurance of the honorable .member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson), this bill will determine whether ex-servicemen shall have preference in employment. I have been impressed by the manner in which the Minister (Mr. Holloway) has answered certain questions, and. his attempts to clarify the purposes of this legislation. I propose to address to him a question, and from his answer, I shall know definitely whether I can support the bill. From people at Swan Hill, Mildura, Kerang and other centres in my electorate, I have received letters asking me about opportunities for men to enter certain trades. The purpose of the bill is to permit certain specified classes of individuals to obtain training in the five industries to which the measure applies. I wish to ask the Minister a direct question: Will the ex-servicemen who receive certificates of qualification as tradesmen be given absolute preference over all other persons to enter these particular trades when the industries can absorb more employees and when vacancies exist, and will they be entitled to trade-union membership? That, to my mind, is the crux of the matter.
– The answer to the question of the honorable member for Wiminera (Mr. Turnbull) in regard to preference is, “Yes”, with the single exception of the recognized tradesmen who were originally affected by the agreement.
– Can the Minister give me a plain “Yes” or “No” to the question whether the ex-servicemen will be given absolute preference in the circumstances that I have outlined?
-I have said that they will have preference, with the single exception that I have mentioned. That exception is necessary because of the terms of an agreement to which some of the honorable gentleman’s colleagues were a party when they were members of a previous government, and to which this Government also is a party.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause12 - . (1.) There shall be a Central (Engineering Trades) Committee consisting of -
.- During my second-reading speech I stated that at the committee stage I would move a number of amendments to this clause. The purpose of the clause is to constitute a central committee in respect ofthe engineering trades. This committee is to be the pattern of similar committees to be appointed in respect of other trades affectedby the bill. The committees are to consist of five members, two of whom shall be representative of employers, and two of the employees, whilst the repre sentative of the Minister shall be the chairman. I desire that one representative of the employees and one representative of the employers shall be a member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I therefore move -
That, after sub-clause (1.), the following new sub-clause be inserted: - (1a..) One of the representatives specified in paragraph (b), and one of the representatives specified in paragraph (c), of the last preceding sub-section shall be a member of the Returned Sailors. Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.”
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460807_reps_17_188/>.