18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research aware of the tremendous cost incurred by shire councils and farmers in attempting .to eradicate or prevent the spread of blackberries? Has the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research been asked to assist in finding a method to eradicate the pest, and if so, what progress has been made ?
– I am well aware of the trouble caused to shire councils, municipal councils and ‘to farmers in fighting this pest. I had considerable experience of it myself when I was farming in a district which was, to some degree, infested by blackberry bushes. I was once a member of a shire council, and I know that shire councils have taken an interest in this problem. The departments of agriculture in the various States have, from time to time, made investigations in an effort to discover the best way of dealing with the problem, and they have solicited the assistance of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The council has experimented with different kind of sprays, including arsenical and chlorate sprays, and has also conducted some investigations with a view to discovering a method of biological control. This is the method which proved so successful in eradicating prickly pear in Queensland. However, it is not always easy to find an insect which, by feeding on a particular plant, will, in the course of time, eradicate it. As for the blackberry, the difficulty is that this plant is very closely related to the raspberry, the loganberry, and even to the rose. Any insect introduced for the purpose of eradicating blackberry would naturally attack these other useful plants also. The council is continuing its investigations, but it is not very hopeful that success will be achieved along biological lines. However, it is still co-operating with the State Departments of Agriculture in an effort to evolve a satisfactory spray.
Statements in New Zealand.
– Further to my question to the Prime Minister last week regarding the visit of the Communist president of the Seamen’s Union to New Zealand, has the Prime Minister seen the following editorial comment from au Auckland newspaper : -
As for Comrade Elliott, it can hardly be an overstatement to say that in recent years no Australian had done more to strengthen the mordant, but quite erroneous view held by many New Zealanders, that Australians generally arc of dubious parentage.
In view of this statement, has the Prime Minister anything to add to the answer, such as it was, that he gave to the question I asked last week?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable member refers. I do not believe it is to be expected that I or any other Minister should follow up all newspaper articles which might reflect upon the people of this country. I shall read the article and ascertain whether the people responsible for making the statement about the parentage of Australians may be put on the right track.
– What about “ Comrade “ Elliott?
– The honorable member did not ask me anything about him.
– In the proposed alteration of pension payments, what is the basis of differentiation in respect of the payment of 5s. a week to pensioners in necessitatis circumstances? If a pensioner is earning£1 a week - that is the permissible income - is he disqualified from receiving the extra 5s.,. when perhaps his rental and living costs may be such as to put him in tbe necessitous class? Would it not be possible, in view of the 7s. a week rise in the basic wage, and in view of the consequent rise of prices, to increase all pensions by at least 7s. a week? Will the Prime Minister make such arrangements as may be necessary to allow invalid pensioners to earn up to £1 a week, if their condition permits them to do so?
– I gathered from the earlier portion of the question that the honorable member was inquiring whethercertain proposals which are to come before the House at a later stage limit thepensions to be granted to certain persons. The proposals which will in due course come before the House are intended to effect an all round increase of pensions. Under them invalid and oldage pensions will be increased by 5s. a week. It is intended that the existing means test and the property qualification will remain as they are now. As to the latter part of the honorable member’s question, relating to the basic wage, honorable member’s will recall that there was a period when the rise or fall of the pension rate was dependent upon changes in the “ C “ series index figure. On oneoccasion during, I believe, the life of the Curtin Government, a slight lowering of the index figure in one State affected pensions in all States by about 6d. a week. From that date the Government abolished the provision varying the pension rate in accordance with fluctuations in the basic wage. That enactment found support among at least some honorable members opposite as well as those who sit on this side of the House. No consideration has been given since then to the association of the pensions rate with the basic wage. The remainingpoints raised by the honorable memberwill be given consideration.
Food for Britain
– In view of pressstatements regarding the proposed gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain that such. gift would be applied “ to the reduction of sterling debits in Australia “., and having regard to the fact that caucus members were informed that it was impracticable to increase Australia’s food exports to Britain will the Prime Minister have an immediate investigation made of possible avenues of increasing food supplies to Great Britain by eliminating the waste of foodstuffs in Australia, as food is of more importance than money to the people of Great Britain at the present time?
– I assume that the rght honorable gentleman refers to a report in the press this morning of the Government’s decision to reduce Australia’s sterling balance in London by £25,000.000 Australian currency as a contribution towards the United King.dom’s war expenditure in and around the Pacific. I have said before that this country is doing all it can to supply food to Britain.
– It could do much more.
– The honorable member for Balaclava has been rather clamorous about this matter.
– And he intends to be .more clamorous.
– Apart from some small waste that the right honorable member for Cowper has spoken about, the only way in which Australia could supply more food to Britain would be by the imposition of much severer food rationing on the Australian people. I have not heard of anyone suggesting that that should be done. The honorable member for Balaclava asked that a select committee investigate the matter, but select committees cannot produce food that is not available. All food that can be spared is being sent to Britain.
– In view of the announcement that a gift of £25,000,000 is to be made immediately to the United Kingdom Government, and of the statement that it is impossible at present to increase food supplies from this country, and as Great Britain’s prime necessity is food, will the Prime Minister arrange that at least 50 per cent, of the gift will be made in gold from the gold resources of the Commonwealth Bank or of the Australian Government?
– The honorable member used the word “ immediately “. Et is understood, of course, that a bill to appropriate the amount of the proposed gift to Great Britain will come before the Parliament. No “ immediate “ gift can be made. The bill to authorize it will probably not be introduced for some weeks; it will be brought before the House with other financial measures. As to the honorable member’s proposal that portion of the gift should be made in gold. I remind him that the intention is to reduce the sterling balances now held in London. In other words, the Commonwealth Bank will pay to the United Kingdom Government £A.25,000,000 or £20,000,000 sterling. It is intended that the Parliament shall make an appropriation from revenue or from government funds to repay to the Commonwealth Bank the money so transferred.
– Of what immediate practical benefit will that be to the British people?
– That question raises issues which would have to be dealt with at considerable length, and which could be more appropriately left until the bill appropriating the amount of the proposed gift is brought before the House.
– Many times previously in this House I have, on behalf of the Milk Zone Dairymen’s Council, directed attention to the injustice involved in the low price of ls. 2-Jd. a gallon paid to producers of whole milk used for sweet cream. From a newspaper report this morning it appears that some action is now being taken. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether that is so? Has the price of milk for sweet cream to the producer been reviewed in the light of my representations ? Has an increase been granted ? If so, how much is it?
– The honorable member has repeatedly made representations for an increase of the price paid for milk for making sweet cream. Largely as the result of those representations, I am now able to announce that the price of such milk has been increased by 2£d. a gallon, making the price to the producer ls. 5d. a gallon.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture how much money the Treasury has received from the export duty on rabbit skins in the six years ended the 31st December, 1946.
– The tax levied on rabbit skins exported from Australia is the result of legislation introduced by the Menzies Government in 1940 with the support of the then Opposition. The tax is levied on rabbit skins that are exported in order that a fund may be accumulated to ensure that the price of hats for the Australian Military Forces and civil population shall bear some relationship to Australia’s internal economic price levels. Both local manufacturers and exporters bid for rabbit skins at the auction sales. The price of skins used in Australia is fixed by the Prices Commissioner. The difference between the manufacturers’ bids and the fixed price is made up out of the levy on exported skins.
– The honorable member only wants to knowhow much money has been received?
– I am giving the honorable member some useful information. There is a good deal of misconception about this matter. That, briefly, is the manner in which the export tax is levied.
– Now, will the Minister state briefly how much has been collected?
– I am about to do so. The value of rabbit skins for export and internal consumption in Australia during the last twelve months totalled £9,000,000 compared with £600,000 before the outbreak of World War II. in 1939. As the result of that substantial increase, the yield of tax has been as follows : -
The operation of the tax when prices were very high yielded such a return of revenue that the Government considered that, for the present three months, it was not necessary to impose the levy. It has come to my knowledge that some buyers from trappers are deducting the tax at the point of purchase in the country. That practice is utterly illegal, because the tax may be collected only at the point of export.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to page 50 of the report of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Trade and Employment setting out the following procedure for tariff reduction by members in section F:-
Each member should transmit to each other member, from which it desires to obtain tariff concessions, as soon as possible, and preferably not later than 31st December, 1946,. a preliminary list of concessions which it proposes to request of such other member. This list should set forth for each product concerned -
an indication of the existing rate of duty (where known), and
an indication of the requested rate of duty.
At the opening of the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, each member should submit a schedule of the proposed concessions which it would be prepared to grant to all other members in the light of the concessions it would have requested from each of them.
I ask the Minister to supply the following information : - 1. Have demands been received from any other countries for substantial reductions in the Australian tariff? 2. Is the Minister prepared to lay such demands on the table of the House? 3. Has Dr. Coombs been authorized to submit concessions by Australia in accordance with the formula at the opening of the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee? 4. If so, will the Minister lay on the table a list of the proposed concessions ?
– The honorable member has outlined correctly the method under which the negotiations will take place at Geneva. The procedure is that each country will compile a list of the concessions which it will request from other countries and, in accordance with that, Australia has received requests from some other countries. As those requests have already been published in the press, there is no reason why they should not bc laid upon the table of the House. Actually, they appeared in the press before the Parliament reassembled on the 19th February last, and that was the only reason why they were not laid upon the table. The list of concessions which Australia is prepared to make has not yet been compiled, but we are preparing it, after having considered requests that other countries are making upon Australia. However, I remind the honorable member that it is quite possible for this country to make concessions in the way of reductions of tariff on certain commodities where the tariff provided has not at any time operated as a protection to certain industries. Therefore, it is possible for us to prepare a list of concessions which we are willing to grant but which would not in any way affect either the primary or secondary industries of this country.
Sale to New Zealand
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen the report, 01 if he has not seen it whether he will examine the report, of a statement made by Mr. Thompson, former general manager of the Australian Wheat Board, in which Mr. Thompson is stated to have said that the Australian Wheat Board, as such, was never consulted at any stage during the Australia-New Zealand negotiations for the wheat agreement, and that Sir Louis Bussau and himself were consulted only in the early stages.
– That is what I said.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the Hansard report of last Thursday’s proceedings in this House, in which is recorded the statement of Mr. Scully, the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, that the Australian Wheat Board was consulted throughout the discussions? Will the Prime Minister also examine Mr. Scully’s subsequent statement, published in Tuesday’s press, that he, Mr. Scully, could not recall ever having said that the board was -consulted throughout the negotiations.
– That statement was never made. It is an incorrect statement un the Sydney Morning Herald.
– The Minister’s conflicting statements have been made more conflicting by a statement made at Mount Gambier by the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who said -
When he came into office after the federal election and looked into the matter, he discovered that Australia was morally committed to the agreement.
In view of these conflicting statements, and of the generally suspicious circumstances which surround the agreement, will the Prime Minister lay on the table the whole of the relevant communications and documents, together with an official statement from the Australian Wheat Board on the part which it played in the negotiations ?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will reply.
– In reply to the honorable member’s question-
– On a point of order, I addressed my question to the Prime Minister.
– No point of order is involved. Any Minister may refuse to answer any question.
– Does the Prime Minister refuse to answer the question? That is the point.
– Order ! Any Minister may refuse to answer any question, and it is quite in order for him, if he so desires, to refer it to the Minister administering the department concerned.
– I take a further point of order. I accept the ruling that a Minister may refuse to answer a question. I now ask whether any Minister is in order - except by leave of the House - in making a reply to a question which was not asked of him?
– The procedure covering questions is that a Minister may be asked questions dealing with his department. My view is that that provision should be observed, but I have noted on quite a number of occasions that questions not connected with his department have been asked of the Prime Minister. He, like previous Prime Ministers, has courteously replied to them. I personally consider it a reasonable view to take that if the Prime Minister is not seised of the whole of the facts involved in a question, the inquiry should be directed to the Minister who has the available information. However, if the honorable member for Indi does not wish to pursue hi3 question I shall not call upon the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to reply to it.
– I only want an answer by the Prime Minister, not otherwise.
-The honorable member is out of order in insisting on a reply after a Minister has refused to answer.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, as alleged by Mr. Thompson, former manager of the Australian Wheat Board, or in any other way, he intervened at any stage during the negotiations on the wheat agreement with New Zealand or whether he intervened after such agreement had been negotiated ?
– The only part I played in the discussions was during the visit to Australia of Mr. Sullivan, who mentioned the matter of the availability of Australian wheat for New Zealand. Apart from that, I did not intervene in any way in the discussions between the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and New Zealand Ministers. If the honorable gentleman will place the other part of his question on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to give him a complete reply.
– While I was in South Australia during the week-end it was brought to my notice that mothers in that State are having great difficulty in obtaining boys’ suits, particularly those manufactured from melange material. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping ensure that increased supplies of material for suits are made available to South Australia?
– I am aware that there is a considerable shortage of suitings, not only in South Australia, but also in other parts of the Commonwealth. It may be true that the position is more acute in South Australia than elsewhere. At the moment, I cannot say what the Minister for Supply and Shipping might be able to do to relieve the position, but I shall consult with him.
– It has been announced that the Government intends to introduce legislation to provide for reciprocal social service payments between Australia and New Zealand. Is the Prime Minister aware that in New Zealand endowment for the first child is 10s. a week. May -we take it that the arrangement of which we have been informed foreshadows a change of policy by the Commonwealth Government on this important matter?
– There has been no suggestion of a change of policy insofar as the Australian Government is concerned. There have been several discussions on the subject of introducing a system of reciprocal social service benefits between New Zealand and Australia, and only recently I discussed the -matter with the Treasurer of the New Zealand Government, Mr. Walter Nash, and with Senator McKenna, the Minister for Social Services. I understand that that Minister will shortly be in a position to introduce legislation to give effect to the agreement reached. However, so that the honorable member may be fully informed, I shall nsk the Minister for Social Services to let her have the latest information on the subject.
– Will the Treasurer consider - not as & matter of urgency, but as something for consideration at his leisure, if he ever has any - an amendment to the Constitution providing for such amendments of the Commonwealth Bank Act as should be desirable in the Constitution in the light of the fact that sound finance is an essential part of the Constitution ?
– Certain amendments to the Commonwealth Bank Act have been suggested by the Governor of the Bank, and they may be coming before the Parliament later this year, but they are of a minor character only. I shall consult with the honorable member in order to learn what amendments he has in mind.
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction seen a statement by the New South “Wales Minister for Lands, Mr. Dunn, who, when replying to a deputation of ex-servicemen organized by the Bombala and District Repatriation Committee, is reported to have said -
If the stranglehold of Commonwealth red tape was not removed from land settlement schemes the settlement of soldiers of World War II. would be an even bigger failure than the settlement of soldiers after World War I.
Will the Minister say what action, if any, the Government proposes to take to overcome the delays which, Mr. Dunn has said, arise from dual control by the Commonwealth and State Governments?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers. I am very doubtful whether the Minister for Lands in New South Wales ever made such a statement. The Commonwealth Government has no stranglehold over the settlement of ex-servicemen ou the land. The work of preparing for the settlement of ex-servicemen is well advanced, and from now on a steady stream of ex-servicemen will be settled on estates and farms. I shall examine -the reported statement of Mr. Dunn, and afterwards 1 shall decide what to do about it.
– Some time ago, the Commonwealth Government reached an agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom regarding the taxation of profits of companies and business organizations. It has been represented to me that similar difficulties are now arising between Australia and New Zealand. Will the Prime Minister examine the practicability of entering into an arrangement with, the Government of New Zealand similar to that reached with the Government of the United Kingdom?
– Informal discussions have taken place between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, on the subject of a double taxation agreement. The problem, so far as New Zealand is concerned, is not so difficult as that which confronted us when dealing with the United Kingdom. I have discussed the matter with the Commissioner of Taxation, who has told me that there are only a few major matters which could be made the subject of a double taxation agreement with New Zealand. I hope that the agreement with tire Government of the United Kingdom will come before Parliament before the Easter adjournment. I shall consider the honorable member’s suggestion regarding an agreement with the New Zealand Government.
– by leave- On the 27th February, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) asked a question concerning the labelling of textiles. The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
The draft of the regulations under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, to provide for the marking of imported textiles of wool or containing wool, so as to indicate the percentages of the constituent fibres, has been referred to the Attorney-General’s Department for review. It is expected that the regulations will be promulgated in the near future. They will be brought into operation on a date to be fixed in consultation with the various State governments.
– Has any action yet been taken by the Department, of the Navy to make available to naval personnel any prize money which is to be distributed by the Australian Government ?
– In September, 1945. my predecessor, in response to a question by the honorable member for Cook, advised the House that the matter of payment of prize money and its allocation was one to be determined in conjunction and consultation with the United Kingdom Government, and that experience after World War I. indicated that some considerable time must elapse before legal requirements, in respect of prizes seized, were satisfied. In December, 1945, in response to a question in the House of Commons, the First Lord of the Admiraltey, Mr. Alexander, stated, inter alia, that prize money in respect of proceeds derived from the sale of captured enemy merchant ships and cargo, which had traditionally been granted to the Navy, shall again be granted, and indicated that it would be some considerable time before allocation could be terminated as most of this ‘prize money was still the subject of long litigation in the courts. In a cablegram from the Dominions Office to the Commonwealth Government in April, 1946, requesting certain information, it was advised that action was being taken to devise a scheme for the distribution of prize money in collaboration with the British Commonwealth Governments. A3 soon as the basis of distribution has been finally agreed upon I shall inform the House.
– Has staff recruiting been completed for the Commonwealth Office of Education? Is the office yet engaged in educational research, and is it yet, contemplated that the office will advise the Commonwealth on financial assistance to the States for educational purposes ?
– The staffing of the Commonwealth Office of Education has not yet been completed. The office is, however, doing a certain amount of research work, limited, of course, by the shortage of staff, and is also engaged on matters preliminary to the making of recommendations to the Government as to the financial assistance that should be rendered to the States for educational purposes.
– As many former members of the Royal Australian Air Force have been waiting for more than two years for the assessment of their war gratuities, will the Minister for Air state why delays have occurred in. the case of the Royal Australian Air Force which have not occurred in the other two services? Will the honorable gentleman expedite the issues of these assessments?
– I am not aware of any delays nor have I had any complaints about delays in the payment of war gratuities to former members of the Royal Australian Air Force.
– I referred to the assessment of war gratuities.
– I have had no complaints either is regard to assessment or to payment, nor, as far as I am aware, have any such complaints reached the department. If such delays are in fact occurring I shall take steps to see that as far as possible assessment and payments are expedited.
– I have received several letters protesting against the lack of provision for war gratuities to be paid to ex-servicemen permanently leaving Australia, and against the fact that service in England is not regarded as service overseas. Two men that I have in mind in that connexion were members of the Royal Australian Air Force. I ask the Treasurer whether that was intended. In any case will the right honorable gentleman take steps to rectify that injustice, and to remove many other anomalies ?
– The amount and ‘ date of payment of war gratuity were the subject of consideration by a joint committee of members of both Houses. That committee did a great deal of valuable work. We have in our administration of the war gratuity scheme endeavoured to keep close to the intentions expressed by that committee. There have been some slight relaxations to meet special cases, which I think the committee anticipated. I shall examine the position with respect to persons in the categories referred to by the honorable gentleman to ascertain whether it is possible to make some easement, having regard to the general position.
-I have received several letters from the proprietors of rest homes in Tasmania asking whether, in view of the grave shortage of domestic workers, immigrant domestic servants are available. Has the Minister for Immigration any policy on this matter, and is there a field for the recruitment of domestic workers among the migrants coming to Australia ?
– I have not the slightest doubt that if I could advertise through the press of Australia that the Department of Immigration could supply domestic workers I would need the assistance of every honorable member in this chamber to answer all the letters that I would receive. There is a great demand for domestic workers in Australia. The policy laid down by the Commonwealth and the States some time ago placed upon the States responsibility for determining the categories of workers they wanted and the numbers in each category. As far as is practicable the department has arranged .to bring to each State the people in the categories asked for by the States. If a particular State wants domestic workers before anybody else we shall endeavour to get them. To date, however, most of the States have asked for building workers, nurses, dentists and people in callings other than that of domestics. When the flow of immigration reaches the tempo we hope to achieve, I have no doubt that domestic workers will be included among other workers.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in the position to say what decision the Government has arrived at in connexion with the invitation extended to it to sign, in accordance with certain other nations, the Bretton Woods Agreement?
– The matter is still under consideration.
– A report appeared in this morning’s press that the Prime Minister had circulated a statement among members of the Labour party which was the “most closely reasoned and lucid yet known “ on the Bretton Woods Agreement. In view of the great difficulty of finding anything either closely reasoned or lucid on the Bretton Woods proposals, will the right honorable gentleman make that statement available to honorable members on this side of the chamber?
– I endeavoured to have prepared a short and simple statement relating to the Bretton Woods proposals. If the information contained in that document will be of any value to the honorable member, I shall be pleased to supply a copy.
– In view of the supreme importance of the Bretton Woods
Agreement, will the Prime Minister make available to honorable members Professor Melville’s report? I understand that this document was prepared for submission to Cabinet.
– No. Professor Melville’s original statement after his first visit to the United States of America was circulated among honorable members.
– ] referred to his second report.
– The second report was prepared only for submission to Cabinet. It has not been made available to any private member. The House will agree that departmental officials who compile reports for the information of Cabinet alone, would find themselves seriously embarrassed if their reports were later issued as public documents. Apart from the second document, Professor Melville made a verbal report to Cabinet. I cannot make the second document available to honorable members.
Rationing - Supplies in Victoria.
– Has the Government given consideration to the discontinuance of meat rationing? Is there any dire need to-day for the continuation of meat rationing, and is it not a fact that principals in the wholesale and retail meat trade consider that meat-rationing is now of no value? Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs obtain a report on the advantages of the continuance of meat rationing in Australia?
– This matter was reviewed a month or two ago, when the decision of the Government was that considerable savings of meat could be made by a continuance of rationing, but I will ask the Minister for Trade and Customs, who administers the rationing scheme, to make a further investigation and report the result to the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture taking any steps to overcome the meat deadlock in Victoria?
– The meat deadlock in Victoria comes, in a major sense, under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Trade and Customs, to whom I shall be glad to refer the honorable gentleman’s question.
“Wives of Australians in Japan.
– Will the Prime Minister arrange for the Minister for the Army to make an announcement in the House to clarify the procedure to be followed by Australian members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan to enable their wives to go to Japan? Many wives say they do not know what procedure to adopt. I endeavoured to obtain the information from Victoria Barracks, Brisbane, but officials there were hopelessly vague. Is a soldier to make application on behalf of his wife, or does a wife have to apply ; if so, what procedure has to be followed ?
– I will ask the Minister for the Army to make the position completely clear to the honorable member in order that he may inform his inquirers of the correct position.
– In view of the conflicting statements made by Ministers from time to time as to Britain’s butter purchases from Australia, will the Prime Minister, as the channel through which correspondence passes, table the correspondence and reports of negotiations between the British, and Australian Gorvernments with respect to Britain’3 agreement to purchase Australian butter in 1944 and 1946?
– I shall consult the appropriate Minister and ascertain whether it is possible to comply with the right honorable gentleman’s request.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question about the substantial income tax deductions that the Government has announced which are in accordance with suggestions made some time ago by the Leader of the Australian Country party. Will the Prime Minister re-examine the date upon which those deductions will become operative ? I understand that it is to be the 1st July next. I suggest that the date be much earlier, because with taxes so heavy, announcement of the Government’s intention to reduce the tax some months ahead will inevitably result in diminution of business, dampening of enterprise, unwillingness to bring certain profitable transactions to fruition until the new tax year and unwillingness to release consumer goods. In view of the serious effect that that is likely to have upon the availability of consumer goods and the pursuit of profitable business enterprise will he examine the possibility of reducing the tax fct a very early date ?
– Under the payasyouearn system a great number of provisional income tax assessments have already been issued this year. The important feature of the pay-as-you-earn system is that there should be an early announcement of the proposed new taxes in order that, the Commissioner of Taxation may issue to employers of labour throughout Australia the necessary cards showing what deductions are to be made from salaries and wages. Our experience has been that it generally requires anything up to two months to have cards printed and distributed. If that were not done the old scale of deductions would operate. It is not intended to alter the proposal that the reductions shall operate from the 1st July. Steps will be taken, if the Parliament approves, to reduce taxes.
– It will approve all right.
– It will take some time to complete the drafting of the new tax proposals. In addition to the proposed reduction of income tax, the law covering other taxation fields will require minor amendments. Legislation relating to the double taxation agreement with Great Britain will have to be brought down. The drafting of the necessary bills will take some weeks. I had hoped to introduce this legislation before the House rises for the recess at Easter, but I do not see the prospect of the Parliament debating this legislation until May. When the requisite authority has been granted, the Commissioner of Taxation will be able to authorize the printing of the instalment deduction cards for use by employers throughout Australia. That is one of the reasons why I find it always desirable that decisions relating to reductions of tax should be made a considerable time before the reductions begin to operate.
– I have received the following telegram from the secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia : -
New South Wales head-quarters of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has been directed to emphatically protest at transfer of staffs of Repatriation Commission and War Service Homes Commission to Public Service. Such action is complete negation of soldier preference and removal of all sympathetic administration in repatriation and rehabilitation affairs. Please press for withdrawal of bill until the views of this organization can be presented.
Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction defer further consideration of the bill until ex-servicemen’s organizations have had an opportunity to present their views regarding its proposals?
– I have already made arrangements to have discussions with the federal president of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Canberra towards the end of this week. In matters relating to the league and the welfare of exservicemen generally the Commonwealth Government cannot possibly take into account the views of the various State branches of the league. The proper course for us to pursue is to have discussions with the federal body, and ignore any representations that may be made by the State branches.
Bill presented by Dr. Evatt, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move* -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I indicated to honorable members when introducing the Stevedoring Industry
Bill, that it is proposed that the expenditure arising from the activities of the Stevedoring Industry Commission shall be met from the proceeds of a charge to be levied upon the stevedoring employers. As this charge is in the nature of a tax, the administration of the necessary legislation is to be vested in the Commissioner of Taxation, and provision to that effect Ls made in this hill.
A number of proposals relating to the basis of the charge have been considered with a view to determining which of them would operate most equitably. It is clearly desirable that the weight of the levy upon each employer should be .Proportionate to the actual extent to which he employs waterside workers. In these circumstances, it is proposed that the charge shall be based upon the number of man-hours of employment, by each employer, of persons who are registered us waterside workers for the purposes of the Stevedoring Industry Act. From inquiries made in this regard, it is understood that the number of man-hours of employment will be readily ascertainable for this purpose.
The stevedoring employers will be obliged to furnish monthly returns to the Commissioner of Taxation within fourteen days of the close of each month, setting out’ the number of man-hours of employment, and the amount of the charge payable thereon. They will also be required to pay the charge at the time of lodgment of the return. Where an employer is liable to pay the charge in respect of employment arising from the performance of a contract under which he renders stevedoring services to another person, the employer is authorized to recover the amount of the charge from that person. In such cases, the employer will be obliged to state the appropriate amount of the charge separately on each account rendered by him to the other person in respect of such services. Provision is made in the bill that the legislation shall come into operation upon a date to be proclaimed. It is proposed that this date shall be the same as the date to be proclaimed as the date of commencement of the Stevedoring Industry Act with which this charge is associated.
Apart from those matters, the bill merely contains procedural provisions which, are based on those incorporated in other taxation acts, relating to such matters as collection and recovery of the charge, penalties for offences, and authorizing the making of regulations. The rate of the charge will bc the subject of a resolution which I propose to ‘move at a later stage. The basis of the charge has been discussed with the persons who will be liable to pay it, and, it is understood, is acceptable to them, having regard to the purposes for which it is intended. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Or. EVATT (Barton - Attorney General and Minister for External Affairs) [4.6]. - I move -
That a charge be imposed in respect of the employment of waterside workers after the commencement of the act passed to give effect to this resolution.
That the rate of the charge be four and one-half pence for every man-hour of employment.
That the charge in respect of the employment of any waterside workers be paid by the employer of those waterside workers.
That expressions used in this resolution have the same meanings as those expressions have in the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill 1947.
That the act passed to give effect to this resolution come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation
The purpose and scope of the stevedoring industry charge have already been explained in connexion with the bills which have been previously introduced. Briefly, the purpose of the charge is to supply the funds necessary to meet the expenditure to be incurred by the Stevedoring Industry Commission in the course of carrying out its functions as specified in the Stevedoring Industry Bill, included in which are the provision of amenities. The charge is to be paid by employers of registered waterside workers, and the amount to be paid by each employer will he 4£d. for each man-hour of employment by him during each calendar month after the commencement of the charge. The charge will commence on a date to be proclaimed. It was originally proposed that there should be a larger charge to meet the precise expenditure necessary in order to cover the administrative expenses, the provision of amenities and the like by the commission. The proposed charge has been assessed after consultation with the interests concerned who will have to bear the ultimate burden of it.
– The whole of the administrative expenses of the commission will be met from it.
Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page 320), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill now before the House aims at setting up in the shipping industry an industrial authority to control the operations of employers and of waterside workers in connexion with the loading and unloading of ships. The new authority is to be known as the Stevedoring Industry Commission and it will stand in the shoes of the body of the same name which has had charge of the waterfront and the industrial conditions applicable thereto since about the time that Japan entered the war. That commission was established under the National Security Regulations. Prior to that time the wages and conditions of the waterside workers were determined by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Since the National Security Regulations cannot remain in force indefinitely it has become necessary to consider whether conditions in the stevedoring industry should once more he fixed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or whether the existing war-time scheme which has been so well tried and tested during the last few years, should be made permanent. The National Security Regulations take their force from the defence powers of the Commonwealth. These powers are very wide in time of war but they shrink considerably in time of peace. There is, fortunately, no constitutional difficulty about establishing the proposed new commission on a permanent basis under an act of Parliament because, in addition to the powers possessed by the Commonwealth in relation to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, the Commonwealth also has power in regard to trade and commerce with other countries and amongst the States.
The bill provides that the stevedoring industry will largely govern itself under the guidance of a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner. The commission will consist of two representatives of the shipowners, two representatives of the federation, an officer of the Commonwealth “without a vote, and an independent chairman who will be a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner. The chairman will have a casting vote. Wide powers are to be vested in the new commission. These are set out in clause 11, which provides - (1.) The functions of the Commission shall be-
The bill also provides in clause 13 -
For the purpose of exercising its functions under section eleven of this Act -
the Commission shall have power to make such awards and orders, give such directions and do all such other things as it thinks fit; and
without limiting the generality of the last preceding paragraph, the Commission shall have power -
to make awards and orders with respect to the wages, hours and conditionsof employment of waterside workers ;
to make provision for annual leave and sick leave for waterside workers ;
to make provision for the payment of attendance money to waterside workers ;
to establish and administer employment bureaux for waterside workers;
to provide, or require the provision of, first-aid equipment and ambulance facilities for waterside workers;
to provide, or require the provision of, canteens, cafeteria, dining rooms, rest rooms, and adequate sanitary and washing facilities for waterside workers; and
to make provision for. the payment of guaranteed weekly or daily wages to waterside workers.
The commission will be required to keep a register of both employers and employees at each port covered by the bill. Unregistered employers will be debarred from engaging workers, and no unregistered worker willbe eligible for employment. It will be seen, therefore, that this new body will not only carry out the powers and functions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in regard to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, but it. will also have additional power to deal with local disputes and matters affecting amenities for workers, which the Arbitration Court is not suitably equipped to deal with, and for which purpose it was not designed.
The first Stevedoring Industry Commission was established as a war measure after an expert committee under the chairmanship of Sir Owen Dixon, a Justice of the High Court, had recommended its establishment. The object of the commission was stated as “ the most rapid turning round of the ships “. The commission then appointed has functioned with much success during the war, and up to the present time. In October, 1945, the Government appointed His Honour J udge
Foster, a learned and able judge of the Arbitration Court, to inquire into and report on the stevedoring industry. The measure now before the House is designed in the main to give effect to his recommendations. In all the circumstances, the Government is, I believe, well advised to continue with the commission, and most honorable members will admit that the Government is taking the best possible action to bring about peace, order, contentment and continuity of work on the waterfront.
The stevedoring industry is one of great importance, affecting as it does our export trade, and particularly our primary industries. Unfortunately, however, the industry has a record of turbulence, suffering, bitterness and unrest. Judge Foster, in his report on the stevedoring industry, said -
The industry is almost wholly casual, and affects about 20,000 workers in Australia. Employment in it is subject to grave fluctuation - periodical, seasonal, intermittent - yet it demands the continuous existence of a reservoir of labour, withdrawals from which vary greatly according to these fluctuations - the casual nature of the work calls for special consideration.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has mentioned the decline of the tonnages handled on the waterfront. I remind honorable members that reduced production is a feature of almost every industry, not only in Australia, but in all parts of the world. The Leader of the Opposition condemned the waterside workers, and showed himself once more to be the complete and ardent advocate for the shipowners. In his report, Judge Foster referred to the increasing average age of waterside workers, and he quoted an important medical report, which I propose to read to the House now, because the Leader of the Opposition, when condemning the waterside workers, made no reference to it whatever. In November, 1944, Dr. Ronald McQueen made a survey of the health of waterside workers, and this is the section of his report which was quoted by Judge Foster -
I was under the impression, when commencing this survey, that its main object was the detection of malingerers.
Having encountered only one of these crafty undesirables among the first 130 cases I ex amined, I realized that I was dealing with a quite unique collection of genuine and serious disabilities.
I was forced into a real and surprised admiration for a body of men earning a more or less arduous living, handicapped by gross and serious physical abnormalities.
Most of the individuals examined were over the age of 40 and under 60. I can only surmise with the most profound gloom, the conditions of those over 60 years of age.
My chief impression of these men was that all of them were prematurely aged. It was rare to find any man who did not look at least ten years older than his stated age. Their outward appearance was more than confirmed by physical examination. The majority of them showed the usual stigmate of abnormally early and rapidly progressive senility. High Wood pressure, thickened and calcified arteries and degenerative disease of the heart muscle.
There was little clinical evidence that the process had been hastened by alcohol. The obesity, characteristic of many enthusiastic beer drinkers was, however, frequently seen.
A detailed list of the disabilities discovered in each case has been given to the committee. Throughout this report I would like to emphasize the cautious standard I have maintained before labelling a case with a specific diagnosis.
The industry is a difficult one to control. The work is hard, and conditions have been bad over a great many years. Many old men are working on the waterfront, most of them over 40 years of age, and their general health, as Dr. McQueen has reported, is not good. I do not think that there will be much sincere opposition to this bill. On Friday last, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when speaking upon the bill said -
This is an idea that never occurred to me - otherwise, I would have impressed it upon tha government of the day.
I have no doubt that the right honorable member knows that the Government is doing the best thing possible to ensure peace on the waterfront. He himself, when Attorney-General in a former government, was hard-pressed when attempting to achieve industrial peace - so much so, that he and the present leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden”) used a special, secret fund from which they handed money to union leaders. When’ this was disclosed before a royal commission it shocked the country. The right honorable member for North Sydney sought to justify his action by .stating that there had always been a secret fund. This Government will not, and cannot, take such action. It will not stoop to bribe union leaders. However, the Government is taking, and will continue to take, all steps that are reasonable, practicable and honest to maintain industrial peace. This bill is drawn in accordance with the principles of arbitration. The Government and the people are keen to retain the arbitration system, by which we mean the perpetuation of a system of settling industrial disputes by referring the conflicting parties to conciliation commissioners and judges of the Arbitration Court. I hope that all honorable members will support the bill.
– This bill, which deals with the stevedoring industry in Australia, is of enormous importance to our export industries, and to every farmer and pastoralist throughout Australia. It is of importance >as well to all those engaged in metaliferous mining, and to those concerned with the exporting, of Australia’s products overseas. As the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) pointed out, it is also of great importance to those in Australia interested in transport, because a large proportion of Australia’s trade has to be carried by sea. There are places in the Commonwealth to which it is impracticable to carry goods in any other way. Thus, the freight charges which the public have to pay are necessarily affected by the costs of the stevedoring industry.
Honorable members must have been amazed this afternoon when they were told of the charges which were to be levied on the industry in order to pay the costs of the commission. It is proposed to make a levy of 41/2d. per man hour, or something over 10s. a week for each person employed in the industry. This will represent a total of about £500,000 a year to be devoted to defraying the costs of the commission. The money is to be paid, not by the ship-owners, but by the unfortunate people who provide the cargoes, and have no alternative method of transporting their goods.
One of the features of our overseas trade is that freights are high. We are 12,000 miles away from our chief markets. Most of the ships used in the trade are of the kind known as composite ships which carry many kinds of cargo. Different holds are necessary for different kinds of cargo. The refrigerated holds have to be kept at different temperatures for fruit, chilled beef, for frozen mutton and lamb. Thus, it is necessary to have almost a complete factory moving across the sea, equipped with complicated machinery and staffed by many refrigerating engineers. Tea is carried from Ceylon in these ships, and I understand that there is grave danger that, food may become tainted if carried in holds which have previously been filled with tea. When the ships arrive at Australia they have to call at a large number of ports. The Nestor, mentioned last week by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) normally called at twelve ports in Australia in pre-war days. No doubt, the first port touched at was visited again, and this may also have applied to some of the others, but the fact remains that ships coming to Australia are required to pick up and discharge cargo at many different ports. Primary producers in Australia have to sell their products on world markets, and for that reason it is necessary that freights should be kept as low as possible. It does not matter what price we guarantee in Australia, or what efforts Ave make to stabilize markets here, once our products are put on the markets of the world we must accept what we are offered for them. Often, the freight rate is a vital factor. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, represent a pastoral electorate, and I have no doubt that you remember how, during the economic depression, the producers put up a tremendous fight to obtain a reduction of shipping freights. A difference of oneeighth of a penny per pound on the freight for wool represents a difference of £478,000 a year to the growers. It is essentia] that freights should not be burdened with uneconomic and extravagant costs, and that if wages and costs are to be increased, those who benefit should increase their efforts so as to ensure a quicker turn-round’ of ships. Dr. Coombs, speaking on behalf of the Government before going overseas, told the members of all political parties that Empire preference was doomed. No matter how Government supporters might try to deny this statement, there is no doubt that that was what Dr. Coombs meant, and that was practically what he said. If empire preference is doomed, and we have to sell our primary products on the markets of Great Britain in open competition with the products from Argentina and the South American republics with their shorter shipping distances, it is essential that Australian industry should not be compelled to pay shipping freights out of all proportion to those of countries nearer to the British market. In his report on the stevedoring industry, Mr. Justice Foster pointed out that if stevedoring costs increase unduly they will have a detrimental effect, not only on our primary industries, hut also on the whole economy of Australia, and may result in the closing of many foreign markets to our exports. The Attorney-General appreciated this and said that special machinery was being set up by the Government to govern the conditions of the stevedoring industry. The honorable member for Robertson “(Mr. Williams) claims that this bill proposes the establishment of a Stevedoring Industry Commission which, in effect, will be a continuance of the war-time Stevedoring Industry Commission, but with certain differences. I was surprised that the honorable member should indulge in paeons of praise for what the war-time body had achieved during the war period. His eulogy is in marked contrast to what Mr. Justice Foster, who could not be regarded as biased in our favour, had to say in regard to that body. In his report Mr. Justice Foster said -
True it is that the Stevedoring Industry Commission did not secure industrial peace nor harmony - it did not prevent all disputes in any port, even disputes of a major character - it did not prevent hold-ups of ships nor secure regular continuous stevedoring Operations - it did not make the fullest use perhaps of the skill and knowledge of stevedores and their foremen - it did not secure the authority of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia over its own members - it faced direct defiance of its orders and directions sometimes even by the federation. I observed a minor hold-up when I visited Sydney wharfs. As 1 write a hold-up involving several large ships and hundreds of passengers is reported in the press and the men are said to be defying their union.
Having regard to that criticism of the commission, one wonders why Mr. Justice
Foster recommended the establishment of a similar body. Opinions vary as to the success of the war-time commission. Both the Attorney-General and the honorable member for Robertson claim that the war-time commission met with considerable success; but Mr. Justice Foster, in his most damning report, merely says that if it had not been established conditions might have been worse, a very different thing. And even that is mere speculation. I draw the attention of honorable members to what happened during the life of the war-time commission and what is most likely to happen in the future. On every occasion the Communistdirected Waterside Workers Federation, led by Mr. Healy, brought the most vicious kind of pressure on the commission to force it to give decisions in favour of the men. In its issue of the 17th February, 1947, the Wharfie, a Communist publication circulating on the waterfront, claiming that the overtime ban won annual holidays, said -
We have resumed work consolidating our first gain, annual leave. While it looks as if we will win attendance money after Tuesday’s sitting of the commission, we cannot yet be certain of this. We want attendance money for all ports. We will win attendance money for every branch of the federation, if necessary by further action to force the issue.
When it suited the federation it went tothe commission and endeavoured to obtainits desires by conciliation, but wherever’ it thought it could achieve its objectiveby resisting the commission it did so.What was true of the war-time commission will be equally true of the body proposed to be set up under this bill. The federation will continue to adopt what might he called softening-up methods, staging hold-ups of various kinds to dragoon the commission into acquiescence with its desires. The federation has not been consistent in its demands on the commission. In May and June, 1946, there was a nation-wide waterside workers’ strike in connexion with the handling of double-dumped wool bales. Before that issue was settled, however, the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation announced in the press that its members would not resume work unless their demands for an alteration of the hours of shift work were granted. The hours then were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The commission decided that the time of the shifts should be altered but stipulated that one shift would be worked and if no labour were available for the second shift in the evening the men on the day shift should, on four days a week, continue working till 9 p.m. The waterside workers observed the shifts laid down by the commission as these were the shifts they had recommended, but not for long. At the end of September, the Sydney branch of the federation notified the Sydney Waterside Employment Committee that, commencing on Monday, the 14th October, the men would not work the additional hours even if night shifts -were involved. The men on the day shift refused to work after 5 p.m. and the commission, being “well softened-up, deleted as from the 1st November, 1946, the clause requiring men on day shift to work these extra hours. For the six months ended December last the average time worked by waterside workers was only 33 hours a- week and in those six months there were four months in which they were asked to work the extra hour3. So it cannot be said that the waterside workers were overworked during that period. The Government was so upset at the delays in the turn around of ships that it approached the commission and requested that there should be an improvement of the work done on the Sydney waterfront. On the 21st February, the commission issued an order stating that men on the day shift had to continue work until 9 p.m. if no labour was available for the evening shift. That order was to operate on and from Monday, the 3rd March, but it was flouted by the federation, the men refusing to work the additional hours. The commission had no powers of compulsion and could not discipline the men in order to enforce its direction. The selfsame disregard for authority will be exercised by the waterside workers in respect of the decisions and orders of the new commission, which is to be given no powers of compulsion. What happened on the Sydney waterfront and on other wharfs in Australia throughout the war period? Whenever the members of the federation had to handle any cargo which they regarded as dirty, or were engaged in a strike in an attempt to bring pressure on the commission, army personnel were brought to the wharfs to handle the cargoes and were compelled to do the work of the waterside workers without extra pay. During that period the ship-owners and stevedoring companies paid the Government for the use of service labour, the full rate that would have been paid to waterside workers. The serviceman received only his military rate of pay and the balance was retained by the Government in a trust fund. I am informed that the Waterside Workers Federation is now endeavouring to have the money lying to the credit of the trust fund made available to the commission for use in the provision of amenities for waterside workers. That is grossly unfair. If the servicemen who were forced to work on the wharfs cannot now be traced, at least the amounts standing to the credit of the trust fund should be paid to their organizations and used for the benefit of the men who fought for Australia and not of those who, at various times during the war, held up the transport of vital war materials from this country to the war fronts. ‘ The question we have to ask ourselves is: Will the proposed new Stevedoring Industry Commission be able to achieve a more economic turn round of ships, and will its operations result in the lowering of shipping charges? If it cannot achieve these things it is not worth bothering about. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has not been inexpensive to the taxpayer. According to figures prepared for Mr. Justice Foster’s inquiry, from April, 194’2, to the 30th June, 1945, the total amount expended on the Stevedoring Industry Commission amounted to £324,799, or approximately £100,000 per annum. During those years no provision was made for the payment of attendance money. When the new commission commences operations the cost will be increased enormously. It is estimated that the annual cost of the new commission will amount to some £850,000, made up as follows : -
On the basis of the figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition it appears that the estimate of £400,000 for attendance money will fall far short of requirements. It has been contended that the men may listen to the wireless broadcasts of calls for work, and if their numbers are not called, without even having to attend pick-up places they will become eligible for the payment of attendance money. The costs of the commission will thus increase steeply and all of them will be raised by a tax on cargoes, loaded and unloaded, which will be added to freight, thus throwing a huge additional burden on those shipping goods interstate or abroad. Mr. Justice Foster has drawn very pointed attention to this fact. The honorable member for Robertson has admitted that the quantity of cargo handled by waterside workers fell during the war period. The honorable member, however, contends that the output of all workei’3 in industry to-day is less than it was in 1939, and that this condition is world wide. I doubt whether that is true. But in Australia tonnages have fallen. Judge Foster says that one cannot measure by how much, but (he Leader of the Opposition gave figures that show that it has fallen by practically 50 per cent, in the principal ports of the Commonwealth since before the war. The leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation do not intend, when this bill becomes law, to increase the tonnages handled. The Attorney-General painted a beautiful picture of what the bill will do. In his view it will make a sort of heaven on the waterfront. The gay troubadours of industry will be dashing into the holds and swinging cargoes out right and left, happy at their work. He suggests that the tonnages handled and the turn-round of ships will be increased enormously. Those are the views of the. AttorneyGeneral, but they are not the views of Mr. Healy and his Communist friends who stand posted like sentries in our ports.
– They are not the views of the Attorney-General, either.
– Then, why does the Attorney-General not state his views straight out instead of leading us to believe that they are his views, and that this bill will solve difficulties in the stevedoring industry? The secretary of the Cairns branch of the federation stated in
February, “ We would like to avail ourselves of this opportunity to state that we do not intend reverting to the pre-war rate of work “. He makes no bones about it. Mr. Gifford, representative of the Townsville Waterside Committee, said on the 11th February, that Mr. Healy at a recent conference had informed the Prime Minister that there was no hope of returning to pre-war rates of loading and discharging cargo. There we have both Mr. Healy and the secretary of the Cairns branch of the federation advancing the policy that, despite everything done for the waterside workers - attendance money, amenities, cafeterias and improvements of pick-up conditions, under which the pick-up1 is made not at the gate but at a certain place - they do not intend to return to the pre-war rate. Whatever argument may have existed in war-time for the operation of the Stevedoring Industry Commission none exists now. In wartime cost did not count and heroic remedies had to be taken to ensure the delivery of cargoes to the forces. The stevedoring industry was a key industry. There was industrial conscription. I do not suggest that the Government has any idea, of inflicting industrial conscription on men in the stevedoring industry now. But we are not at war and peace demands different action. The wages structure in Australia must be regarded as a whole, but this bill sets out to create a separate arbitration scheme, quite apart from the industrial arbitration system of the Commonwealth. That will result in economic maladjustments with no relativity in the margins paid for skill in comparable industries. Recently in Newcastle, pressure politics - were used to bring about a rate of pay without relation to the what the Board of Reference thought was the right amount to be paid. The Board of Reference made a decision that extra money should be paid for handling certain cargo. The men on one ship struck and eventually all ships in that port were idle. The chairman of the port committee, Mr. Thorpe, who is also president of the local branch of the Australian Labour party, increased the amount to be paid. Whether he was legally entitled to do so is not apparent, but probably he did not have that right.
He increased the amount, but the men still refused to work. The chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, Mr. Morrison, again increased the rate. The men were then satisfied and they went back to work. That is not arbitration; it is industrial blackmail, a blow struck at arbitration. Consequently, as the result of the setting up of this separate system within the stevedoring industry, there will be no relativity between wages. The wages structure must be regarded as a whole and the Arbitration Court ought to adjudicate for the stevedoring industry and its awards in exactly the same way as it does in every other industry. The bill proposes to set up a body in perpetuity that will be more or less a universal provider. It is proposed that the commission shall endeavour to act as a court, a branch of the Labour and National Service Department, with separate employment bureaux, and a kind of social service office.
Judge Foster, in his report, states that three proposals were put before him. One was a proposal oy Mr. Healy to turn the whole stevedoring industry in Australia into a big business to be run by the employees. The second was a proposal of the interstate shipping companies for the abolition of the .Stevedoring Industry Commission and a return to the pre-war arbitration system. A third was the proposal of the overseas ship-owners for the maintenance of the Stevedoring Industry Commission with the Arbitration Court making awards foi- the industry. Judge Foster adopted none of those proposals, but he kept closer to the overseas ship-owners’ proposal than to the others. His criticism of the Arbitration Court handling matters that the Stevedoring Industry Commission now handles was as follows: -
It is questionable whether administrative work of this kind should be mixed up with the judicial and arbitral functions of the court.
Of course, the converse applies with equal force. It is indeed questionable whether this administrative body, the Stevedoring Industry Commission should take over the functions of the Arbitration Court. It is very questionable whether judicial functions should be mixed with administrative functions. Even the Government has recognized that difficulty, because it has inserted in clause 34 of the bill the provision that the commission may determine whether a person has committed an offence and recommend the penalty that, should be imposed by the court. What free court would take notice of a recommendation of that kind? The commission will he not a court but a mixed body carrying out different functions, one of which will be the making of awards for the stevedoring industry, which we think ought to be the responsibility of the Arbitration Court, because the commission will fix wages and conditions without cognisance of wages and conditions in other comparable industries, and without regard to what affect its decisions may have. Not only will the Stevedoring Industry Commission be able to specify wages and conditions to be paid in the industry, but also waterside employment committees will be able to specify local wages and conditions. That no doubt will lead to a repetition of the occurrence at Newcastle when, first, Mr. Thorpe and, then. Mr. Morrison specified payments above those awarded by the Board of Reference. No doubt the bush telegraph soon went to work and informed waterside workers throughout Australia that all they needed to do was to put pressure on the commission by means of a bombardment of strikes in order to make it sufficiently tractable to give them what they wanted. Mr. Healy or his representative will bc a member of this commission, which will be supposed to give justice. What sort of justice can we expect from the representative, of men who have continually denied justice to others and done everything possible on the waterfront to break down the arbitration system?
There are many provisions of this bill that the Australian Country party object to. We strongly object to the fact that no provision is made to protect exservicemen or to give them preference. Under clause 24, no man can be registered as a waterside worker unless he is a member of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– The Government was quite willing to give soldiers preference to work on the wharfs to load and unload ships when the “ wharfies “ would not work.
– Yes. They did not. let their country down in its hour of ne()4, as the wharf labourers did. Moreover, the Government would not pay them for that work the wages that would have had to be paid to the waterside workers. It is a very cunning device in order to deny ex-servicemen their rights under the Ee-establishment and Employment Act to provide that no one shall be registered by the Stevedoring Industry Commission unless he is a member of the federation. The federation itself will decide who shall or shall not be a member.
We contend that the commission will not operate satisfactorily if a conciliation commissioner is chairman instead of a man of independent judgment trained in judicial functions like a judge of the court. We know what happened at Newcastle when an appeasing body gave way under a bombardment from Mr. Healy and his Communist friends. in clause 5 the Government has inserted a provision similar to that inserted in many measures governing primary industries. It is provided that the Government shall have its representative on the commission to act as its spy, in the same way as it has appointed men te spy on the activities of the boards set up to control primary industries. This gentleman will be the eyes and ears of the Government! As the representative of the Government, he will look and listen to everything going on. The Government is too prone to appoint commissars to spy on the chairman of bodies and to report, in an underhand, sly way, to the Ministers concerned of the administration of those bodies. It might have been all right in war-time to have representation because the Government was paying the extra costs involved in the stevedoring industry, and was, therefore, entitled to have a representative on the commission, but, under this proposal, the shipping companies and the stevedoring companies are to pay the costs of the commission, and it is quite wrong for the Commonwealth to appoint an officer to spy on the work done by it in order that it may use him, instead of consulting the chairman. There are several other matters that I should like to discuss, but my time ha3 nearly expired. We are in favour of assisting in bringing about better conditions and peace on the waterfront if that will allow costs to be reduced by greater tonnages being handled and quicker turn-round of ships, but it is entirely wrong to smash the arbitration system into fragments and create systems that are neither arbitration courts nor conciliation commissions but a hotchpotch which will eventually break down the whole arbitration system. Therefore, I consider that the bill requires considerable amendment. Many of its provisions are entirely wrong. The powers which will be conferred upon the Stevedoring Industry Commission under paragraph a of clause 13 are too embracing. It is entirely wrong that the employment of a person, particularly an exserviceman, shall be dependent upon the Waterside Workers Federation making a bargain in these terms : “ If the commission will not allow the registration of Jack Smith, who has a criminal record and has been dismissed for theft or assault and battery on the wharfs, we shall not admit an ex-serviceman”. I understand that that attitude has been adopted by the federation not once but on many occasions. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said in his speech that the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, had announced that he was satisfied with the bill ; and the right honorable gentleman stated that Mr. Healy’s expression of satisfaction was fufficient to make him entirely dissatisfied with the measure. The Attorney-General introduced this bill as the result of pressure exerted by the Waterside Workers Federation, and particularly by Mr. Healy. This pliant and complacent Government has yielded to pressure. The bill will not bring about peaceful conditions on the waterfront, or increase the speed of loading and unloading ships. Tt will eventually smash the arbitration system of Australia.
.- Whilst I support the bill, I desire to indicate some weaknesses in its provisions, and I hope that they will be rectified in committee. The purpose of this bill is to bring about greater efficiency on the waterfront, improve the conditions of waterside workers, and give to them added security of employment. However, as the bill is drafted, those objectives will not be completely achieved. The functions of the Stevedoring Industry Commission are contained in clause 11, which states, inter alia - (2.) The Commission shall exercise its functions with a view to securing -
I invite honorable members to compare the mandatory terms of that clause with the discretionary power that is vested in the commission in clause 13, which reads -
For the purpose of exercising its functions under section eleven of this Act -
the Commission shall have power to make such awards and orders, give such directions and do all such other things as it thinks fit;
The provisions of clause 13 are highly commendable, but I consider that some of this should be included in sub-clause 2 of clause 11. For example, paragraph vii, which empowers the commission to make provision for the payment of guaranteed weekly or daily wages to waterside workers, shouldappear in sub-clause 2 of clause 11 as “ decasualization “. “ To provide the payment of guaranteed weekly or daily wages to waterside workers “ should be one of the things which the commission “ must “ do, not one of the things which it “ may “ do as it thinks fit. I consider also that paragraph 2 of clause 11 should contain a provision embracing a safety principle. Nowhere in the bill does a provision relating to the safety principle appear. We shall not achieve efficiency on the waterfront unless we include in this bill a safety principle. Serious accidents have occurred recently on the wharfs. A few weeks ago, on the Melbourne waterfront, a man was knocked by a hoist into a hatch, fell a distance of 60 feet, and was killed. In my oninion, that accident could have been prevented. Safety precautions on the wharfs are not all that could be desired.
I regret that clauses 22. 25 and 30 treat the waterside workers as machines. They contain regimentation provisions. A man might be forced out of employment on the wharfs if work becomes scarce. Of what advantage, then, are all the good features of clause 13, if wrongs may arise under clauses 22, 25 and 30? If clause 25 is to remain, the Stevedoring Industry Commission should pay nensions to any men who may be excluded from employment on the waterfront. The present Commonwealth pensions are inadequate. In my opinion, we should emulate the pensions scheme which is providedby the Victoria. Coal Mines Employees Pensions Act of 1942. This legislation prohibits men from working after they attain the age of 65 years, and for various other reason.*, and states that a man so excluded from employment shall he paid a pension provided by the industry in respect of his wife, dependent children and himself. That scheme could be adopted with advantage in this bill.
I object to the provisions of clause 27 in their present form. The clause states - (1.) Where the Commission has reason to believe that a waterside worker -
That clause is open to abuse. Instead of the words “ where the commission has reason to believe “ we should insert the words “upon a written complaint ‘’. The employee himself should not be compelled to show cause why his registration as a waterside worker should not be cancelled or suspended. He should be charged ; and it should be the responsibility of the commission to show why he is so charged. Clause 30 provides for the imposition of heavy fines on waterside workers for certain offences. In my opinion, the proposed fines are excessive, unfair and unreasonable. Another objectionable feature is that, again, the employee must prove his innocence. This should be amended.
In his speech last Friday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) quoted what he described as the “ fantastic figures of the earnings of waterside workers on the Melbourne waterfront “. According to the right honorable gentleman some of the employees earned nearly £20 a week, and he emphasized that they also received 12s. attendance money. But the right honorable gentleman conveniently omitted any reference to the many weeks in every year when these men did not earn anything, because there were no ships to load or unload.
– Those were average figures.
– I do not think that they could be average figures. The workers in this particular industry have always been the subject of criticism and have always had more kicks than ha’pence. In general, the bill is an attempt to plan for good results, but as I have shown, it has certain weaknesses. The most it can do is to be democratic and considerate to the individual. It does not completely achieve those objectives, because it may force a man out of his occupation at any time. In addition, it has some extremely unfair provisions relating to penalties. “Whilst I support the bill, I hope that my suggestions will be taken into consideration. The amendments which I have suggested can be made without difficulty.
– I regret that this debate is not receiving recognition of the prominence that it deserves either from the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee or from the representatives of the press. Because of its importance, this bill should be thoroughly discussed in this House, and the debate should be broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and widely reported by the newspapers.
Every phase of life in Australia is directly or indirectly associated with the maritime industries. Australia is a great importing and exporting country, and the speedy turn-around of ships in our ports, and the tonnages handled per hour by each gang of waterside workers has a direct bearing upon the price of goods, and is of direct concern to the exporters of primary produce. When the bill wa3 introduced, theAttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) explained that this would be a bold experiment on the Australian waterfront. Those words hardly fit the facts. The bill could be better described as a “ continuation of a system which operated for some years under the Commonwealth’s war-time powers”; and the exercise of those wartime powers in regard to the Stevedoring Industry Commission has had very definite and disadvantageous results. First, there has been undeniably a reduction of the tonnages handled per manhour. Secondly, industrial strife has increased. Never before has thi3 unrest been so widespread on the waterfront. Thirdly, there is an absence of discipline, possibly without parallel in the history of the Commonwealth. Fourthly, pilfering has increased by perhaps a thousandfold compared with the figures of a few years ago before the war-time commission was appointed. Fifthly, costs have increased and, sixthly, there is a slower turn around of ships in port.
The facts stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) were significant. He pointed out that nowadays ships spend two-thirds of their time in port whereas prior to the war they spent one-third of it there. The shortage of shipping is an extremely serious thing to us in respect of both exports and imports, for it affects the availability of raw materials for manufacture, the volume of employment in industry and our capacity to export our goods. In regard to foodstuffs it is a particularly serious matter, especially in relation to meat, butter and other commodities which are required so urgently in the Old Country and in Europe, where many people are on the verge of starvation. .
I have some knowledge of shipping matters, though it may not be as great as that of some other honorable members. I talked the other day with a ship captain of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Limited who told me that prior to the war he spent, on an average, two or three days in port at a time, whereas nowadays he spends two or three weeks. He also told me that he had known ships to be held up in port for as long as two months awaiting cargo. Yet the Government is proposing that we should make permanent the authority which has contributed to the bringing about of this state of affairs. It seems to me that we would be wiser to revert to the old order, for the new order in this industry has undoubtedly failed dismally.
This measure should not have been introduced until after we had had an opportunity to deal with the bill which the Government has foreshadowed to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Undoubtedly many of the provisions of this measure must have an effect on the operations of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The principle of industrial arbitration is theoretically accepted by honorable members of all parties in this House, but I fail to see how this measure can be related in any effective way to our Arbitration Court system. Rather, it seems to me, the passage of this bill will divorce the stevedoring industry from our generally accepted arbitration methods. “We ought to ask ourselves whether the Government is acting in line with its declared policy of support for arbitration, or whether it is acting in such a way as to support the declared policy of the Communist party of Australia. I see in this bill many aspects of Communist policy; I see few if any that can be said to relate, to industrial arbitration as we know it.
I invite honorable members to look at clause 5 of the measure, which provides for the establishment of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I see no semblance of our Arbitration Court system in the provisions of this clause. The commission, which will have power to deal with wages and conditions on the waterfront, is to have as its chairman a judge of the Arbitration Court or n conciliation commissioner, but no provision whatever is made for the relation of the determinations of the commission to those of the
Arbitration Court. The chairman of the commission, if he be a judge, may not be required to perform any of the duties of the judge of the court, and if he be u conciliation commissioner, he will not be required to perform any of the duties of a commissioner. Moreover, it has been made clear that the decisions of the commission may be on a majority basis, which means that the chairman may not be the deciding factor. It may happen, on occasions, that the representatives of the ship-owners and the union may make an arrangement to further their own sectional interests, and that the arrangement may pay no regard whatever to existing practices or determinations of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. There is, in my opinion, a grave danger that by the establishment of this commission we may lose all semblance of uniformity in the rates of wages and conditions of work in this industry compared with those in other similar industries.
The judge or conciliation commissioner, as the case may be, is to be appointed not by the Arbitration Court, but by the Governor-General, and that, of course, means by the Minister. I do not think that any honorable member will deny that appointment by the GovernorGeneral, which is provided for in the bill, means, in practice, appointment bv the Minister. The appointee will be subject, during his term of office, to the approval of a Minister and that also is a serious matter. This procedure has been tried in the ioal industry. We know that local Reference Boards were set up in this industry some time ago. The persons appointed :is chairmen were, in many instances, exmembers of the miners’ federation and they depended for their tenure of office on the goodwill of the Minister of the day. I shall not at the moment enter into fi dissertation on the decisions of the local Reference Boards, but there was a grave suspicion that, in some instances at least, they reflected the views of Ministers. Once a hint of political patronage becomes associated with such bodies all confidence in them flies out of the window. But, as I pointed out, decisions may be made by the Stevedoring Industry Commission in which the chairman will not have the deciding word. In these circumstances I contend that the scheme which the Government is now proposing is neither directly nor indirectly associated witharbitration as we understand it.
I refer now to clause 11 of the bill which prescribes the functions of the commission. The commission is to be empowered -
To prevent or settle by conciliation or arbitration industrial disputes, extending beyond the limits of any one State, in connexion with stevedoring (operations . . .
I do not claim to be well versed in the law, but this provision, seems to be totally unsatisfactory. One would be entitled to expect, surely, that such a body would be authorized to attempt to settle disputes before they reached interstate proportions. The commission will also be required to regulate industrial matters in connexion with stevedoring operations insofar as they relate to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States, and to do a great many other things in relation to loading and unloading of ships. It will have power to make awards as to hours of work, conditions of employment, and the like. These are very wide powers, which will be discharged, .1 repeat, not necessarily according to the judgment of the chairman, who is to be a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner, but according to majority decision? by the commission all members of which are appointed by the Minister. It appears to me, therefore, that we are being asked to legislate for political control on the waterfront. Political control of this description has not succeeded in other industries, and we have no reason to expect that it will do so in this industry. I believe that we shall discover, at a very early date, that this scheme will operate most unsatisfactorily for the people of Australia.
When I first read clause 16, which provides that the commission shall not alter the standard of hours of waterside workers or the basic wage applicable to them or the principles upon which the basic wage is computed, otherwise than in conformity with the awards of the court in respect of standard hours and the basic wage, I thought it was reasonable, but since studying it I see good reasons for altering my opinion. It is true that the com mission may not alter the basic wage, but I can see no provision which would prevent it from increasing wages above those being paid for similar work in other industries. If that should happen, the whole basis of our Arbitration Court system would be undermined. That, of course, is what the Communist element in this country desires of all things. The Communist-controlled Waterside Workers Federation has been looking for some means to override the Arbitration Court, and apparently this bill will provide it. If the commission were to be a body of specialists, operating directly under the control of the Arbitration Court and subject to a requirement to preserve uniformity in its determinations with those of the Arbitration Court, I would regard it in a different light from the light in which I now see it. I have long believed that there is too little specialization by judges in Arbitration Court work, and that this has created many difficulties and problems for industry, problems which concern employers as well as employees. Dissatisfaction is sometimes caused because judges* give awards without knowing enough about the industry concernedI could cite instances in the case of the industry with which I am myself associated when the judge has made ridiculous determinations. No doubt employees sometimes have the same feeling about awards, but the way to remedy the difficulty is not to smash the Arbitration Court, but to increase its efficiency - if necessary, by the appointment of more judges who would be able to specialize in various industries. It is not to be done by creating a body which will take out of the hands of the court the control of bo important an industry as this.
My next objection is that this bill undermines responsible management so far as the ship-owners are concerned. I know there is a feeling abroad that any sort of body can step into an industry and take over the management, but I am certain that this is a fallacy. In the community there is only a limited number of persons who can organize and manage business, and if management is taken out of the hands of those who have made it their lifetime work only inefficiency can result. The Stevedoring Industry Commission is to be authorized to take out of the hands of the management all the functions which should normally belong to management. It can say how many men are to be employed on a particular job. The shipowner is powerless before the commission, even to control matters of detail. I cannot take kindly to this proposal, and I am certain that the system must lead to inefficiency. Clause 11 authorizes the commission to exercise its functions with a view to securing “ the use of the labour of waterside workers to the best advantage “. That seems to cover anything and everything. It further provides that the commission may “regulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations “. Is the person who established the business, and is responsible for it, to have no say in the running of it? Is there to be no recognition of the fact that the person who owns the business has the right to manage it? Under this bill his rights can be taken away from him by the commission, and can be exercised by a conciliation commissioner or n judge of the Arbitration Court, who is subject, not to the Arbitration Court even, but to the Minister of the day.
I come now to the matter of compulsory unionism. For a long time I have tried, by asking questions of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to find out whether compulsory unionism is the policy of the Government. I have never yet succeeded in obtaining anything but an evasive answer from him, nor do I think has any one else. We know that compulsory unionism has for some time been in force, more or less behind the scenes, but in this bill the Government has come out into the open. It is here provided that a man must be a member of the Waterside Workers Federation before he can get a job on the waterfront. The Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union will, in time, pass out of existence, and then all waterside workers will have to be members of the federation. The principle of compulsory unionism may appeal to many workers, but I hope they realize that it represents a violation of one of the most ancient of British freedoms - the right of association. Under compulsory unionism, the worker places himself in the hands of the union boss, who has proved on many occasions to be as harsh and overbearing as any dictator. So long as the worker understands that it may be all right. For my part, I revolt against the principle which compels any one to join an organization before he is permitted to work. To-day, the workers are denying themselves their birthright. In this bill, it is set down in black and white that a man must belong to a certain organization before he can work and, as a member of that organization, he must accept its dictation.
The next point is the limitation of the number of those who may be employed in the industry. It is extraordinary that in a country like Australia we should seek to limit the number of persons who may be employed. I am familiar with the arguments in favour of the proposal. It can be said that work on the waterfront is more or less of a casual nature. Sometimes many men are needed, and sometimes only a few, depending upon the weather, or upon the arrival of ships that may be delayed by storms or by strikes in other ports, but the fact remains that the commission is to be authorized to say that so many men can enter the industry, and no more. What would happen if this principle were to be extended to all trades and crafts and professions? Are we to say that only so many persons may enter the dairying industry? If the principle is sound for one industry it should be sound for others. If we accept that proposition we must accept the limitation of enterprise and production in a country that ought to be looking forward to an expansion of its activities so that it may support hundreds of thousands, and even millions, more people. The position under this bill will be that unless some one misbehaves himself or falls ill or dies there will be no room for new workers to enter the stevedoring industry. This will be most unfair to young migrants coming to Australia, perhaps men who have acquired skill working on the wharfs in the port of London or in Liverpool or elsewhere in the United Kingdom. No doubt, such men would like to pursue their accustomed calling in Australia, but if they attempt to do so they will be told, “ No, boy, you must stay out. Only so many men are allowed into this close preserve. It does not matter how good or how skilled you are, you must go somewhere else.”
– His skill would probably be regarded as a disqualification.
– That is so.
– The same thing happens iii other industries. The matter is governed by the law of supply and demand.
– But the law of supply and demand will not be allowed te operate in this industry. The commission is to be authorized to say how many people may be employed, and no matter what the demand, no more may enter.
– The supply is to be limited, irrespective of the demand.
– That is so. It may he that ex-servicemen will want to work on the wharfs. Many of them have some interest in the industry, because during the war they had to load ships with military equipment and supplies while the wharf labourers were on strike. It is well known that these soldiers, who were unskilled in the work, loaded many more tons per’ man than those who were supposed to be skilled. This can be substantiated from the records. I have no doubt that some of the men who loaded ships with military equipment for the campaigns in New Guinea and other places in the north will want to work on the wharfs now that they are discharged. Are they to be told that they have no chance of getting employment, no matter how strong or willing or capable they may be? To my mind, that is a disgusting and disgraceful state of affairs in a country like Australia or in any country. The only result can be inefficiency and slackness, resulting in ships being kept in port longer than is necessary. Eventually, it will increase the burden on the public because freight charges will be higher.
We come now to the matter of attendance money. The provision for the payment of attendance money is said to be justified because of the casual nature of the work on the waterfront. We know that the volume of work on the waterfront varies. For reasons which I have already stated, there is sometimes much work offering, and at other times less. The men, I have no doubt, have argued that, fj though they may have plenty of work to do on one day, there will be little or no work offering on another day, and that they are entitled to a reasonable wage over the whole period. The ship-owners have been forced to admit the truth of this, and the situation has to be met, either by paying a minimum weekly wage, with something extra during periods of activity, or by paying a high hourly rate so that average earnings may be sufficient. The second method was the one adopted by the Arbitration Court, as was made clear in the determination of Judge Beeby. To-day, wharf labourers work an average of 30 hours a week for about 44 hours’ pay. It cannot be said that they are ill-paid, nor can it be said that they are really skilled workers. I realize that men engaged in any kind of work must have a certain amount pf skill. This applies to even the most menial task. Generally speaking, however, waterside work cannot be classed as skilled work, but it is paid for as if it were. We know that men working on the waterfront can earn £15, £16 or £17 a week if the going is, good. Now, completely overlooking the fact that the court took into consideration the casual nature of the work in framing the award, the Government proposes in this measure that waterside workers who are not picked up shall receive 12s. a day attendance money. As was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, in some ports the men will not even need to attend the pick-up places; all they will have to do is listen to calls on the wireless. If the wireless announcer says that the gang in which Bill Smith works is not needed to-day, Bill Smith oan lie in bed that day, and go to work next day to collect his attendance money. At other ports the announcer may say that certain gangs will not be required on the following day and the men concerned will be permitted to stay home, and for all we know may even take other employment if they so desire; yet they will be permitted to claim from the taxpayers of this country an amount of 12s. a day attendance money. This must result in increased freights. The costs of the establishment and operation of the commission have been variously estimated to amount to from £SOO,000’ to £1,000,000 per annum. We do not know what the cost will he. All we know is that the cost, whatever it is, will not in the final analysis be met by the employers, payment will be made in the first instance by the employers, hut they, in turn, will recoup themselves in additional freights imposed on overseas and interstate shipments. I view with very great concern what has happened on the waterfront during the last years. I do not believe I would be doing a disservice if I quoted some figures showing the decline in the output of gangs engaged in the loading and unloading of vessels. Take, for example, the rate of discharge of timber from overseas in the port of Melbourne. I have no need to remind honorable members that there arc many thousands of people in Victoria waiting to build homes. In 1938-39 the hourly rate of discharge was 9,117 superficial’ feet; to-day it is 3,838 superficial feet. And we are worrying about the high cost, of building ! In addition to this very greatly reduced discharge of timber so urgently needed for building there will be added another cost arising from, the payment of attendance money. The decline in the loading of other commodities is shown in the following table: -
The rate of discharge of general cargo from overseas vessels, a matter in which we are all interested, fell during the same period from 28 tons to 15 tons an hour although more men are employed. These figures should be given the widest publicity because this reduced man-power output affects every person in the land, if not directly, at least indirectly. On top of all these costs the Government now intends to make a further impost, despite the fact that the Arbitration Court hasalready looked into the question of the-, casual nature of the industry.
The crux of the position on thewaterfront to-day, and in industrygenerally, is whether the Government of the day shall mile the Communists, or whether the Communists shall rule theGovernment. We have had example after example of this Government yielding slowly, but certainly, to Communist influence exercised through the tradeunions of this country. The trouble that constantly disrupts the maritime and stevedoring industries is doubtlessly Communistinspired. Both of these industries have always been the target for intense Communist activities. In every country Communist cells have been established, and trouble is fomented in these industries for the simple reason that if they can be dislocated the dislocation of every other industry must follow. The real solution of this trouble is not to be found in a retreat from the Arbitration Court, not in any further surrender to the Communists, but in a more rigid adherence to the principle of arbitration. It should be our aim to make the arbitration system work more efficiently, and to root out from our midst those elements in the community which have declared themselves openly to be opposed to industrial peace and democratic rule in this country.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to S p.m.
– I wholeheartedly support the bill. The history of the stevedoring industry has rightly been characterized as one of turbulence and bitterness. We find that complaints which were ventilated at five inquiries, the first being held in 1914 and the last quite recently by Judge Foster, still remain unremedied. However, it is interesting to note that upon the conclusion of the war and with the lapse of the National Security Regulations the industry became the subject of an experiment as the result of which Judge Foster has expressed the view that notwithstanding the shortcomings that might be disclosed in the activities of the Stevedoring Industry Commission the new system, taken all in all, has proved satisfactory. That opinion is shared by Mr. Justice Dixon and Sir Thomas Gordon.
– The honorable member has forgotten Mr. Healy.
– And I have not mentioned quite a number of prominent Labour leaders who also share that view, hut I have not forgotten them. Neither have I forgotten the views expressed by representatives of overseas shipping companies commending the work of the commission despite the fact that representatives of interstate shipping companies disagree with such views. Representatives of all phases of the industry have expressed satisfaction with the operations of the commission.
The purpose of the bill is to stabilize the industry by removing anomalies which have existed in it almost from its inception. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when speaking in this debate on Friday last, declared that ho supported the principles embodied in the bill, and said that the only reason why he had not introduced a similar measure was because he had not thought of proposals of this kind. The bill implements the recommendations made to the Government by Judge Foster. The arguments advanced by the Opposition against the measure may be considered under two headings: First, they claim that the bill represents an attack upon the principles of arbitration; and, secondly, they have taken this opportunity to launch an attack upon the waterside workers. The bill does not interfere to the slightest degree with the fundamental principles of industrial arbitration involving the determination of standard wages, hours and conditions.
– “What are the standard hours in the industry? There are none.
– The industry is recognized as a casual industry in which rates of pay are fixed on a casual basis; and as a basis for determining wages payable in it, the Arbitration Court has always based its calculations upon a standard working week of 30 hours. Therefore, the bill does not interfere with the fundamental principles of arbitration involved in the determination of hours, wages and conditions in the industry. I compliment the Government upon the introduction of the measure which is designed to effect certain improvements. With a view to stabilizing the industry the commission proposed to be set up under the measure will be given certain powers. By this means we shall be enabled to rectify numerous anomalies. I cannot see anything wrong with that; no attack is made upon the principles of arbitration under the measure. On the contrary, those principles will be preserved. The primary purpose of the proposed commission will be to remove serious anomalies which are apparent today in our arbitration system, and are retarding the operation of that system. On that ground alone the Government is justified in introducing the measure. In the Sydney Morning Herald the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is reported to have said, when speaking in this debate on Friday, that since the war amenities in the industry had greatly increased. I do not accept that view. I say frankly that, with the possible exception of the coalmining industry, no industry has been so neglected by the employers as the stevedoring industry. In fact the total expenditure incurred by employers in the industry in the provision of amenities amounts to only £28,000. This neglect on the part of the employers has been strongly commented upon by the presiding officers at various inquiries. For instance, when Judge Beeby inquired into the industry in 1932 he criticized the shipowners severely for their failure to provide amenities, the need for which he had stressed at a similar inquiry which he had conducted in 1928. In some cases the shipowners have failed to provide amenities which are specifically prescribed under awards, such as the provision of hot water on the wharfs. Conditions of employment on the waterfront in some centres make sorry reading. Certainly, the shipowners, as they never lose an opportunity to emphasize, do not own the. wharfs. But the attitude of the owners to their responsibilities cannot be justified. The Government provided for the installation of refrigeration in ports, particularly in Queensland, and the owners were asked to meet the cost of the power, about £12 to £15 a year. They flatly refused on the ground that it was the responsibility of the port authorities. The port authorities argue that, as the waterside workers are not their employees, they are under no obligation to provide those conditions. In the midst of all this arguing the waterside workers are left in the position that they have occupied through the years. Why, at Gladstone, the waterside workers have to wash in salt water. Such conditions reflect no credit on the industry. There is an appalling lack of amenities at every port. For making just demands for improvements the water.sider workers are singled out for vicious attack. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, on the wharfs in the year ended 31st December last, 15^00,000 hours were worked and only S49,000 or only 5.36 per cent lost. That is the answer to those who criticize the waterside workers for not doing their job.
– Is not the important point the volume of work done rather than the time worked ?
– That is a matter with which I shall be dealing later. If all industries could claim such a record we should have industrial perfection. The unloading and loading of ships has always been productive of contention right back to the days of Mr. Justice Powers. The tonnages handled to-day may be lower than before the war, but it does not follow that the wharf-labourers are not pulling their .weight. The circumstances have to he considered. What cargoes are being handled? What sort of ships are being loaded and unloaded? Owing to war conditions ships were compelled to carry cargoes that they were not built to carry. Wharfs are congested. It is easy to unload speedily into an open shea, but as the unloading proceeds difficulties increase and the speed declines correspondingly. Moreover, the long hours worked during the war left their effect on the men in the industry. A most illuminating reference is made to that on page 19 of Judge Foster’s report, which I do not propose to read, as it has already been read. I do, however, ask honorable members opposite to pay attention to the considered opinion of Dr. Ronald McQueen given in October, 1944, of the condition of the men in the industry. That calls for some answer from the critics of the wharf-labourers.
– He did not say_ that their conditions were due to their industry.
– One can .only conclude from his report that it was due to the nature of their work.
– He did not say that at all.
– Then, I invite the honorable member to show how their disabilities have been caused. I do not necessarily agree that wharf labourers are receiving high wages ; but, on that phase of the subject, I point out that during the- war high wages were not confined to the stevedoring industry. All workers in every industry shared the higher wages that the war produced. Comparison of war-time earnings with peace-time earnings makes no contribution to solving the problem. Another factor that retards the loading and unloading of ships is the mechanical defects of ships’ machinery. During the war many ships were pressed into service that were unsuitable, and the equipment on others was not overhauled, despite the stress and strain imposed on it. The machinery is dilapitated and obsolete. When honorable members refer to “ efficient management” I wonder what they mean. Do they mean that management is efficient that solely seeks profit or that management is efficient that considers the human factor in industry? I submit that the main consideration is the human aspect, not profits. Any management that neglects human factors is not deserving of the name of a good management, but rather merits all the criticism that can be levelled at it. Any one who has read the sorry and appalling story of the part that has been played in this industry by the shipowners and the stevedoring companies, and then rises in this chamber to defend them, has a very poor case indeed.
– Are the faults all on one side?
– If the opinions of the honorable member differ from those which I am expressing, let him show where I am wrong.
– The waterside workers are being paid twice as much as they received before the war, and are doing only half as much work.
– What are the shipowners earning to-day? No doubt their profit margins are greatly in excess of what they were before the war. When honorable members opposite speak of the turning round of ships, they should endeavour to get the picture in true perspective by ascertaining just what the shipowners and stevedoring companies are taking out of this community. What is the position in this industry in other countries? In New Zealand, for instance, shipowners have granted far more concessions to waterside workers than have been granted by Australian shipowners. Many of the things that are being asked for to-day, such as attendance money and holiday pay, have been enjoyed by waterside workers in other countries for many years. The fact is that Australian shipowners are not prepared to make any gracious contribution to the well-being of the community. Down the years, the waterside worker has been regarded as a casual worker in a casual industry, but this industry cannot be compared with any other industry of a casual character. Judge Beeby has said that it is a peculiar industry, having its own peculiar characteristics, and cannot be compared with any other industry on a casual basis. We have heard considerable talk of the large sums of money earned by waterside workers during the war, but I remind the House that the men worked very hard for that money. And what did they receive before the war when they worked just as hard? They did not receive anything like their war-time earnings. Whatever has been paid to these men has not been given to them as a beneficient gesture by the shipowners. They have been paid award rates. If it can be proved to me that the shipowners or the stevedoring companies of this country have made any worthwhile contribution to the well-being of this industry, particularly in the provision of the amenities for the workers, I may be prepared to admit that some of the remarks I have made to-night are wrong.
– I agree with one sentiment expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor). He said, although not in these words, that whatever selfishness exists in industry to-day should be eradicated. I subscribe wholeheartedly to that view. There is no place for selfishness, whether it be in the hearts of shipowners or the waterside workers. The burden of the honorable member’s attack fell of course, upon the shipowners. He spoke of rapacity, disinterestedness, and high profits. It is an old trick for trade unionists and others to say “ Look at the profits “. But profits are taxed heavily, and there are other ways of taking them away from the organizations that make them. In any case, profits are not an excuse for inefficiency in industry. I agree with the honorable member that there should be greater human understanding in industry. Generally speaking, the greater the organization the less is the contact between the executive and the employees. Human understanding can be promoted only if we ‘ encourage employers and employees to get together. Honorable members opposite jeer when one talks about advising employees in industry to become financially interested in the organizations that give them employment. One hears little criticism from Government supporters of men throwing their money away on dog-racing; but, if they could be encouraged to invest in the companies for which they work they would be much better off financially.
– Where would they get the money?
– The honorable member was a union organizer, and he probably had hi3 £1,000. a year. If union organizers would only advise their members to use their money to the best advantage by buying into industry, not only the individual themselves, but also the country would benefit.
This bill has a very high-sounding title. It is -
A bill for an act to provide for the Prevention or Settlement by’ Conciliation or Arbitration of Industrial Disputes in connexion with Stevedoring Operations, to regulate Industrial Matters in connexion with Stevedoring Operations in the course of Trade and Commerce with other Countries or among the States, to regulate and control the Performance of Stevedoring Operations, to provide for the Establishment of a Stevedoring Industry Commission, and for other purposes.
Is the .measure really necessary ? I believe that it is not. Most of us are aware of the troubles that beset this industry, and to suggest that they can be put right by legislative action of this kind savours of putting sticking plaster on a cancer. It is merely appeasement to certain union leaders, if they can he called leaders, who either because they are misguided - taking a charitable view of them - or malevolent, would veto our prosperity. If this bill would settle, for instance, one of the principal disputes of which we are all aware, namely, the boycott of Netherlands ships, it would be of some value. This dispute has been the direct outcome of disaffection on the wharfs. Our record is shameful. There is no worse blot in our history. We have seen Netherhinds ships being loaded by Dutch children. Tugs have been refused to Netherlands liners which during the war carried our troops and did excellent hospital work for us. These things have been done by the very men for whom we are now legislating. They have refused to work. They have been misled by their Communist- leader. Any frustrated individual, any failure, any malcontent can call himself a Communist to-day. Mr. Healy is an imported, declared Communist.
– And a well-fed one.
– I have seen photographs of him smoking a pipe like Stalin’s, no doubt believing that he is very much the shadow of his master. What has been the result of the action by these men ? Not only have we been forced to commit a heinous offence against friendly countries, but we are allowing this man to dictate the trade policy of Australia. The significance of this can be appreciated when one considers the great potentiality of this country. No ether land has such great resources per capita; yet we are allowing our development to be cramped and curtailed at the ukase of an irresponsible individual and his advisers. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who is also the Minister for External Affairs, has visited many countries, and the council chambers of the world have rung with his speeches. He has told Great Britain, the United States of America, and many lesser nations, how to conduct their affairs.
– He has done a good job.
– I shall not quarrel with that; hut here is an oppor tunity for him to do a good jobin his native land. For nearly twoyears, this problem has awaited the attention of the right honorable gentleman, but he has avoided it. If he is incapable of getting these ships running again, let him confess that the de facto Minister for External Affairs is Mr. Healy, the president of the Waterside Workers Federation, or Mr. Elliott, the secretary of the Australian Seamen’s Union. Recently, Mr. Elliott went to New Zealand, where he organized a strike, among the seamen employed on Wanganella. He also made some remarkable utterances. For example, he declared that the time had arrived when the enemies of Labour should be liquidated. Let us face realities! Will the bill improve conditions on the waterfront, and speed up the unloading and loading of ships ? In my opinion, the bill is a mum bo- jumbo of clauses and subclauses. It establishes the Stevedoring Industry Commission - an expensive organization which, we are led to believe, will be paid for by the ship-owners but which, in fact, will become a charge on the taxpayers. Yet the Government is attempting to convince us that much good will result from this ponderous bill.
– Cheer up !
– For several years, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) was Minister for Works and Housing, and despite his robust promises of a vigorous building programme many people are still without homes. Consequently, he has retired from the Ministry, and become a private member. If my remarks did not penetrate his understanding, he cannot blame me. I have painted a realistic picture, and have not used unnecessarily sombre colours. It is factual. I have described the position on the Australian waterfront, not the waterfront of Patagonia or another foreign country in which the Minister of External Affairs is interested. What does the bill provide?
– At last, the honorable member is returning to the bill !
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), for more than 25 years, has said, like Uriah Heep, “ Let me settle this dispute”, but invariably, he washed his hands of it, like Pontius Pilate, and gave the benefit to Labour. On every occasion, the workers have won. Now, the waterside workers will win. I should like the honorable gentleman to assure me that the bill does not provide for compulsory unionism, not in those words, but in the ultimate result. He does not contradict that statement. Perhaps later, he will explain his views on the subject, lie believes that the returned servicemen should be deprived of employment on the waterfront. I remind the House that when the waterside workers went on strike during World War II., soldiers and airmen loaded ships with munitions and food for their comrades in the fighting areas. For this work, they were paid at the rate of 6s. a day. Yet returned servicemen will be excluded from employment on the waterfront at the direction of the totalitarian officials who boss the Waterside Workers Federation. The act provides that unless a person - that includes an ex-serviceman - is a member of the federation, he shall not be registered for employment on the wharfs. Does the honorable gentleman stand for that?
– I am glad that the Minister is frank about his attitude, and I hope that the Labour party will stand up to it at the next elections and before conferences of ex-servicemen. During World War II., soldiers and airmen who loaded and unloaded ships were paid at the rate of 6s. a clay. They did not go on strike or moan about their conditions of employment. For this work, the “ heartless “ shipping companies to which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) referred, paid to the Government award rates up to £14 and £15 a week. For work after midnight, the award provides a rate of between 6s. and 8s. an hour, but the servicemen received from the Government 6s. a day. In this way the Government received more than £1,000,000, representing the difference between the award rates paid by shipping companies and the rate of 6s. a day paid to the servicemen. The soldiers and airmen unloaded the ships faster and did less damage to cargoes than the waterside workers.
– The former Minister for the Army, Mr. Forde, gave an under taking that the £1,000,000 would be expended on amenities for servicemen, but ultimately, this sum was paid into Consolidated Revenue.
– If the Government has u conscience, it will pay that sum into welfare funds of the three services.
Time was when trade unions stood against exploitation and tyranny. That is why they were formed. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) knows, the craft guilds of the Middle Ages developed into trade unions. Unity meant strength. The members of the unions stood for the improvement of industrial conditions. There was plenty of room for improvement.
– Because of thenactivities some of the leaders of the early trade unions were deported from England to Australia.
– The Minister for Commerce and” Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) refers to the Chartists and the Tolpuddle Martyrs. I am glad that he remembers his history. As the honorable gentleman stated, some of them were deported from England to Australia because they had organized a strike against the reduction of wages from 6s. to 5s. a week. Conditions to-day are rather different from that. The waterside worker is paid attendance money of 12s. a day, even though he remains in bed. Ultimately, some of the deportees returned to England and were among the founders of the trade unions as they were in their best days. In Australia, we inherited that splendid tradition. The arbitration system is a product of it. Australian unions always stood for the improvement of working conditions. But what is the position now? Tyranny has changed camps. The tyrant is not the capitalist who grinds down the worker, and puts him into chains and slavery. At election time, and in this House, honorable members opposite talk a good deal of nonsense about the “ face grinding” capitalist. As every one knows, almost every worker in Australia is protected to-day by the awards of an industrial tribunal. The waterside workers are so protected. But the totalitarian bosses of the “Waterside Workers Federation crave greater notoriety. Their spiritual home is not in Australia. They owe allegiance not to the Crown but to a foreign power. They embrace a foreign ideology. The Labour party never dares to offend them. In confidence, honorable gentlemen opposite confess that they do not like the Communists. If that be true, why has the Minister for External Affairs introduced this bill, which is designed to appease the Communists? Why has not the Government the courage to deal with the position? We in Australia have ceased to do the right thing for friendly countries. For example, approximately 300 Indonesians, who have the freedom of Brisbane, are costing the Commonwealth £200 a week to maintain. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said, “ This is the mutiny of the Bounty in reverse “, because the taxpayers in Australia are paying bounty to the mutineers. These Indonesians were sent to gaol, but now they are free. They refused to return to Indonesia on a’ Dutch ship and are waiting until an Australian ship, which is urgently needed for other purposes, is available to take them back to their native country. This event reads like a chapter from a fantastic Utopia of Jerome K. Jerome or Sir Thomas More. It seems to be outside the realms of possibility, yet it is happening here. The Government, in order to placate the people who have created these difficulties and manufactured these disputes, has introduced this bill to cover up the business for the time being. If the “ closed shop “ on the waterfront prevails, as this bill provides, the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union will be liquidated. This, a properly registered union, is a rival of the Waterside Workers Federation. Although the organization has its troubles, it is doing a fairly good job. The bill condemns it to extinction.
Honorable members should not overlook the fact that under this legislation the Government intends to establish a monopoly. In the past, honorable members opposite never grow weary of proclaiming that they hated monopolies. Of course, on those occasions they re- ferred to private monopolies and not to a trade union or government monopoly. There cannot be a worse type of monopoly than one controlled by a trades union and captained by a Communist. Yet that is the sort of monopoly that this bill is, in effect, creating. It is doing it subtly. It does not employ the methods of men like Elliott or Marshal Tito ; it does not come straight out and say, “ These people will be liquidated “. The union says that recruiting will not be permitted, so that its present strength must remain static. These men work in gangs of varying numbers, and they only need to lose a few members through age, accident, or infirmity, and the gangs will no longer be able to carry on. The whole business is giving to Healy and his minions-
– He might die, too.
– I shall not say anything about that. I do not wish him ill ; I only hope that he will see the light and realize that Australia is a better place than Russia, as anybody who has lived in both countries knows.
– Does not the honorable member realize that what he is advocating about casual workers is Communist policy, and that the precise nonCommunist policy is to exclude casuals. The honorable gentleman is under a complete misapprehension when he attributes to Mr. Healy-
– A very good speech, which I shall be glad to hear later. Probably the honorable member has been able to baffle his pupils with his arguments, but they do not register with me. I see that the honorable member is anxious to interject again, but he can make his speech later. He is taking up too much of my time. I cannot stop the plough to catch a mouse.
Australians to-day are in grave danger of losing a cardinal freedom. Recently we have heard a great deal about the “ Four Freedoms “ - freedom of the press, freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom of worship. Some of them are centuries old. Freedom from want does not exist in some parts of the world, but we have it in Australia. Freedom from fear does not exist here yet, except for those who, like honorable members opposite, live in a fool’s paradise. The fifth great freedom is freedom to work. A man is born free and is permitted to work, hut the so-called “ Labour party “ does not believe in that freedom. A man is not free to work in Australia unless he bows the knee to those industrial bullies who dominate the militant unions. They decide whether a man will be permitted to join a union or not. I know exservicemen who have tried to join trade -unions, but have been stalled off and told to come back, perhaps in three months’ time, with the result that their interest has faded and they have found some kind of employment. One prominent union closed its books over a period and would not accept new members. I believe that the Waterside Workers Federation did likewise. It wants to keep certain jobs as a close preserve for its own members.
– It is a pity that some of its financial members do not take some of those jobs.
– I will not go too deeply into that.
– Is it possible?
– Yes. I can give the names of some members of the Waterside Workers Federation who have not done much wharf-labouring.
– It is a good thing that the honorable member has interjections to answer. His speech would not amount to much otherwise, because he does not know much about the bill.
– I should be glad to be informed about it by the youthful honorable member. Had this young man been a serviceman - and he was of an eligible age - he might have obtained some experience as a wharf-labourer at 6s. a day, which might have qualified him to speak on this bill. This strange measure will enable the union to shut out splendid young migrants who will come to this country soon. I approve of the Government’s policy of bringing large numbers of British people to Australia. We have space for them here, and we have work for them to do. But if members of a union are to behave selfishly and say, “ This work is to be for us and for us alone, and these men will not he admitted to our union unless they are approved by, a certain individual “, many of them will bc thrown into idle ness and will return to Great Britain. I read recently in an English journal, the Imperial Review, that, of 2,000 Royal Navy men discharged in Australia who wanted to work and live here, 700 had already returned to the United Kingdom because of difficulties experienced in this country. 1 do not know whether those figures are correct, but my own experience indicates that they are not misleading. When I was in England during the war, I met a man who had been serving as a steward on an Australian ship. He liked Australia and married here, and he wanted to live here. However, he could not join a union without paying a big entrance fee, and he could not produce the money. As far as he was concerned, that union might as well have been an exclusive club, and he returned to England disgusted. I urge the Government and its supporters not to follow blindly this policy of socialism, which, in fact, is a sort of half-baked totalitarianism. They go too far when they allow extremists to dictate the terms of a measure such as this. What member of this Government would frame a bill of this nature unless its terms had been dictated by a man like Healy? It certainly is not in line with the pronouncements of our learned judges. Judge Beeby said in the Arbitration Court that the workmen in the waterside industry had forgotten, and had been encouraged by their leaders to forget, the reasons for the high casual rates of pay fixed by the court - rates higher than, those paid in any other casual occupation in the Commonwealth. He said -
The union now seeks the removal of many of the disadvantages of casual employment without a parallel reconsideration . of wage rates. But decasualization, if ever achieved, must carry with it reconsideration of wage rates.
This bill means decasualization of waterfront employment, because it fixes a rateof pay for all men in the industry. Nevertheless, attendance money will still’, be paid. I know many good fellows amongst the wharf labourers who are doing an excellent job within the limits imposed by the cast-iron rules of theunion. They are very well paid. Good luck to men who are well paid, but they must not be selfish and forget that their own conditions of work have an impact” on other industries. Members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been going slow on their jobs for a long time. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) showed that, although wharflabouring gangs are bigger than formerly, the volume of work that they do is considerably less than it was previously. They do less and they are paid more. What does that mean ? If they are handling timber for housing, it means that timber must cost more. If they work more slowly, it means that fewer houses are built. Have they no regard for these facts? Probably some of them are not aware of the effect of a go-slow policy because it has never been pointed out to them. Others do not care ahout it. That policy represents nothing but selfishness. Consider the wages that are paid in this industry. We do not begrudge payment of high wages in any industry, but the fixation of wage rates and conditions of employment must be controlled by a central authority like the Arbitration Court. The fixing of wages haphazardly by numerous commissions is the Communist idea of collective bargaining, or collective bludgeoning. On all waterfronts in Australia to-day, wages are good and hours of employment are short. In Melbourne during the last few weeks, twenty men in a gang earned between £S and £9 a week and, in addition, each drew 12s. attendance money. Twenty-four men earned between £9 and £10 a week, and of these 23 drew 12s. attendance money. At the top of the scale, a group of 22 men earned between £16 and £17 a week and each drew 12s. attendance money. Some of these men might have worked a 40-hour week, but the average was considerably less than 40 hours a week. In spite of working short hours, they were able to earn more than men who have had years of professional training. Men in many industries do not receive such high rates of pay and do not receive attendance money. I have referred Judge Beeby’s comment that rates of pay on the waterfront were fixed for the purpose of cutting out casual employment, yet these men receive attendance money of 12s. a day when they are not picked up for work. If 1,000 men are wanted and 1,500 men turn up, the unwanted 500 are paid 12s. for that day. Australia has gone to absurd lengths in industrial matters, and to-day it is not necessary for a man to go to the wharfs. He can get information over the air as to whether or not he is wanted. If he is not wanted, he can do what he likes; he can go to the races, or he can stay in bed. But he gets his 12s. just the same. In some ports where the names are posted, he can send a messenger to see whether his name is on the list; and if it is not there he need not go to work. Under this bill these conditions are to be perpetuated. ls that fair to other working men? Is it fair to Australia?
I have dealt with the main principles of the bill, if they can be so called. It is clearly not the duty of the Government to introduce acts of appeasement of this description; it should take steps to ensure that this country shall return to the reign of law, and that men who break the law shall be ‘punished. The law is carried out against the weak, but not against the strong. Has any honorable member ever heard of a ring-leader of a strike - men whose names figure in the press and are frequently heard over the air - being prosecuted? These are the men who say that a ship is “ black and that therefore the waterside workers will not work on it; that a ship will not sail because there are two men short in the crew, or there is no refrigerator, and so on. Any pretext is sufficient in their opinion to justify a strike. But are they ever prosecuted? I invite the Government to say that they cannot be prosecuted. I submit, most definitely, that they can be prosecuted. Section 58b (a) of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that if a man incites others to strike he may be prosecuted and fined £20. When I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he intended to take action against Communists who were disrupting the commerce of this country, he said that the quarrel with Communists existed only in the minds of honorable members opposite, or gave some such pettifogging answer. Many men who call themselves Communists do not know what communism means. If they can get power in a union, when in their own trades they would probably be inefficient and scarcely able to earn a living, they are willing to threaten thu livelihood of others, and bring trouble and misfortune upon the community by ordering a strike, such as the gas strike and the shipping strike which have upset the community in recent months. During the Queensland meat strike 30,000 tons of meat was lost, and honorable members know something of the suffering and hardship caused during the recent gas strike in Victoria. The Leader of the Opposition cited figures showing the tremendous expense of loading and unloading ships in Australian waters; it takes twice as long as it did a few years ago to turn round the same ships. The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) spoke of inefficient machinery. I agree that we should have the best machinery possible. Indeed, the Government might well subsidize the cost of providing suitable equipment. It could, for instance, go 50-50 with the shipowners in meeting the cost. As, however, servicemen did the job efficiently with the same gear a few years ago, it ought to be done more efficiently to-day by men who are receiving higher rates of pay. As an Australian, I see a very dangerous dualism in government. Honorable members who know Russian history - not the garbled accounts given by Communists - know that it was not the Communists or the Bolshevists who displaced the Czar, but the Labour-Liberal politician Kerensky, who in 1917 during World War I. carried on with great difficulty because the Parliament could not meet regularly. It was necessary to legislate through a-Duma committee. In a building of the legislature a committee, known as a. Soviet, was set up. The word “Soviet” had a different meaning then; it meant a committee set up for industry or any other purpose. It was not necessarily political in character. Over every order or law passed by Kerensky such a committee sat in judgment, and if the organization so pleased it passed a countermanding law. If Kerensky wanted something done, the committee probably said “ No whereas if he opposed some proposal it would take the opposite view. We have that position in Australia to-day. We have a Prime Minister whose policy would disgrace Ethelred the Unready. He wrings his hands and says, “ What can I do? We cannot prosecute 1,000,000 workers. We must not crucify the workers “. No one wants to do that, but there are evil-doers who should be prosecuted, or at least put in their place, and told that they must no longer destroy the prosperity of the country. There is legislation to deal with such people. The amazing thing is that in a period of great industrial inactivity last year National Security (Economic Organization) Regulation IS, which forbade non.attendance at work, was repealed by the present Attorney-General. That regulation could have been used in cases like this. There is an obligation on the Government to govern, but if it intends to abdicate the sooner it says so the better. The Government professes to believe in arbitration, but persons who defy the law are never punished, with the result that, additional burdens have to be borne by citizens generally, particularly the women and children, who feel it most because they are the most helpless. It is time that Australian men in the trade unions revolted. It would have been impossible to persuade servicemen to do such stupid things; one could always appeal to their common sense. I know that many unionists are fearful of the time some one will say, “ You are out “. They obey unhesitatingly the commands of men who are not fit to work with them. These agitators become leaders because unionists generally do not attend union meetings. Married men stay away because they have other important things to do, and the result is that the irresponsibles pass these resolutions. An English journal reported recently that in some unions here when a motion is submitted to members the chairman says, “ Those in favour pass to the right ; ‘ scabs ‘ pass to the left “.. That is a process of intimidation which should not be permitted. Such action has been declared illegal in Queensland; - a State which has a government with some intestinal fortitude. This Government should take similar action. I urge it to withdraw this bill. I know that the Government has the numbers to pass the measure, and that the Opposition cannot do more than voice the strongest protest. As earnestly as I can, I urge a return to the reign of law in this country, because until we do so Australia, far from being the great country it should become, will retrogress. These men are retarding progress and will discourage immigration, and ultimately they will force a local depression. The Government has a grand opportunity. It has already yielded to our clamour for reduced taxes, thereby giving a greater incentive to industry, but it should also heed the clamour for industrial action. The bill is -useless, and indeed will only worsen matters and place a premium on inefficiency. I shall therefore oppose it.
.- The bill now before the House seeks to perpetuate the rationalization of the waterside industry which was introduced by National Security Regulations during the war years. It is important that we should review some of the main changes which have taken place in this” industry. During the war years a roster system was evolved, and under it not only was the volume of work divided but the type of work also was rationalized. Bef ore the war a young man working on the wharf could be, and in many instances was, employed as a hooker-on, which is light work by comparison with some other waterside work consisting of hooking a crane on to hales or cases to be loaded. In the same gang an old man, who had been taken on by the pickerup of a private company, might be told off to do the heavy work. In another respect, also, waterside work has been rationalized. Previously, the one gang might be repeatedly assigned to work obnoxious cargo ; now such work is fairly shared, as also is night work. All these things were done in order to rationalize the industry, and the Stevedoring Industry Commission, which was set up during the war, and which this bill proposes to perpetuate, has been the administering authority. No one in this House disputes that the system is a wise one - although the lumpers of Fremantle condemned it in a statement issued last year. Every one else in the federation recognizes that the rationalization of work is desirable. No one who has spoken from the Opposition benches so far has attacked this principle, so I take it that all honorable members are in agreement on that point. There is, however, a legacy from the past, referred to by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), namely, the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. He said that the bill will have the effect of liquidating this organization. From the point of view of the Waterside Workers Federation, the trouble is that this bill does not liquidate it. It gives the members of that union the right which they enjoyed during the war to be treated as members of a registered union. The man who opposed me in the Communist interests in the Fremantle electorate at the 1945 elections was a prominent spokesman for the casual waterside workers section of the industry in Fremantle. Any one who visits the wharf at Fremantle will see there a high iron fence between that section where members of the Waterside Workers Federation and the section where members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union are picked up. There is a complete cleavage between the two sections, a cleavage upon which the federation insists. Fusion is the policy of the Communist party. The separation or exclusion of the casual workers, which the honorable member for Balaclava seemed to regard as a bad feature of the bill, but the honorable member had the opposite impressions. If the honorable member had any knowledge of industrial affairs he would be aware that Mr. Healy made a great effort to persuade the Waterside Workers Federation not to exclude the casual workers. The Communist party has attempted to unite what it regards as two sections of workers in the same industry. I do not here express commendation or condemnation of this policy. I merely point out that everything the honorable member for Balaclava had to say on that point was directly opposite to what is correct. The vital part of this bill is clause 13, which provides, inter alia, that -
The Commission shall have power to make awards and orders with respect to wages, hours and conditions of employment of waterside workers.
If there is any objection to that clause it is, I take it, on the ground that the provision constitutes a whittling-down of arbitration; that the commission should not be the body to determine such matters.
Let us examine the nature of the commission, and see how strong is the objection of the Opposition. Clause 5 of the hill provides that - (1.) There shall be a Stevedoring Industry Commission which shall consist of a Chairman, an officer of the Commonwealth and four other members, of whom one shall represent overseas shipowners, one shall represent Australian shipowners, and two shall represent the Federation. (2.) The Commission shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. (3.) The Chairman -
shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral ;
When the commission is determining conditions, it shall be presided over by a chairman, who shall be either a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner. He will have with him two representatives of the workers and two representatives of the employers. I cannot see any great difference between such a body and the Arbitration Court of Western Australia, which consists of a judge, and a representative of the workers and one of the employers. The only difference is that the commission shall have on it two representatives of the workers and two of the employers. The special feature of the commission, and a very desirable one, is that it will become expert in one industry. It will not be like the Arbitration Court, which may be called upon to hear a timber workers’ case to-day and a coal-miners’ case to-morrow. The commission will specialize in this one industry, and will, therefore, acquire an expert knowledge of it beyond anything which the Arbitration Court is able to acquire, lt will have a judicial status in that the chairman will be a judge or a conciliation commissioner of the Arbitration Court, and it will conform to a principle recognized everywhere in arbitration, namely, that it will be representative both of the employers and the employees. Therefore, the charge that the bill constitutes an attack on arbitration cannot be sustained.
The bill contains some other very important features. Clause 13 also contains this provision -
The Commission shall have power to make provision for annual leave and sick leave for waterside workers.
The various other clauses, which I shall discuss one by one, are designed to improve conditions in the industry. If the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava meant anything at all, it meant that these concessions represented appeasement of the waterside workers. I believe that he could make out a case against many of the strikes called by the Waterside Workers Federation. I do not burke that issue; neither do I burke the issue of the completely irresponsible character of action by the federation from time to time. I do not burke the issue that many strikes in the past have not been economic, but political - the kind of strike that has developed in Australia, sometimes to furtier the interests of the Communist party, and sometimes to better conditions. This, however, is no argument against legislation designed to give to this industry what is only common justice. When all legitimate economic grievances have been eliminated, one has a right to condemn strikes which are exposed as purely political, but masquerading as economic. Should waterside workers be given annual leave or not? In past years, the wharf lumper might work for ten weeks on the wharf, and have 42 weeks’ unpaid leave. If he worked all the time - by passing money to the company’s picker-up, as was done under the old laissez faire system, with its favoritism - he might get work all the year round, and no holiday at all. Neither did he get any sick pay. The honorable member for Balaclava evidently believes that waterside workers are not entitled to sick pay, but surely the workers in this industry, which is a necessary one - the work must be done - are entitled to the same benefits as are granted to those employed in other industries. No challenge can he directed against this provision for the perpetuation of an arrangement which the Government attempted to carry out during the war years for the granting of annual and sick leave to the workers.
The clause next provides for the payment of attendance money to waterside workers. We must look at the system which has grown up if we are to disabuse our minds of serious misconceptions of the problem of “ appearance money “, which ran through and through the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava. In the past all men engaged in waterside work attended the pick-up. There might be two ships in harbour in Fremantle and although from 800 to 1,000 men would attend the pick up, only 200 would get work, the remainder going home. Under the rostering system which grew up during the war, and which exists to-day, the Stevedoring Industry Commission inserted an advertisement in the daily press, under the heading of “ Labour Wanted “, stating the numbers of the rostered men who were to attend for that day’s work. If there were an excess the commission published the numbers of the casual workers whose services would be required. Through unforeseen circumstances, a man having been warned to be present by that advertisement or by an announcement on the radio at 7 o’clock .in the morning might report for duty only to find he was not wanted. Such a man may have come a long distance from his home to the pick-up place. In my own constituency many of them come from as far as Victoria Park, 12 miles away. A man who is called up but for whom no work is available is given attendance money. He does not stay at home in bed and get the attendance money automatically. Attendance money means money paid for putting in an appearance. So we can dismiss the complete misrepresentation of the honorable member for Balaclava on this point.
The clause next provides that the commission shall have power to establish and administer an employment bureau for waterside workers. In the past in boom times, the industry has drawn in a great many workers. One of the features of the industry in the period from 1931 to the outbreak of war was that there was a great deal of unemployment. This was aggravated hy the fact that in the predepression import and export boom in Australia many additional men had been drawn into the industry. By the time the boom had ended they had lost con- tact with other industries and nothing was done to re-direct them to other avenues of occupation. It is proposed in this bill that the commission shall establish an employment bureau which shall be responsible for directing into other avenues of employment such men as may become excessive of requirements on the waterfront. That brings me to the point made by the honorable member for Balaclava concerning the closing of the books of the union. It is necessary to .adopt a reasonable attitude towards this problem. Do honorable members opposite regard it as desirable that there should be a great excess of labour on the waterfront and a continuing feature of mass unemployment there? I do not believe they do. If they do not, they must surely admit that what existed during the war must be continued. An estimate is made of the maximum amount of labour required for the stevedoring industry. Then, given these guarantees of conditions, we cannot have an excess of labour in the industry.
I cannot speak of the eastern States, but I can speak of conditions in Fremantle with respect to the exclusion of ex-servicemen which honorable members opposite have felt to be a danger of this bill. In Fremantle there is a casual waterside workers union consisting of, in round figures, 300 members, many of whom are ex-servicemen. The Waterside Workers Union, or the Lumpers Union as it is called there, opened its books for 300 additional men, but it would not allow a single member of the Casual Waterside Workers Union into its ranks, so hostile are the two unions towards one another. Of the 300 additional men allowed to join the Lumpers Union most were exservicemen of the war just ended. All members of the Casual Waterside Workers Union, including ex-servicemen of the recent war, were excluded. I take it that the rational approach would have been to take all the casuals in, but that was not done. Many sons of lumpers were included in the additional 300. All I want to point out is that this artificial distinction between unions and exservicemen made repeatedly by the Opposition was clearly exposed in that instance, and that the principle of discrimination was not the unionist against the exserviceman, but the members of the Lumpers Union against those of the Casual Waterside Workers Union.
– The position is quite different in the eastern States.
– I do not accept that statement as accurate. Whilst I do not for one moment cast any aspersions on the honorable member for Balaclava, I do not regard him as having an intimate knowledge of trade union matters. I do not believe he professes to have such a knowledge except when he makes his genera] condemnations.
The clause also empowers the commission to provide, or require the provision of, first-aid equipment and ambulance facilities for waterside workers. That also is a point to which no honorable member opposite should object. By its very nature waterside employment is dangerous work and the casualty rate is high in that avocation. Night work, especially in wet weather when gangways are slippery and craneways are likely to be defective, is exceedingly dangerous, but nobody in the past was responsible for the provision of first-aid equipment or any of the other common-sense provisions against accidents for which this bill now makes the Stevedoring Industry Commission responsible.
The commission is also to be empowered to provide, or require the provision of, canteens, cafeteria, diningrooms, rest rooms, and adequate sanitary and washing facilities for waterside workers; but as anybody who is not hopelessly biased against the man who has to work with his hands would agree that it is a common-sense provision, I do not propose to dwell upon it.
– Those amenities have been provided for years.
– I invite the honorable member to come to Western Australia and see the conditions there.
– I was speaking of the more modern ports in the eastern States, not of Fremantle.
– Lastly the clause gives authority to the commission to make provision for the payment of guaranteed weekly or daily wages to waterside workers. The justification of that clause is obvious. We are agreed that the work must be done. We shall only be inviting industrial unrest if the work available on the wharfs is too scanty to give the men the opportunity to earn a living wage. During the war a vicious feature of waterside work from the point of view of organizing the war effort was the chronically casual nature of the industry. Men who worked on the wharfs had other occupations; they had to have them. If a man can get only ten or twelve weeks’ work, and is not guaranteed a wage, the obviously common-sense thing for him to do is to take up other casual work as well. At that time some of these nien engaged, for instance, in startingprice bookmaking. But all of them were obliged to have other occupations as well. With the outbreak of war, work on the wharfs had to be continuous, but at that time many who worked on the wharfs frequently did not attend because they had developed connexions in other callings. The result was that the volume of labour available was unpredictable. This made for industrial inefficiency, and rendered the industry, under such conditions, incapable of meeting the demands of war. The bill aims to decasualize the industry. It sets up a means to make a reasonable estimate of the number of men who will be required in each port. The workers are registered and licensed to work on the waterfront. The bill seeks to guarantee to waterside workers a living wage. We cannot go on expanding the number of workers on the wharfs, and follow the policy that any one should be able to get work on the wharfs, if we face up to the problem that the industry must be rationalized and those engaged in it given the right to earn a living wage. That principle is essential to the establishment of peace on the waterfront. I am tired of hearing about the fabulous sums which waterside workers are alleged to earn. I should like the earnings of waterside workers to be analysed scientifically; and it should not be difficult for the Minister to prepare a clear statement in that respect. We have heard similar statements about the earnings of coal-miners. It has been authoritatively stated that the average earnings of a coal-miner are £7 5s. a week; but the Sydney Bulletin and other imaginative journals would have us believe that coal-miners earn on the average £30 a week. The vague statements made by the honorable member for Balaclava about the wealth of the men who work on the waterfront might be true. I do not know. I have not seen any authoritative analysis, nor has the honorable member for Balaclava. The honorable member’s attack on the wealth and great earnings of waterside workers is typical of the attacks made by spokesmen of employers in many other industries. All of the provisions set out in clause 13 of the bill seem to me to be self-evidently just.
I now turn to the problem as to whether the bill will guarantee peace on the waterfront. Honorable members opposite are always asking the Government to achieve peace in the industry. I shall not don any prophetic mantle; but if the situation on the waterfront continues to be twice as bad as it has been over the last five years, with twice as many strikes occurring, that will not alter the fact that these provisions are self-evidently just. I take it that it is the object of sane legislation to remove any legitimate economic grievance which may develop on the waterfront. Clause 13 does exactly that. For those reasons I support the bill.
– Honorable members opposite, when addressing themselves to the measure, make one mistake; they endeavour to reduce this problem to the human equation. The bill is designed to give permanency to a stevedoring industry commission which was established on a temporary basis during the war. I was hopeful that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) would have lifted the debate out of that realm and would have tried to establish a reason why permanency should be given to a commission which has failed so lamentably. He did not attempt to do that. In the early stages of his speech he emphasized the need to rationalize the industry. Of course, we must rationalize the industry, and improve the conditions of employment of waterside workers. It is true that they do not now enjoy amenities which should be given to men who work under the conditions under which water side workers, labour. The work is arduous, and, to use. a mild term, it is not pleasant; but these conditions can be remedied and the industry can be rationalized by invoking existing machinery. The industry can. be rationalized, by the Arbitration Court. Our argument is that the Government is stepping aside from established practice in this country by setting up a sort of Communist junta for each industry. Already, in several industries, such as the maritime services and the coal-mining industry, special committees have been set up on this basis. And, of course, we shall find that under this measure a similar set of circumstances will prevail in the stevedoring industry. Exactly the same arguments are used by honorable members opposite to give permanency to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The honorable member for Fremantle referred to the Casual and Permanent Waterside Workers Federation, and said that under the bill that body would be given the right to register as a union. There is no doubt about that. But the bill does much more than that; it applies a process of slow strangulation to that organization. Why are honorable members opposite so bitterly opposed to that organization? I can give the reason. You, Mr. Speaker, when speaking as a private member in this chamber, referred to that body as “ this scab union “. It was a loyalist union whose members in 1917 worked on the wharfs when we needed so much work done during World War I. For that reason that organization is anathema to honorable members opposite who have sought by every means in their power to destroy it. That union will not be allowed to recruit fresh members; it is to be slowly strangled. Therefore, it is not sufficient for the honorable member for Fremantle to say that it will be granted the right to register as a union.
– Does the honorable member seriously suggest that the membership of that organization is the same as it was in 1917 ?
– The members of it also rendered special service to this country in 1928. They have a record and a tradition which are anathema to honorable members opposite.
However, to revert to the honorable member’s remarks with respect to the need to rationalize the industry, I pointed out by interjection that machinery whereby we can rationalize the industry is already provided. The range of industrial matters associated with the employment of waterside workers can be conveniently classified in two groups: First, disciplinary measures, handling of disputes, fixation of port quotas, administration of bureaus which allocate earnings and amenities; and, secondly, rates of pay and conditions of employment. If we require a commission to rationalize the stevedoring industry and attend to the amenities and welfare of the men, we can establish it and allow the Arbitration Court to prescribe rates of pay and conditions of employment. But that is not the intention of the Government. Its intention is to whittle down the power of the Arbitration Court and, in establishing this commission it is inserting the fir.it splitting wedge. The honorable member for Fremantle said that the commission should be established because it would become expert in the industry and that, because of the experience gained by it, it would be able to administer the industry much more efficiently. It has been in existence now for years, and it has a lamentable record. It seems that its slogan is “ specialize in appeasement”, because it has never succeeded in enforcing its own point of view on the Waterside Workers Federation. I intend to deal with the matter of appearance money later in my speech, although I take this opportunity to put the honorable member right about that. He said that appearance money would be paid only if men put in an appearance, notwithstanding that there is no need for a waterside worker, who has heard a wireless message that his gang is not required to attend in order to get appearance money. If the honorable member makes further inquiries he will find that I am correct.
I propose to show that the Stevedoring Industry Commission should not acquire permanence at the hands of the Parliament. Introducing the bill, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) said -
The aim of the bill is to achieve industrial peace.
He also said -
A bold experiment is involved and we must endeavour to make it a success.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) is in the habit of reminding us that words mean what they say, but what do the Attorney-General’s words mean? This is no new departure. The Stevedoring Industry Commission is not an experiment. How could it be when it has had about five years of experience in handling the affairs of the waterside workers? So what right has the AttorneyGeneral to say that this is a bold experiment? When does a thing cease to be an experiment - when it is hoary with age? Let us face the facts. Does the record of the commission entitle us in all fairness to give it permanency?
– The Liberal party’s method is to change its name and to conceal its record.
– No matter by what name it might be known, its record could not be hidden. The late John Curtin charged the Stevedoring Industry Commission with the responsibility of establishing industrial peace in 1942, when he spoke of the need for a rapid turn-round of ships. Has the commission achieved a more rapid turn-round of ships? If it has, it has some claim to permanency, but the facts are available from various sources - the Commonwealth Statistician, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Stevedoring Industry Commission itself, the shipowners and Judge Foster’s report. The facts reveal that it has not been successful in that task. I do not say that the commission is solely to blame, because the Government gave a direction that robbed the commission of any power that it may have taken unto itself early in its career. Before the war ships spent one-third of their time in ports, whereas to-day they spend twothirds of their time in port, more than at any stage of the history of Australian shipping. The world is crying out for food and the rapid transit of products needed for human satisfaction, but the output for each gang-hour is less to-day than at any time in the history of the Waterside Workers Federation. The cost a ton a man has rocketed to the skies. A conference was convened by the Victorian
Employers Federation in July, 1946. It was attended by representatives of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers, the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association, the Australian Steamship Owners Federation, the Road Transport Association, and the Master Stevedores Association.
– All lovers of the working class !
– Yes, including the Road Transport Association. They presented to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) a report that bears out the figures given to this House from possibly more authoritative sources. I listened with amazement to the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) trying to justify the go-slow policy on the wharfs. I could not help hut smile, because it is not simply a matter of ships without proper facilities for loading or without hatch accommodation and the like. In Sydney, the number of tons a gang-hour dropped from 34 before the war to 25 in 1940, whilst it fell to 13 in 1944, and was 17 in 1946. In Melbourne the figure dropped from 35 before the war to 12 in 1946 and in Adelaide from 3.1 to 21. The loading rates of Australian general cargo dropped from 28 tons an hour before the war to 14 tons or less in 1946.
– “Why repeat those figures? The Leader of the Opposition gave them.
– Obviously the honorable member was asleep when my leader spoke, because this is the first time those figures have been given in this House. Let us examine the rates of pay, because an attempt has been made to justify the highly increased wages paid to men working casually on the wharfs. In February, 1939, the waterside workers were getting 2s. 9-Jd. an hour. By February, 1947, their remuneration had been increased to 4s. 11/2d. an hour, or an increase of ls. 3d. an hour. The average Commonwealth increase of the basic wage hourly rate has been 7d., from ls. 91/2d. to 2s. 41/2d. an hour. Casual rates for wharf labourers are greater, in the main, than the rates paid to most skilled tradesmen who have served four, five, or six years’ apprenticeship. Take, for instance, fitters in the metal trades. Honorable members will agree that a fitter is a highly skilled man. He receives 3s. 3d. and 9/llths pence an hour as against 4s. 01/2d an hour for waterside workers.’ Of course, waterside workers are paid at a high rate because of the casual nature of their work; but I believe that the industry should be decasualized. That is within the province of the industrial authorities already existing.
The Stevedoring Industry Commission was set up to meet extraordinary conditions. It was appointed by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, when Japan entered the war.
The preamble to the report submitted to Mr. Curtin in March, 1942, opened with the following paragraph : -
We regard the problem as falling into two parts, namely that of obtaining the most expeditious discharge of goods from ships’ holds to the wharfs and that of securing a corresponding movement” of goods to stores or other points of disposal.
The commission was charged with a specific duty. Its job was to bring about a rapid turning round of ships, and to ensure that waterside workers should be given as much employment as possible in that calling. That was a high duty to impose upon a body of this kind at a time when we were fighting for our very existence. But from its inception, the commission modelled its policy on that of the Government. Its policy was a policy of expediency. The Waterside Workers Federation has a history of militancy. It has always been opposed to the Arbitration Court. It has always believed in collective bargaining, and has always been Communist in its outlook. Its leaders are Communists whose aim, of course, is to destroy the Arbitration Court. They quickly took advantage of the commission’s weakness and continually pressed for concessions and modifications at a time when many men were making the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield. These unscrupulous individuals used war needs as their main weapons to achieve their desires. The commission had the example of the Government before it. It adopted the Government’s policy of appeasement. Its record is one of complete futility and despair. In the five years of its .existence it has surrendered almost without exception to pressure tactics on the wharfs, in the port committees, and within its own ranks, applied by “ Comrade “ Healy in an endeavour to secure new terms and conditions, or alternatively, to destroy the power of the commission itself.
Invariably the commission’s determinations have been in favour of the claims of the waterside workers. In these circumstances, how is it possible to secure peace in this industry by continuing a commission which has failed so lamentably? Do honorable members opposite really expect to achieve peace in industry or do they not think that peace could be brought about more readily by the rule of law ? Sufficient laws are already in existence, and there aro courts to apply them, but the Government seeks to abrogate the authority of the courts by setting up a permanent Stevedoring Industry Commission to deal with this industry. The commission will continue to be pressed by the “ comrades “ whose spearhead is Mr. Healy. Not only is this body to be made permanent, but also it is to be clothed with additional powers - powers to make awards and all that this implies. At least, the Arbitration Court is seised of the necessity to consider the economic implications of the making of an award for a particular industry. A judge of the Arbitration Court does not arbitrarily make an award without considering its effect on other industries and on the economic conditions of the country. Thi3 commission, however, will not be concerned with the effect of its determinations upon other industries or upon the national economy. Is the Government not aware that Mr. Healy was a party to the recommendation that the Stevedoring Industry Commission be made permanent? Honorable members will recall that the commission was set up following a request made by a number of representatives, including Mr. Healy. Is the Government not aware that the overriding provision to which Mr. Healy subscribed was for the re-establishment at the end of hostilities, of the conditions then lawfully prevailing? In other words, Mr. Healy said, “ Establish this commission, and at the expiration of the war we shall return to the conditions that now exist “. So, the commission was established, but Mr. Healy has deliberately broken his undertaking and is pressing the Government to continue the commission on a permanent basis. Honorable members know full well that these are common Communist tactics. One cannot expect Communists to adhere to an agreement made with anybody ; yet, the Government having accepted the recommendation of this arch Communist - or did it accept with its tongue in its cheek - agreed to the terms and conditions set out by him?
Did the Government really believe that there would ever he a return to the conditions operating prior to 1942? The fact is that Mr. Healy and his Communist colleagues realized that the commission was more susceptible to pressure tactics, and of course much more pliable, than the Arbitration Court would ever be. I have shown how the output on the wharfs has fallen since pre-war days. This of course, is not denied by “ Comrade “ Healy. Indeed, he says that there will never be a return to the standards that prevailed in the pre-war days. The House has heard statements read by honorable members on this side of the chamber showing what Communists have said with regard to a return to pre-war standards. So, we have before us a bill to give permanency to a commission that has yielded not only to pressure from the industry that it is supposed to control but also to pressure from its own port committees and its own members. Beyond that, the commission has allowed and connived at government intervention in its operations. This is one charge which I lay against it: It is a body of “ Yes “ men, and a rubber stamp for the Government. I propose to show how the Government has caused the commission, sometimes under pressure, to reverse its decisions. This intervention brought its authority into contempt.
Honorable members will recall the payday dispute. It affected, originally, a number of men who had been deregistered by the Waterside Employment Committee, a body under the authority of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The men had the right of appeal to the commission. The decision to deregister the men was really a brave act on the part of the Waterside Employment Committee. It said, in effect, “ These men had no right to go on strike, and, therefore, we shall deregister them “. On the 31st October, 1944, the appeal was disallowed. In other words, the Stevedoring Industry Commission said, “We shall support the Waterside Employment Committee. These men deserve to be deregistered”. On the 2nd November, 1944, the Government intervened, and directed the commission to restore to the working list the names of the fourteen men concerned. Judge Piper, who was chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and Mr. R. W. Nichols, who was deputy chairman, thereupon resigned. They considered that they could not, in justice, be party to a direction by the Government against what they believed was a proper course of action on their part. Yet this much-vaunted commission was given complete authority to establish peace on the waterfront! When it sought to apply the rule of law to those recalcitrants, the Government intervened and ordered the commission to restore to the working list the names of the mon concerned. How could we expect any selfrespecting chairman or deputy chairman to remain on the commission in those circumstances? We had a similar experience with the Maritime Services Commission. Did not this Government, as the result of its direction to that body, force the chairman, Mr. Justice De Baun, to resign? The Government is always putting its sticky fingers into boards and commissions that it established for its own special ends and benefit!
An examination of the matter of Saturday pick-ups will give to honorable members some idea of the degree to which the Government has directed the Stevedoring Industry Commission. On the 15th October, the commission suspended 326 men in the Port of Sydney after they had refused Saturday pick-ups for week-end work.’ Next day, the waterside workers went on strike, and tied up 57 ships. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) intervened, and called a conference of the parties. On the 23rd October, the commission issued an order abolishing Saturday morning pick-ups and two days later the men resumed work. I leave it to honorable members to visualize what happened at that conference which caused the commission to reverse its decision.
I propose to refer now to the doubledump dispute as an example of ministerial intervention. After the Stevedoring Industry Commission had decided that double-dumped wool bales should be handled by wharf labourers, the Waterside Workers Federation resolved that its members should not handle the wool, and called a general strike of wharf labourers. The then Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Forde, intervened, and pending a judicial investigation, announced that the Government would not issue licences for the export of double-dumped wool other than that already held in store. In other words, the Government again went against the Stevedoring Industry Commission. In the circumstances, is it any wonder that we oppose the bill, and direct attention to the utter futility of a. commission of this nature? Of course, an inquiry was promised for the purpose of ascertaining whether double-dumped wool could be handled effectively. As honorable members know, double-dumped wool had been handled efficiently for years. The secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, who was expected to attend the investigation, found that it would not be convenient for him to do so before the National Security Regulations expired on the 31st December last. Consequently, no inquiry was held into the matter.
A further dispute arose regarding annual leave. On the 8th October, 1946, the Stevedoring Industry Commission drafted, but did not put into effect, an order which granted to waterside workers annual leave without pay. On the 4th December, the High Court granted an injunction restraining the commission from awarding annual leave on the ground that as a purely temporary body, it had no power to give a direction having a permanent or binding effect. As a protest, 20,000 waterside workers in 25 ports stopped work for one day, and proposed a nation-wide stoppage unless their demands were granted by the 10th January. On the 6th December, the
Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) condemned the employers for having indulged in what he described as “ legal technicalities “ for the purpose of cheating the men out of their annual leave. The honorable gentleman said to the men, in effect: “ Although the High Court declares that your action is outside the law, I do not propose to say that the law must be enforced against you. Instead, I criticize the employers because they ask that the law- shall be observed.” In other words, he attacked those who sought to have the law upheld, whilst he condoned the action taken by the law-breakers. The waterside workers refused the employers’ offer to submit the matter to the Arbitration Court. On the 5th February, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) directed the dispute to be heard by the court under section 9 of the Industrial Peace Regulations, which provides -
If the Minister is of opinion that any industrial matter has led, or is likely to lead to industrial unrest, he may refer the matter to the court.
In the court, the dispute was settled on the 10th February, and the men were granted two weeks’ annual leave provided they had worked a full year. Consequently, the intervention by the Minister for Labour and National Service was entirely successful. Once again the men had won, the Government and the Stevedoring Industry Commission had appeased the waterside workers, and the law of the country was not upheld.
When the Attorney-General introduced this bill to perpetuate the Stevedoring Industry Commission, waterside workers were on strike against a decision of this body. Interstate and oversea vessels were tied up because the men were determined to exert pressure tactics against the commission. Its order that overtime must be worked by day shifts on three days a week became effective on Monday. A number of waterside workers were suspended because they refused to work the extra time after 5 p.m. The president of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation is reported to have said that the suspended men would not be replaced by other waterside workers at the pick-up on the following day. The assistant general secretary of the federa tion, Mr. Roach - another bright Communist boy - claimed that if the Port of Sydney was tied up, the whole responsibility would rest with the Stevedoring Industry Commission. He said that, if the commission insisted on enforcing the direction to work overtime, it would be a precipitate act done in spite of warnings issued by himself and other officials of the federation. Iri other words, the union has said to the Government : “ Yes. Give us a commission, but give us one that is pliable and will bend when we apply pressure so that we will get the terms and conditions we want. If, by some chance, it applies the law, we will break the law because we know that the Government is not strong enough to enforce the law. Appoint a commission, but, for your own sake and for your own honour, appoint a body of ‘ Yes ‘ men. Otherwise, we will break it and we will break the Government as well”. The Government, of course, has agreed to do what it is told.
Let us consider the payment of attendance money, about which a great deal has been said. On the 29th December, 1946, the commission .gave a ruling that 16s. attendance money would be paid to all waterside workers who attended, but were not called up for work, on any day. On the 31st December, the Prime Minister cancelled that ruling and reduced the attendance fee to 12s. a day. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said during his speech that a number of men who are not recognized waterside workers had joined the federation during the war years. Of course these men - starting-price bookmakers and men of other avocations - will receive their 12s. a day, if they put in an appearance, although they will engage in other forms of employment. Consider what happens in Queensland. Many men in that State recently became fishermen as well as waterside workers. They registered with the State fish-marketing authorities so that they could market the fish, which they catch. This means that they can collect their attendance money and then proceed to earn more money as fishermen. Others can collect their attendance money and then earn money as starting-price bookmakers. This loads the dice against the employers in a way that no government should tolerate. Obviously the Government considered that it should not tolerate this system when it decided to reduce the attendance fee of 16s. a day fixed by the commission to an amount of 12s. a day. In taking that action, the Government also robbed the commission of some of the power vested in it. No commission with any authority or prestige would have yielded to such action. It is interesting to note that the assistant general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Roach, in an article published in the waterside workers’ publication, the Maritime Worker , on the 22nd February, stated -
This move of Chifley’s (reducing attendance money from 16s. to 12s.) was a cleverly worked-out tactic that removed us somewhat from a position of tactical advantage to one of tactical disadvantage for the moment, and as a consequence it is necessary that branches exert the fullest influence on their local members, demanding their assistance, indicating quite clearly to them, unless this assistance is forthcoming, further action will be necessary on the waterfront to restore in full the original attendance money order.
Honorable members opposite have doubtless been approached on this subject. I am sure that the direction given by Mr. Roach in that article would not be ignored.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has admitted, in answer to a question, that three refusals by waterside workers to load specific cargoes for export have been brought under notice in the last twelve months. These were a refusal to load tallow, a refusal to load soap, and a refusal to load wool. . Permits for the export of these commodities had been granted by the Government, but the federation said, “We will not load them “. Did the Stevedoring Industry Commission do anything to force the loading of those goods, or did the Government do anything to override the federation? Of course not! That is why I say that the whole record of this commission, backed by a government with an equally culpable record, is one of appeasement and futility. Strong-banded action by a government oan settle such dispute’’. I cite an example of such action, which mar perhaps rebound to the credit of this Government. In March, 1943, the Stevedoring; Industry Commission outlined the method by which labour would be engaged, and the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation immediately struck in protest. On the 30th March, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, directed that the commission be supplied with military personnel. He said that it was essential to keep the ships moving, and he said, “ I am prepared to supply military personnel to ensure that the ships are turned round “. That was strong action taken by a government which, for one brief moment, saw the light and said, “ There is a law in this country and we will enforce it. We are the Government “. On the 9th April of that year, Mr. Curtin directed that the watersiders involved in the strike should have their reserved occupation status cancelled. Three days later the watersiders decided, by ballot, to return . to work. The Government should take courage from that example. I have stated its record of appeasement, retreat and surrender to pressure, and I have stated one example of the effect of strong action and the application of the rule of law. I say to the Government that, by creating a commission of this nature and giving it great powers in the knowledge that those powers will be abused, it is recreant to the trust imposed in it by the people of Australia. It has no right to do such a thing. It should rely upon the established courts of the country, and it should give to the courts the powers that they should have. I appeal to it not to make a rubber stamp and thus establish a body of “ Yes “ men, who will bow to the Communists. a body without a soul or honour.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- When the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was speaking I thought that he criticized the bill with considerable acerbity, but when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) continued the debate I realized that the situation had gone from bad to worse. There is no w before the House, or there will be shortly before it, two sister bills - one to constitute a stevedoring commission and the other to amend the’ Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I shall say little concerning the bill now before the House, but I shall have more to say regarding the other measure, which I regard as the more important. The bill now before us proposes to place the stevedoring industry under the control of a commission; but in drafting it the Government has, in my opinion, followed too slavishly the report of Judge Foster, a respected judge of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. By this legislation the control of work on the waterfront will be removed from the court and placed under a commission. I question the wisdom of this change, because, in my opinion, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is sufficiently wide to cover all that is intended by this bill. I hope that, in his reply, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) will inform the House why stevedoring is to be placed under a commission to the exclusion of the Arbitration Court. A sound body oflaw has grown up about the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - many precedents have been adopted. I cannot see any good reason for the change, particularly as the chairman of the commission will probably be a judge of the Arbitration Court.
– Not necessarily.
– The bill provides that the chairman shall be a judge or a conciliation commissioner. I say that a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner will preside over the commission. I suggest that a sufficiently large body of law is associated with thu Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and much litigation has taken place in regard to it. The waterside workers themselves have been the subject-matter of litigation, and of conciliation and arbitration. I understand that we are to hear later from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), and it remains for him to tell us in what respect the commission is competent to deal with this matter where the Arbitration Court is not. I certainly think that, the court is competent to deal with all phases of the matter, even with the provision of canteens and other amenities, and I believe that the matter should be left to the Arbitration Court. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) made an admirable speech this afternoon in support of the bill, but he did not suggest any reason why the Arbitration Court could not deal with the matters with which the commission will be called upon to deal. In that respect, I believe that the commission is unnecessary. I do not say a word about Communists. I shall reserve what I have to say on that subject until the House is discussing’ the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I promise to have something to say about Communists at that stage. I do not propose to say anything about attendance money, but I do say as a mild criticism of this measure - which I am prepared to applaud if the AttorneyGeneral can show any special reason for having introduced it - that I think we should have left the. matter to be dealt with under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bernard corser) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I desire to raise a matter which may seem trivial, but which is of importance to exservicemen. When demobilized, men receive a voucher for £6 10s. - not to buy themselves a suit and hat, because it is not enough to do that - but as a contribution towards the cost of buying civilian clothes. Suits have for some time been very difficult to obtain, and now many discharged men find their clothing vouchers useless because a time was fixed for their expiry. The intention was to help the men, not to make it difficult for them by fixing a time of expiry for the vouchers. This is proved by the fact that where the voucherwas not accepted, the serviceman was credited with the amount in his pay-book. I ask that when men are unable to use the vouchers because clothing is unobtainable within the stipulated time they shall be credited with the amount. I can, if necessary, support my case by citing names and facts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Broadcasting Act - Fourteenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1945-40.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Commerce and Agriculture - W. G. T. Laffan.
Post-war Reconstruction - R. E. Cameron, J. D. C. Robertson.
Education Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1946, No. . 187.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes - Essendon, Victoria. Postal purposes - Clare, South Australia.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Are the compulsory sales under Commonwealth regulations of wheat grown in South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria to stock feeders in New South Wales and Queensland by the Australian Wheat Board at concessional prices an infringement of section99 of the Constitution?
– As the honorable member is aware, it is against practice to give official advice on matters of law in reply to questions.
e asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Prices Control : Conditions in Queensland.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -
Repatriation: War Widows’ Pensions ;
Medical Services; 113th Australian
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
News items have appeared in the press during the last two days that the Government intends to make certain tax reductions and certain adjustments of pensions. If that be so, and in any case, will the Prime Minister when adjusting pensions see that the present inadequate pensions for war widows arc increased and that the means test applied to dependants of members of the forces is abolished?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The rates of war pension are at present under consideration and attention will be given to the honorable member’s requests in relation to war widows and dependants of deceased members.
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table the report on repatriation hospitals and medical services which was presented to him last October?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
No. It is a departmental document which has no public value except for departmental administrative purposes.
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l. - On the 26th February, t he honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hay len) asked the following question: -
In view of the parlous condition of the people of Great Britain, particularly in relation to food supplies, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General request his colleague to re-consider the proposal to reduce postal charges on food parcels sent to Great Britain, particularly small parcels sent by Australian workers to their relatives in the home country?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
The postage rates on parcels forwarded to Great Britain have been determined in consultation with the United Kingdom authorities, and under present conditions are relatively low. having regard to the costs of handling, transportation and delivery. The matter of reducing the rates for gift parcels has been the subject of discussion with the British Administration which regretfully feels, after having given careful consideration to the many important aspects involved, that it would be inadvisable to extend a special concession in the case of parcels from Australia.
– On the 27th February, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) asked the following question : -
Having regard to the inability of thousands of citizens to obtain telephones, the official excuse being a shortage ot equipment due to the war, will the Minister representing the Post master-General inform the House how many applications for telephones areat present held up in Australia, and how long it will be before conditions will return under which applicants will obtain telephone installations in the normal course of events?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
Approximately 75,000 applications for subscribers’ telephone services are outstanding in Australia at the present time. The telephone service throughout the Commonwealth has been affected adversely due to conditions arising from the war, and in order to overtake the arrears of applications which have accumulated and to meet the great increase in the demand for telephones, it will be necessary to erect many new buildings, install a large quantity of automatic switching equipment, and lay a considerable amount of underground cable. The principal obstacle to securing a marked improvement in the situation is the necessity for the erection of new buildings to accommodate automatic equipment, the great majority of the exchanges already being occupied to full capacity.
The Postal Department is proceeding with a £20,000,000 programme to improve and expand the postal and tele-communication services, and the works to be carried out during the next three years should enable the Post Office to re:rain the groundlost during the war. meet the development and also increase the value of the services in the capital cities and country districts. The first stage of the programme willcomprise those projects which are necessary to permit immediate and urgently needed improvements to be effected in the facilities. A commencementhas already been made with the rehabilitation programme but the progress will depend mainly on the availability of skilledman-powerandmaterials. These matters are receiving special attention, and it is hoped that the condition?! will enable the plans to he implemented expeditiously and effectively. The exceptional measures which arebeing taken by the department to meet the position will be evident from the fact that during1946. despiteabnormal difficulties associated with buildings, technical materials and skilled labour, 61.000 subscribers’ telephone services were installed throughout the Commonwealth this representing a marked increase in the progress achieved during the past four years. In view of the many factors outside the control of the department which may affect the implementation of the special programme, it is not practicable to indicate at this stage when all arrears of applications for telephone services will be overtaken and new applicants will obtain facilities without delay. The honorable member may be assured, however, that everything possible is being done to overcome the present situation.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Yes. Determinations of the Arbitrator apply under the law to members of the oaganizations who submit claims for his determination. 3 and 4, It is the policy of the Government not to extend determination provisions to other than members of organizations, except in the cases of ex-members of the forces. When determinations are made instructions are issued extending the particular provisions to exmembers of the forces occupying positions of the elans covered by the relevant determination.
n asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : - .
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -
SS. “ Ormiston “ : Failure to Remove Deadrats.
n. - On the 26th February, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked a question concerning the presence of dead rats in the hold of the Ormiston.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
The Ormiston was fumigated in Sydney on 4th February. The hatches were re-opened on the 5th, and, in accordance with the usual custom, the holds were swept and all dead rats were collected. There is no foundation for the statement that sugar was stowed over dead rats. During loading of the vessel, two rats were found by waterside workers in No. 2 hold on top of the sand ballast and these rats were immediately removed. As the vessel was completing discharge in Hobart, arrangements were made for an inspection. No rats were found in four of the holds but two dead and two dying rats were found in No. 2 hold, these having evidently succumbed during the voyage as a result of the fumigation of the ship. These rats were not in contact with the sugar or any other cargo as the bags in question were, in accordance with the usual stowage precautions, protected by a layer of hessian placed on dunnage in the hold.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
Mr.Dedman.-The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
Chairman - F. A. O’Connor, Secretary, DepartmentofSupplyandShipping.
Deputy Chairman - R. A. Hetherington, Director of Shipping.
The Government representatives receive no extra remuneration for their services and other members serve in an entirely honorary capacity.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information: -
The above figures relate to requisitioned vessels only. Operations of the Commonwealth owned and chartered vessels including vessels trading to Japan and vessels in the islands and interstate services showed a profit for the year ending 30th June, 1046, of £483,000.
June,, 1945, the accumulated profit resulting from the operation of Commonwealth-owned and chartered tonnage totalled £5,171,000.
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows.: -
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 March 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470305_REPS_18_190/>.