18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion Picture of Proceedings
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you had the authority of the House, whose servant you are, for the introduction of strangers not authorized by any rule of the House during question time yesterday, and for the continuance of their presence in the Parliament to the great inconvenience of members for an inordinate length of time?
– I received a request from two sources - the Department of Information and an English moving picture producing company - that the proceedings of the House should be recorded on a film. The writer of the letter pointed out that the object of making the picture was to explain to world audiences the method of the Australian Government.
– It needs explanation.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I am astonished that members of the Opposition should show such gross discourtesy to the Chair. The letter asked for permission to film the proceedings at any time when the House was in session and speeches were being broadcast. On receiving that request I thought that the leaders of parties ought to be consulted, and so I immediately communicated with them. They all readily consented to the making of the film. Before the pictures were taken I also saw the persons in charge of the operations, and pointed out that as there had been some discussions of previous films made while the House was in session I wanted their assurance that similar treatment would be given to honorable members on both sides of the chamber. That assurance was readily given. The honorable member for Batman desires to know whether I consulted the desires of the House in the matter. The negotiations took place- when the House was not sitting, but I thought that members of all parties had confidence in .the judgment of their leaders iri a matter of this kind, and as I had consulted the leaders of parties who readily gave their consent to the making of the film, and obtained assurances that both sides of the House would be treated in the same way, I thought that nothing more was necessary on my part. I am sorry that the honorable member for Batman was unduly inconvenienced, and when my attention was drawn to the fact I immediately asked the people concerned to discontinue, which they did. That is the only explanation I have to make. I think that I treated the House with due courtesy when I consulted the leaders of all parties in the matter.
– In view of the obvious interest of honorable members in the swearing-in ceremony of the GovernorGeneral, and the filming of question time yesterday in this chamber, and as few honorable members will see the Cinesound newsreels of those events, will the Minister for Information arrange for the films to be screened in order that all honorable members, the staff of Parliament House, secretaries and pressmen may see them?
– I shall be glad to arrange for a screening of the films so that honorable members will be able to see themselves “ as ithers see us “.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a press report that it is proposed to introduce legislation in the United States of America to outlaw the Communist party? Is he also aware that Mr. J. P. Ormonde, a member of the Australian Labour party executive, stated in an article in the press that Communist propaganda is being directed against Labour governments, and not against the Opposition parties? In view of the fact that the jobs of 45,000 workers are imperilled by Communist-inspired strikes in Sydney at Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited, and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, Botany, what action does he propose to take to ensure that the Government fights back against the Communists, who now appear to be embarking on a continuous series of strikes in key industries ? Is it proposed to. take . in Australia action similar to that which it> being taken in the United States of America ?
– I have not seen the report about what is being done in the United States of America in regard to Communists, nor have I seen the article mentioned by the honorable member which, I presume, expresses the personal opinion of Mr. Ormonde. On the general question of the outlawing of the Communist party, I have previously expressed my opinion, as have also other honorable members, including some members of the Opposition. I believe that the outlawing of the Communist party might well do no more than drive it under ground.
– The old, old story !
– It may be quite true, nevertheless. If the honorable member cares to make the’ inquiry he will find that some members of his own party have stated that they do not believe that the outlawing of the Communist party would solve the problem. I do not propose to make myself responsible for what somebody else has said or done in regard to this matter.
Usb of American Ships
– When I was in the United States of America, I saw scores of ships tied up which had been in service during the war carrying troops and supplies. Will the Minister for Immigration try to obtain some of these ships in order to bring immigrants to Australia?
– Inquiries are being made continually about ships which might become available from sources not controlled by the British Government or by ourselves. Only this week, after I had seen a statement about some ships being available in the United States of America which Britain had used under lend-lease, I consulted the Prime Minister, and sent a cable to the Australian Ambassador in Washington asking him to make inquiries. We have received a reply which indicates that there is a possibility of chartering or purchasing some of the ships. Mr. Makin is continuing his inquiries. If I had known that the honorable member had intended to ask this question, I should have brought the cables with me. I assure him that everything is being done to obtain ships outside the British pool with which to bring people from the United Kingdom to Australia.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral recall that, on the occasion of the debate on the Aluminum Industry Bill nearly three years ago, he gave a specific promise to the Parliament that . before any major expenditure was incurred, a complete reinvestigation of the whole proposition would be made? Does the right honorable gentleman agree that that promise rnakes it obligatory on the Government to present to this Parliament for further discussion the complete report of the commission appointed to make this investigation? Is the Minister aware that the commission has become so desperate in its search for evidence that, in spite of very complete geological surveys of mineral resources in Australia, it is offering rewards to farmers for the location of bauxite? Further, is he aware that the commission has proved by analysis taken in the United States of America that there exists in Victoria 1,000,000 tons of the highest grade bauxite ore to be found in any appreciable quantity in Australia? Can the Minister defend economically the proposal to establish this industry ir. another State where no such high grade deposits exists
– I arn aware of the honorable member’s great interest and concern in this project. I shall consult with the Minister who has been administering the act to see whether the information the honorable member seeks can be obtained as soon as possible.
– I understand that there is now in use at military hospitals a drug named paludrine which, when applied to sufferers from malaria, is said to effect a cure within six months. I bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army particulars which have been placed before me of the case of a Mr. Toms, of 47 Bucknell-street, Newtown, who is an. exserviceman. Mr. Toms has had numerous attacks which have been clinically diagnosed as malaria, but because in each attack he has had a negative blood reaction, he has been refused paludrine treatment although his area medical officer has issued a certificate suggesting that he be given the benefit of paludrin treatment. I understand that there are about half a dozen exservicemen in Sydney in the same position as Mr. Toms. “Will the Minister take immediate steps to ensure that this drug is made available to all these men?
– I have heard of the drug mentioned by the honorable member, but I am not conversant with the circumstances which he has outlined. I shall look into the matter, and, if it be practicable to do so, the benefit of paludrine treatment will be made available to all ex-servicemen requiring such treatment.
Offer of Crews to aid Great Britain-
– Realizing that the Government might have difficulty in releasing naval personnel, I have widely canvassed my former naval colleagues and found strong support for the formation of volunteer crews to man the landing ships, tank, now on loan from the Royal Navy which are not at present in commission because of the serious shortage of naval officers. Realizing the desperate plight of the people, of Great Britain, owing to <a shortage of food which has been’ severely rationed in the United Kingdom, these men are prepared to volunteer to man these ships as a good-will gesture on behalf of the people of Australia. Will the Minister for the Navy give urgent consideration to using these vessels for the carriage of food to Great Britain ?
– The “10th Flotilla comprises six landing ships, tank, three of which, owing to the manning position, have been paid off. As the policy of this Government is to do everything possible to help Great Britain,, urgent consideration will he given to the suggestion of the honorable member.
Appointment o:ir Chairman to Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen the article appearing in a weekly newspaper alleging among other things that in selecting a chairman for the No. 2 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal lie ignored the advice of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia? Did he so ignore the choice of the league, in making that appointment, and will he state the reason which . actuated him in his selection of a person to fill this important position?
– I have seen the article to which the honorable member has referred. It is not true, as has been suggested, that I ignored the representations of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. As a matter of fact the league submitted a panel of names for my consideration and one of the persons whose name was included on it was chosen for appointment as chairman of the No. 2 Tribunal. The reasons prompting my choice of that person to fill this important position were that he was a reasonably young man and that he had had experience in the World War I. and very considerable experience in World War LT. It is the policy of my department to appoint to -such positions men who- have had experience in the recent war ‘because their knowledge of men with whom they were associated during the war enables them to make a symphatic approach to the problems confronting ex-servicemen generally.
– As the Government is probably aware more- than 70’ ships are tied up -in Sydney harbour owing to the refusal of waterside workers to load them, and tens of thousands of tons of cargo are’ piled up waiting to be shipped. The1 position is made infinitely worse, how ever, by the fact that perishable cargoes are already lying in the holds- of many of these ships. I have received the following telegram from the chairman of the Southern District Council of Primary Producers s -
South coast cheese rapidly deteriorating ships holds Sydney. Please try everything unload.
In view of the great need for conserving food supplies destined for Great Britain, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture take steps to have this produce saved from deterioration and loss?
– My information is that there was a danger of butter and cheese not being unloaded from these ships. However, I am happy to be able to say that I understand that arrangements have been made for the unloading of the butter, and that the cheese is in no immediate danger of deterioration.
– Cheese is not a refrigerated cargo.
– That is so. Every effort is being made to have the cheese unloaded before it deteriorates.
– It has become impossible to buy bicycle tyres and tubes in country areas since the Government control of the sale of such articles was removed. The supply position in country areas is now worse than it has ever been and school children in bush areas particularly, are required to walk many miles to and from school. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping make inquiries as to the cause of this acute shortage of bicycle tyres and tubes, and if it be found to be due to the reason given to me, namely that manufacturers are eliminating the manufacture of bicycle tyres and tubes in order to concentrate on more profitable lines, will he re-introduce a sufficient measure of control to ensure the supply of these necessary commodities- to people in country areas?
– My attention was drawn to this problem- 1’ast week by the honorable member for Hume. I shall again take up the matter with the- Minister for Supply and. Shipping and see whether anything can be done in the direction desired by the honorable mem- iter. If the manufacturers are to be compelled to manufacture cycle tyres and tubes in preference to more profitable lines it “will mean the re-imposition of a control that the Government abandoned.
– It is very essential.
– I think the case would have to be strong indeed for the Government to re-introduce a control of that kind.
– Before the last general elections the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture assured woolgrowers that profits from the wool disposals plan would be distributed to them in proportion to the wool placed by them at the disposal of the Government during the war. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the promise is to be honoured and, if so, when the growers may expect their money?
– The promise to distribute profits from the disposal of the wool pile is to be honoured by the Government. In order that it may be honoured [ recently gave instructions that all necessary information shall be obtained that will enable the distribution to take place as rapidly as possible after the termination of the scheme.
– I believe that the acute shortage of hospital accommodation in Australia, arises in some measure from the insufficiency of trainees, trained nurses, wardsmaids and other staff to enable such beds as are available to be fully utilized. Will the Minister for Information have an inquiry made to ascertain whether that is so? If sufficient staff cannot be recruited from people already in Australia, will the Minister give consideration to securing trainees, trained nurses, wardsmaids and others from Great Britain, or, if they are not available there, will he consider meeting the urgent need with healthy educated women from elsewhere?
– It is true that the shortage of hospital accommodation is due more to the lack of trained staff to attend to patients than to any other cause. I discussed this matter at about midnight last night with the Prime Minister. We are greatly concerned at the needs of the States. Some State Ministers have indicated that British nurses wishing to come to Australia have a No. 1 priority. Of course Great Britain is also experiencing a serious shortage of trained nurses and domestic staffs, and it might be necessary to go into Europe to find the qualified young women we so badly need in Australia. I shall discuss the matter further with the Prime Minister. It might be necessary for the Commonwealth to make arrangements with the State’s to send a representative to Great Britain and Europe to investigate the position and find some means of bringing to Australia the trained nurses and domestic servants who are so badly needed in our large general hospitals.
– On numerous occasions I have brought before this House the claim for the payment of the normal subsistence allowance in lieu of rations to former Australian prisoners of war for the period of their imprisonment. The Minister for the Army eventually promised to bring the matter before Cabinet. I believe that he has now done so, because I have seen a report to that effect in a newspaper. Is the Minister now prepared to make a statement to the House regarding that claim ?
– I shall make a statement on this subject in the House to-morrow if the opportunity is given to me to do so.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is a fact that many hundreds of prosecutions for breaches of the price fixing regulations are pending. Also, is it a fact that many hundreds of convictions for such breaches have been recorded? Will the right honorable gentleman consider compelling persons so convicted to display in their shop windows declarations stating that they have been convicted, as is done in respect of breaches of the black marketing law?
– Yes, there have been many convictions, and many thousands of cases, covering the whole period of operation of the regulations, are still pending. The suggestion made by the honorable member was considered by this House when the Black Marketing Bill was being debated, and the matter of compelling offenders to display declarations in their shop windows was then left to the discretion of the courts. I do not think that il would be advisable to amend the law on that point, because of the decision of the House which I have mentioned. The position is that, in the most serious black marketing offences, the court can do what the honorable member has suggested. However, such action has very seldom been taken. I do not think that it would be just to have a general rule applying to every conviction for breaches of the prices regulations, nor do I think that such a rule is necessary.
High Court Proceedings
– I ask the Attorney-General whether any steps have been taken by the Government to bring to a hearing before the High Court the action by the wheat firm of Nelungaloo Proprietary Limited against the Commonwealth for compensation in respect of wheat acquired under National Security Regulations. Alternatively, has the Attorney-General taken any action to postpone the hearing, or has he just done nothing at all about it?
– I am obliged to the honorable gentleman for giving me the alternatives. The fact is that nothing has been done to postpone the action. The officers of my department are anxious to have it brought on so that the legal question may be determined, and the case is taking ‘its course through the courts. I believe that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture,- who has interposed in the case, has expressed a wish to expedite its hearing. I shall ascertain the details of the position and supply the honorable member with full information later.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain supplies of penicillin? Is it a fact that penicillin made by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is being sold at nearly twice the price of penicillin made by private manufacturers? Is the private manufacture of penicillin being discouraged officially by the Commonwealth Government? If so, how does the Minister reconcile the increased price of penicillin with the Government’s policy of free medicine?
– I am not aware of the precise situation regarding supplies of penicillin, but I shall ask the Minister tor Health to supply the information.
– Will the Minister for the Navy inform the House of the result of the inquiry into the recent incident on H.M.A.S. Deloraine1! Will he state whether there is any basis for the current reports that a mutiny occurred aboard the vessel?
– An incident occurred recently in northern waters aboard H.M.A.S. Deloraine, and the vessel was brought to Sydney in accordance with the provisions of the Naval Discipline Regulations, which require that a ship on which such incidents occur, shall be brought to a port where there are two men-of-war, and that an inquiry shall be held. I have been informed that the inquiry has been conducted. To date, I have refrained from making any statement on this matter, as some people might interpret my remarks as prejudicing the inquiry.
– Prom time to time, the Western Australian press has published reports concerning the establishment of a medical school at the University of Western Australia. It has been stated that the Commonwealth will meet onehalf of the estimated capital cost amounting to £125,000. Will the Treasurer inform me whether this report is accurate ?
If so, what proportion of the working costs, if any, does the Commonwealth propose to bear? Is it expected that the medical school will be ready by 1948?
– The Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Wise, asked whether the Commonwealth Government w ould be prepared to assist the establishment of a medical school at the University of Western Australia. The capital cost was estimated at £250, 0Q0, and the annual maintenance costs, I believe from memory, would be about £30,000. Cabinet considered this request, and on behalf of the Government, I intimated to the Premier of Western Australia, that the Commonwealth would be prepared to meet one-half of the estimated capital cost. That is to say, the Commonwealth would provide £125,000. A condition was imposed that a representative of the Commonwealth should be attached to the board associated with the work, in view of our general proposal for the introduction of a free medical service in Australia. We did not offer to share any maintenance costs. Yesterday afternoon, I received from the Premier of that State a further communication relating to this matter, but I have not yet had time to examine it closely. After I have studied it, I shall supply additional information.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether Cabinet recently conferred with the Defence Council regarding Australia’s defence, and will he make an early announcement as to whether adequate training and establishments for the Navy, Army and Air Force are’ being laid down, and what measure of cooperation is proposed with Great Britain in regard to Empire defence generally?
– A meeting of the Defence Council was held yesterday at which the Chiefs of Staffs were present. As the honorable member knows, the Defence Council is merely an advisory body to the Cabinet. The discussions yesterday covered the whole range of defence - regional, collective and internal - and further discussions will take place at an early date, after some of the proposals discussed yesterday have been examined more closely. I regret that I am unable to give any further information on the subject to the honorable member.
– Will the right honorable gentleman make an announcement soon?
– Certain technical aspects of the matters discussed yesterday have to be investigated, and that will take some time. Until reports have been received and considered and a recommendation made to Cabinet by this advisory body, I shall not be able to make any announcement.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health say whether it is a fact that reports of the activities of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are not published, and if so, will he say why that course is followed ?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Health and ask him to supply the. information sought.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question relating to the present dispute in the meat trade which has resulted in the City of Melbourne being practically without meat for a couple of weeks. In view of the fact that the absence of yardings of livestock is the direct result of an anomalous position arising from the Government’s decision to maintain a ceiling price for meat which is inconsistent with uncontrolled prices at auction, and that thedispute arose as the direct result of the Government’s administration, can he say whether the Government intends to bring the dispute to an end, and whether its policy is to work in the direction of reestablishing open auctions in Melbourne?
– I am unable to agree with the honorable member’s reasons for the dispute in the meat industry, because there are a num’ber of reasons for it. I understand that the Premier of Victoria will attend a further conference in Melbourne to-day. In the event of a satisfactory settlement of the dispute not being reached, the Common”wealth Government proposes to take a certain course of action which, on the one hand, will enable producers to market live-stock under conditions which will ensure a full return to them in accordance with the ceiling, price, and will also (ensure to butchers and. the general public 1hat, meat will be obtainable at the ceiling price. I trust that a satisfactory settlement of the dispute will be reached this afternoon and that it will not be necessary for the Commonwealth Government to take action, but if not the Government will act along the lines that I have indicated.
– Is it the policy of the Government to work in the direction of re-establishing open auctions?
– The Government’s policy is to ensure that producers receive full ceiling rates for their stock and also that the public shall not be charged more than the ceiling price for meat.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware that Radio Australia, the Government’s short-wave broadcasting station, recently broadcast overseas an announcement that thirteen nations, which were named, would be invited by Australia to the South-East Regional Conference to be held some time this year? If so, can he say why that announcement was broadcast overseas before any notification was made to this Parliament or to the people of Australia ?
– I am not aware of any such broadcast having been made, or that any such decision has been arrived at. Should such a decision be made, it will be communicated to the Parliament.
Prices in Great Britain.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether it is a fact that a bill to be introduced shortly into the British Parliament will guarantee prices to raisers of live-stock for a period of four years ? If so, will he have the bill examined with a. view to ascertaining whether any of its provisions could be applied to Australia ?
– I cannot answer a question relating to a bill which has not yet been introduced into the British Parliament.
– Then what is the use of the Minister’s department issuing trade journals ?
– Probably a particular article in a trade journal was based on press reports, or on assumptions arising out of information obtained from certain sources. I cannot say what may be contained in a bill which has yet to be introduced into the British Parliament, because in Great Britain, as in Australia, a lot of water sometimes runs under the bridge before legislation is introduced.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a hill for an act to approve of Australia becoming a. Member of the International Monetary Fund and of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and to make such provisions as are necessary or expedient by reason of the Membership of Australia of the fund and nf the bank.
– I rise, not to oppose the motion, but because this may be a convenient moment at which to raise a certain matter. Does the Prime Minister intend to deliver the secondreading speech this morning?
– This is an important matter which has engaged the attention of the Government for a long time. The Government has had the advantage of the assistance of expert opinion, notably the opinion of Professor Melville, for whose views I, for one, have a very great respect. I should like to know whether it would be possible before the debate on this measure is resumed for the members of the Opposition to have the assistance of Professor Melville to explain any technical or other points which might arise. We desire to have the fullest possible information placed before us when we resume consideration of the measure.
– Will we also have placed before us all the documents which were placed before the Labour caucus?
– in reply - As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is aware, Professor Melville is an employee of the Commonwealth Bank, his services having been lent to assist the Government in connexion with the agreement. I will ask the Commonwealth Bank to make his services available to members of the Opposition, either collectively or individually. Mr. Wheeler a Treasury official who accompanied Professor Melville during the discussions abroad, will also be available at such times as are convenient to ‘honorable members. Only one document wascirculated by me in caucus on this subject, and I have already given a copy of it to the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). It is a very brief document, and ifother honorable members wish tohavecopiesofit, I shall be glad tomake them available.
Mr.FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) [11.18] . -Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The speech of the Prime Minister closed the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented. firstReading.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Mr.FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) [11.20].-I take this, the first opportunityavailable to me, to ask the Prime Minister–
– Order ! This is not an appropriate timeto ask the Prime Minister anything. The motion for the first reading of the bill cannot be debated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read afirst time.
Mr,CHIFLEY.- I ask for leave to move the second reading of the bill forthwith.
-Do I understand that the righthonorable member is unwilling that leavebe granted?
– I am prepared to grant leave, but I want to ask the Prime Minister a question.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party has indicated that he is not opposed to the second reading of the bill beingmoved forthwith, but he wishes to make an inquiry.
– Give him leave to make a statement.
– I am quite capable of conducting the affairs of the House without advice from the honorable member for Fawkner. What has happened is quite in order. The Leader of the Australian Country party did not rise for the call when the motion for leave was before the House and the Prime Minister replied to the Leader of the Opposition, thus closing the debate. There are two ways in which the Leader of the Australian Country party may make anexplanation. If debate has ensued, and he believes that he has been misrepresented, he maymake a personal explanation. Alternatively, hemayasktheindulgenceoftheHouse to make a statement and, iftheHouse concurs, he may do so.
-byleave - I intended to ask the Prime Minister to postpone as long as possible the debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill for theobvious reason that honorable members on this side of the House havenot had an opportunity to consider this very important matter. I assure the Government that honorable memberson this side are fully aware oftheirresponsibility in this regard. Therefore, we ask that all possible data and information be made available to us, and that ample time be allowed for the studying of this data.
– We have been two years on it now.
Mr.FADDEN.-That isthe justificaition for my request. TheGovernment hasbeenconsidering this matter in season and out of season. It Las been before outside Labour organizations, before caucus and before Cabinet. It is not fair to ask the Opposition to consider such an important measure at short notice.
– by leave - The same facilities will be made available to members of the Australian Country party as to other members of the Opposition. I do not know just what he has in mind when he asks for time to consider the bill, but I will consult with him, and with the Leader of the Opposition, re- garding the time for the resumption of the debate on the motion for the second reading.
– As there is now no objection the Prime Minister has leave to move the second reading of the bill forthwith.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill bc now road a second time
The purpose of the bill is to seek approval by the Parliament of Australia becoming a member of the International Monetary Fund and of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. These institutions form part of the general structure for peace, security and welfare in the post-war world in the building of which Australia has taken a most active part, and towards which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has made no small contribution. The United Nations is the apex of this structure, but, recognizing that economic welfare is a fundamental basis for peace and security, there has been developed within and around the United Nations special machinery for world economic collaboration. The broad object of this machinery is to promote throughout the world expanded production, employment, trade and higher standards of living all round.
– I rise to order. Some time ago the Prime Minister promised that when statements of this kind were to be made to the House he would circulate copies of them to honorable members. We are extremely interested in this subject, and we would be better enabled to follow the Prime Minister’s remarks if he made copies of his statement available to us.
– That is not a point of order.
– I regret that sufficient copies of my statement have not yet been made, but I shall arrange to supply a copy of it to each honorable member.
Australia has consistently maintained the view that the successful working of international economic organizations, and the expansion of international investment and trade, depend to a very great degree on the achievement and preservation of full employment in the major industrial countries. After a long series of formal and informal discussions at London. Washington, Hot Springs, the Philadelphia Conference of the International Labour organization and at the Bretton Woods Conference, we finally succeeded, at San Francisco in June. 1945, in amending the purposes of the United Nations to include the promotion of “high standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development “. Since then, with the strong support of the United Kingdom Government, we have gained the acceptance of the Preparatory Committee on Trade and Employment to the inclusion of an International Employment Agreement in the proposed Trade Charter.
But employment and trade undertakings can be defeated by exchange manipulations, and it is the special object of the International Monetary Fund to avoid the recurrence of these evils. Competitive exchange depreciation, discriminatory exchange controls and the blocking of currencies were destructive weapons in the economic warfare which raged throughout the thirties and contributed to the outbreak of armed conflict in 1939. Their effect was to deprive international trade of a stable basis, and, by greatly diminishing its volume, to impoverish people in all countries, especially in those which, like Australia, depend largely upon external trade. By providing a permanent institution to promote international monetary co-operation, it is hoped to avoid these evils, to facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade and to contribute thereby to the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income.
The International Monetary Fund represents an attempt to avoid the errors of the past. It has already been commenced with 44 member governments. The chief nations which have not yet joined are Australia, New Zealand and Russia. The articles of the fund are the result of two years’ intensive study by representatives of over 40 countries. Australia was represented at the several conferences and successfully pressed important amendments. Inevitably, they represent, at certain points, a compromise ; and experience may well prove that some changes are required. The fund is an inter-governmental organization and is wholly controlled by governments. On the board of governors, which determines policy, each member government has one representative, and voting power is allocated according to quotas. At present, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom, Sir Hugh Dalton, is chairman of the board of governors of both the fund and the bank. Day to day management rests with executive directors, of whom there are at present twelve.
Broadly, the fund comprises on the one hand an international pool of gold and currency reserves to meet emergencies, and, on the other hand, a code of rules to regulate exchange relationships between members. Each member joining the fund is assigned a quota which measures two things: First, its obligation to contribute to the pool of gold and local currencies; and, secondly, its right to draw foreign exchange from the fund. Australia’s quota is £A.62,500,000 of which £A.2,000,000 to £A.3,000,000 would be paid in gold, and about £A.60,000,000 would be subscribed either in . its own currency, or by transferring to the fund non-negotiable non-interest bearing securities. Australia’s subscription could only be used for expenditure in Australia by other countries and could only be so used if we had a favorable balance of payments.
Our drawing rights would total about £A.65,000,000. This would constitute an addition of that amount to our inter national exchange reserves, and would be available if our overseas funds should run down, for instance, as the result of drought. It would also assist overseas loan obligations in times of difficulty. Australia would be entitled to draw foreign currencies from the fund at a rate not greater than 25 per cent, of the quota in a twelvemonths period. Under certain conditions, and with the consent of the fund we ‘ could draw on the pool beyond these limits.
Certain obligations are undertaken by member countries under the fund agreement in relation to exchange controls and the par value of their currencies. In general, members may not impose restrictions upon payments or transfers for current international transactions with other members. This however, does not apply to capital movements, and it is subject to what is known as the “ transition period clause “ which, broadly, allows members to retain necessary exchange restrictions for five years after the fund begins operations.
When a country joins the fund, it must agree with the fund its initial par value, i.e., its exchange rate. In all cases to date members have agreed their existing exchange rates, and, in our case, the Government would propose to retain the present exchange rate of £A.125 to £100 sterling. Thereafter, exchange rates may be altered only to correct a fundamental disequilibrium. A member can, however, make one alteration of ten per cent, upwards, or downwards, without the consent of the fund. All other changes must be approved by the fund, but the fund is compelled to approve any change necessary to correct a fundamental disequilibrium.
Finally, there is the important provision that a member may withdraw at any time without penalty. A more detailed exposition of the articles of agreement of the fund is available to honorable members in the review made by the leader of the Australian delegation to the Bretton Woods Conference which is contained in Parliamentary Paper No. 13b of 1944.
The undertakings which a member gives regarding exchange stability and the convertibility of its currency in ‘respect of current transactions are clearly important commitments. There are, however, adequate safeguards to ensure that reasonable exchange stability shall not become excessive exchange rigidity, and that movements in exchange rates required for employment reasons shall be achieved. I have already explained that the fund is compelled to concur in movements in exchange rates required to correct a fundamental disequilibrium. It is further provided that the fund may not object to a proposed change because of the domestic, social or political policies of the member proposing the change.
Like ourselves, the United Kingdom Government is pursuing a full employment policy, and, as a further and final safeguard, the United Kingdom Government sought and obtained from the fund a ruling that “steps necessary to protect a member country from chronic or .persistent unemployment arising from pressure upon its balance of payments are among the measures necessary to correct a fundamental disequilibrium”. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, this “removes any doubts “which may be lingering in men’s minds regarding the interpretation of the phrase ‘ fundamental disequilibrium ‘ in relation to employment”.
Further, in return for the exchange undertakings given, a member is assured of assistance from the fund in time of need and is freed from, the fear of its external trade being disrupted by fluctuations in the exchange rates of other countries and by the restrictive currency practices which caused so much trouble in the past. External trade is in itself an important determinent of levels of employment, especially for countries like Australia. Our major primary industries and all their related trades and services depend upon the sale of proceeds of our exports, while much other economic activity depends upon the flow of imports. It is a point too often overlooked that a great part of Australia’s secondary industry relies upon imported materials, equipment and some processed goods, and this need will grow as secondary industry expands.
The par value of the currencies of members is to be expressed in terms of gold as a Common demoninator or in terms of the United States dollar. ‘and this has been described as equivalent to the gold standard. But that is not so. The central feature of the gold standard was rigid exchange rates, with currencies so linked to gold that countries were compelled to expand or contract the volume of credit within their territories as gold flowed in or out of ‘their reserves. In contrast the monetary fund envisages controlled! ‘flexibility of exchange rates and also, by providing additional currency reserves for members, seeks to avoid the need for contractions of credit where members are subject temporarily to an adverse balance of .payments.
The purpose of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is to provide a source of capital funds for the reconstruction of countries devastated by war and for >the development of industrially backward countries. The ban’k lias a share capital to which member countries subscribe according to quota’s, our quota being £A. 62,500,000, the same as for the monetary fund.
– Apparently these quotas have been worked’ out on the basis of the volume of international trade conducted by each country.
– That is one of the main principles upon which they have been determined. Australia would subscribe 2 per cent., or £A.1,250,000, in gold and 18 per cent., or £A,11,250,000, to be called up as required, in Australian currency. This £A.11,250,000 could be used by the bank only with the consent of Australia. The balance of £A,50,000,000 would be a surety fund subject to call only when required to meet our pro rata share of contingent liabilities of the bank. Loans issued or guaranteed by the bank would not be “ tied “, and Australia, as ah exporting country, would benefit from the resulting expenditure. Australia would share with all other countries in any losses incurred by the bank, but they should not be great and would be spread over a long period. It is unlikely that Australia would itself require to borrow from the bank.
The bill seeks provision for certain % payments that will have to be made if Australia becomes a member of the fund. These include our subscriptions to the fund and the bank, of which details have been given, and also certain contingent liabilities. Authority is sought to borrow money necessary to make payments required by reason of membership of the fund and of the bank, and also for the issue of special non-negotiable, noninterest bearing securities. Such securities may be -accepted by the fund or the bank in lieu of a member’s currency to meet a part of its subscriptions or other payments.
A feature of these Bretton Woods organizations which commends them to the Government is that, taken with related bodies in the United Nations scheme, they constitute an attempt for the first time in history to grapple with world economic problems by concerted action on a world scale for the common good. They recognize the vital fact that the complex and ever-changing problems of international trade, finance and economic relations generally can no longer be allowed to drift as they did formerly when individual nations followed separate and often discordant policies. They represent a bid to pull the world situation together, get it under control and set it upon a steady and coherent course. The Government will review Australian membership of the fund and the bank when the final outcome of the present trade discussions is known. The Government’s application for membership will also be on the basis of admission on the same conditions as those applying to an original member. We cannot, of course, now be admitted as an original member but the condition of this proposal is that we be admitted on the same basis as original members.
– What will happen to the bill if Australia is not so admitted?
– That would have to be /considered. The Government would not be prepared to accept any new condition as a prerequisite to admittance to the fund and the bank.
– The approval of the bill is, I take it, subject to the condition that Australia shall be admitted on the same conditions as apply to original members.
– That is a condition which the Government would make when presenting its application to become a member of the bank and the fund. Everyone can agree with the fundamental objectives of Bretton Woods, I do not say that the fund is perfect as a piece of mechanism. No international agreements, however necessary they may be to promote the peace of the world, can be so regarded. Necessarily the scheme is experimental and capable of improvement, and its success must depend upon intelligent adaptations in the light of experience. But that is a strong reason why we should take part in its activities and contribute to its development. Just as political isolation in the world would be an impracticable policy for Australia, so do I think that economic isolation would be disastrous.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an dct relating .to aliens.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2, General Business, being considered forthwith.
I do so because, upon consideration and study of the orders of the day, honorable members on this side of the House are seised of the greater relative importance of the Government adopting a definite attitude towards the requirements of the starving people of Great Britain. We appreciate the prime importance of doing everything possible to come to the aid of the British people, particularly in view of the extraordinarily adverse climatic conditions which are confronting them to-day. Opportunity was not afforded on private members’ day to debate the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I ask honorable members to consider the relative importance of the various orders of the day that are to be proceeded with, if the Government has its way, in preference to the right honorable gentleman’s notice of motion. The Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill, we are led to believe, is not likely to be proclaimed, even if it should be passed by the Parliament. It certainly will not be implemented, if the history of this Government is any criterion. The notice of motion reads -
That in the opinion of this House the Commonwealth Government should immediately make a gift to .the United Kingdom Government of foodstuffs to the value of £25,000,000 in order to assist in alleviating the undernourishment of the British people and encouraging them in their heroic efforts towards recovery.
This country, an integral part of the British Empire, owes a great deal to the Mother Country, and it behoves this Parliament to give every consideration to all means of alleviating the plight of our kith and kin there.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear).
Order! The right honorable gentleman has read the notice of motion and therefore is acquainted with its terms. Accordingly he ought to be aware that he is trespassing against the Standing Orders by attempting to discuss the merits of the notice of motion until the Standing Orders have been suspended to enable him to do so.
– That being so, I shall deal with the demerits of the other matters that the House is asked to consider before it discusses the right honorable gentleman’s notice of motion. The Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill, for example, is of a doubtful character if all that we have read about it is correct. Even if it should be passed, it is not likely to be proclaimed, or, if proclaimed, adequately enforced.
– Order ! The right honorable member knows quite well that he may not at this stage discuss the merits of a hill on the notice-paper. He may not continue in that way. He must discuss the expediency of suspending the Standing Orders.
– I have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders in order to ensure prior consideration of the notice of motion, because it is of greater importance than the bills that the Government proposes to proceed with, and, in order to impress on honorable members the need for the suspension of
Standing Orders, I have to canvass the merits and demerits of the various matters appearing on the notice-paper.
– I do not desire to argue with the right honorable member. The position is very clear. He has moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper to be dealt with, and the Standing Orders distinctly provide that matters on the notice-paper may not now be discussed. He proceeded to discuss the merits of the. Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill and knows positively that he may not do so.
– I was endeavouring to make a passing reference to that bill in order to impress on the House the urgency of the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper.
– Order ! I will not have my ruling canvassed.
– The Standing Orders ought to be suspended to make possible the prior consideration and implementation of a proposal that is all important, at all events, to our kith and kin in Great Britain. The attention of the Australian people needs to be drawn to the anxiety of honorable members on this side of the House to alleviate their plight.
.- I second the motion because whatever importance the bill that the Government is about to proceed with may have, its importance is far outweighed by that of the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) that £25,000,000 worth of food be sent to Great Britain as a national gift. The general public is roused. I know that I may not go into details, but I take this opportunity of saying emphatically that the Government ought to match the efforts of the people, who are far ahead of the Government in efforts to ease Britain’s suffering. By and large, the Australians are a generous, open-hearted people, and they are putting the Government to shame. It is not to the Government’s credit to brush aside the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper in order to proceed with legislation of little importance compared with that of the notice of motion. Feeling is running high, as the Ministry mustknow, from letters to the newspapers. From the cables that it has received from the Government of the United Kingdom, the Government cannot be unaware of Britain’s predicament. I impress upon the House that the notice of motion aims at help not only to Great Britain but also to ourselves, for we are one people with one destiny.
– Order ! The honorable member may not proceed on those lines.
– The matter is urgent. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) should agree to our debating matters in accordance with their importance. Another subject of more importance to Australia than the bills on the notice-paper is the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment, which is covered by Order of the Day No. 6. It was shown in a recent debate that the Minister who is likely to attend the conference, and indeed, every other Minister, have only a hazy notion of what it is all about. They do not know the history of our trade relations. They are content to let policy in respect of this most vital matter be decided by officials, some of them minor officials.
– Order ! What has that to do with the motion?
– I refer to that onlyin passing. Both matters are of far greater importance than any other matter on the notice-paper. I urge the Prime Minister to re-allot the items in order that both of them may be given their merited priority.
Mr.CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime Minister and Treasurer) [11.58]. - The Government cannot accept the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable debate on the notice of motion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). The Government is fully aware of all aspects of the need to help Great Britain, and no further statements on the subject in the House can affect the position. I therefore move -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2, General Business, being considered forthwith.
The House divided. (Ms. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 12th March (vide page 576), on motion by Dr. Evatt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is bad in principle, .and contains many .bad administrative practices. Ii seeks to perpetuate so much that is repugnant to honorable members that those of us who claim to speak for a free democracy should not tolerate it. The House should reject it. Although a long debate has taken place on this bill, many important phases of it have not yet been fully covered, and without going over the same ground again, I shall endeavour to emphasize some of the principles which are obnoxious to a freedom-loving people and which this House t should resist. The way in which the Government has dealt with some of these issues is most significant. The Government gives Hp service to the cause of freedom. In this instance, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who is in charge of the bill, has talked at length in other parts of the world about the need for an International, Charter of Rights. He has also spoken of the desirability of including in the Australian Constitution certain safeguards of the liberties of the subject. In order to estimate just how much weight we can put upon those utterances, I propose to SUPmit them to the test of their practical application to a bill of this description.
Let me cite one illustration, namely, the treatment by the Government of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. On the waterfront to-day, there are two unions-the Waterside Workers Federation, and the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. The last-named organization was formed at the time of the waterfront strike in 1917. The union caine into being then as a body of volunteers who responded to .the request which the government of the day made to people to come forward in that time of national emergency and get the ships moving. Men did so; and their organization” has since .been describes! by many unionists and by some honorable members in this chamber as a “ scab “ union. That in itself is an interesting indication of the muddled thinking and distortion pf values that has taken place hi Australia. These men came forward, not in a dispute between employers and employees - they were not strike breakers in that sense - but at the request of the freely-elected government of the day which had declared: “In a period of crisis, we must keep the ships moving”. “In that way, the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union was formed. It became registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and has been in existence for approximately 30 years. Its numbers were augmented during the waterfront strike pf 1928. A general hold-up occurred on the waterfront, and. again, the government of the day, in order to keep the ships moving, called for volunteers. “Men came -forward, and joined the Permanent and Casual Wharf
Labourers Union. This organization bas been lawfully constituted, and has conducted itself in a proper manner. In the ports where its membership has been strong, it has a fine record of labour, and continuity of work. Because of this, the Waterside Workers Federation set out to smash the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. What is significant in that regard is not so much that one rival union seeks to smash another - that is perhaps human and probably inevitable - but that the numericallystronger union has been able to apply pressure on the Government to take up its cause, and, by a gross abuse of political power, condemn to death the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. For what reason? For no good cause thai can be directed against the organization itself! It cannot be shown that the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union has misconducted itself, or has no right to exist as in a i rae community bodies of men should have the right to exist. This union is to be condemned to death by slow strangulation because the Government has succumbed to the pressure which the Waterside Workers Federation, controlled by Mr. Healy, has applied to it.
This is not the first time that .this particular issue has been discussed in the House. A few years ago, I moved, on behalf of the Opposition, for the disallowance of a regulation made under the National Security Act. The effect of that :regulation, among other ‘things - and this is the particularly obnoxious provision to which my protest was directed - w,as that .from that time forward, the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union should not be permitted to recruit members. The Government stepped in, and said: “There shall be no more recruitment to that organization “. At the time, I pointed out in the House that in the port of Melbourne - I could not give the figures for other ports - the Waterside Workers Federation had about 1,100 members and the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union about 700 members. .By directing that the organization should not recruit new members, the Government said in effect: “ We are sentencing to death this union, -which is regarded :by many unionists and by some honorable members in this House as a ‘ scab ‘ organization “. In the course of that debate, certain assurances were given, and I propose to recall them. Honorable members will be interested to hear them in the light of what has happened since. The Opposition was concerned about the future of the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. Honorable members of this side of the chamber, considered that the Government’s proposal was monstrous. The waterside industry is not the only section of industry in which rival unions represent much the same class of occupation. In the metal trades group, there are two big unions, namely, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and the Australasian Society of Engineers. For railway employees, different groups represent men who do much the same kind of work. Therefore, there was nothing peculiar about this particular set-up on the waterfront. What was peculiar was that the pressure which the Waterside Workers Federation was able to apply to the Government succeeded in bringing about the death of its ;competitor.
During the debate, we pressed for assurances that the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union would be -able to get continuity of work on the waterfront. I refer honorable members to Hansard of the 26th March, 1942, at page 500. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) was addressing the House when the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) interjected. The ‘Hansard, report reads -
– I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service whether -these men .can join the Waterside Workers Federation, but he did not reply to me.
– Of course they can.
– ls the honorable member sure of that?
– Definitely. - The right honorable -member knows more than I do about this problem.
Honorable members will agree with that. The passage continued -
He knows that whenever a conflict in an industry ‘results in the formation of a second organization of employees, the legitimate organization gradually absorbs members of the other body. I submit that there could bo no better time than the present to deal with this problem on the waterfront because sufficient men are not available for the work now offering.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) then asked -
Will the Minister give a guarantee that the Waterside Workers Federation will accept members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union?
The Minister replied -
I am not an officer of the federation; but I have been closely associated with its activities for the last twenty years. 1 have the confidence of the federation and I know the men who control it. I am mindful of what has happened before when the federation has been confronted with a problem similar to that with -which we aTe dealing to-night. Inevitably the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union will become members of the federation.
Events have shown how false that prediction or assurance was, because only recently the Waterside Workers Federation, in conference, rejected a proposal for absorbing the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. The last-named organization did not seek absorption earlier, but later found difficulty in continuing because it could not recruit members. Having been brought to this desperate situation, it is now, no doubt, prepared to be absorbed by the federation. But will the federation admit it on the footing suggested by the Minister for Labour and National Service. Not on your life! And this Government, far from backing up the promise made by its Minister in 1942, has sentenced to death by slow strangulation a union which during two separate crises came forward to help the nation, not at the- request of the employers, but at the request of the democratically elected government of the day. Now it is to be victimized. If the bill did nothing more than that, it should be condemned out of hand, but it does much more. It provides that, henceforth, the only persons who can obtain employment on the waterfront are members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Thus, although the Government has no power under the Constitution to compel a man to join a union, it can achieve the same end in this oblique way. It can say that it will deal only with the federation and its members. Therefore, if a man wishes to be employed on the waterfront in the stevedoring industry, he must first become a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. Honorable members on this side of the House have made their attitude clear on this point. We believe in unionism. We believe that a man who follows a trade should give his support, by becoming an active member, to the organization which has established his rights for him, but we will not compel a man, contrary to his scruples or belief, to join a union. To-day, the unions are very much more than bodies set up merely to safeguard the industrial welfare of members. They are active political organizations, and many members of unions are forced, by virtue of the contributions they have made, to support a political policy which, in their hearts, they would wish to oppose. For that reason, this aspect of the bill calls for condemnation.
There are other aspects of the bill which also call for close scrutiny. For instance, it is proposed to create a monopoly in this kind of work. It is unusual for a government to limit the number of persons who may be engaged in any particular industry. In this instance, the Government is enforcing such a limitation by law, and is creating a close preserve for a union and the members of that union. There are dangers inherent in such a policy. I appreciate the problem with which the Government is confronted. I know that if we are to keepa pool of labour on the waterfront under conditions in which the workers cannot be guaranteed continuous employment, there will always be trouble. For that reason, any scheme designed to give each man a reasonable amount of work throughout the year is deserving of consideration. However, there are obviously practical difficulties and natural factorswhich cannot be guarded against. During a spell of bad weather, ships may be held up outside a port. The longer thebad weather lasts the greater the accumulation of shipping, and then, when the weather improves, the vessels all comeinto port at once. While the ships aredelayed outside, there is probably very little work offering, but when they come- in much labour will be required to handle- the cargo expeditiously. It would be difficult for any government instrumentality to provide against a situation of that kind. There is also the practical difficulty that many of those who work on the waterfront do not want work continuously. They prefer to work through three days and nights and to earn as much in that period as an ordinary worker would earn in a week, and then they like to have a few days to themselves. That is natural with men of a certain temperament, and I predict that the Government will find, when it tries to introduce a system of regular employment, that it will be faced with that human problem. Some men will resist a scheme requiring them to present themselves regularly for work.
The Government proposal for solving the problem is to create a monopoly, hut where does that take us? I have said that the creation of a monopoly establishes a vested right. There are, of course, comparable situations. Quite obviously, there must be a limit to the number of employees working locomotives in a railway system. There must be a limit to the number of persons employed in a police force and in a fire brigade, and this limitation is usually enforced by government restrictions. However, if we examine these occupations it will be found that considerable obligations are imposed upon the persons employed. It would be impossible to run a fire brigade efficiently if half the employees did not turn up when called, and the same applies to a railway system. A considerable measure of discipline is imposed, and men are required to present themselves for work when called upon. Those who do not perform their duty regularly, and in a proper manner, are dismissed, and places are found for somebody else. Therefore, if men are to be given a monopoly of work on the waterfront, they must be prepared to submit to a high measure of discipline, and to present themselves for work when required. I may be told that the bill makes provision for this. I do not care what the bill says, but I know what has been the practice in the port of Sydney in recent years under a system which, for all intents and purposes, is practically the same as that for which the bill provides.
I have here some figures which I elicited in answer to a series of questions which I asked of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley). I asked how many members of the Waterside Workers Federation were registered in Sydney by the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and I was told that the number was 5,424. I asked whether there had been any shortage of waterside workers on any day, and if so. on how many days did this occur from 1st October last. I had no particular reason for mentioning that date, except that the House was sitting at the time, and I wanted the figures to be as up-to-date as possible. I was told that between the 1st October and the 20th November there were shortages on 42 days. When I asked what was the average daily shortage, I was told that, between the 1st October and the 20th November, the average daily shortage was 2,044, but this figure included the period from the 14th October to the 24th, inclusive, when the port of Sydney was idle due to members of the federation not offering themselves for work. It is clear that a big proportion of those who are registered and enjoy this monopoly right do not present themselves when required, and also that on 42 days of the period mentioned the shortage of labour on the waterfront averaged about 2,000 men. If the scheme covered by this bill is to be a success there must be a rigid enforcement of the obligation on the men to present themselves when required for work.
But there is an even more serious aspect^ namely, the power which this legislation will give to the unions. If only those men who are members of the Waterside Workers Federation can be employed on the waterfront, obviously the federation will be able to exercise tremendous power over its members, because expulsion from the federation would deprive a man of his livelihood. A situation could arise in which a union could exercise tyrranous control of its members. I do not need to enlarge on that possibility; honorable members have enough knowledge of trade unionism and its methods to realize what a tremendously powerful weapon this bill will place in the hands of a union secretary who may have enemies in his union - men who have opposed him and his policies. What guarantee is there that unionists will, in future, he free to express their views frankly and courageously in opposition to recommendations submitted by the executive of the union? In no country which claims to follow the principles of freedom and democracy should such power be vested in an uncontrolled union executive. If men may be expelled from a. union, and thus he deprived of their livelihood, their expulsion should be possible only with the authority and approval of the Government through its own. administrative instrumentality. There is no provision in the bill which guarantees members of the union against a tyrannous exercise of authority.
The next aspect of this bill which I propose to mention has already been dealt with by other speakers. I should not have referred to it had not the Minister who introduced the bill shown clearly how ineffective Opposition protests had been. Therefore, we on this side must continue to emphasize our views because we believe that they are sound and, indeed, represent the only proper policy for this country to adopt; I refer to the preservation of the arbitration system. In our opinion, this measure is another link in the chain of Communist policy in this country. This bill is a direct attack on the arbitration system. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), than whom few members have more experience of industrial matters, drew attention to this fact. He wanted to know why it is thought necessary to appoint other tribunals to regulate industry when we have an Arbitration Court to deal with industrial issues. That criticism has not yet been answered effectively by any spokesman on behalf of the Government. This bill is a continuation of the policy of “ divide and smash “ advocated by Communists in their determination to destroy our arbitration system. Having pressed for a similar control of the coal-mining industry they are now carrying their policy to a further stage. This approach to industrial disputes ignores a fundamental aspect of our arbitration system, namely, consideration of the public interest. It is not right to say that there are only two parties to an industrial dispute. Most people consider only the claims of employers and their employees, and forget that the general public is deeply concerned in every industrial dispute. The real strength of the case for the arbitration system is that it is the only system which preserves the public interest.
We are told that the conciliation aspect of a dispute is to be emphasized in the future. We agree that there must be conciliation. What is the usual practice when a dispute arises, or threatens, in an industry? The parties meet together in conference and discuss what concessions can be made by each side. Generally, some adjustments are made, and thus the field of dispute is narrowed to those matters on which the parties cannot agree. When that stage has been reached there must be arbitration. I have not known the arbitration system to fail when a union has had a genuine desire to improve conditions for its members and to ensure continuity of employment for them. If the representatives of a union attend a conference in good faith, setting out clearly what conditions of their employment should be improved and what alterations should be made, the arbitration system will succeed. But if the men attending a conference say, “ To hell with the arbitration system; we are out to smash it “, all the courts of conciliation and all the conciliation commissioners in the world will not preserve industrial peace. That is the issue which confronts the Government to-day. And so I come back to the point that the interest of the public is important notwithstanding that it is frequently overlooked.
It is not sufficient for employer* and employees to agree as to what should be done. One could- imagine employers in the coal-mining industry, for instance, acceding to the demand of the miners for improved pay and conditions of work, and saying that the extra cost of, say, 8s. a ton would be met by increasing the selling price of coal by 10s. a ton. That may be the result of conciliation between’ two parties; but if the process of conciliation be left there - and that is what the Government proposes in this bill - the public interest, suffers. In such circumstances all that happens is that two groups meet and agree to pass the burden on to the public. We must have an authority which is able to say that an agreement entered into by employers and employees shall not be sanctioned because it is not fair to the public.
As I have said there must be conciliation, but if the system is to work satisfactorily, the interests of the general public must also be safeguarded. Let us examine the tribunal which the Government proposes to set up. It is the Stevedoring Industry Commission. It is outside the Arbitration Court; yet it is expected, in some respects, to function like the Arbitration Court. Well, it will not function like the court. The existing commission has not functioned like a court, and, quite obviously, it would not be able to do so. The commission sits in rather an informal atmosphere. On the one hand, are the representatives of the employers, and on the other the representatives of the employees, whilst there is also a representative of the Government and a chairman, who has a final say in all decisions.
Judge Foster, who examined this problem, recommended that should the tribunal be continued it should be presided over by a judge of the Arbitration Court. He did not say a conciliation commissioner. It is significant that the bill itself mentions both, a judge and a conciliation commissioner as the person who could preside over this body. That provision becomes still more significant following the remarks of the AttorneyGeneral when he introduced the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill last evening; because if the arguments he advanced in favour of increasing the number of conciliation commissioners, under that measure have any validity in. relation to the arbitration fieldas a whole, they apply with equal force to a tribunal such as this. From what the Attorney-General said the conclusion was sticking out a mile that although this bill mentions a judge, if the Government believes conciliation commissioners are adequate to find a solution of the general, problem then a conciliation commissioner will be> appointed to do the. job in thisinstance.
We can picture a conciliation, commissioner sitting in conference, with the representatives of both sides.. The commission. ,can work smoothly where there is scope for the parties to get together; but when the parties become deadlocked as, inevitably, they must when grave issues arise,, then the final decision is thrown back upon the man in the chair. What is the ordinary experience under such conditions? In such a situation who is likely to exercise the greater authority - the man who has been sitting around the table with the parties in an informal atmosphere, perhaps, lunching, smoking, or even, occasionally, having a few drink. with them - or the man who has been able to sit above the storm remote from the issues? When the latter, after hearing the arguments presented for both sides gives- a decision, naturally it will appeal to the parties as fair, honest and without bias. Of course, the latter is preferable when a deadlock arises between the parties and some one must give an independent decision on matters in dispute. That view is borne out by the experience of the existing tribunal. It was set up to bring peace to the industry, to give better conditions to the waterside workers, and to produce greater efficiency in war-time in the handling of our shipping.
What has been the result? So far as peace in industry is concerned, the record on the waterfront has been blacker since the commission was appointed than ever before. Certainly, the commission has gained better conditions for the men in terms of wages; indeed,, to-day those conditions are out of line with rates of pay given to men who have gone through six years’ apprenticeship in skilled trades. As> the result, the commission has created a focus of friction which has already led to the metal trades dispute hi Victoria, or, at least, contributed to that dispute. The men involved, in the metal, trades dispute see that waterside workers,, possessing nothing like their own skill, are- receiving very much higher rates of pay for fewer hours of: work. The workers, in other industries are envious of the waterside workers, and ask themselves, why they cannot be treated on an. equal footing.
Although the commission has given better conditions to the waterside workers it has done so in a way which has thrown industrial conditions out of balance, weighing them heavily in favour of this particular industry. With respect to the loss of efficiency in the industry since the appointment of the existing commission, the facts given by other honorable members in this debate show only too clearly, as .does Judge Foster’s own recommendation, that the efficiency in loading and unloading, and in effecting turn-rounds of vessels has declined very seriously during recent years. Not only has the present commission proved a failure, but any commission set up in the form proposed under the bill must also prove a failure. The first chairman of the existing commission was Judge Piper, then Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court. Because of failure to implement the authority of the court as the result of pressure which could not be resisted under the conditions under which the commission operated, he resigned. Mr. Justice de Baun, who was chairman of the Maritime Industries Commission, a corresponding body, found after a time that the authority of that commission was not upheld by either the Government or the workers ; and for that reason he resigned. A similar experience is reported from New Zealand where a corresponding body, a stevedoring commission, has prescribed conditions on the waterfront. For many months, that body was presided over by Judge Angley, but, recently, he resigned. He stated his reasons for doing so, and they are similar to those which made it impossible for the men who presided over the Australian bodies to which I have referred to carry on. Within the last few hours it has been brought to our notice that the conciliation commissioner for the port of Sydney, Mr. D. V. Morrison, has, in the words of the Prime Minister yesterday, been dissatisfied with the attitude adopted by the men in respect of his decisions. Mr. Morrison also has talked about resigning. Whether that is so or not, we do not know; but we do know from what the Prime Minister said that Mr. Morrison is very dissatisfied with the response of the men to his decisions, and that as the result a crisis has been caused involving the tying up of 70 vessels in Sydney at present. The honorable member for Batman and other honorable members, probably know Mr. Morrison personally. They are aware of the high regard in which he has been held by the great body of unionists. Speaking from my experience when, as Minister for Labour, I had much to do with him, I know that he is a man who makes a strong and fair approach to matters submitted to him; and I have never heard one union representative say that he would not give the workers a fair deal. Yet he has found that he cannot make the present system work.
This brings me. to the conclusion that the tribunal proposed under the bill must, inevitably, prove unsatisfactory. The principles and purposes of the measure are obnoxious, and, therefore, should be rejected by the Parliament. If the Government seeks to find a permanent solution of industrial troubles, I hope to propose several sound solutions when the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is debated. In the meantime, the Government must at least support the arbitration system and back up the authority of the Arbitration Court. It must recognize that the effect of the pressure brought to bear upon it to establish these other bodies is to weaken, and, finally, smash the arbitration _ system. Having realized that fact it must recognize that in a democratic community, in the final analysis, there is no real alternative to government. If a government is not prepared to govern and accept the responsibilities of government, and if it is not prepared to back with the authority of government those tribunals which it creates to carry out its purposes, chaos and discord must be the inevitable result. That is the issue which the Governmentmust face; and, because, under this measure, it is not prepared to do so, I shall not support the bill.
Sitting suspended from 12.J/S to 2.15 p.m.
– The bill before us represents one of a long series of futile attempts on the part of this Government to import some order, discipline and decency into the affairs of various industries in Australia. Hitherto we have been more or less accustomed to attempts to stabilize, to bring about industrial peace in and to stimulate production in the coal-mining industry. This bill is confined entirely to waterfront employment. The most interesting speech during this debate was made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). I must admit that I was a little surprised by his description of the waterside workers of New South Wales in particular. I believe it was to that section of the industry to which he specially referred. I gathered from the honorable member’s remarks that the waterside workers of New South Wales are so sensitive that criticism is something to which they simply will not submit and that as a consequence they have to show their dissatisfaction with the community’s failure to recognize their efforts by going out on strike every now and then. They have been painted in colours which, to my mind, are out of keeping with the realities of the situation. We must examine modern trade unions in order to see something of the methods by which their affairs are carried on. It is not over stating the position to declare that modern trade unions, and the Waterside Workers Federation, in particular, are virtually at war with the rest of the community, and that they are carrying on a consistent effort to destroy the standards of living and of civilization which we enjoy in Australia to-day. This destructive effort was more intensified during the war than at any time in our history. If facts and figures were accumulated they would prove beyond doubt that at no other period in Australian history was there greater or more serious trouble on the waterfront than during the war years. Time after time- Australian troops, who could have been better employed, were taken away from their training and other duties and sent to the waterfront to do the work which the “ wharfies “ refused to do. That happened at a time when all sorts of appeals were made in this House and elsewhere for an unprecedented war effort. In those days a lot of nonsense was talked but only those completely blind to the situation believed it. The position to-day is either that the Government must govern Australia or surrender the powers of government to certain trade union leaders. Every one of us knows the political objectives of these gentlemen; we know the gentle methods they employ in the handling of the unions over which they have so much control. Their objective now is that which is stated in Labour’s policy, namely, the complete socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, though some of them would have it stated in slightly different language which perhaps would be better understood in Moscow than in Sydney. Hitherto we have enjoyed - and I use the word “ enjoy “ deliberately - a system of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. To-day we find that the arbitration system is going into the discard. There may be some faults in the system but there are other causes of this trend which I believe have a very much greater influence on the present-day situation than any inherent or casual faults in the arbitration system. There may have been occasions when the unions were justified in complaining of the slow rate at which the Arbitration Court disposed of the cases before it and of their inability to get speedy decisions when disputes arose; but I do not believe that there has ever been a time when organized Labour was entitled to declare that the arbitration system was wrong in principle or in practice.
– We contested an election on that point.
– I know that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is a firm advocate of the arbitration system; he was associated with its establishment. I would be more than interested to hear his views, especially if he essayed to support the principles laid down in this bill. The present system of arbitration applies to the whole of the community, but the Government has separated two industries from the rest and has singled them out for special consideration. First, there was special legislation in regard to the coal-mining industry. It did not achieve anything. Then there were several other pieces of special legislation, sometimes by act of Parliament and sometimes by regulations, all said to be designed to cure the ills that beset the industry; but not in any instance can the Attorney-General claim that any enactment for which the Labour Government has been responsible has done one jot towards producing industrial peace Or stimulating production on the coal-fields of New South “Wales. On every occasion the Government has “ kow-towed ‘* to these people. Every time it hows its knee or its neck - I am not sure which is the most appropriate anatomical term - the gentlemen who control the coal miners federation have adopted a more arrogant attitude. The same is true of those who control the stevedoring industry. Therefore, we cannot expect that the bill now before us will result in bringing about five minutes peace on the waterfront in New South Wales. There are many outer ports in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, and probably in the other States, where trouble in the stevedoring industry is almost unknown. There are reasons for that. The outlook of the men employed in those outer ports is entirely different from that of waterside workers in our principal ports. And they are much more participants in a casual type of employment than are those employed in the big seaports. Labour on the waterfront of any big seaport is in essence permanent employment. I admit that there are occasions when men are laid off for a little while, but it can generally be said that their employment is of a permanent character. The Attorney-General has gone to great trouble to invent what in my opinion is :i completely new noun, the word “ decasualization “.
– I did not invent it ; I protested against its use.
– I thought it had the hallmark of the right honorable gentleman upon it. Some others may say it has another mark upon it. The alternative, appears to be to produce a. state of affairs whereby the casual nature of labour on the waterfront will go overboard and the wharf labouring industry will be put upon ‘a permanent basis. Let us briefly look at the rights of labour in general. I shall pronounce a doctrine now which perhaps will not ‘find ready acceptance by honorable members on the other side of the chamber. Modern trade Unions take up a dog in the manger attitude; their members say, “ If I will not work, then you shall not “. If the much vaunted policy of full employment means anything it means that a man who is willing to work according to the’ law of the land - that is, the awards of the Arbitration Court - should be guaranteed by the Government the right to work. But to-day we find an entirely different state of affairs. A man may be most anxious to work on the wharfs, but some meeting, about which he may have had little notice and which is attended by a small selection of members of the union, chooses to declare a certain job black or a certain ship black, and, therefore, whatever may be .his desire to earn a daily wage and carry on the industry of the country, whether he like it or not, according to the standards taken in modern trade unions, he is not allowed to work. One of the first tasks presenting itself to a government formed from the Opposition will be to grasp that nettle firmly with both hands and to say to the working men of Australia that they shall be guaranteed the protection of the law and they shall have the Commonwealth Parliament behind them when they are prepared to do according to the law the work that they set out to do.
I have heard my honorable friends on the Government side-talk about the voluntary system in another sphere of activity. Every man on the waterfront is a volunteer. I trust that we shall never get down to the level in Australia where a man shall be detailed in time of peace to engage in certain employment. As the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) said last night, if we go much farther with the principle introduced into this bill by the Labour Government, men shall soon be obliged by law to engage in certain vocations. It is not a far stretch to say that we shall soon be at the stage of the Indian caste system, under which men will be precluded from following any vocation except that of their fathers. I hope the Government will call a halt and look carefully into the future and see the difficulties ahead of it. If a man volunteers to ‘become a wharf labourer and does not like the job, the decent and honest thing for him to do is to get off the wharf ‘and leave it ‘to some one else. But that is not the attitude of the wharf labourers. They say, “ We will not get off the wharf ; we will not work ourselves or allow any other men to work; we will not allow other men to do the job that we do not want to do “. It is no use arguing. Every honorable member opposite knows that the majority of strikes on the waterfront and in the coal-mines have not been justified. In very few instances has there been a justifiable reason for a strike. In too many cases there is just an excuse. The real policy of the men who direct industrial unrest is to produce a state in which chaos and communism, instead of law and order; shall be the rule. I. know that “ law and order “ will not be altogether acceptable to honorable gentlemen opposite, although some of them have, been there sufficiently long to have almost become used to hearing the term. But today there can be no such thing as security if. men are not to have the right to obey the law in regard to labour conditions.
I intend to refer now to .a thing that was imported into the debate by interjection and ought to be discussed thoroughly. It is pilfering: That is not the right term to. use. The only truthful teams are “ stealing “ or “ thieving “. A fortnight ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping for a statement of the losses from pilfering at the different ports in i he- last few years-. I repeat that “ pilfering” is not the term to use.
– “ Pillaging “ is” the term.
– I said “ stealing “ or “ thieving “. Those words’ better describe what is happening. It is useless trying to cover evils by use of words’ intended to reduce the shock to sensitive ears. We must face realities and acknowledge what is- going on on the wharfs.
– Can the honorable member tell us a time when it has not occurred ?
– Does the honorable gentleman justify it because’ it is ol’d? Does he justify the” oldest profession in the. world because it is old”? Unless he” is prepared to: do that) he’ ought tb. Seep’ quiet: Let’ us have a look at’ the” tonnages’ handled oil the wharfs to-day. 1 will not quote figures, foi’ they were quoted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), but I will make comparisons. Though I have not the actual details,. I do know from some contacts that I had with the matter that during the war it was common talk in the Australian Army that in New South Wales and Victoria, in both of” which States I was serving,, untrained soldiers were sent to the wharfs to do the work that the “ wharfies “ would not do, unloaded and loaded from two tofive times as much cargo as was unloaded or loaded by the trained “ wharfies “.
– Hear, hear !
– I think, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) had some personal knowledge of that. I was sent to- see fourteen ships in Melbourne when the sensitive souls in the stevedoring industry would not work because of a shower of rain. I have worked since I Was twelve years of age, and I should be happy if any honorable” gentleman opposite could keep upwith me.
– The honorable membar has” a great opinion of himself.
– I share it with the honorable member. A man wanting to get on wantsthe opportunity to make money. Therefore, I cannot accept the great outcry about overtime. If a man is completely exhausted at the end of six or seven hours of work on the waterfront :. there is nothing to prevent him from knocking off.; but. if there are other men who want to. earn extra money, the law and conduct of the union, should- be such that they will, be allowed to earn it. 1 concede that the incentive is not great” because the wharf labourers’ political leader, the right honorable member for’ Macquarie (Mr. Chifley), in his capacity” as’ Treasurer, will no doubt ensure’ thai they shall contribute additional taxesin” due course. But’ this matter of overtime is: important. I .think if is” a longtime since so much cargo was held upon the wharfs of Australia as to-day. There was’ never a time in” my lifetime; and I doubt if there” Was’ ever a” timein* the lifetime’ of any honorable ge’ntle’man opposite, when the’ cargoes” that-
Australia has to export were so badly needed in the markets overseas. Those cargoes are not wanted so much for commerce as on purely humane grounds, but this is the time when the great union leaders in the stevedoring industry decide that, humanitarianism or not, the greatest hold up shall take place. Their conduct is shameful, and it cannot be defended by any honorable gentleman opposite, and the fact that it cannot be defended is proved by the Government’s act in introducing this bill under which it hopes to dispense with some of the difficulties that face it. Consider two things - the time wasted in turning ships round and the reduced tonnage handled per gang per hour on the wharfs. There can be only one result of those two things. The man exporting from: Australia will be penalized and the man using goods imported to Australia for production or consumption will also be penalized. Prices must rise as the result of the behaviour of the waterside workers. In this House I endeavour to represent the interests of every section of the community, and I cannot remain oblivious to the welfare of the big exporting industries and the vast consuming public, the members of which are the victims of this industrial war which is being carried on by the waterside workers against the rest of society. Obviously, if the principles embodied in this measure were applied to all industries, production would decrease and the standard of living would fall. Government supporters may talk as much as they like about the division of labour, but they cannot alter the fact that an essential factor in a high standard of living is a high output per man per hour in industry. Without high production we cannot have a high standard of living.
Many features of the bill can best be debated in the committee stages, when I shall move to amend clause 5 and clause 10 by adding a new sub-clause in each instance in the following terms: -
These clauses provide for the appointment of the commission and of the staff which it will employ. I have deliberately framed the amendment so as to put the
Australian Labour party and the Chifley Government right “ on the spot “. There has been a lot of talk about the Labour party’s hostility towards communism. I do not accept the truth of those statements. Honorable members opposite were merely shadow-sparring when they made them. If the Government is sincere in its professions, it will accept the amendments, and if it does so, I shall adopt a very different attitude towards the bill at the third reading stage.
– If we accept the amendment we will be non-democrats like honorable members opposite.
– Communists are not democrats, and I do not believe that the honorable member for Hunter is a democrat.
– The honorable member does not believe in men having the right to work.
– I am glad that the honorable member raised the point. I have just been arguing in favour of that right. The substance of my speech is that any man who is prepared to work according to the law of the country, which is expressed in the awards of the Arbitration Court, should not be prevented from doing so by any tin-pot union dictator. Can the honorable member understand that? If the Government would knock the chains of union control from many trade unionists, they would be the most willing workers in Australia. They are prevented from working to-day, not because they do not want to work, but merely to suit the wishes of their union masters. We should not overlook clause 13 of the bill, which deals with amenities. This word “ amenities “ has recently become a feature of debates in this House. Previously, the most commonly used term in this chamber was “ the new order The position has changed, and now “ amenities “ is dragged in whenever possible. Obviously the AttorneyGeneral does not understand very much about amenities, because clause 13 requires the provision of canteens, cafeteria, dining-rooms, rest-rooms, and adequate sanitary and washing facilities for waterside workers. According to the honorable member for Hunter, the clause should be amended so as to include hairdressers, manicurists, chiropodists, Turkish baths, beauty parlours, Geisha houses, and invalid chairs. That would remove from clause 13 any taint of superstition, about misfortune. It would provide for everything that a reasonable waterside worker could wish to have, in this life at any rate. If the amendment which I have foreshadowed is accepted by the Government, the bill will be considerably improved and may be workable. At least it will be understandable. As it stands at present, it will take the stevedoring industry holus bolus out of the influence of the Arbitration Court and set it apart as the coal-mining industry has already been set apart. Other industries in Australia have equally strong claims to separate treatment. Consider the railway workers, postal workers and the seamen. What about their claims? Why should not they he removed from the influence of the Arbitration Court? If the Attorney-General continues along the course which he seems to have mapped out for the coal industry and the stevedoring industry, the Arbitration Court will have to go by the board and we shall have to resort to collective bargaining, or the making of decisions by tribunals of five, two of whom, will represent the employers, two of whom will represent the employees, and one of whom will perhaps be a spineless person nominated by the Government and instructed to carry out government policy. The Government says that it is dissatisfied with the general output of industry in Australia, but I have grave doubts as to whether it is facing up to the realities of the situation. It should take a firm stand, call in the heads of certain unions, and say to them, “Look here, comrades or chaps “, or whatever term the Government uses in talking to these men, “these strikes have gone far enough. From now on there must be full production, and men who will not produce will be dealt with severely “. The Attorney-General should have full power to punish men who will not work, and he should exercise it without mercy.
.- Before commenting on the merits of the bill, I have something to say regarding the observations of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and some of his colleagues. According to them, the most fearsome figure in the community is the Communist. The honorable member for Barker said nothing new when he told us what he would do with the Com.munists. We .know his capacity for taking fascist action against people with whom he disagrees. His attitude is no different from that of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), who last night was so upset about conditions in the stevedoring industry that he almost frightened everybody in the House with his dreadful tales about the Communist party. It was difficult to tell whether he thought he was addressing a jury or lecturing a group of sixth grade school children. I inform members of the Opposition that they will not defeat Communists by “red-baiting”. Imposing a ban on the Communist party will not eradicate industrial unrest. The only way in which to beat the Communists is to ensure that the Australian workers realize that members of the Communist party are the arch enemies of industrial progress and the Labour movement. They represent people who oppose an improvement of their conditions. Only by a more thorough understanding by the men and women employed in industry and by impressing upon them the necessity to attend the meetings of their unions for the purpose of ensuring that Communist agitators shall not be elected to executive positions shall we remove them, without creating further industrial unrest, from the offices that they occupy. The imposition of a ban on the Communist party, as the honorable member for Barker recommended, would have small beneficial results. I hold no brief for members of the Communist party, and I name them for what they are - the arch enemies of the Labour movement, who are doing everything possible to defeat its purposes. It is futile for the Opposition to attempt to link members of the Labour party with the Communist “arty, because there is no connexion between them.
The honorable member for Barker stated that the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation has Communist officials. In the House to-day is
Mr. J. B. Mullins, general secretary of the Sydney branch of the organization. He is a member of the Legislative Council of New South “Wales, and a member of the official Labour party. He has never had any affiliation with the Communist party. It is idle for honorable members opposite to make these wild accusations which they cannot substantiate.
– Is Mr. Healy a member of the Communist party ?
– I do not hold a brief for Mr. Healy. He has been elected by the rank ‘and file of the union, and cannot be democratically dismissed overnight without creating widespread discontent in the union. Interference with the right of every individual to -vote for the person who, he considers, should be an officer of the union would have serious repercussions.
The honorable member for Barker viciously attacked the attitude of the “Waterside “Workers Federation towards the employment of members of the armed forces during World War II. I desire to clarify that point for the benefit of the people of Australia in general and honorable members opposite in particular. The reason why service personnel were introduced on the wharfs in war-time was that a dispute occurred over what was known as the “ gang system “. This new method of supplying labour was opposed not only by the waterside workers, but also by the employers. Evidence can be adduced to show that a number- of employers encouraged waterside labourers in Sydney to go on strike against the introduction of this system. The federation, which supported its introduction, instructed the Sydney branch to .accept it. After a fortnight’s .stoppage, a majority of the members of the organization agreed to do so. .The use of labour supplied by service personnel on the wharfs was agreed to by the Waterside Workers Federation in order to ensure that war materials should not be -delayed by this unauthorized .stoppage. This agreement, which -was reached in April, 1942, following a conference between .representatives of the Department of the .Army .and representatives of the .Stevedoring “indus try Commission, provided that the shipping companies “ which employed the service personnel, should pay for each man at the rate prescribed by the award.
– Did the honorable member obtain that information from the commission ?
– Order! The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I rise to order. The Standing Orders provide that if an honorable member reads from a document, the House is entitled to know its origin, and whether he vouches for the accuracy of the information it contains. I ask the honorable member to inform the House where the document from which he is reading was obtained..
– That is not a point of order.
– This information is taken from my typewritten notes. The document is confidential. The agreement, of which the Waterside Workers Federation approved, was observed during World War II. At .various times, the federation made strong recommendations, through its general secretary, to the Commonwealth Government that the money collected for the shipping companies for this work should either be paid to the servicemen actually working on the wharfs or be distributed among all the members of the unit from which the ‘labour -was obtained. The Department of the Army continually rejected these representations on the ground that when soldiers’ food, clothing, allotment, medical attendance and other benefits, were -taken into consideration, the department did not make any profit out of the employment of service personnel on the wharfs. Subsequently, the department agreed to pay -an additional ls. or 2s. a day to servicemen in -dock operating companies who worked as winchmen, -hatchmen and holders. Therefore, in these matters, the ‘Waterside ‘Workers Federation -at -all times had the well-being of service personnel in min.d, and unlike what .-members of <the Opposition would h.av.e .us .believe, .gave practical .assistance.
My scholarly friend, the honorable member for Parramatta last night declared that a number of clauses in a bill which Mr. Healy had prepared had been incorporated in the bill now before the House. He stated that the bill now under consideration was virtually drafted by Mr. Healy, whom he described as a Communist member of the Waterside Workers Federation. The honorable member read certain clauses for the purpose of proving his statement that the Government had taken its instructions from Mr. Healy. I shall state the facts. Mr. Healy took the clauses to which the honorable member referred, from the National Security Regulations under which the Stevedoring Industry Commission was established. He adopted those provisions because he agreed with them.
– He inspired them.
– The honorable member will not escape so easily. His remarks will not bear a factual investigation.
– Mr. Healy recommended the formation of the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
Mi-. DALY. - The honorable member for Parramatta went to great lengths in an endeavour to show the people of Australia that the Labour party had presented to the Parliament a bill which had been drafted by the Communists. That observation is completely inaccurate. The honorable member for Parramatta declared also that clause 22 of Mr. Healy’s bill was identical with clause 3 of the bill under consideration.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is quoting from a Hansard “ flat “, which is marked “ Confidential and not to be quoted from “. I should like to know how the “ flat “ came into the honorable member’s possession.
– The honorable member for Martin is not entitled to quote from current Hansard.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Martin has admitted that he has a confidential document.
– I have not.
– I understand that these Hansard “ flats “ are supplied only to leaders and deputy leaders of parties in this House, and that private members are not able to obtain them.
– The Chair has no knowledge that the honorable member for Martin is quoting from current Hansard.
– The honorable member for Parramatta showed that clause 3 of this bill is identical with clause 22 of Mr. Healys bill.
– I rise to order. I did not make that statement. I have here the Hansard proof of my speech-
-Order! The honorable member is not entitled to quote from it.
– An honorable member is in order in quoting from his own speech.
– The honorable member for Martin has mis-quoted what I said.
– I shall not permit honorable members to interrupt the speech of the honorable member for Martin on the pretext of raising points of order. If the honorable member for Parramatta has been misrepresented, he will have an opportunity to make a personal explanation at a later stage. The honorable member for Martin must be heard in silence.
– I repeat that last night the honorable member for Parramatta stated in this House that clause 3 of this bill was identical with clause 22 of the bill submitted by Mr. Healy to the Government for consideration before presentation to the Parliament.
– I did not say that.
– The fact is that clause 3 of this bill and clause 22 of Mr. Healy’s’ bill are identical because-
– I rise to order.
-Order! The honorable member for Martin is addressing the House. The honorable member for Parramatta .is not entitled to interrupt.
– I ask that the honorable member for Martin be requested to withdraw
– There is no point of order. Obviously the honorable member for Parramatta is not familiar with the forms of the House. He cannot make alleged misrepresentation the subject of a point of order.
– Clause 3 of this bill, clause 22 of Mr. Healy’s bill, and regulation 55 of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations, under which the Stevedoring Industry Commission was established, are identical, This proves conclusively that the honorable member for Parramatta was misleading the House yesterday when he endeavoured to frighten honorable members with tales of the Communist party, and expressed an obviously ‘ incorrect opinion to bolster up his weak argument. The honorable member stated that clause 5 of the bill was identical with a clause in the measure prevented by Mr. Healy to the Government for consideration. But that clause is also identical with regulation 58 of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations. One could go right through the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, and deal with other observations that he made concerning Mr. Healy’s bill in the same manner. The similarity in phrasing between Mr. Healy’s bill and this measure is due to the fact that Mr. Healy based his draft legislation upon the National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations which are embodied in this bill. I shall not waste the time of the House by continuing to show how utterly inaccurate were the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta. He may have brought some legal knowledge to this House, but obviously, he has little knowledge of the stevedoring industry.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said that the purpose of the introduction of this bill is to achieve industrial peace, and continuity and efficiency of work in the stevedoring industry. It is based on recommendations made by Judge Foster. Honorable members opposite usually have great respect for learned judges. Constantly they criticize this Government for having failed to adopt the recommendations of various members of the judiciary. Well, in this case, the recommendations of the judge who inquired into this matter have been accepted almost in their entirety, and have been incorporated in this measure. Judge Foster made an extensive inquiry into the stevedoring industry in 1945 and in making his recommendations, he also had in mind the wartimeactivities of the Stevedoring Industry Commission which was appointed by the late Mr. John Curtin during his term of office as Prime Minister, and the vital importance of the stevedoring industry to our national economy. Honorable members opposite have based their opposition to this measure on several grounds; but what is their main argument? If they read Judge Foster’s report they will see that he has devoted several pages to a clear exposition of the manner in which he considered the commission should be constituted. The functions of the commission have been explained by other speakers on this side of the chamber and I shall not endeavour to elaborate their remarks. However, it is interesting to note that in support of his recommendations, Judge Foster stated that a number of special features associated with the stevedoring industry required some special consideration. The commission was set up to bring about more harmony in the industry, to improve the working conditions of those engaged on the waterfront, and to facilitate a quicker turnround, of ships. First, Judge Foster pointed out that this industry was vital to Australia’s economic interests both at home and abroad, and that we depended upon it to a substantial degree. Secondly, it was closely allied with our defence problems. Thirdly, it was almost entirely casual in its operation and affected 20,000 workers in Australia. Employment, he said, was subject to great fluctuations. Also, the industry was sensitive to industrial disturbances in other industries, and there was a special urgency about many of the problems that arose in it. Judge Foster also pointed out that port facilities - harbours and wharfs. - were at present under the jurisdiction of the States, and that there was a conflict between the States and the Commonwealth in connexion with the making of awards, because of thelack of constitutional power on the part of the Commonwealth in regard to arbitration. There had been clashes with State interests on a number of occasions.
Certain other reasons were given, showing quite clearly that in the opinion of the judge there was a great need for urgent consideration of the problems of waterside workers. I shall summarize the judge’s observations on this matter by quoting from his report.
– To what judge is the honorable member referring?
– Judge Foster. If the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) devoted a little time to reading he would know the judge’s name, but he has time only to abuse Government supporters.
– I know something about his name. He changed it by deed poll.
– As usual the honorable member is holding up the business of the House by making interjections, knowing little of the subject under discussion. Judge Foster stated -
These special considerations may be regarded as justifying (if any justification be necessary) a special treatment of this industry and its singling out for the exercise of that legislative power that is absent in regard to most industries. It has always been clear that the main work of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ig legislative in character (see Alexander’s case 25 C.L.E.. page 434) and that legislative power was exercised not by the elected Parliament but by officers (presidents and judges) appointed by the executive and almost beyond reach of the legislature. In respect of this industry, however, a very large section of it is capable of being dealt with, if it is so proposed, by the people’s representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament.
That comment would not have been made by Judge Foster had he not considered it to be desirable that his recommendations should be adopted. This industry has suffered more than most industries have suffered. In 1928, Judge Beeby, when making an award covering members of the Waterside Workers Federation, said -
The true line of progress of wharf workers is in the opposite direction to that of the moment. With those of all other casual workers their difficulties are entitled to much closer consideration by the community than has so far been accorded. As this Court has frequently pointed out, the need for community effort towards better organization of casual labour, year by year, becomes more urgent. The status of the citizen with no semblance of security in social life, hawking his labour for sale by the hour, is one of the greatest dangers of the present economic system. It is easy to sit back and criticize the actions of men who gain their livelihood under such conditions. Their actions, to ordinary individuals not concerned with economic problems, may appear to be arrogant, selfish and unreasoned, when in reality they are the natural result of the indifference and neglect of society.
It will be seen that twenty years ago a judge of the Arbitration Court considered that a special tribunal should be set up to deal with matters associated with this industry. In the light of the recommendations of Judge Foster, the reasons for introducing this bill are obvious to any person who considers the matter fairly and has regard for the best interests of both employers and employees.
As during this debate it has ‘been said by honorable members opposite that the Stevedoring Industry Commission ha3 failed, I direct attention to the following comment made by Judge Foster on page 15 of his report : -
My investigation does convince me that the commission achieved a substantial measure of discipline; that it won and had a measure of co-operation to this end from the workers’ organization, greater than had been achieved in this industry before; that it achieved its main war-time purpose; that its actions and policies were dictated by the paramount considerations of war, and that the alleged disciplinary failure was conditioned by those special war considerations.
That was a most telling comment on the activities of the commission. Long before war broke out in 1939 this was a turbulent industry; for many years there had been strikes and upheavals. As far back as the time when the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) worked on the wharfs, there was trouble in the industry. The right honorable gentleman will recall those turbulent days when there was no Stevedoring Industry Commission to settle disputes. At that time, whenever there was a fight between employers and employees it was a case of the survival of the fittest. Those who could not continue the struggle any longer were forced to give in. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has reduced unrest on the waterfront to a minimum. The Leader of the Opposition said that vessels now spent 67 per cent, of their time in ports, compared with 33 per cent, in pre-war days, and his statement has been repeated by other Opposition members. Honorable members will be interested to know that the tonnage of the cargo handled in the main
Australian ports during recent years has exceeded the tonnage handled in the years immediately preceding the war. Moreover, as that additional amount of cargo was carried in fewer vessels, that means that each vessel carried a bigger cargo than in pre-war years, and so a longer time in port discharging that cargo is justified. The figures in relation to the port of Sydney are illuminating, and I shall give them for the benefit of honorable members. They cover the period from July, 1938, to April, 1946. Between July, 1938, and June, 1939, 7,384 vessels carrying 7,694,699 tons of cargo were handled. For the ten months from July, 1945, to April, 1946, the vessels handled numbered 3,063, and they carried 7,332,499 tons of cargo. Honorable mem? bers will note the comparison between the twelve months from July, 1938, to June, 1939, and the period from July, 1945, to April, 1946. Although fewer vessels were handled in the latter period the total tonnage handled was almost the same. For the whole period from July, 1938, to April, 1946, the total number of vessels handled was 39,304, with a total cargo of 62,054,948 tons.
– What is the authority for those figures; have they been obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician?
– The figures from July, 1945, to April, 1946, cover a period of only ten months, yet the total tonnage handled was only 362,200 tons less than for the twelve months ended June, 1939. For the period July, 1944, to June, 1945, the number of vessels handled was 3,805 with a total cargo tonnage of 9,057,184 tons. The table shows clearly that approximately half the number of vessels carried a greater total cargo tonnage.
– Where did the honorable member get those figures?
– Honorable members must cease interjecting.
– I ask that the complete table be incorporated in Hansard.
– No. The honorable member has not said where he obtained them.
– Obviously, honorable members opposite have been thrown into a state of consternation by these figures. Similar figures are available for the Port of Melbourne. In 1938, that port handled 3,530 vessels which carried cargo totalling 6,449,209 tons. In 1944, when fewer than half the number of vessels entered that port they carried cargo weighing 5,773,057 tons. When honorable members compare those figures they will realize that there is good reason for the 1,682 vessels handled in the Port of Melbourne in 1944, taking longer to discharge their cargo. I ask that the statement setting out the vessels handled in the Port of Melbourne from 1938 to 1944 be incorporated in Hansard. (Leave not granted.] I derive some satisfaction from the fact that honorable members opposite are so upset by the figures that I have cited that they are afraid to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
– This is the only time in my memory that an honorable member has refused to acknowledge the source from which he obtained figures which he has cited in this House.
– Order ! The honorable member for Martin is entitled to be heard in silence.
– Honorable members opposite will be interested to hear what a man who is probably one of their supporters has said about the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I refer to Sir Thomas Gordon, who was, until recently, Director of Shipping and representative in Australia of the British Ministry of Transport. He gives the lie direct to the Opposition’s statement that industrial stoppages interfered unduly with shipping during the period that the commision was operating. In a letter addressed to Mr. Healy, the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Sir Thomas Gordon said -
You may have seen from press reports that as from 1st February my assignment as personal representative of the British Ministry of Transport ceased, but I take this opportunity of officially informing you of same as I would like to place on record the friendly relationship which existed during the years of the war between your organization and the British Ministry of War Transport (later changed to Ministry of Transport).
We know that on many occasions there were differences of opinion as between you, representing your members, and myself as representing the Ministry and charged with the responsibility of keeping British tonnage moving, but I feel that overall the relationship between our organizations was on a generally harmonious plane, and I think results show that despite difficulties, essential cargoes were moved where required and when required, and that at least as regards these essential cargoes required by the Allied Forces in the Australian area and other areas, industrial disputes with your members was not a factor that materially interfered with their delivery on time.
– I rise to order. In view of the ruling of Mr. Speaker that we are not allowed to introduce propaganda statements from the press, is the honorable member for Martin in order in reading this propaganda statement ?
– There is no point of order involved.
– The communication continues -
I take pleasure in recording the above because I appreciate many of the difficulties you personally must come up against, representing as you do such a large body of men spread right throughout Australia and with perhaps varying viewpoints as to the essentiality of some of the commitments they were asked to undertake, and I repeat that the best evidence of the working between your organization and the British Ministry of Transport is the quantity of cargo that was moved to its destination as required by the Allied Commanders in the various theatres of action.
That is a striking tribute to the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and is a telling argument in favour of its continuation. I come now to the matter of time lost through stoppages and hold-ups, and I take my figures from the current maritime services report. An examination of the records available for the last six months of 1946 shows that the present number of man-hours lost because of disputes and strikes in all ports of the Commonwealth was approximately 850,000, the worst month being October, with 416,324 man-hours lost, and the lowest being for August, when only 16,312 manhours were lost. The approximate number of man-hours worked in all ports of the Commonwealth during that period was 15,000,000 so that, in the period of six months, approximately 5 per cent, only of the available working time was lost.
Honorable members opposite have complained of the hold-ups on the Australian waterfront, but the figures which I have cited on this and other matters, taken from the current Maritime Services Report, compare favorably with the records for Great Britain and New Zealand. Although there have been stoppages which I do not condone, they are no different from those which are taking place all over the world, including Great Britain, and the honorable member for Parramatta exhibited a colossal lack of knowledge of what has been happening in that country. He did not even know that, during the war, there were industrial stoppages in Britain for certain reasons, although the enemy were much closer to Britain than they ever were to Australia. I do not justify strikes in any country, but it is wrong to mislead the people of Australia and of the world generally into the belief that this is the only country in which there are strikes. The fact is that, for causes arising out of the war, industrial conditions are disturbed everywhere, and it is probable that they will not become settled again for a considerable time. The Government has an unanswerable case in support of this bill. It has been endorsed by the judge who investigated the industry, by the employees, and by all those with a reasonable knowledge of what takes place on the waterfront. It is on record that, as far back as the period between 1924 and 1928, more than £1,000,000 was lost because of delays in the turn-round of ships as the result of industrial disturbances. That was in what an honorable member opposite called the “ good old days, “ when all a man had .to worry about was getting a job. We know, of course, that conditions were such as to make it impossible for men to give of their best. We must look at this problem fairly. It is not a matter of the employers against employees. The bill represents an honest attempt by the Government to bring harmony to the stevedoring industry, to promote efficiency and to ensure that the workers enjoy better conditions. It is an attempt to ‘bring about such a state of affairs as will enable Australia to progress industrially, and this is possible only if cargoes are expeditiously handled, and ships assured of a quick turn-round. I trust that the employers and employees will play their part, and accept the decisions of the tribunal, whether in their favour or against them. Even if this attempt fails, it will not be the fault of the Government, but will be due to the lack of co-operation of others, and because of the activities of honorable members opposite who are endeavouring, for political reasons, to prevent the commission from functioning.
.- It may appear at first sight that there is little connexion between the primary producer and the disputes, stoppages and hold-ups on the waterfront, but actually the connexion is close and real. Primary producers, who live hundreds of miles away from the seaboard, need stability. They are at the mercy of the ‘elements. They cannot predict a good season or a bad one - except that, for the last ten years, it would have at any time been fairly safe to predict a bad season. As an offset to this they need, more than anything else, security and stability in the world’s markets, but no market can be secure unless there is continuity of supply, which, in turn, is dependent upon trouble-free transport. That is why the primary producers, even those who live great distances from our sea ports, are vitally interested in the way the business of those ports is conducted.
Let us examine what the continual stoppages on the waterfront mean to our primary producers. I believe that the people in the country are extremely patriotic. By this I do not mean that they are merely jealous of their own interests as against those of the city. They h.ive a patriotic attachment to the British Commonwealth of Nations and to Great Britain. Thousands of them who have never been to Britain have responded to the appeal for food foi” Britain, and have given all they can. They resent keenly the fact that Great Britain is not getting the food it needs because transport is held up by industrial disputes. The primary producers are also affected because overseas markets, which should be ours, are being lost to us through transport hold-ups, and it will be extremely difficult for us to regain those markets from our competitors. For instance, we know that the exasperated Dutch Government was forced to cancel a £6,000,000 contract for the purchase of goods in Australia, represented largely by primary products, because we could not maintain continuity of supply to the
Netherlands East Indies. We have lost the goodwill of the Dutch Government as well as a very valuable market. Moreover, when this bill becomes law, the cost of working cargo at Australian ports will be increased, and this will be reflected in higher freight charges to exporters, the bulk of whom are primary producers.
The real cause of all the trouble is that industrial orders have not been observed. Mr. Healy and his friends have taken charge of the situation, and the Government, instead of governing, has sat back and allowed things to drift. We remember that the Stevedoring Industry Commission ordered waterside workers to handle double-dumped bales of -wool. I am not going into the merits of the dispute, but, rightly or wrongly - I believe rightly - the commission gave a certain ruling, but that ruling was simply disregarded. What hope is there of industrial order unless the law is enforced?
We claim that our arbitration system is the best in the world. I do not think that any one disputes that. It has its faults, but we have felt justified in holding it up as an example to the world, and now this authority, of which we have been so proud, is being pushed aside. Indeed, for some time past, its decisions have been contemptuously disregarded, The real solution of the problem lies in supporting and enforcing the decisions of the Arbitration Court, not in trying to undermine it, and destroy it piecemeal.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly), in the speech which he recently concluded, stated in bold terms that I had said last night that clause 3 of this bill was identical with clause 22 of Mr. Healy’s bill, which I was then discussing and comparing with this bill. I did not say that. What I actually said was this -
Let us consider clause 22 of Mr. Healy’s bill, which provides that the commission shall have power to do so and so, and then are set out in detail the powers which Mr. Healy thinks the commission should possess. These, which appear in Mr. Healy’s hill in paragraphs a, 6, c, d and e, appear in identical terms in clause 3 of the present bill. Indeed, the gentleman who drafted the bill now before us was apparently so mesmerized by Mr. Healy that he simply lifted the provisions from Mr. Healy’s bill verbatim, and included them in the present measure without altering a word.
The point I make is that I did not say that the two hills are identical, but that paragraphs a, b, c, d and e of sub-clause 2 of clause 3 of the bill are to be found in identical terms in Mr. Healy’s draft.
.- it is now three weeks since this bill was introduced, and the debate having proceeded in the meantime little is left to be said by honorable members who wish to speak at this stage. However, I should like to make some observations. First, no one can overstress the importance of this industry to the welfare of Australia. It has been made quite clear by authorities which have investigated it, such as the Rural Reconstruction Commission, that transportation is the very life-blood of the economy of this country; and, since our marine transport is almost wholly over long distances by sea, I do not need to emphasize the fact that any measure which is designed to deal with that problem should receive, as it has, the intense and careful investigation and scrutiny of honorable members. My second observation is that there is nothing new at all in the bill. The only thing given to us for the first time on this occasion is a real opportunity to discuss the continuation, because that is all it is, of war-time administration in respect of the stevedoring industry. It will be remembered that the regulations which established the Stevedoring Industry Commission during the war were introduced under the National Security Regulations, and that we were not give any opportunity to debate those regulations in this chamber. So, this is the first opportunity given to us to consider their operation and efficacy. I should like to say over and over again that no government can legislate for prosperity, and no government can bring peace to the waterfront by legislation alone. A number of things are needed first, there must be a change of heart on the part of those who direct the destinies of the unionists who work in the stevedoring industry. There is need for better leadership from this Government in dealing with the vital problems which confront the nation to-day. The Government is sadly lacking in such leadership. One would have thought that during the time the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has been the leader of this Government he would have made clear to the people, because the urgency is apparent, the problems with which we are confronted, and would have given leadership to the people in his handling of such matters; but he does nothing except make occasional statements on the basis that one cannot do anything to any section of the community that defies the law. I repeat that what is urgently needed, from the Prime Minister down to the most junior Minister, is leadership. That leadership cannot be exerted merely by the Prime Minister; it must be a concerted policy adopted by the Government. Upon industrial matters we know that usually the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General makes some pious statement as to what is needed, and then other Ministers, whom I shall not bother to name, do their utmost publicly and privately to excite disaffection among certain unionists. The most important of all factors is that government be restored to the people of this country. It must be obvious to those who have seen the industrial turmoil to-day that a direct challenge is being levelled by extra parliamentary bodies such as unions to the constituted government of the day. It must be clear not only to those who sit on this side of the House, but also to honorable members opposite, who are more intimately associated with the industrial movement, that there must be restored to the Parliament the right to govern the country. It is idle to pretend that this Parliament governs to-day. I was somewhat touched when, in the concluding portion of his second-reading speech, on this bill, the Attorney-General said that it was left to this Parliament to clothe the commission to be established under this bill with the high functions it possessed. With what authority is the Parliament clothed? This Parliament is nothing more than a talking shop. It must be apparent to the people that this Parliament does not govern in the slightest degree. I want to see government restored to the people, through their representatives, not the granting of legislative authority to some commission to do this or that. Parliament does not govern and in respect of all industrial matters it may be equally said that neither does the Executive govern. The challenge has now been made. The big industrial unions are prepared to “take on” the Government at any time, well knowing that, ultimately, through the force of numbers, the Government will adopt its usual policy and surrender. We are experiencing a condition of serious drift not only in industrial matters but also in the morale of the people associated with industrial labour. This challenge by outside authorities must be resisted by the Government. It will be seen that as far as the Government’s desire to assert its authority is concerned, there is no blood or bone in this bill. One of the major problems confronting Australia to-day is the vast monopolist power of the industrial unions. There was a time when it was customary for the Labour party to challenge monopolies as if they constituted one of the most serious evils that beset the community. Is anyone prepared to deny that the industrial unions, such as the Waterside Workers Federation, have developed all the powers and characteristics of monopolies, but suffer none of the inconveniences to which other monoplies in other days were subjected? They are not subject to taxation ; they are not disciplined ; they are beyond the law. It is at this stage that the Government must take up the challenge. I am not seeking to suggest that it is simple to do these things, or that they could be done very quickly; but I do suggest that as long as the Government allows this state of affairs to drift for just as long will the ultimate solution of this problem be postponed.
In discussing this bill one has to consider what is the purpose ‘and what are the functions of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and in what way it is to be given authority to exercise its powers. It may be said at the outset that discipline is essential to industrial peace and that discipline cannot be maintained without proper sanctions. When we examine the sanctions in this bill and have regard to the history of the wartime commission which the new body is to replace and perpetuate can we believe that the purpose of the bill will be achieved? Does any one believe that during the last three or four years the Stevedoring Industry Commission had real sanctions to enforce its orders and decisions? We all know that when the commission exercised its power by making an order or a decision its directions have been defied by the union and on more than one occasion the Government has overridden the commission. Is that the way to get industrial peace? If there be no discipline there can be no order. Is it any wonder there has been such chaos and disorder in this industry? I do not suggest that there are not in this industry many ills that need to be cured. I do not for a moment confine my criticism to the waterside workers; they have already been severely and in my opinion justly criticized; I am concerned more with a matter of principle. In bringing down this measure is not the Government acting somewhat like the Irishman who gave his creditor a promissory note, and said, “ Thank God that is paid “?
– The honorable member should read Dickens again. The character to which he refers was not an Irishman.
– Does the Government believe that it can “ pass the buck “ in this way ? That it can shelve responsibility by introducing a bill such as this ? During the war years and since, time and time again we have witnessed the spectacle of the Government granting authority to a commission to carry out certain functions only to find that in time of crisis it has failed to uphold the deci- . sions of the commission which it has appointed. The difficulty that confronts the Government resolves itself into one of disciplining its own supporters. When unions are able to play such a vital part in the destinies of members of the Parliament is it any wonder that there is a reluctance on the part of the Government to discipline them?
The importance of this bill has not been sufficiently emphasized. It is equivalent to a measure for the nationalization of the stevedoring industry. It is true that the bill is expressed in terms of control, but if one has regard to the purpose of the commission and its functions as set out in clause 11 one will see that it is an attempt, to borrow a phrase used by Judge Foster, to bring about the “ quasi nationalization of the industry as a permanent feature of our economy”. Clause 11 (1) (Z>) provides among other things that the commission shall regulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations in relation to interstate and overseas trade and shipping. I believe that I have correctly summarzed it, .but if I have not the Attorney-General can correct me. They are general words, hut, in content, they are exceedingly wide. Clause 13 gives to the commission, amongst other things, power to do all such things as it thinks fit for the purpose of exercising its functions under clause 11. No wider charter could be given to any authority. In other words, there is to be given to this socalled commission - I call it “so-called” for reasons that I will advance later - the most plenary authority to control every aspect of stevedoring. If that is not nationalization by the backdoor, I should like to know what it is.
I come now to the manner in which the commission is to be constituted. The Attorney-General told us that in drafting the bill the Government placed the utmost reliance on the report of Judge Foster. I should like to know how the Government can make that claim when one of Judge Foster’s prime recommendations was that the chairman of the commission should be a judge of the Arbitration Court. That recommendation has not been carried out. In clause 5 are words of such significance that they would not appear in the legislation unless it were intended to make them effective. The clause provides, inter alia, that -
The Chairman shall be a Judge of the Court or a Conciliation Commissioner appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1946.
At this point I am not debating whether the chairman should be a judge or a conciliation commissioner - I am prepared to debate that at any time - but I am directing attention to the fact that the AttorneyGeneral has told us that the Government gave grave and weighty consideration to Judge Foster’s report and that the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) has claimed that, in all essential particulars, the report has been given expression to in this bill. That provision enables the Go vernment to claim that it is carrying out the recommendation when it has no intention of doing anything of the sort. Judge Foster went into the matter of the chairmanship of the commission at great length. I do not intend to repeat all that he said about the matter, but his fourth recommendation was that the chairman of the commission should be a judge of the Arbitration Court, and, in making that recommendation, he rejected the proposal of no less a person than the Labour party’s friend, Mr. Healy, that the chairman should be a layman. Yet clause 5 provides the machinery by which a layman may be appointed chairman. I ask the Attorney-General why, in the face of the direct recommendation of J udge Foster that a judge of the Arbitration Court should be appointed chairman, the Government has inserted the provision that a layman may be appointed. Is it because it intends to ignore the judge’s carefully reasoned recommendation? I think so. I can understand reasons, even if I do not agree with them, for appointing a lay chairman, but that has nothing to do with the issue, because the Attorney-General said that the Government intended to keep the stevedoring industry tied, in effect, to the Arbitration Court, and gave, as a sign of the Government’s good faith, the fact that provision was made for the appointment of an Arbitration Court judge. Both those aspects require further examination by honorable members and demand a reply from the Attorney-General.
Sanctions are essential if the authority of the commission is to be upheld. We are witnessing an upheaval on the Sydney waterfront. If newspaper reports are correct - and they have not been denied - the chairman of the present commission, Mr. Morrison, is about “ fed up “ with the way in which his authority is flouted by the waterside workers and the fact that he is not getting any assistance from the Government in exercising that authority.
– He has invited the Government to abandon the bill.
– Yes. If this bill is to receive the approval of the House - if “approval of the House” is a phrase that can be applied to any legislation fostered by this Government - it is the duty of the Attorney-General to say frankly whether any recommendation has been made in respect of the present dispute and this bill. We are entitled to know, because if those who have sought to exercise the powers of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, as it now exists, have come to the conclusion that it cannot function efficiently, of what purpose is it to spend two or three weeks debating this measure and to expect the pious hope of the Government in respect of it to be realized. The sanctions provided are what? The AttorneyGeneral said, “We do not believe you can accomplish anything at all by any severe penalties “. So the sanction is ‘ to be the sanction of registration. Again Judge Foster’s report is not being complied with, because in paragraph 10 d of his report, as a part of the disciplinary measures, His Honour recommends that the commission be empowered “ to register and refuse to register, or to suspend such waterside workers and foremen as it deems necessary and proper, and to classify those workers, and to arrange transfer of workers when conditions require it “. He leaves it to the Government to decide how it shall be done, and recommends the provision of -
Power to secure compliance with its orders by employers, employees, stevedores, foremen and their organizations.
I ask the Attorney-General, who at the moment is showing no interest in this debate for reasons best known to himself, why the bill contains no provision for carrying out the specific recommendations of Judge Foster in respect of discipline, apart from the matter of licences. It may be said that the provision in respect of licences means discipline, but how futile such a claim would be were it advanced is shown by the present -dispute on the waterfront. The wharf labourers have stopped work. Licences have been cancelled wholesale. But, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, no matter how rauch the workers defy the Stevedoring Industry Commission, the licences will be restored ultimately. In clause 16, the bill provides that the commission shall not alter the standard hours of waterside workers otherwise than in conformity with the awards of the Arbitration Court in respect of standard hours. That means little, because standard hours are never likely to be altered to any degree. The clause also provides that the commission shall not alter the basic wage applicable to waterside workers or the principles on which it is computed otherwise than in conformity with the awards of the Arbitration Court in respect of the basic wage. That also has little meaning, because the waterside workers are paid more than the basic wage. I think I am correct in saying, in the words of the AttorneyGeneral, that, with those two exceptions, the Stevedoring Industry ‘Commission will exercise complete jurisdiction in the stevedoring industry. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the second reading of which was moved yesterday by the AttorneyGeneral, contains provisions for the policing of awards in various ways, including the deregistration of unions and the punishment of “employers, measures that may be taken by the Arbitration Court to discipline any industry, but this bill contains no similar provisions, and I want to know why means by which the stevedoring industry may be disciplined are omitted from this measure. The only disciplinary power provided is that of deregistration, and the workers can snap their fingers at that, as they have done in the past.
– What of clauses 26 and 27?
– Apparently the honorable member has not been listening closely. I have been discussing the provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the second reading of which was moved yesterday and which the honorable member should examine. That measure provides for the enforcement of awards arid the disciplining of workers who engage in industrial insurrections. Such provisions have been deliberately omitted from the bill. I want to know why this industry, with its record of turbulence and defiance of authority, has been singled out by the Government for such special treatment. Does anybody believe for a. moment, having regard to the history of the industry in the last three years, and even in the last three weeks. that the provision with regard to deregistration will have any effect at all upon the wharf labourers? The Government should give a lead in this matter and support the commission with its full authority. It has shown no sign of doing so, and I fear that it will not do so in future.
The bill falls into two categories. The first relates to executive, or administrative, functions and the second consists of arbitral provisions. Subject to the observations which I have made regarding the need for discipline, the administrative provisions mark an experiment which, in principle, may, if exercised reasonably, be well worth trying. I consider that, in the field of conciliation and arbitration, there is a need for the expert knowledge which can only be acquired by a tribunal which deals only with a specific industry. If sufficient disciplinary measures were applied, the experiment might be justified in order to ascertain the degree to which a specially constituted body, acting within the framework of the arbitration system and giving special attention to the problems of a particular industry, could improve industrial relations. The Government should give the experiment a chance of success by exerting its disciplinary power and supporting to the full the authority which it appoints. But unless it does as I suggest, the bill will be merely so much legislative rigmarole and will be of no practical use. The arbitral provisions of the bill must be tied to the Arbitration Court in respect of general principles; otherwise, the most serious consequences will flow from the measure as the result of the pressure which will be applied by the waterside workers. It has been made clear to us that they expect to receive many major concessions within the next twelve months. I have already drawn attention to the loop-hole in the bill which exists in clause 5. I now refer honorable members to clause 9, which gives to the commission the power to delegate authority. This provision requires careful consideration. The commission is vested with plenary power Tinder clauses 11, 12 and 13 - a power which I have described as one of quasi-nationalization Clause 9 gives to the commission, either generally or in relation to any port, the power to delegate to an officer by writing under its seal any of the powers or functions conferred upon it by this measure. That is an extreme power of delegation. The chairman of the commission, as the Attorney-General has said, will be charged with one of the most important duties imposed by the bill. On vital issues, his word will be law. On such issues, there will probably be an equal division of opinion between the other four voting members of the commission. Therefore, the vote of the chairman will be decisive. The bill lays down no qualifications regarding the exercise of power by conciliation commissioners, and, in this respect, the Parliament is being called upon to hand over one of the most important functions of government to an outside body. I suppose it is too late for us to arrest that process, which has been encouraged by this Government. We are being gradually bereft of our authority, which is exactly what the Communists wish to achieve.
The hill represents no departure from the practice of the past four years. It cannot accomplish anything that is hoped of it unless the commission is vested with power to discipline workers in the stevedoring industry. It will be useless unlessthe Government supports the commissionand gives leadership to the people andi unless the authority of government is restored to this Parliament. I am not opposed to some of the general principles of the bill, provided that .the industry is closely linked with the arbitration system and the powers in the bill are reasonably exercised. However, I believe that it will be severed from that system. The experiment may well be worthwhile if the Government will embody in the measure provisions analogous to those existing in the arbitration law, which give power to de-register unions, to call for secret ballots, and to operate the other machinery which was designed, first, to give union members control over their unions, and, secondly, to enforce orders of the courts and awards made by the commission. It is futile to appoint any body to deal with such a vital economic function as transportation unless that body is clothed with ample power to enforce its orders. I see no indications of such power in this bill. I do not wish to see heavy penalties imposed upon individuals merely because they obey the orders of their union leaders to strike. I have always said that one of the best ways of dealing with industrial intimidation and defiance of the Government is to bring to bear the full process of the law against the leaders, after giving due warning to them. The law must be observed, if it is to survive. At no time has the Government made any attempt to enforce industrial law in Australia. Subject to those observations, the bill can be considered in committee with a view to determining the degree to which the arbitral provisions can be tied to the Arbitration Court. Before the debate concludes, the Attorney-General should explain to the House why certain of the recommendations by Judge Foster have not been incorporated in the bill. 3)r. EVATT (Barton- AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs) [4.6]. - in reply - The outstanding feature of this long debate is the fact that 90 per cent, of the criticisms which members of the Opposition levelled at the bill totally ignored the basis upon which the measure is put forward. The Government did not attempt to convince the Parliament that peace and contentment prevail in this industry. We frankly admitted that the industry had been most difficult to control, and that the difficulties had not ceased during World War II. I also explained to the House that we were in great difficulty about its future control from the standpoint of industrial regulation and general regulation. The Government appointed a distinguished judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the purpose of recommending to the Parliament what should be done in connexion with this industry. Some members of the Opposition have paid so much lip service to the Arbitration Court, and its judges, that I might be excused for thinking that they would show more deference and respect to the recommendations of Judge Foster. We have followed almost slavishly his recommendations, because he heard the evidence of he shipowners, stevedoring companies, officials of the Waterside Workers Federation and Com monwealth officers who had experience of this important industry during the critical years of the war. Having heard that evidence, His Honour put his recommendations before the Parliament in the form of a written report. In my secondreading speech I did not read the whole of the document to the House, but I made copies of it available to honorable members. Whilst I do not propose to read the whole of the document now, I desire, for purposes of illustration, to quote one passage from it. On page 14, Judge Foster stated -
It has been urged that it would be a tragedy to abandon this experiment at the outset and to sacrifice the experience it has gained since 1942.
It was in 1942 that the National Security Regulations were promulgated establishing the commission. The report continued -
Much has been learned from its many failures no less than from it successes.
His Honour was dealing with the contention that it would be a tragedy to abandon the experiment and sacrifice that experience had gained. The report proceeded -
My concurrence in this view is strongly fortified by the support it has from the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association.
I could read page after page of the report in support of the bill. I reserve, for the moment, the point which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) made and on which His Honour did not express a final opinion, namely, the general power of regulating stevedoring operations. Another point to which I shall return is the matter of who shall be the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Apart from those two matters, the bill follows the recommendations of Judge Foster’s report.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) referred to a bill which had been prepared by the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy. I inform the honorable gentleman that no such draft legislation has ever come to me, to my department, or to the Parliamentary Draftsman. ‘ I verified that this afternoon.
– I have a copy of the bill prepared by Mr. Healy before me.
– The so-called Healy hill never reached the Attorney-General’s Department, and did not play any part in connexion with the drafting of the measure now before the House. The National Security Regulations, which established the Stevedoring Industry Commission, were promulgated in 1942. If Mr. Healy submitted a draft bill, so also did the shipowners.
– Of course they did!
– They laid their draft bill before Judge Foster, and the two documents appear as annexes to Hi9 Honour’s report. He considered them when drafting his report, and recommended what should be done. We are following, not Mr. Healy’s draft, but the, recommendations of Judge Foster. That is the proper thing for us to do. When we requested His Honour to conduct this inquiry, many of us felt a doubt as to whether this industry should be separated from Australian industries under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has expressed a similar view. Some of us, including myself, rather shared that view ; but the Government decided to have an inquiry into the matter and obtain judicial recommendations. That has been done. Yet, for a number of days in this House, honorable members opposite have repeatedly attacked the workers in this industry, and have not made any reference to any faults on the part of the employers. I shall not now attack the employers. Tables have been incor- porated in Hansard dealing with the alleged reduction of tonnages handled on the wharfs. That aspect is dealt with in His Honour’s report. Some honorable members quoted a portion of his remarks but not his final conclusion. On page 19 of the report, His Honour said -
It is especially noteworthy, however, that according to the evidence a falling of output has occurred and was continuing before. It occurred prior to the 1928 waterside workers strike in Australia. It was cured by the depression which followed. It occurred before this war and continued up to and through the period of the commissi in. It would stem now if the figures arc of any value, to have been arrested, anr! some improvement indicated Whether the neurea show it or not, some witnesses and others believe that the through-put is increasing and may be expected to improve.
That is what Judge Foster found on the facts. I shall not argue about the significance of the figures. The officers who advised me during the preparation of the bill, including Mr. Sutcliffe, of the Department of Supply and Shipping, have figures which make it clear that it is quite wrong to measure the tonnage handled by the waterside workers by the average number of days that a ship trading to Australia may be at sea during a month. The figures show clearly that ships are now loaded to capacity, and, therefore, it is impossible to expect that they will be at sea for the same proportionate period as in the days before the war when there was a surplus of ships, and each vessel carried comparatively little cargo.
I come now to several other criticisms of the bill. Honorable members opposite asked : Why separate this industry from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court? That is an issue which Judge Foster had to decide. Page after page of his report is devoted to reasons for it. He pointed out that this was a special industry, and needed not merely industrial regulation of hours and conditions, but also a progressive -plan so that the workers could, over a period of five or ten years, gradually improve their status as cooperators in what is essentially a public service. That was the spirit in which His Honour and the Government approached the problem. His Honour finds in favour of a separate tribunal. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who, many year3 ago, was president of the Waterside Workers Federation, and who has a vast experience of the industry, declared himself in favour of a tribunal consisting of a judge and the representatives of the employers and employees. The bill provides for the appointment of a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner. The right honorable member rejected the idea that there should be a complete duplication in this industry of the pattern set by the Arbitration Court itself. I am not criticizing the Arbitration Court judges who pioneered the work in connexion with this industry. One of these was Mr. Justice Higgins, who, I believe, made the first award for this industry. Later,
Judge Beeby dealt with it. They were all puzzled by the problems of the waterside industry. I believe that they felt, as I feel, that there was a gap between certain sections of the community and those people who did this vital work of handling cargo for transportation. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), in his rather plaintive speech, spoke of the manner in which certain people referred to “ wharfies “ and “ coalies “ as though those workers were separated from the rest of the community. That attitude is too prevalent to-day. The spirit of it was evident in the speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to-day. I am sure that when the honorable member reads what he said he will be ashamed of some of his utterances. His references to the provision of suggested amenities may be termed a jeu d’esprit but I am afraid his criticism went deeper than that. The honorable member for Warringah said that there would have to be a change of heart before this bill could do what is desired, but he finished on a demand for more sanctions. Yet the sanction provided for in this measure, is perhaps the most severe of all - deregistration, which means, of course, that a worker would not be able to follow his normal occupation. That matter is not in the hands of the Government.
– The present commission has the same power.
– That is so and it was exercised frequently during the war.
– And the penalties withdrawn.
– Very seldom. However, I do not propose to indulge in an altercation with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). I repeat that during the war the system of suspension or de-registration of waterside workers was effective.
– The men went on strike and the commission surrendered.
– The trouble is that some honorable members opposite, in considering this measure, have endeavoured to apply what is happening in a particular dispute in one port of Australia to the whole industry. That action has been repudiated by the central organization of the Waterside Workers Federation. However, the main point of the Govern.ments’s case is this: We know we are dealing with an industry which is difficult to control. Wrongs have been done, and the recollection of unhappy, far-off events has poisoned relationships between employers and employees. The blame does not lie on one side alone. Not many years ago a new waterfront organization was formed, not by the employees themselves, but by the employers.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral disapprove of the then Government’s action in calling for volunteers?
– I am not approving or disapproving of any of these things. I am saying that the organization of a union by employers is never justified, and has been condemned by every arbitration authority. However, I do not wish to delve into history. Judge Foster approached that portion of his problem by stating that from the industrial point of view, the solution was one union, but he added that he did not mean that the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union should be absorbed into the main organization on anything but reasonable terms. In effect, he meant that there should be no victimization, and the spirit of that recommendation has been embodied in this measure. Not a single member of a registered union will be deprived of his registration. That brings me to the point made by the honorable member for Warringah in regard to the control of the stevedoring operations. The honorable member pointed out, quite correctly, that the commission will have power, not only to settle industrial disputes between unions and employers, and to deal with industrial matters generally as if it were a wages board, but also to direct and control stevedoring operations - the operations of loading and unloading vessels. It may, for instance, insist that safety appliances be provided, or that certain equipment be improved. The honorable member for Warringah objects to that on the ground that it is nationalization. I say that it is not. It is safety control. The
Commonwealth Parliament has control over interstate trade and all its operations, and looking at the industry as a whole the Government believes that it should not stop at the point where it is necessary to give this regulation-making power to the body that is charged with dealing not merely with industrial matters, but also with other matters. I do not think there will be many others, hut the Government, having listened to criticisms voiced by the employers and the employees, believes that this should be part of the bill. I concede quite frankly that Judge Poster does not positively recommend that. He leaves it for future development, but I have come to the conclusion that the Government’s view is correct. We want that power as a reserve power in the bill.
That brings me to what is perhaps the final point for the consideration of the House: It is said that this measure is a departure from our arbitration machinery. But the bill provides that, so far as standard hours and the basic wage are concerned, the commission must follow the Arbitration Court. The basic wage is an integral part of the waterside workers’ award. Similarly if standard hours of work are altered overtime provisions must be affected. Under this bill, the commission will be hound by the three judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in relation to standard hours and the basic wage. That, of course, does not cover everything. For instance, throughout industry, there are margins above the basic wage. But at least two of the most vital matters are covered. What was the position of industries of this kind in the pre-war days? A judge would deal with an industry as a whole. Under this bill the chairman of the commission is to be a judge or a conciliation commissioner. Under this bill a conciliation commissioner will occupy a different position from that held by a conciliation commissioner under the present law. His status will be only a little inferior to that of a judge, and his salary will be greater than that paid to a conciliation commissioner to-day. In future, a conciliation commissioner will have an independence which will make his activities a feature of the arbitration system. The Government has provided that the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission shall be either a j>udge or a conciliation commissioner.
– The reason is that when the bill was drafted it was thought that it would not be possible to secure the services of a judge of the court, and that situation may, in fact, arise. The Government thought that, as it proposed to amend the law in respect of conciliation commissioners, it would be almost as satisfactory to have a conciliation commissioner as chairman instead of a judge.
– The Government’s other bill shows disapproval of a judge for these functions.
– No. Some of the criticism to which the bill has been subjected might have been silenced had I said earlier that, although no formal decision had been made by the Government, I had consulted with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) and that the Government intends to appoint a judge as chairman of the commission, if possible.
– Would the right honorable gentleman accept an amendment that the chairman must be a judge?
– No; because it may not be physically” possible to get a judge to accept the position.
– It would be possible to appoint a judge.
– Interjections must cease. The AttorneyGeneral is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I am not objecting to interjections; but it is extraordinary that, after several hours have been occupied by honorable members opposite in emphasizing the necessity of having a judge as chairman of the commission, now, when 1 am indicating the Government’s intention to appoint a judge, if possible, they want to tie the Government down, and restrict the choice to a judge. The bill will remain in its present form; but I repeat that, if possible, a judge will be appointed. The various documents from which quorations have been read, and the figures which have been cited during this debate, were previously furnished to the Government by the shipowners and the stevedoring companies when they met Ministers at deputations. I publicly acknowledge the assistance whichboth employers and employees have rendered by making suggestions for improving the bill. I think that it is fair to say that most of the criticism to which the bill has ‘been subjected would not be supported by employers in this industry if they knew that the chairman would have the status and standing of a judge of the Arbitration Court. All that I have told the House to-day I have previously said to these people. The Government does not submit the bill as a cure-all for the ills of this industry, as the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has suggested. The Government admits frankly that this is an experiment in a most important province of our economic and industrial life which may not be wholly successful, and may even fail. Should the experiment not be a success, this Parliament or some succeeding parliament will have to review the legislation. The Government, however, hopes that this experiment will be a success, and that the enactment of this legislation will open up a new prospect in this industry, and a recognition that workers on the waterfront are entitled to the standards claimed by others because they, too, are rendering a valuable service to the public as members of a great public utility. Stevedoring is, indeed, a special utility ; there is little competition among employers, because the industry is organized on the lines of the shipping companies. There is a close liaison, if not an actual integration, between the stevedoring companies and the shipping companies. The shipping companies which control vessels trading between Australia and other countries believe that the experiment which was begun in 1942 should be continued. That also is the view of the Government.
Reference has been made to the obligations that will be cast on those who will benefit from the continuation of this experiment. I speak not of law or of sanctions, but of ordinary fair play and decency. On that point, I agree with the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) that an obligation does rest upon them, and that that obligation should be recognized more fully than in the past. It is unreasonable to expect this experiment to be completely successful without the wholehearted support of the workers in this industry. There must be cooperation by them in the same way as there must be co-operation on the part of the coal-miners if there is to be peace and harmony in the coal-mining industry where a similar experiment is being undertaken. It is impossible to lay down a rule, and say that every industry must conform to a pattern set by the court. I ask the House to pass the second reading, thereby giving to both employers and employees a chance to work together for the betterment of all associated in any way with the stevedoring industry.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 11
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
– I regret that I omitted to announce that this message was dated the 27th February, 1947 on which date the Governor-General had not assumed office.
– I should still like your ruling on the point I have raised.
– I rule that it is in order for the committee to consider the message.
In committee (Consideration of Administrator’s message) :
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of 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, toregulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations, to provide for the establishment of a Stevedoring Industry Commission, and for other purposes.
– I submit that the committee should not agree to the motion until such time as the Stevedoring Industry Bill has been passed; because, obviously until that measure has been passed, and a decision has been made as to what is to be its scope, we cannot determine the amount of expenditure which it will be necessary to incur under it. Therefore, I suggest to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that the proper course for us to follow is to report progress and to conclude the consideration of the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
– As the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is always anxious to forward the business of the Parliament, he will appreciate that in following this coures we are adhering to the practice which invariably has been adopted by the House in respect of legislation of this kind.
. - I do not agree with the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). Previously, I have had occasion to protest that after the message recommending that an appropriation be made has been agreed to, honorable members have not been permitted, by a ruling of the Chair, to discuss any matter relating to the financial aspect of the measure to which the message relates. In this case, the Minister is putting the cart before the horse, unless he intends to argue that the procedure now being followed is merely a matter of form. However, it is not what the AttorneyGeneral thinks about the matter, but what the Chairman will rule when we consider the Stevedoring Industry Bill at the committee stage. Therefore, we should not proceed along these lines until we know the amount of expenditure which will be involved under the Stevedoring Indus try Bill.
Question put -
That the motion be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 - (1.) Part V. of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations is repealed. (2.) Notwithstanding the repeal effected by the last preceding sub-section -
– On behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), I move the following amendment which has been circulated in his name: -
That paragraph (a) of sub-clause (2.) be left out.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) stated that this was an experiment. It is an experiment that has been going on since 1942; and protects a number of officers, and a tradition which, I suggest, is not as favorable as the AttorneyGeneral would lead us to believe, because the existing commission has not been anything like 100 per cent. efficient in the carrying out of its duties. Indeed, the whole record of the present commission has been one of placation and complete retreat. It has been instrumental in failing to uphold the law under the powers vested in it. Yet, under the bill we are asked to give to the present officers of the commission the right to retain their positions. This experimental body has not proved successful at all. I should like to know why the Attorney-General considers that these officers should have established for them a vested interest as members of the staff of the commission. It is quite possible - indeed, it is very probable - that with the return to Australia of a number of servicemen, the commission could draw from their numbers men who possess greater capacity, determination and administrative ability and who would be able to administer the powers conferred under this measure in a way which would establish peace and harmony on the waterfront. The Government should not say, in effect, to officers of the present commission, “ Yours is a vested right. You are in positions, and you cannot be challenged. Nobody has the right to take away from you the position you now hold.” The staff of the present commission has been drawn in the. main from non-ex-servicemen. Are we now to admit that they have established a vested right in their positions by virtue of the fact that they were in Ausralia while other men were serving in the fighting forces on the other side of the world? Are the latter, who are hopeful of obtaining positions under the re-establishment and employment legislation, to find that key positions on the staff of the commission have already been filled? They will have no opportunity to apply for those positions. If this is to be a new industry, and the Attorney-General is trying to shear it of the tradition of frustration and maladministration associated with the existing commission, he should make a clean sweep and appoint a new staff of men who will be able to give effect to the powers to be conferred upon them under this legislation. He should not establish a vested right for any person in a position on the staff of the commission.
– The effect of this provision is simply to continue in office, officers of the existing commission. It does not alter the power of the commission to appoint new officers. It would nc-t be a good thing for a commission which was established as a war-time experiment to throw open every office in the duties of which the present occupants have gained considerable experience. Judge Foster recommended the continuation of the experiment and therefore the Government cannot accept the amendment. “We believe that it should be left to the commission, if it so desires, to improve its staff in the light of its experience in the control of the industry.
– I support the amendment which is intended to delete the provision that all officers and employees of the Stevedoring Industry Commission constituted under Part V. of the National Security (Shipping ‘Co-ordination) Regulations holding office or employed immediately prior to the commencement of the operation of this measure shall continue to hold office or he employed as if they were appointed under it. The body of men at present employed by the commission represents a not inconsiderable number and it is to be expected that that number will be considerably increased. The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) could not have exercised a more happy choice in the selection of the word than he did when he said that the commission was an “ experiment “ which Judge Foster suggested should be continued. It is an experiment, but unfortunately an experiment of a very desperate nature. Although the Attorney-General has been experimenting with the Stevedoring Industry Commission for the last few years the only result of his experiment is that because of the inefficiency of the commission and its staff 73 ships are now tied up in the port of Sydney and the people of Great Britain are prevented from getting urgently needed food. Who are these employees and whence did they come? They are those who, during the period of the greatest conflict in which this nation has ever been engaged, held down safe jobs in this country.
M.r. SPENDER - They did not fight.
– Perhaps they could not fight because their physical and mental inefficiency was such that they could not be enlisted in the armed forces. Whatever may have been the reason they are to be given an advantage over those who served their country in the fighting forces from 1939 until peace was declared in 1945. Why should our ex-servicemen be denied an opportunity to apply for a lucrative appointment in the Stevedoring Industry Commission? Common decency demands that they should at least have an equal right to apply for appointments to a commission which the AttorneyGeneral describes as an experiment. The war-time body was not in existence for a long period and accordingly there is no question of infringing the rights of long and tried employees. The AttorneyGeneral has admitted, and Judge Foster in his report has pointed out, that labour of the best type was not available, to the commission during the waT years because it was being used for other purposes. The commission, therefore, has had to employ a proportion of men unsuited to the posts which they occupy to-day. The right honorable gentleman knows that the commission has an inefficient staff, but he is allergic to pressure groups, particularly that led by Mr. Healy, the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation and so he proposes to retain in this experiment, which is designed to cure all the ills on the waterfront, the inefficient men now employed by the organization and to exclude ex-servicemen from appointment.
– I move -
That at the end of the clause, the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (3.) The Transport Workers Act 1928 and the Transport Workers Act 1929 are repealed.”
These acts were referred to during the debate. Part 3 of the Transport Workers Act 1928-29 which deals with a system of licensing and gives power to cancel licences and to prohibit men working without licences, was unaccompanied by any provisions for the control of the waterside industry. Such a provision of the law is inconsistent with the bill now before us. Under Part II. of the Transport Workers Act 1928-29 power is given to the Governor-General to make regulations, but no rules were prescribed for observance by those concerned. The Government believes that as these existing acts are inconsistent with the bill now before us they should he repealed.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4. - (1.) In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ employer “ means -
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the definition “ stevedoring operations “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following definition : - “ ‘ stevedoring operations ‘ means -
the loading or unloading of cargo into or from ships;
the loading or unloading, into or from ships, of ships’ stores, coal or fuel oil (whether for bunkers or not), passengers’ luggage or mails;
the handling or storage of cargo or other goods at or adjacent to a wharf;
the driving or operation of mechanical appliances used in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships or with the handling or storage of cargo or other goods at or adjacent to the wharf; and
haulage or trucking from ship to shed or shed to ship, and includes the work specified in paragraphs (e), (f), (g) and (h) of the definition of ‘ waterside worker ‘ when performed by a member of the Federation or a person registered as a waterside worker under Part V. of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations immediately prior to the commencement of this Act; “.
– What is meant by “adjacent to the wharf”?
– One cannot define it more precisely. Goods are handled that are not actually on the wharfs. It means within such a short distance of the wharf that it is really a part of the wharf.
– Would wool from the Botany store come within that category?
– It would if in trucks from which it could be conveniently carried to the wharf and thence to the ship.
– The Botany store is six miles away from the wharf.
– Of course, it might be so far away that the court would hold that it was not adjacent.
– It makes a big difference to the members of the Storemen and Packers Union.
– They are excluded, as are the members of the Sydney Coal Lumpers Union. Defining “ waterside worker “ and “ stevedoring operations “ presents difficulties, principally because some work that waterside workers often do is sometimes undertaken by men who are not members of the Waterside Workers Federation or the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia. It is not desired by means of this measure to prevent persons other than waterside workers from performing tasks customarily done by them, and, in many instances, work that comes within the definition of “ stevedoring operations “ is done by members of unions in conformity with the approved rules of such unions. So, a new clause 13 (a) to be moved later provides that -
Nothing in this act shall authorize the commission to determine or regulate the salaries, wages, rates of pay, other terms or conditions of service or employment of persons who are not waterside workers.
The intention is to give to the commission authority over the industrial conditions of waterside workers, and it is necessary, therefore, to define closely who are waterside workers. The alterations follow discussions- with representatives of employers and employees subsequent to the presentation of the bill to the House.
.- I refer the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to paragraph e of the proposed definition of “ stevedoring operations “. It states that stevedoring operations include the work specified in paragraphs e, /, g and h of the definition of “ waterside worker “. Turning to the definition of “ waterside worker “, one finds that the work referred to in the definition of “ stevedoring operations “ is the work of the removal or replacing of beams or hatches, the handling of dunnage or ballast, the preparing or cleaning of holds, or the preparation of gear for use in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships, and the definition of “ waterside worker “ goes on to say that it does not include a certain category of persons. Is it intended that the definition of “ stevedoring operations “ shall apply to waterside workers, whether they do or do not come within the proviso “ but does not include “ ?
– I think so. It puzzled me at first, as can easily be understood by the committee. The stevedores, shipowners and the unions have been engaged in trying to arrive at a definition that expresses the clear intention of this part of the bill. I do not mean for a moment that there is not opposition to certain operations being denned as stevedoring operations. The provision that stevedoring operations shall include the work specified - the removal or replacing of beams or hatches, the handling of dunnage or ballast, the preparing of holds, or the preparation of gear for use in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships - when performed by members of the Waterside Workers Federation or the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia may seem contradictory; but, for instance, the preparing or cleaning of holds may be work done entirely, in certain circumstances by members of the ships’ crew and it is to be regarded as a stevedoring operation only if it is done by a waterside worker.
– The definition is governed by whom the work is done.
– Exactly. It was impossible to make the definition clear without indicating that it is not a stevedoring operation if it is done by people who are not waterside workers. For instance, the preparation of gear may sometimes be done by members of the ship’s crew.
– It is remarkable that a bill, obviously the result of considerable study and negotiation by the Government and its collaborators, to give to the Stevedoring Industry Commission vital powers over stevedoring operations was introduced when it now becomes necessary for the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to attempt to define those operations. In order to understand the Attorney-General’s amendment, one has to refer to another definition in the same clause, because the definition of “ stevedoring operations “ refers one to the definition of “ waterside worker”. When the bill was introduced the Government was apparently satisfied that seven lines of print could define “ stevedoring operations “. It now decides that the definition needs about seventeen lines. Even so, the AttorneyGeneral made it clear that the definition is still difficult.
– The right honorable gentleman admits that, and, no doubt, he will admit it again when we come to the next amendment.
– Because it takes thirteen lines to define “ waterside worker “ in the bill, as it stands, and about 32 lines, as it is proposed to be amended, it appears to me that the more words there are the greater the chance there is of disagreement. The two things around which the success of this bill will revolve are the definitions of “ stevedoring operations “ and “ waterside worker “. Yet, on his own showing, the Attorney-General is dissatisfied with the first draft and has moved for its amendment in a much more elaborate way, at the same time signifying to the committee that there are some difficulties about that, too. If the Government itself does not know exactly what it wants in this bill how in the name of common sense can the AttorneyGeneral ask the committee to be happy about these proposed definitions. I am not.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the definition of “ waterside worker “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following definition : - “ ‘ waterside worker ‘ means a person who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for work in the loading or unloading of cargo into or from ships, and includes a member of the Federation or a person registered as a waterside worker under Part V. of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations immediately prior to the commencement of this Act who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for work in -
the loading or unloading, into or from ships, of ships’ stores, coal or fuel oil (whether for bunkers or not), passengers’ baggage or mails;
the handling or storage of cargo or other goods at or adjacent to a wharf;
the driving or operation of mechanical appliances used in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships or with the handling or storage of cargo or other goods at or adjacent to a wharf;
haulage or trucking from ship to- shed or shed to ship;
the removal or replacing of beams or hatches;
the handling of dunnage or ballast;
the preparing or cleaning of holds; or
the preparation of gear for use in connexion with the loading or unloading of ships, but does not include -
persons working in or alongside a ship in connexion with the direction or checking of the work of waterside workers;
members of the crew of a ship on the ship’s articles;
members of the crew of a lighter; or
members of the Sydney Coal Lumpers Union while loading or unloading coal in the port of Sydney; “.
Referring to the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), I thought that the original definition was good, and my advisers, who know a great deal about precise definition, thought so, too; but the shipowners and the unions worked out, practically by consent, the definition now proposed. Again I do not mean that there is agreement that stevedoring operations should be brought within the regulation-making power of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, but, if they are, the definition of “ stevedoring operations “, which has just been agreed to, and the definition of “waterside worker “, which the committee is now invited to agree to, are accurate descriptions, and provide the necessary safeguards. A broader answer to the honorable member is that sometimes the short definition causes difficulty, whereas the longer definition by enumeration is safer in the interests of all concerned.
– I observe that both the original definition of “waterside worker” and the definition in the proposed amendment conflict with, sub-clause 2 of clause 24. I would be quite satisfied with the definition of “ waterside worker “ either in the original or in the altered form. The definition in the amendment states - “ Waterside worker “ means a person who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for work in the loading or unloading of cargo into or from ships. . . .
However, clause 24, sub-clause 2, states -
Except at such ports as the commission determines, a waterside worker shall not be registered under this Act unless he is a member of the Federation. . . .
In the light of the definition of “ waterside worker “, that sub-clause is sheer nonsense. The two things are in utter conflict. I do not know how the courts would interpret the bill, because the’ definition provides that any person who accepts or offers to accept employment is entitled to be engaged, whereas, according to sub-clause 2 of clause 24, a person cannot be employed unless he is a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. How does the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) explain that situation?
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 24 contains a very important provision, lt takes a group of men known as the waterside workers, and says that the members of that group cannot be registered unless they are members of the Waterside Workers Federa tion. The “ waterside workers “ referred to in the bill are defined by reference to their job. They are men whose job is to accept, or offer to accept, employment for work in a certain industry which is defined in the amendment now ‘before the committee. In order to bring waterside workers within the purview of the act, they are generally defined so as to exclude, for instance, storemen and packers, who work in close proximity to them but are not covered by this bill. Having defined the class, the bill imposes a prohibition on registration in clause 24, sub-clause 2. There is no conflict between the two provisions. The definition of “waterside worker “ has been carefully prepared so as to apply to those men who come within the intention and the scope of Judge Foster’s report. This definition is expressed in the amendment now before the committee.
.- The Minister (Dr. Evatt) has missed the point of my argument. All that is necessary is to say that a waterside worker means a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. If the right honorable gentleman leaves the amendment as it is drafted, any person who is not a member of the federation but who accepts or offers to accept employment will be entitled to receive employment. That is stated in the proposed new definition.
– That makes him a waterside worker.
– Yes. He need not be a member of the federation.
– He will have to be a member in order to be registered under the act.
– Why not state that a “ waterside worker “ means a member of the Waterside Workers Federation? Why go to the trouble of including a long definition of “ waterside worker “, when the Government’s intention could be expressed in one line ?
– My view is supported by the officers who drafted the bill. First, we must define the trade or calling with which the bill deals, namely, that of the waterside worker. Then we must define those who belong to the trade as -
A person who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for work in the loading or unloading of cargo . . .
That is according to the amendment now before the committee. If a person comes within the meaning of the definition stated in the amendment, he is a waterside worker within the meaning of the bill. Does the honorable member follow that?’
– No, I do not.
– As an illustration, if the honorable member goes to the Sydney waterfront and offers to accept employment for work in the loading and unloading of cargo, he will be a waterside worker within the meaning of this bill. But if he should apply for registration, clause 24 might be brought into operation because he could not be registered unless he were a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. There must be a definition of the calling or trade.
– I agree with that.
– That is done in the amendment now before the committee. But, having done that, it is still necessary for certain purposes, such as registration, to require that a man shall be a member of the Waterside Workers Federation or, at the time of the passing of this law, a registered member of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. There is no conflict between the two provisions.
Amendment agreed to.
– by leave - I move -
That paragraph (d) of sub-clause (1.) be left out.
This is amendment No. 2 in the list of printed amendments, consideration of which was deferred as it was consequential on the acceptance of the amendments that have already been agreed to by the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That, in sub-clause (2.), paragraphs(a) and (6) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraphs: - “(a) a person who puts another person to work shall be deemed to engage that other person for employment; and
a person who is put to work shall be deemed to accept employment”.
– This amendment provides that a person who is put to work shall be deemed to accept employment. The point that I wish to stress to the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) is that, according to the new definition of “ waterside workers” to which the committee has agreed, the only persons who can accept employment are those who are approved by the Waterside Workers Federation. In other words, the Commonwealth Government is handing over to an outside body the sole right to decide who shall be employed on the waterfront.
– Provided he is a member of the federation.
– Beinga member of a union is not a passport to heaven or anywhere else.
– Does not the honorable member believe in unionism?
– I do not believe in present day unionism, because I see very little difference between it and tyranny. The first responsibility of a democratic government is to ensure that the law shall be impartially administered, and that all persons shall have an equal opportunity under it. The bill provides that the only persons who shall obtain employment on the waterfront shall be those who become members of the Waterside Workers Federation. If my interpretation of this provision be wrong, I should like the Attorney-General to say so. If I am right, I should like him to justify this provision.
– The purpose of this amendment is to cover permanent employees. Every time a permanent employee is put to work, that is deemed tobe an engagement. He cannot be put to work at any particular time unless he is registered.
– That explanation does not answer my question.
– No; the point raised by the honorable member will be considered later.
Amendment agreed to.
– The definition of “officer” is “an officer holding office under this Act”. I should like from the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) an assurance that the definition does not include any members of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I seek that assurance, because clause 5 provides that the chairman shall be appointed by the Governor-General, and shall hold office subject to good behaviour for five years. The other members of the commission will also be appointed by the Governor-General and will hold office during His Excellency’s pleasure. Subclause 2 of clause 3 provides that all officers and employees of the Stevedoring Industry Commission shall “ continue to holdoffice or be employed as if they were appointed under this Act. “ The Attorney-General will see that the word “ officer “ is msed there. I seek an assurance that the definition of “ officer “ in clause 4 does not include a person who is a member of the commission. If it does, sub-clause 2 of clause 3 will apply.
– It is quite clear that an officer holdingoffice under this legislation is not governed by the general provisions relating to officers. If he be a judge of the Common wealth Arbitration Court, he has a judge’s tenure of office. If he be a conciliation commissioner, he must be a person answering to that descripton under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Four members of the commission will be appointed respectively by the employers and the employees, and will not be officers within the meaning of this legislation. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) believes that their security would disappear if that were not so. I think that a definite assurance can be given to the honorable member.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) There shall bo a Stevedoring Industry Commission, which shall consist of a Chairman, an officer of the Commonwealth andfour 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 -
– On behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the words “, an officer of the Commonwealth “, be left out.
I cannot understand why the Government desires to place an officer of the Commonwealth upon the Stevedoring Industry Commission. What is the purpose? Already we have had examples of ministerial interference in the decisions of the commission. Government intervention in the pay-day dispute resulted in Chief Judge Piper resigning as chairman of the tribunal. That incident occurred after the Government had directed the commission to reregister certain waterside workers whom it had deregistered. When replying to the second-reading debate the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) declared that the commission used its powers fearlessly. I challenge that statement, pointing out to him that the commission had often reversed its decisions. On a number of occasions, the Government has directed the tribunal to reconsider its determinations, and it consented abjectly to do so. When Chief Judge Piper was chairman, he proved to be a man of mettle, who resigned rather than accept this dictation. A similar incident occurred when Mr. Justice de Baun resigned as chairman of the Maritime Services Commission. Men who are really worthwhile will not brook governmental interference with their administration.
Why does the Attorney-General desire to appoint an officer of the Commonwealth to the Stevedoring Industry Commission? Will he be employed as a “ snooper “ on behalf of the Government ? Will it be his function to inform the Government what happens within the commission ? Will he be a “ stand-over “ man, and when the commission proposes to take certain action, will he say, “ Before we reach a decision, I should like you to know the views of the Commonwealth Government on this subject, and. what you must do “. I have no doubt that he would be more discreet than to use the words, “what you must do”, but he could intimate very clearly what the Government’s policy was on a certain matter. If the Attorney-General desires the commission to function successfully, he should accept the amendment. The chairman, who may be a judge of the Arbitration Court, will be strictly impartial. Representatives of the employers and employees will be appointed, and the commission will be given certain powers to bring about peace on the waterfront. “Why does the Government propose to appoint a Commonwealth officer? Will it be his function to watch the interests of the labour party? This “stooge” might have the responsibility of influencing decisions of the tribunal by pointing out that the Government would favour a certain decision. Peace will not be restored on the waterfront unless the commission is free from governmental interference. I urge the Attorney-General to accept the amendment.
– The bill provides that the commission shall be presided over by a judge or a conciliation commissioner. I have indicated that the intention of the Government is that a judge should be chairman. Other members of the commission will include two representatives of the employers, and two representatives of the employees. These five individuals are the only ones who will be able to make decisions. Should a dispute occur between the representatives of the employers and employees, the chairman will determine the matter.
– Then why have an officer representing the Commonwealth on the commission at all?
– I do not think that any member of the committee will support the statement by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) that the Commonwealth’s representative on the commission will be a “ stooge “ of the Government. After all, there are public in terests to be considered, apart from the interests of employers and employees. The Government believes that the presence on the commission of a Common wealth officer who can bring to its notice matters of public concern cannot do anything but good. He will not have a vote, and surely nobody will suggest that he will endeavour to influence decisions of the commission.
– What- will he be there for if.it is not to influence the chairman?
– The honorable member’s view is quite wrong. A Commonwealth officer has sat on the commission ever since it was inaugurated in 1942, and his services have been found to be of considerable value. In all probability, the officer will be one of the highest officials in the Department of Supply and Shipping, and we believe that his presence will be of great assistance to the commission. The Government cannot accept the amendment.
.- I cannot support the clause in its present form despite the explanation given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). I remind the committee that much store has been placed by the Government upon the recommendations of Judge Foster. The Attorney-General has said that the Government has accepted all but two of Judge Foster’s recommendations. I find, however, upon examining His Honour’s recommendations, that he did not include a recommendation supporting the appointment to the commission of an officer of the Commonwealth. He recommended that the commission should consist of a chairman and two representatives of the employees and two of the employers. There is no mention of an officer of the Commonwealth. The Stevedoring Industry Commission established under the National Security Regulations has been operating since 1942, and, as the AttorneyGeneral has said, during that time an officer of the Commonwealth has attended its deliberations. When Judge Foster was considering his recommendations, he could not have been unaware of the fact that an officer of the Commonwealth had been sitting on the commission, but he did not include a provision for such an officer in his recommendations. I do not wish to place this discussion on anything but the highest plane, but I say to the Attorney-General that it is not desirable that a body, the functions of which are mainly judicial, should have, as one of its members, an outside person representing the Commonwealth Government. If this was an arbitration bill, and the proposed commission was to exercise the functions exercised by Arbitration Court, no provision would be made for the presence of an officer of the Commonwealth. Therefore, whether we call him a “ stooge “, a spy, or an observer - let us assume that he is there with the best possible motives - it is obvious that his presence must handicap deliberations. Obviously his function will be to convey the Commonwealth Government’s point of view. That this will be the purpose of his presence cannot be doubted. As the commission will be fulfilling judicial as well as administrative functions, it should not be subject to influence by the Commonwealth or anybody else. The Commonwealth could get information from the commission in the same way as it gets information from courts including the Arbitration Court, or any other public body. No matter how good may be the intentions of the Government in providing for this appointment - I do not impute improper motives to the AttorneyGeneral in this regard - the proposal is fraught with the greatest possible danger. The Commonwealth officer will be tempted, perhaps irresistibly on occasions, to say to the commission, “ This is what we want you to do “, and if the commission is not prepared to accept the advice given to it, then perhaps the officer will be further tempted to go back to the Government and say so and so, with the result that there may be a change in the personnel of the commission. All this is dangerous. The situation is unprecedented. The war-time commission was set up solely because of expediency. I repeat that Judge Foster did not see any necessity to recommend the appointment of a Commonwealth officer to the commission. There is no justification for continuing the present practice. Incidentally, I should like to know from the Attorney-General what duties this officer has performed up to date, and what justification there is for his retention on the permanent body. What has he carried from the commission’s meetings to the Govern ment, and what has he carried from the Government to the commission? Is it information? If so, surely it could be conveyed by other channels. Is it suggestions? If so, there should not be any such suggestions. Is it influence or pressure? I do not know, and I do not suggest that influence or pressure has been brought to bear, but the presence of that officer is dangerous and there is no warrant for it.
– Like the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) I have very strong objections to the retention of these words in the clause. I am not unmindful of the fact that the Commonwealth is contemplating re-embarking upon the ownership of ships for commercial purposes. I believe, in fact, that it already has some vessels operating, and I should like to know from the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) whether the Government has in mind being represented on the commission as a ship-owning authority. Is that the intention? I understand that it is the policy of the Government to have Commonwealth ships running in competition with private lines.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) says “ Hear, hear “. He has been rather silent lately. He seems just to have found his way out of Bretton Woods. Someone must have given him a torch. The functions that an officer of the Commonwealth may fulfil on a commission of this kind are varied and numerous. It has been said, perhaps without any justification, that he would represent to the commission the views of the Government in regard to the settlement of certain disputes. If the Government holds certain definite views in regard to the settlement of any industrial dispute that comes within this commission’s jurisdiction, the Government should be properly and publicly represented on the commission. It seems to me that this provision is one under which the Government seeks to exercise influence over the course of events, without recording the imprint of its thumb. In other words, the Government wants power without any responsibility for what its officer does. Sub-clause 4 of clause S, which must be read in connexion with this clause, reads -
All questions arising at any meeting of the Commission shall be decided by a majority of votes, but the member who is an officer of the Commonwealth shall not be entitled to vote.
Obviously, that officer is to be a voice only. He is to be there to lay down what the Government thinks on matters of vital concern - that is, if it has any mind at all on such matters.
– It may be his duty to watch expenditure.
– That would be an unpardonable sin, and he would soon be sent back to his department.
– He would be in a similar position to that of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain).
– That is an exact parallel. He would have no say whatever on anything connected with shipping. If the Government wants to be represented on the commission, it ought to be represented by a man who will be responsible by the casting of his vote for the view that the Government wishes him’ to convey. He should be prepared to support the Government’s case with his vote. I take it that the commission will have authority at any time to call any person before it in order to inform its mind on any subject. If the commission desires to know what the Government thinks on some subject, it should be entitled to say to the AttorneyGeneral, for instance, “ We are in trouble about such and such a matter. Would you be good enough to arrange for some one from the Department of Supply and Shipping to come along and explain your views to us ? “ At times matters associated with the interpretation of the law will arise. Are we to expect that an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department will be sent along to say what the Attorney-General thinks is the law in regard to those matters? Even that is not precluded by this clause. The Attorney-General told us that he wanted to make the definitions wide enough. I am trying to make them narrow enough.
I am afraid that this one is too wide. I regard this as bad procedure, and the committee should not agree to it.
.- I support the protest against an officer of the Commonwealth being included on this commission in a permanent capacity. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has not convinced the committee that the retention of an officer of the Commonwealth - presumably a highly paid officer - is justified. It may be that this provision is a carry-over of a war-time arrangement, and that the Government has not fully taken into account the different conditions which exist to-day. During the war period, when the Government desired that the commission should be informed on matters of national security, it was justified in having its direct representative on the commission, but whatever justification existed in wartime for such a procedure, it does not exist now. There is considerable concern on the part of the public that departments which were set up in wartime are not reducing their staffs as every one expected, thereby easing the hurden on the taxpayers, but are, on the contrary, larger than during the war. The committee should examine closely any proposal to continue in a permanent capacity persons appointed to positions for the period of the war, especially when there appeared to be no need for such appointments prior to the outbreak of war. The Attorney-General says that interests other than those of employers and employees have to be considered. That that is also the view of the Opposition was made clear during the secondreading debate. If the commissioner, or the judge, to be appointed does his work properly he will watch the interests of the public. It may be that in regard to other matters he may desire to know the policy of the Government, but, in that event, I suggest that, instead of appointing a full-time officer to the commission a representative of the department concerned could be sent along at any time his services were desired. In that way the information sought would be made available without the expense of appointing an officer permanently to the commission. Because I believe that this committee should protest against the incurring of unjustified expenditure, I am opposed to the clause as it stands.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation of this clause given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). When I raised this question I expected the right honorable gentleman to tell the committee what the officer representing the Commonwealth had done, and is empowered to do. I ‘ expected him to say either that the officer was there to represent the Government and to report back to the Government on the workings of the commission, or that he had assisted the commission in its administrative duties. The right honorable gentleman merely told us that this man had done good work. He did not even say the kind of work that he had done. He did not say, for instance, that the officer had kept an eye on expenditure on behalf of the Treasury; had assisted in the interpretation of legal phraseology ; had conveyed the directions of the Government to the commission; or had reported back to the Government on the actions of that body. The committee is entitled to know what the officer of the Commonwealth did in the past, and what he will be expected to do in the future. Emphasis has been laid on the fact that he will have no voting rights. That may be, but he will have even greater power than that of exercising a vote. His power will be that of a man with the backing of the government of the day. Although he may not vote, there is nothing in this bill to prevent him from taking an active part in the deliberations of the commission.
– He could recommend the removal of the chairman.
– That is so. He would be in a position to place before the other members of the commission, with all the force possible, the Government’s policy in regard to this or that matter which may come up for consideration. There is nothing whatever to prevent this officer from saying to the commission, “ If you propose to adopt a certain line of conduct, I think it would, be better to defer the matter while I refer it back to the Government “. This power is greater than the power to cast a vote. This officer will be given an overriding power to say to the commission, “ This is the view of the Government, and this is what the Government expects you to do Therefore, honorable members on this side of the chamber will not be content with the vague generalities which the Attorney-General offered as an explanation of the duties of this officer. The Minister should tell the committee exactly what the duties of this officer are, and whether it is not possible to give to the commission the right to consult with various officers with regard to departmental activities. That would be preferable to having one officer only who will be a permanent member of the commission, and whose job, obviously, will be either to give a direction to the commission as to what the policy of the Government is, or to say to the commission, “ Before you take the step you propose to take, I should report back to my masters in order that they may indicate what they believe you should do “. I readily recall instances of Government interference in that way. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) reversed, or altered, the decision of the Stevedoring Industry Commission with regard to attendance money. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) castigated the commission quite recently because it sought to uphold the law. The Government has also interfered with the commission in respect of its decisions dealing with such things as annual leave and the double-dumping of wool.
– Does the honorable member mean that the Government has interfered with judges when they have been dealing with particular eases?
– The Government interfered to such ‘ a degree in a matter which was being handled by Chief Judge Piper and Mr. Nicholls, the deputy chairman of the commission, that both of them resigned.
– That is not correct.
– Let us look at the facts. Immediately following the issuec r an instruction by the Government to the commission for the immediate reinstatement of fourteen deregistered men involved in the pay-day strike, Chief J udgePiper and Mr. Nicholls resigned; and it is clear that the Government’s interference caused them to resign. No judge worth his salt would tolerate an instruction from the Government that he must inverse a decision which he had given in a particular matter.
– I should make it clear that neither the Government, nor any Minister, instructs judges; and if we did the judges would not accept our instructions.
– Originally, the pay-day dispute affected fourteen men who were deregistered hy the Waterside Employment Committee. Those men appealed to the Stevedoring Industry Commission, which disallowed their appeals on the 31st October last. On the 2nd November last the Government intervened and directed the commission to restore to the working-list the names of those fourteen men. Those are the facts. Yet the Prime Minister now says that the Government does 1lot give directions to the judge Possibly, that direction was given to the commission after Chief J udge Piper intimated that he intended to resign. However, the fact remains that the Government interfered in that matter as it interfered in other matters. For instance, when the commission decided that the men should handle double-dumped wool, Mr. Forde, who was then acting Prime Minister, declared that he would withhold permits for the export of any more doubledumped wool. That is how the Government frustrated the decision of the commission in that instance.
– And the work went on.
– Yes; but Mr. Healy, the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, saw fit to refuse to obey the commission’s order to appear before it until after that regulation lapsed.
– Chief Judge Piper stated publicly that he resigned on the ground of ill health; and he stated specifically that his resignation had nothing to do with the matter mentioned by the honorable member.
– .What did Mr. Nicholls do ?
– The honorable member was dealing with Chief Judge Piper.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When I suggested that the chairman and deputy chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission had resigned because of government interference, the Prime Minister said that Chief Judge Piper had resigned because of ill health. I accept that assurance, but I now ask the Attorney-General whether he can give the same assurance in regard to Mr. Nicholls, the deputy chairman?
– I do not know the facts.
– It is well known that Mr. Nicholls resigned because of Government interference. No officer in his position could continue in the face of Government interference. That is why the Opposition objects to the proposal in this clause. There should he no place on the commission for a government officer who can be of no value to it. Is it suggested that he is to act in a purely advisory capacity? There is no need to appoint a permanent officer for that purpose. The services of Commonwealth officers could be co-opted from time to time when their advice was required. However, the Government proposes- to place on the commission a man who will be charged, I have no doubt, with the performance of certain duties on behalf of the Government. The AttorneyGeneral said that the last officer who filled such a position on the commission did a good job of work. I now invite the Attorney-General to say what that work was. We on this side of the House have a very strong suspicion that a Commonwealth officer is to be appointed in order to influence the commission regarding government policy; to warn it if it attempts to take action contrary to government policy; in other words, to act as a stand-over man on behalf of the Government.
This would place the commission in an intolerable position. It is to he asked to work with a man who will be in a position say, “ Steady boys, the policy of the Government is so and so. If you act contrary to that policy the Government may give certain directions, as is provided in the bill “. Then the commission will find itself in the position it occupied in regard to the “ payday “ dispute, when it had to reverse its decision, and say that certain men whom it had deregistered were to be reregistered. That was what caused the resignation of Mr. Nicholls. The Stevedoring Industry Commission is ostensibly to be given powers almost equal to those of the Arbitration Court; but, the Government says, in effect, “ Whereas it was not competent for us to put a Commonwealth officer on the Arbitration Court Bench, here we have something of our own creation, and we propose to stultify it by placing on it an officer who will have no vote, and no actual value except to influence the commission on matters concerning government policy “. If the Attorney-General desires the appointment of a commission that will be of value to the community he must not hamstring it at the outset by placing on it a “ stand-over “ man for the Government. Therefore, I ask the Government to accept the amendment so that the commission may exercise its functions unhampered.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) is very careless in the use of expressions. To suggest that Mr. Sutcliffe, of the Department of Supply and Shipping, has acted as a “ stand-over “ man on the commission, or a “ stooge “ for the Government, is ridiculous. It must be well-known to many honorable members that this man, who is a distinguished officer in the service of the Commonwealth, has done very useful work during the period of his association with the commission. Let me read a note on this subject that I have received from the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) -
The proposal is to omit the provision for an officer of the Commonwealth to be a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The bill provides that the officer of the Commonwealth who is a member of the commission shall not be entitled to vote. The purpose of his appointment is to provide a liaison between the Government and the commission. The commission will doubtless inaugurate negotiations with State authorities, and these in many instances will be most appropriately dealt with on a governmental level. The services of the government member will be most useful in this connexion. It is felt that the appointment of a senior government officer to assist in planning and supervising the commission’s administrative activities will be of benefit to the commission. The government member will also be an informed channel of communication between the Minister and the commission, and his presence should - be of material assistance to the commission.
– What is this Commonwealth officer to be - a sort of commissar ?
– No, he is not to be a commissar. The honorable member is mistaken.
– Apparently he is to over-ride the authority of the commission.
– I remind honorable members that the commission will have many administrative functions to perform, and it is desirable, therefore, that it should have the assistance and advice of a representative of the Commonwealth Government. The commission will not be merely a body charged with the duty of fixing terms and conditions of employment. It will exercise power regarding the regulation of stevedoring operations, and this will not be just something between employers and employees. It will involve matters of general importance. What harm can possibly come out of a situation in which a responsible Commonwealth officer will have a seat on the commission without voting? I cannot see any force in the objection to this officer being present without a vote, having regard to the functions of the commission, and to the fact that the Government must keep itself closely informed regarding what is being done in this important industry. In certain circumstances such an officer, or the Minister himself, may desire to initiate a meeting of the commission. Those circumstances may arise when perhaps the employers do not wish to initiate a meeting or the employees themselves do not wish to have a particular matter dealt with.
– Should not the calling of a meeting be the prerogative of the chairman?
– Important matters may arise in the industry, which in the opinion of the Government make it desirable to hold a meeting of the commission. Apart from the employers and the employees the public is interested in the decisions of the commission and the Government representative will in effect be the representative of the public.
There is no principle in this to which objection can be raised. The provision for the appointment of an officer of the Commonwealth as a member of the commission which is contained in the existing regulation should we believe be retained.
– I support the amendment. If anything were needed to strengthen my view on this matter it was the speech of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to which we have just listened. In his secondreading speech the right honorable gentleman told us that grave and careful consideration had been given by the Government to the report submitted to it by Judge Poster, of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, who had conducted a long inquiry, with many public sittings, at which evidence and opinion were taken from both employers and employees. The right honorable gentleman added that the measure which is now before us followed the broad .recommendations contained in Judge Poster’s report. Dealing with the constitution of this body Judge Foster recommended that it consist of a chairman and four members representative of employers’ and employees’ interests in the industry, that the chairman be a judge of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and that the representation on the commission be two members nominated by the “Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, one member nominated by the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Federation and one member nominated by overseas ship owners. The clause dealing with the constitution of the commission is one of the most important clauses in the bill as this commission is to be the body which is to usher in the golden age on the waterfront in Australia. Notwithstanding that the Attorney-General told us that grave and careful consideration was given to Judge Foster’s recommendations, one of the most important recommendations made by the learned judge has been rejected. The right honorable gentleman then read a statement from some document prepared for the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), explaining the reason for the failure to adopt these recommendations in toto. Of course, one would expect that any docu ment prepared for the Minister would be in accordance with government policy.
When a representative of the Government was appointed to the war-time commission there was some excuse for his inclusion, as that body was expending funds provided by the Government. The new commission, however, will not draw its funds from the Government; it will collect them through additional freight rates on export and interstate cargoes which will have to be borne by the primary producers of Australia. Country people and the members of the party to which I belong know only too well that the producers of Australia will suffer in two ways as the result of this bill; they will be “hit” by increased overseas freights, and they will be “ hit “ by rising interstate freights on machinery and other commodities necessary for the working of their properties. The Attorney-General has advanced most extraordinary reasons for continuing to have a Commonwealth representative as a member of the commission. He said that Mr. Sutcliffe, the government nominee, is an excellent man who had rendered great service to the war-time commission throughout the whole of the war period. He must be an excellent officer because, as far as I know, there has been no criticism of his work either by the owners, the waterside workers or by honorable members on the Government side.
– Or by members of the Opposition.
– That is so. I remind the Attorney-General, however, that Mr. Sutcliffe is a mere mortal, who will not live forever. Heaven alone knows who may be appointed in the future. For all we know some future appointee may be the nominee of Mr. Healy, the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. Still reading from the brief prepared for the Minister for Supply and Shipping, the AttorneyGeneral said that the government representative is to act as a liaison officer between the commission and the Government. When I interjected that he would be a sort of commissar of the Government, the right honorable gentleman said, “ Oh no ; not a commissar ; a sort of liaison officer “. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. On the admission of the right honorable gentleman the Government representative is to be a kind of liaison officer, a “ stooge “, a sort of peeping Tom, a snooper whose duty it will be to report to the Government exactly what goes on at the meetings of the commission, and whose very presence at such meetings will prevent free and open discussion of the problems with which it has to deal.
The Government probably will not even consult the chairman, who should be the official channel of communication to the Government, as to decisions made by the commission. The government nominee will go behind the back of the commission and tell the Attorney-General any story he likes, irrespective of what the commission decides. It bodes ill for the successful working of this commission if it is to be made impotent from the very commencement of its operations by the inclusion in its membership of a government spy. The right honorable gentleman also said that the government representative will be the informal channel of communication between the commission and the Government. Neither the members of the commission nor the chairman will know what this informal mouthpiece reports to the Government. He said, too, that the commission will have a lo,t of work to do on a government level. If that be so, surely it should be handled by Ministers of the respective governments concerned. Is important work on such a high level to be undertaken by the watchdog, the reporter, the snooper, the peeper for the Government? If so, it must be intended that he shall be clothed with powers greater than those possessed by the commission itself. The case made by the Attorney-General in support of the continuance in office of this gentleman is entirely wrong and accordingly I trust that the . amendment will be carried.
.- I hope that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will accept the amendment. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are extremely keen to make this commission a workable authority. To appoint a liaison officer to such a commission is quite a new idea. Tho
Constitution limits the Commonwealth Government’s industrial powers. From 1904, when the Arbitration Court was set up under an act of the Commonwealth Parliament, until the Stevedoring Industry Commission was appointed as a wartime body, there was never a suggestion that there should bc a liaison officer between the court and the Government. The suggested purpose of the liaison officer between the Stevedoring Industry Commission and the Government may appear perfectly innocent to the AttorneyGeneral and those who sit behind him, but it was demonstrated throughout the second-reading debate that the great need of the day is that not only employers and employees but also the general public shall have confidence in the arbitration system. On two occasions since assuming office, the Labour party has sought from the people expanded industrial powers, and, I think fortunately, on both occasions, the people have said, “ No ! “
I see in the appointment of a liaison officer between the commission and the Government an effort by the Government to get around that refusal. The statement that it is a completely innocent proposal will deceive no one. In the war years, extraordinary circumstances prevailed, and, under its defence powers, the Commonwealth had wide industrial powers ; but, in spite of the claim that in that period the liaison officer between the commission and the Government performed useful functions, the AttorneyGeneral has given a poor account of them. The cold fact remains that the Government, from time to time, would not accept the decisions of its own authority, and, using its war-time powers, overrode them. That happened to the decisions of not only the Stevedoring Industry Commission but also the Maritime Industry Commission and other war-time authorities. Now that peace reigns, the Government is not in possession of powers of the same magnitude, and, in order to overcome its loss of power and the refusal of the people to give it extra powers, it has decided to appoint this liaison officer. I believe that the Stevedoring Industry Commission will operate under a tremendous handicap if the appointment of the liaison officer is insisted upon. I think there is no doubt in the minds of the people that the liaison officer will be on the commission, not to express publicly the government views, because if the Government wanted public expression of its views, it could submit evidence on any matter considered by the commission, hut to convey to it reports of the commission’s activities. The Government wants to act not frankly but behind closed doors. The appointment of a liaison officer would tend to destroy the confidence in the commission of not only the employers and employees but also the people. Whatever merits there may be in the reasons for the proposed appointment that were given by the AttorneyGeneral, the dangers outweigh them.
I hope that the Attorney-General will appreciate that every honorable member wants to improve the industrial position, not only on the waterfront but throughout industry generally, and that the amendment has been moved with that end in view. So I trust that he will agree to drop the proposal. Whether or not Mr. Sutcliffe was on the commission during the war, there is no certainty that he will be appointed to the new commission, or that, if he should be appointed, he will remain on it, because he could be removed from it at any time. I have no doubt that, should the commission, if appointed, not give the kind of decisions wanted by the Government, he will be “ axed “. It is no reflection to say that he will be appointed, if he is appointed, to carry out the wishes of the Government, for, as a public servant, it will be his job to do so. We are not criticizing the individual. Our criticism is directed at the Government’s loading the commission with an extra man who will be its mouthpiece. That is an indication that the Government is ‘beginning to set up a “ gestapo “, a secret service, in order that it may be kept informed of what the various Commonwealth authorities are doing. I am glad that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the second reading of which was moved yesterday by the Attorney-General, does not provide for a liaison officer between the Arbitration Court and the Government, but it is not beyond the Government’s capacity to amend that bill to pro- vide for one because, although this bill was introduced only recently, after a great deal of consideration, as we know from the Attorney-General, we have had placed before us by the Government three pages of amendments, and a government capable of such comprehensive reconsideration of this bill may be expected to be equally diligent in re-considering the other. 1 ask the Attorney-General, in the interests of industrial peace, to put the Stevedoring Industry Commission beyond reproach and to have the employers, the employees and the people generally realize that the Government has accepted the people’s will and is operating under the Constitution as it is and not as the Labour party would have it.
– The Opposition has not moved the amendment merely as a talking point, but because it believes that if the Stevedoring Industry Commission is to operate successfully it should be unhampered. It is extraordinary that as we discuss this matter we are unaware whether a commission is or is not to be re-appointed. We know that, although it was appointed in the first place to ensure a speedy turnround of vessels, the reverse has applied. Only yesterday the chairman, Mr. Morrison, was reported to have said that, in his view, it had failed in that it could not discipline the waterside workers. A strike of unparalleled proportions was raging on the Sydney waterfront and he recommended that the commission should be abolished. We do not know whether, if this bill is passed, it will ever be proclaimed.
– We do not know whether the Attorney-General is presiding at a birth or a funeral.
– Quite so. We could discuss the bill with more assurance if we knew the Government’s intentions, and were certain that after the passage of the bill a permanent Stevedoring Industry Commission would arise from the ashes of the war-time body. If a new commission should be established, the people of Australia will look upon it much more favorably if the employers and the employees are represented equitably under the chairmanship of a judge of the Arbitration Court without any representative of the
Commonwealth Government being a member of it. The commission will control the affairs of an industry employing a body of men who can do more to affect the public welfare than perhaps any other group of unionists in Australia. Their actions affect exports of primary products, and they can materially affect imports of goods necessary for the development of our secondary industries and the prosperity of the community. The interests of the nation will best be served if the commission is not influenced directly by the representative of any political party. The commission will be presided over by an Arbitration Court judge.
– We hope.
– I accept the assurance given by the Minister that he intends to appoint an Arbitration Court judge as chairman of the commission. The chairman will not be subject to the conditions which normally apply to Arbitration Court judges. His appointment will be made by the Minister of the day, and he will be eligible for reappointment after a term of a few years. Notice that the term of appointment is limited. It will not be for an indefinite period, as is the case with appointments to the Arbitration Court.
The commission will not be able to alter standard hours of work in the stevedoring industry, but it will have power to do anything that it wishes in connexion with wages, and it will also have important managerial and administrative powers. It will be able to take managerial control entirely out of the hands of a shipowner. Its rule will be supreme on the waterfront. Intruded into the membership of this commission will be a representative of the Commonwealth. What is the reason for this provision? We have been told by the Attorney-General that the appointment will be made because, from time to time, there may arise problems which will need intergovernmental action. This officer will institute negotiations leading to such action. That is not a valid reason for the appointment. The Arbitration Court judge who will be appointed as chairman of the commission could approach the government and ask for appropriate action to be taken whenever such a problem arose. Therefore, the only argument advanced by the Government in favour of this appointment is invalid. In the past, the Government has shown a strange lack of resistance to trade union influence, and, unfortunately, to Communist influence. As the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has proved, there is a remarkable similarity between this bill and the bill drafted by Jim Healy, the Communist boss of the waterside workers. On frequent occasions in recent years the Government has danced to the tune of the union bosses. I believe that the Commonwealth representative will be appointed so that the views of the waterside workers and their Communist bosses, or of the trade unions in general, can be brought to bear in the deliberations of the commission. There is ample evidence to support my belief that the Government is willing to yield to tho influence of the waterside workers. During the dark days of the war, when ships were pulling into Brisbane and Sydney to load urgently needed war material, the waterside workers engaged in strikes. Despite the fact that strategic plans had been made and dates had been fixed for offensives in New Guinea, these men continued with their policy of disruption on the waterfront. The Government took no action against them, and we do not know whether its representative on the commission advised it to take action or not. Instead of penalizing the strikers, the Government called out soldiers on “ six bob “ a day to load the ships.
Another instance of the Government’s weakness in its dealings with the waterside workers was its feeble acceptance of the union policy towards the Dutch in Indonesia. In this instance, too, it failed to discipline the waterside workers. What role did the Government’s representative on the commission play on that occasion? We have not been told. We can only judge the Government by its record, and its record on the waterfront is deplorable. There have been numerous hold-ups, costs have been forced up, and the turn-round of ships has been delayed with consequent interference to the trade and commerce of the country. Because of these facts, the public will view with grave suspicion the Government’s decision to appoint to the commission a man who will have a voice in its discussions but will have no responsibility for its actions. For its own benefit, if not for the good of Australia as a whole, the Government should remove the cause of this suspicion by abandoning the proposal. Such an appointment is not necessary. The judge who will preside over the commission could approach the Government on any matters which required intergovernmental action. The Government could consider his advice and take action immediately. It would certainly meet with little obstruction from the State governments, five of which are controlled by the Labour party. We consider the amendment to be of vital importance. Let us have a commission in which we can have faith. On its past record, the Government cannot command the trust of any reasonably intelligent person who has taken an interest in affairs on the waterfront. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
Mi-. BEALE (Parramatta) [8.39].- The committee is considering clause 5 of the bill, which provides that, in addition to the chairman, two representatives of the employees and two representatives of the employers, an officer of the Commonwealth shall be appointed to the commission. The Opposition has submitted an amendment proposing to delete that part of the clause which provides for the appointment of an officer of the Commonwealth. A very important principle is involved here. At the outset, we asked the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) this very pertinent question : Why was the recommendation of the royal commissioner, Judge Foster, not followed in this connexion 1 Judge Foster recommended that the commission should consist of a chairman and four other members. He did not say anything about the appointment of an officer of the Commonwealth. The Attorney-General has a most acute mind, and very great clarity of expression, but T have never heard him at worse advantage than when he sought to explain this matter. Indeed, he was driven to express, not his own views, but the views of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) regarding the retention on the commission of the Commonwealth officer. What does the Minister for Supply and Shipping know about it? I could have understood, and I could have been very much impressed by a closely reasoned argument by the Attorney-General, who is a man of very ‘great experience; but I suggest that the case exposed its own weaknesses when the right honorable gentleman had to import the views of the Minister for Supply and Shipping in order to justify the retention of this official.
Judge Foster made no bones about it. As the royal commissioner, he heard the evidence of the representatives of all parties. After having sat for some months, he brought in a most voluminous report, and he was satisfied that it was a bad thing to have a Commonwealth officer on the commission. Despite His Honour’s finding, we .are now asked to perpetuate something which was done during World War II. Mr. Justice Dixon and Judge Foster specifically stated that what was done during World War II. in connexion with the Stevedoring Industry Commission was purely temporary, and was to cease at the termination of hostilities. That statement appears on page 12 of Judge Foster’s report. Notwithstanding that opinion, we are asked to agree to the retention on the commission of the Commonwealth officer. I should like to know what functions this officer will perform that cannot be exercised by the secretary or the chairman of the commission. I am completely unconvinced by the reason advanced by the Minister for Supply and Shipping for the retention of the Commonwealth officer. The suggestion is, among other things, that this would be on a “ Cabinet level”. I do not understand that. The suggestion is that negotiations would take place from time to time with State governments, officials, or industrial tribunals. In my experience of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, the State judges have not had any difficulty on any occasion in negotiating with Ministers of the Crown, departmental heads, and Commonwealth officers. They do not need a government nominee on the commission. On none of the industrial tribunals in New South Wales is there such a nominee. I should like to know why the Attorney-General proposes to perpetuate this temporary measure, and depart from established practice.
That brings me to the crux of the matter. This is a new and dangerous thing. It is dangerous because there will sit, side by side with judges or officers who are supposed to be impartial, political advisors on behalf of the Government. I am not putting this on the footing of impropriety, or illegal or improper pressure, because I do not know ; but it is strange that this new political practice is to be adopted, and that an allegedly impartial tribunal should have this silent member. Why is he to be appointed ? No reason whatever. has been advanced for his being on the commission, and the community and the commission should not be exposed to the undoubted political risks which lie in having this government member there to advise and, I suggest, in some cases with some governments, to influence the commission.
.- As this is one of the key clauses of this important bill, it should be thoroughly discussed. This clause sets up the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The original commission was a war-time authority, and the Government’s experiment of re-appointing it will cost the Australian taxpayer £600,000 per annum. True it is that the £600,000 will be provided in the first instance by charging a certain sum on the wages paid to men employed on the waterfront; but obviously the costs will be passed on, and will eventually be borne by the taxpayer. Therefore, we should scrutinize very closely the value that we shall receive for this commission, and examine the necessity for it.
Before the outbreak of World War II., Australia did not -have a Stevedoring Industry Commission, and the industrial functions of this body were undertaken by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. What shall we obtain for the expenditure of £600,000 a year? Oan it be claimed that we shall get peace on the waterfront? All honorable members would agree that such a price for con tinuity in the unloading and loading of ships in Australian ports would not be too high. At present, 70 ships are held up in the Port of Sydney.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! Is the honorable member discussing the clause or the amendment?
– I am discussing the clause generally.
– The honorable member must discuss the amendment which is before the committee.
– I am entitled to address my remarks to the clause.
– The honorable member’s remarks will be in order as long as he knows that he is speaking to the clause.
– Yes, 1 am addressing my remarks to the clause, as I am entitled to do. Before the adjournment, I spoke to the amendment. I am now examining the need for the establishment of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I ask: Can we obtain any guarantee that the commission will bring about industrial peace on the waterfront? The record of industrial unrest on the wharfs has been considerably worse since the appointment of the commission than it was prior to the outbreak of war in 1939. I do not know of anything in the record of the commission which suggests that it will do something which the Commonwealth Arbitration Court could not do very much better and at considerably less expense. As to its workability and practicability, what do wc find ? The former chairman of the commission, Chief Judge Piper, resigned because he was not able to get the authority for the commission that he needed. Despite the protestations of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to the contrary, that is obvious to every one. In the comparable tribunal which was functioning on the waterfront of New Zealand a few weeks ago, the judge, who was presiding, also resigned. The former chairman of the Maritime Industry Commission, Mr. Justice de Baun resigned because he found that he was not able to get any authority of government behind the decisions which the commission gave. It is common knowledge that within the last 48 hours, the conciliation commissioner, who now presides over the Stevedoring Industry Commission, has indicated that he is not able to get obedience from waterside workers to the decisions of the commission. Therefore, what recommendation have we for the constitution of this expensive government instrumentality ?
There is also the matter of efficiency. Will the commission achieve peace -in industry, and some measure of efficiency? All the discussion on this bill has revealed . very clearly that ships are not being unloaded and loaded so expeditiously as they were in Australian port3 before the outbreak of war. Earlier, I referred to another important aspect. We have criticized the Government’s proposal to appoint this commission. We have shown that it will undermine our arbitration system. It represents the policy of the Communist party, which is determined to smash the arbitration system. If the Government, despite our efforts, is determined to establish the commission, we are faced with a practical situation, and must make the tribunal as workable as we can. Consequently, I come to the provision that the chairman of the commission shall be a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, or a conciliation commissioner. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has already foreshadowed an amendment which would eliminate the possibility of a conciliation commissioner being appointed as chairman of the commission. There are very good reasons for that. As the name implies, a conciliation commissioner’s job is to bring the parties together and endeavour to reach an agreement. But that is not the prime function of arbitration. It is one thing to get the parties together and to bring about a settlement, but there is also the other consideration, namely, whether the public interest has been well served by that process, or whether the price that is being paid for the agreement will be passed on to the consuming public. So, there is a very sound basis for our arbitration system which in the past has put presiding officers above the storm, so that they may consider the matters placed before them objectively and ‘give decisions which not only represent a basis of justice as between the parties, but also protect the interests of the public. The Government claims to have accepted the recommendations of Judge Foster, but it has departed altogether from those recommendations in regard to this matter. Judge Foster recommended that the presiding officer should be a judge; but the Government says that he should lie a judge or a conciliation commissioner. The Attorney-General gave a lukewarm assurance that the chairman would be a judge, but he qualified the assurance with the words “ if possible “. Why should it not be possible? What is to prevent this Government appointing, if it so chooses, half a dozen additional Arbitration Court judges ?
In accordance with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which was presented to the Parliament yesterday, fifteen additional conciliation commissioners are to be appointed. Surely, if it is possible to appoint fifteen new conciliation commissioners, it should he possible to appoint sufficient additional judges to enable one to preside over the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I am not satisfied with the Attorney-General’s assurance. The clause should be amended in terms which have been indicated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). The Opposition approaches this problem with a great deal of concern and scepticism. The waterfront industry is a key industry and the rapid movement of shipping to-day is of vital importance, not only to Australia and Australian trade, but also to Great Britain. Yesterday or to-day, according to this evening’s press, a motion was submitted in the British House of Commons in which Mr. Churchill made pointed references to Great Britain’s need for foodstuffs. Yet, in the Port of Sydney to-day, 70 ships are held up when they should be rendering valuable assistance in that regard. This hold-up is occurring despite the fact that a Stevedoring Industry Commission is already in existence. If the waterside workers are not prepared to abide by the decisions of that body, what prospect is there of this new authority meeting with any more success? The price that the public has already paid, and the experience of the past, suggest not merely that the commission should be abolished, but also that waterfront problems should he put where they belong, namely, in the hands of the Arbitration Court.
.- Once again the Opposition is endeavouring to delay government business. Already this week we have had a motion for the adjournment of the House, and apparently the Opposition’s tactics to-day represent another phase of its attempt to hinder legislation. I have endeavoured to ascertain the real basis of the arguments that have been advanced by the Opposition against the appointment of a Commonwealth officer to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The implementation of this legislation will involve the expenditure r.f public money, and surely there is every justification for- the presence on the new body of an officer who will watch proceedings in the interests of the Government and of the public. He will not be able to vote, nor will he be able to influence decisions, but he will be of considerable assistance to the commission as a liaison officer. He will be able to draw the attention of the commission to troubles that are likely to arise in the industry, and so nip disputes in the bud. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has alleged that the appointment would be political. That is not true. The officer would be an official of a government department, probably the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. He would not be a member of Parliament. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) expressed the opinion that the matters to be handled by the Stevedoring Industry Commission properly fell within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, but everybody knows what a slow-moving machine the Arbitration Court is. There is always a large number of claims awaiting hearing, and the irritation caused by this delay is one of the fundamental reasons for the present industrial turmoil. A conciliation commissioner need not be an expert in every phase of a particular industry. He need be well-versed in only the section of it involved in a dispute. Disputes involving other sections could be dealt with by other men. I know just howcomplicated is the industry to which I belong, and I realize that the waterfront industry presents almost as many problems. Honorable members opposite allege that the stevedoring industry is Communist controlled, and that this measure has ‘been introduced at the instigation of the Communist party. But let us consider for a moment the strength of the Communist party throughout Australia. It has not yet succeeded in getting one representative into this Parliament. In fact, in only one State has it succeeded in securing the election of its nominee, yet to hear honorable members opposite talk one would think that the Communist party was leading the Labour party and the whole of the industrial organization by the nose. That is definitely incorrect. I am not prepared to go so far as some Opposition members, and refuse . these people the right to work in industry. Those who take that stand claim to be democrats. What form of democracy is it which would stifle all political views with which one does not agree? The Communist party has every right to express its view, so long as it keeps within the law, and its members should not be denied the right to work side by side with others in order to earn a livelihood. If we deny them that right we ought not to have fought Hitler or Mussolini. Am I to deny a man and his wife and children food because he has a different political outlook from mine? Some honorable members opposite would not hesitate to do that.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that the Communist party is determined to smash the Arbitration Court.
– Does not the honorable member believe that?
– No, I do not; but I do know that the party which the honorable member for Fawkner supported tried to do so. The honorable member may recall that in 1929 the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, brought before the Parliament a proposal to take the control of arbitration from the Commonwealth court and hand it back to the States.
– The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) advocated the same thing last night.
– The honorable member for Denison has a perfect right to express that view, although it is one with which I disagree. If we are to have a mince-meat mixture of arbitration, under the control of a number of tribunals in different states there will be continual turmoil throughout the Commonwealth. With such a system in force there could be a different basic wage in every State, and the result might well be that the captains of industry would transfer their manufacturing establishments to the State which had the lowest basic wage and transport the cheaply made goods to the high-wage State, resulting in unemployment in the latter state. It is foolish to blame the Communist party for opposing the arbitration system, when the party which honorable members opposite supported decided to abolish the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Honorable members may recall that Mr. Bruce lost his seat, and that the party led by him- was soundly beaten at the election which followed his proposal.
– Then why does the honorable member for Denison advocate the same thing?
– I think that the honorable member for Denison had a motive in what he said. I believe that he holds the view that if the control of arbitration were handed back to the States, they would quickly realize the cause of the turmoil in the community and would be prepared to vest in the Commonwealth additional powers over employment and industry. It is not the fault of the Labour party that those powers have not already been conferred on the Commonwealth. Mr. Matthew Charlton, who preceded me in this chamber as the representative of the electorate of Hunter, supported the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, when he tried to get full industrial powers for the Commonwealth m 1924. The then government submitted a proposal almost identical with that submitted to the people recently by the present Government, and Mr. Charlton who was then the Leader of the Opposition, supported it.
– Order! The honorable member would be in order in referring to the setting up of the Steve doring Industry Commission, but he is not entitled to engage in a second-reading debate.
– I do not like to disagree with the Chair, but I submit that I am not making a second-reading speech. I delivered my second-reading speech on this bill about a fortnight ago. This clause gives scope for a wide discussion.
– The honorable member is entitled to deal only with the subject covered by the clause. He may not engage in a general debate.
– I am not–
– The honorable member is not in order in arguing with the Chair.
– I am answering the statements of Opposition members who were not pulled up by the Chair.
– You are too tough. I suggest that you call on the next speaker.
.- I propose to reply to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) at the beginning of his speech. He said that honorable members on this side of the chamber were engaged in stone-walling tactics, and were endeavouring to hold up the business of the Parliament. I submit that Government supporters are engaged in stone-walling tactics against the people of Great Britain.
– The honorable member for Hunter resumed his seat when he realized that he had exceeded his rights. The honorable member for Richmond will not be allowed to depart from the clause under discussion, but if he confines his remarks to the clause he will be. allowed to continue.
– I take strong exception, Mr. Chairman, to the way in which-
– So did I, and I sat down.
– Order ! The honorable member for Richmond must withdraw his reflection on the Chair, cr I shall name him.
– I withdraw the statement. I claim that I am sticking closely to clause 5, which deals with the constitution of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, a body which will be entrusted with the duty of ensuring that cargoes shall be sent overseas, and therefore will be responsible for seeing that they are loaded on to ships. I was endeavouring to. point out that one of the duties of the commission will be to make certain that foodstuffs are not left to rot on the wharfs, as is happening at present in Sydney, where 40,000 bags of potatoes are rotting in the holds of ships which are tied up. Those potatoes and other commodities can be shifted only by some authority-
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause and not engage in a general debate.
– I submit that I am in order.
– I rise to order. Clause 5 deals with the composition of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, but the honorable member is not dealing with it.
– Order! The clause is fairly wide. It begins “ There shall be a Stevedoring Industry Commission “. The Chair rules that members may debate whether there shall be such a commission, but they are not entitled to deal with all the ramifications of the setting up of such a body as if this were a second-reading debate. Their remarks must be confined to the setting up of a commission and its constitution.
– I shall follow your ruling closely, Mr. Chairman. The amendment before the Chair provides that the commission shall consist of a chairman, who shall be a judge, two representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation, a representative of Australian shipowners and a representative of overseas shipowners. I believe that I shall be in order if I draw attention to some of the difficulties which will face the commission and the necessity for constituting an authority in which confidence can be reposed. I come now to the proposal to appoint a government representative to the commission. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in the course of his illustrious career in this Parliament, has provided us with some amazing expositions of logic, but never have I heard him put up a worse case than he did to-night. Never before have I known him to have to leave the chamber in order to get a note from another Minister to explain a simple matter. The Attorney-General, who is one of the keenest legal minds in Australia, had to go out for a note from the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashely) to explain part of the bill. Such a situation is ludicrous. It has been said that the government officer on the commission will be a liaison officer He is to sit on the commission without a vote, and is, presumably, to be dumb, also. His function is to report to the Minister. Is that not properly the function of the chairman of the commission? If certain matters require a governmental decision is it not the place of the chairman to discuss them with the Minister? It would be just as logical for the Government to place its own representative on the High Court Bench, or to put a thirteenth man on a jury, one with no vote, but charged with the duties of reporting to somebody outside. The amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) merits the close consideration of the AttorneyGeneral. Surely the Government is to have enough influence of the appointment of the commission without needing to put on it a separate representative of its own. Let us see how the commission is to be appointed. The clause says that the chairman shall be appointed by the Governor-General - that is, of course, His Excellency the Honorable W. J. McKell. The other members of the commission shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral - His Excellency the Honorable W. J. McKell. And they shall hold office during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral - His Excellency the Honorable W. J. McKell. These members of the commission, except in the case of the member who is an officer of the Commonwealth, shall be paid fees and allowances at such rates as the Minister determines.
It is clear, therefore, that under clause 5, the Government is to have full authority in regard to the appointment of members of the commission. It will not go to the Waterside Workers Federation and say, “ Elect your representative to the commission. Take a vote on the matter “. No, it says, “ We shall select two members of your organization, two hand-picked men, and appoint them to the commission The Government does not say to the shipowners, “ Will you choose by ballot some one to represent you on this commission? “ It does nothing of the sort. It says, “ We are going to select some person who may or may not be acceptable to you, and he shall be your representative on the commission “. Then, not yet being satisfied that it will have complete control over the commission, because the men so chosen may prove fro “be of an independent turn of mind, the Government, so as to make assurance doubly sure, says, “ We shall put our own officer on the commission, whose duty will be, not to vote as a member of the commission, but to report to the Minister “. Will this system work ? Apparently, the present chairman of the commission, Mr. D. V. Morrison, can foresee the consequences of such an appointment because yesterday, in the course of a press statement, he asked the Government to abandon its proposal to appoint a permanent stevedoring commission. I believe that the Government would be well advised to accept that advice.
.- As was pointed out by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), we have been treated to-night to an exhibition of stonewalling by members of the Opposition, who have made a deliberate attempt to put political propaganda over the air, careless of the welfare of the nation which this bill is designed to promote. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) criticized the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) for leaving the chamber for a few moments in order to pick up some notes on the bill. Judging by the speech of the honorable member, 1 should say that it is a pity he did not take the trouble to provide himself with some notes, because his whole speech was nothing but stone-walling, and had nothing to do with the clause before the committee. Honorable members opposite have taken exception to the proposal to appoint to the commission a government representative.
– They admit that he is a capable man.
– Yes, and that he has rendered great service to the Commonwealth. There is no consistency in the arguments of the Opposition. Surely it is reasonable that the Commonwealth should have a representative on any authority which is charged with the expenditure of £600,000 a year, or with the expenditure of any amount, for that matter. This practice was always followed by governments which were supported by honorable members opposite. Therefore, their objection to this provision is merely an attempt to find fault with the bill which, in their hearts, they know is likely to usher in a period of industrial peace. Honorable members opposite are palpably inconsistent. First, they said that the Government should not have implemented Judge Foster’s recommendation. At the same time, they found fault with Judge Foster’s record and made various insinuations against him. In the next breath, they criticized the Government for failing, in this instance, to follow the judge’s recommendation.
– And Judge Foster did not recommend against this provision.
– No. Obviously, honorable members opposite have cast consistency to the winds. Their sole purpose is to find fault. Consequently, their arguments lack substance. No reasonable man can support their proposition that the Government should not appoint a representative on an administrative body for which the Government is responsible. But, viewing this provision in the least favorable light, what damage can be done by appointing a Government representative on this body? That representative will not have power to exercise a vote. His duties will be purely those of an observer on behalf of the Government. In the last resort, on any issue which goes to a vote, and in the nature of things many such issues will arise, he will not be able to influence the decision of the commission, because he will not have a vote. All decisions of the commission will be majority decisions, and the government representative will have no say when the vote is taken. Therefore, we can dismiss the arguments of the Opposition on that point. Honorable members opposite are merely stone-walling.
The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) said ‘that this measure had been inspired by the Communists. In that respect, he repeated groundless statements by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), who said that the wording of certain paragraphs of the measure was identical with that of provisions in what he termed “ Mr. Healy’s bill “. The honorable member, apparently, is not aware that the particular provisions to which he referred in that respect are taken verbatim from regulations of the National Security (Stevedoring Industry) Regulations, and that, obviously, Mr. Healy took his wording from that source when drafting the bill which he submitted to Judge Poster. Honorable members opposite deliberately misrepresent the facts when they say that any clause of this measure has been inspired by the Communists. The honorable member for Parramatta in speaking against the measure has been “ off the beam “ altogether. At the appropriate time I shall read to honorable members figures which completely answer the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). Honorable members opposite have no intention of endeavouring to make practical suggestions for improvement of the measure. I am appalled to find that responsible members of Parliament should endeavour to hold up this measure which is designed to establish peace on the waterfront.
– I strongly oppose the setting up of a stevedoring industry commission which is provided for in the clause now before the Chair. I oppose this provision, first, because it meets the desires of the Communists, who have deliberately instigated unrest on the waterfront with the sole idea of giving the Government a pretext for the proposed alterations of our arbitration system. The objective of the Communists is to weaken, and then destroy, the existing arbitration system. Under this measure, the Government is helping them to achieve that aim by takthe stevedoring industry away from the Arbitration Court and placing it under the exclusive control of a commission. Under such conditions the Communists will be able to hold up shipping in every port in Australia to the grave detriment of our commerce and consequent loss to our producers.
Much has been said with respect to the appointment of a government representative on the commission. I am unable to work up indignation on that point, because, under the measure, the commission will be so constituted that it would not make any difference at all were it to consist of half a dozen government representatives. The commission is to be composed of a chairman who will be appointed by the Government. Of the other four members, two will represent the “ Com “-directed Waterside Workers Federation, one will represent the Australian shipowners - and we know that the Government now controls 90 per cent, of the ships plying in Australian waters - and the other member will be a representative of the overseas shipowners in whose selection I have not the slightest doubt the Government will have a very large say. Thus the Government will have the “ bag “. I oppose the setting up of this commission for many reasons, the chief of them being that I do not believe that such a body will be capable of establishing peace on the waterfront. I do not believe that honorable members opposite sincerely think that the setting up of this commission will achieve any worthwhile results. It will not enable parties in the industry to become friends. It will not be able to make the men work, and thus enable the country to carry on its industries and commence, particularly with countries which are now in such dire distress and are clamouring for supplies of foodstuffs. Although the Arbitration Court is quite capable of carrying out the duties which will be allotted to the proposed commission, the Government doesnot hesitate to set up this new body at ». cost of £600,000 a year and appoint to it two “ Corns “, a government representative who will also he a “ Com “, and a representative allegedly of the Australian shipowners who also will, in fact, be another government representative. No doubt, after the next general elections, a defeated Labour candidate will be appointed to that position.
The cost of maintaining the commission will have to be passed on. to whom? It cannot be passed on to the Government, because the Government does not produce commodities. The Government merely talks about what it does for the producers, and the subsidies which it gives to them. It does not give anything at all to the producers. All subsidies come out of the pockets of the taxpayers. This £600,000 will be taken by compulsion by the authorities 6n the wharfs by a charge of 4£d. for each man-hour worked by stevedores and waterside workers. That charge will be passed on to the primary producers and manufacturers of secondary products, who ship their commodities either interstate or abroad. As the establishment of the commission was desired by the Communists we have no confidence in its ability to bring about peace on the waterfront and a quicker turn-round of ships. I believe in the maintenance of the arbitration system. I go further and say that we should continue in existence only the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Many years ago a former Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, expressed a strong request for one arbitration system. He asked the States to abolish the state system, claiming that if they did not abandon it he would ask them to agree to the abolition of the Commonwealth court. I see nothing in this bill which will improve conditions on the waterfront, and accordingly I shall vote against the clause providing for the establishment of the commission.
.- It is patent that honorable members opposite are insincere in relation to this discussion because in the first place their arguments have been of a spurious nature. In analysing the composition of the commission, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred first to the government officer and then to the representatives of the employees. I noticed the same tendency on the part of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), studiously to avoid any reference to the ship-owners’ organization. Listening to the remarks of honorable members opposite one is forced to the conclusion that in their view an ideal stevedoring industry commission would be one the personnel of which consisted entirely of ship-owners. The point- I wish to make briefly is that the first request for the establishment of this commission came some years ago from the shipping interests themselves. Is it not typical of capitalism in distress to rush to the Government for assistance when industrial trouble threatens, and when the sun of peace shines again to say “ This is no good ; let us scrap it “.
The honorable member for New England interjecting,
– I hear a rumble from the great spy-hunter, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). I shall deal with him in due course. There is a humanitarian angle to this bill in that it is designed to ensure that activities on the waterfront shall be carried out in accordance with civilized principles. We must all realize that the Stevedoring Industry Commission has brought dignity to a job that has in the past so sadly lacked it. If the honorable member for New England knows anything of conditions on the waterfront he will admit that, before the institution of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, what were known as “ bull “ gangs on the waterfront, were expected to meet at certain places, when the foreman would come up and say, “ You, and you, are required for the job; the others may go “, and that the men who were not engaged sprinted to the next gate to present themselves for employment.
– The total distance between the gates on the principal wharfs in -Sydney was known as the hungry mile. In those days a wharf labourer had to be a sprinter capable of winning the Stawell Gift or a cross-country runner of no mean achievements if he were to beat his fellows to the next gate. Honorable members opposite have referred to the high price of a casual industry. The point I make is that this bill is designed to place a casual industry on a humanitarian basis. This Government is too courageous and aware of its task to abdicate to the Communists. It says, “ This bill may not be the answer to all industrial trouble on the waterfront but at least it is an earnest indication that we are getting on with the job “, just as it did when it set up an organization to control the coal industry. When the jeers of honorable members opposite are long forgotten the work of the Commonwealth Coal Board and of the Stevedoring Industry Commission will be remembered. The Opposition is more concerned with profits than with anything else. Throughout the whole of his, speech, the honorable member for New England constantly referred to additional costs. Did he give a moment’s thought to the physical costs imposed on the workers on the waterfront for a number of years? Has he read the McQueen report relating to broken-down workers on the waterfront ? If the honorable member is so interested in costs he should find out how the wealthy shipowners were able to increase freight rates from 200 to 300 per cent, and passenger rates in like proportion. It is the same old “‘blather” we have heard from Opposition members time and time again. Their arguments against this proposal are spurious. Do they know that this commission was asked for by the ship-owners themselves? If we lose the opportunity to establish the Stevedoring Industry Commission on a permanent basis now, after having had some years of control by the war-time body, we shall go back to the bad old days on the waterfront which were a blot on our industrial history. We have no desire to see them repeated. If honorable members opposite still think in terms of profits they should continue their opposition to the establishment of the commission; if they think in terms of humanitarianism they will support its establishment.
.- I would not have spoken on this clause but for the rather pious ejaculations of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). One would have thought that he had drifted in from another world and had not heard of troubles on the waterfront. The honorable member said that this bill is -based on humanitarian principles; if that be so, he should reject it. The honorable member knows quite well that the conditions of which he spoke, the chains of slavery, the workmen tramping around the wharfs seeking employment, are things of the past.
– Npt of the so-distant past.
– The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is still living in the past. The honorable member for Parkes must know from official figures that wharf labourers can earn from £14 to £15 a week and that the average weekly hours worked on the waterfront are fewer than 40. In addition wharf labourers are paid attendance money-
– I ask the honorable member to discuss the clause.
– The claim that this bill is based on humanitarian principles is all so much eyewash. Its purpose is stated to be to settle troubles that arise on the waterfront.
– Order! The clause under discussion relates to the establishment of a Stevedoring Industry Commission. The honorable member may refer to the commission and its personnel; he is not in order in making another second-reading speech on the bill.
– The clause is a vital one because the question we have to ask ourselves is whether this commission is to be or not to be. Will this legislation lead to settlement of the waterfront troubles? They exist. We know the position in the port of Sydney and other ports around Australia. This bill contains nothing - nor does the whole bill, for that matter - that will enable the Stevedoring Industry Commission to do anything that cannot be done by the Arbitration Court. The Arbitration Court, which was set up more than 40 years ago, has had a good measure of success. I concede that it has not been perfect, and that it has had failures. Its structure can be improved. In fact, the Government has on the stocks a bill to improve it. The Stevedoring Industry Bill, however, will subtract from it. It will disintegrate the arbitration structure of Australia. Demolition of the arbitration system, of course, is the policy of the Communists. I hear the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) interjecting something or other. I do not know what it is; but I do know that there is no stronger opponent of the Communist party on the Government side than the honorable gentleman, and that he is aware that abolition of the Arbitration Court is one of the planks of the Communist party’s platform. In this bill we have the beginning of the process of the demolition of democracy. It drags the stevedoring industry away from the Arbitration Court and it is a step towards wrecking the powers of that court. Will the Stevedoring Industry Commission ensure a quicker turn round of ships ? Will it enable trade and commerce to develop as they should ? No ! The honorable member for Parkes talked about. the wharf labourers sprinting from wharf to wharf, but the honorable gentleman knows that they are led by malevolent men with no interest in Australia beyond that of making it a Communist state. Has he not heard of Healy, one of the authors of this clause? He knows, surely, that Healy and men of his type hold in jeopardy the jobs of the men that they lead. Should their orders be disobeyed these petty dictators can punish the members of the unions that they control, not only by fining them, but also by tearing up their union tickets. We have witnessed that in the metal trades dispute in Victoria, which has resulted in the departure of skilled men from skilled into unskilled jobs never to return. The welfare of unionists and their families are held in the hands of the union bosses. Honorable gentlemen opposite do not like this, I know, but the purpose of this clause is to wreck the arbitration system. If the stevedoring industry is subtracted from the scope of the Arbitration Court, the influence of that Court will be weakened. Could the Stevedoring Industry Commission settle the shameful Dutch shipping incident? We heard nothing from the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) about that.
– I rise to a point of order. I: the honorable member in order in discussing the Indonesian situation on this clause ?
– I uphold the point of order. The honorable member is not in order in discussing the Indonesian situation.
– I was not discussing it. All I said was that the Attorney-General had made no reference to it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member is not in order in discussing my ruling.
– There seems to be little that I may say, but I have a few minutes left.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If that is intended as a reflection on the Chair, I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– It was not intended as a reflection upon you, Mr. Temporary Chairman; you were not in the chair when I was previously called to order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Resume your seat! I was in the Chair when the point of order was taken, and 1 gave the ruling.
– I withdraw. I point out that the Stevedoring Industry Commission will cost £600,000 a year, taken from the pockets of the taxpayers when we are still the most heavily taxed people iti the world.
– What, rot!
– If we did not have the expensive Department of Transport, which is administered by the honorable gentleman, who describes my statement as rot “, the Australian people would be less heavily taxed. That £600,000 a year that is to be wrung from the Australian taxpayers will be passed on. That will increase the price of timber and that, in turn, will increase the cost of housing te the frustrated people who cannot get houses.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I submit that the honorable member is out of order in referring to housing and transport in this discussion.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The clause is very wide; but not wide enough to allow the honorable member to introduce all sorts of extraneous matters. I ask him to confine himself to the sufficiently wide scope that the clause gives him.
– I was referring to the £600,000 a year that the commission will cost the Australian taxpayers. The cost must be met by them. The whole effect of the bill will be to strengthen in their positions the putty caesars who dominate the Waterside Workers Federation. I object to the establishment of the Stevedoring Industry Commission because, as was said by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), it will be useless. I make the one exception that the public servant to be appointed to the commission is an outstanding man, and I welcome his presence as a sort of watchdog to ensure the least possible waste of public funds. That is necessary because two of the members of the commission will be Communists. The commission is to be presided over by a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner. Either is possible. Who knows but that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) may one day bc a judge? The Government has been a pretty good judge itself in finding posts for defeated Labour politicians.
– Order !
– I take no exception to the appointment to the commission of the public servant whose appointment is proposed, because he is regarded highly; but I oppose the whole bill because it will destroy the arbitration system. As I am opposed to the undermining of that system, and as this clause is a part of the framework, I am opposed to it, too.
.- The clause sets up the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Opposition has taken exception to the continued existence of the commission, because it claims that it has not succeeded in stopping strikes on the waterfront. The commission took over in circumstances of full employment. In the second-reading debate, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) said that what she did not like to contemplate, but what was undoubtedly the means of obtaining industrial discipline, was the presence of unemployment. That is, of course, perfectly true. The commission has existed when there has been no industrial unemployment. The industrial discipline of normal times was due to the existence of unemployment. It is undoubtedly dishonest to compare 1939, when there were 350,000 unemployed in Australia, with to-day, when employees have complained again and again that a strike does not block a man’s earnings, because he is able to get work elsewhere. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has existed under conditions of full employment, and I hope it will continue to do so. To argue that it has caused strikes on the waterfront is patently dishonest. If we were back in the laisser-faire situation of 1939, when private companies were simply engaging their own labour, the lack of unemployment would operate as it does to-day as a factor in disturbing industrial discipline. A prominent American industrialist once said that his best weapon for enforcing industrial discipline was the unemployment queue at the gate of his factory. The truth of that remark applies to Australian industries also. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has had to handle waterside problems during the war, and now it is handling them during a period of industrial boom conditions.
One line of opposition argument has been directed particularly at the appointment to the commission of a Commonwealth representative, who will not have a vote but who will be present at the meetings of the commission. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and a few other honorable members opposite have said that this socalled appointment of a “Gestapo agent “ to watch the commission will be a new departure. Other honorable members opposite have contradicted them by pointing out that the Government has been represented on the Stevedoring Industry Commission ever since it has been in existence.- As they have said, the composition of the commission will continue to be the same as it has been during the last five years. What is the justification for the appointment of a government liaison officer? Honorable members opposite contend that the judge who will be chairman of the commission should act as the mouthpiece of the commission in its dealings with the Government. They have tried to draw an analogy by saying that the Government would not appoint a government supervisor on the High Court Bench or on the Arbitration Court Bench. Anybody who has read this bill intelligently must realize that the functions of the commission will not be merely those of an arbitration court. It will have administrative powers, and administrative problems- will arise from time to time. The judge, whose functions I presume will be mainly judicial, would not be the appropriate authority to report to the Government on those matters. What will be the nature of the problems which will confront the commission?
Honorable members opposite have referred to the limitations of Commonwealth powers in relation to industrial matters. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) said that the people emphatically rejected the Government’s proposal for increased industrial powers. I do not know what constitutes an emphatic rejection. The referendum proposals were supported by a majority of the people, but not by a majority of the States, as the honorable member will find if he will take the trouble to study the results of the 1946 referendum. The Commonwealth has certain definite powers under the Constitution. For instance, the loading and unloading of ships trading internationally and interstate comes under the Commonwealth power over trade and commerce. However, the Commonwealth has no power in relation to the loading and unloading of ships trading within any one State. This could give rise to a situation in which a determination by the Stevedoring Industry Commission would apply on wharfs where international and interstate ships were being loaded and unloaded but not on wharfs where intranstate vessels were being loaded and unloaded. Therefore, close co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments will be necessary. Is it the function of an Arbitration Court judge to act as an agent between the Commonwealth Government and a State government? Obviously it is not. If the Commonwealth wants to secure the co-operation of a State government in relation to any problem on the waterfront, it will be able to send its liaison officer who has been present at the meetings of the commission to negotiate with the State’s representatives. In that respect, the appointment of a Commonwealth representative to the commission is entirely justified.
It is interesting to note the way in which the Opposition has twisted back on what, during the fifteen months I have been a member of this Parliament, has been one of its major lines of argument. According to honorable members opposite, every strike that has occurred in Australia in that period has been the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. In each instance, their cry has been that the Commonwealth ‘ Government ought to intervene immediately to settle the strike. That shows clearly the basis of their thinking, at least for the purposes of party propaganda. They have said by implication that the Commonwealth Government should have absolute power in industrial matters. But now, when a Commonwealth officer is to be appointed to a commission which will govern a dissident industry, an industry vital to the nation, they say that the Government should have nothing to do with it at all. This Government appointee will be voteless ; he will merely watch the interests of the Commonwealth in regard to problems which will arise in the stevedoring industry, particularly those which affect the Commonwealth’s relations with the States.
– Will he have any voice at the meetings of the commission ?
– Of course he will have a voice unless he is completely dumb. A man with long experience in a government department and with an intimate knowledge of the industry must have some influence on the commission. That will be a very good thing, because the commission will have many administrative functions which will affect the Commonwealth Government. This officer will not have a vote, but he will report to the Government which, after all, will bear most of the criticism from the community, and certainly from the Opposition, in the event of disruption occurring on the waterfront. There is nothing consistent about the arguments of honorable members opposite. Those arguments are completely out of harmony with their usual line of propaganda, by which they endeavour to sheet home to the Government all responsibility for industrial unrest. The amendment should be rejected.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Harrison’s amendment ) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman -
Mr. T. P. Burke.)
Foes .. .. ..22
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– On behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), paragraph (6), the words “ or a Conciliation Commissioner appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1346” be left out.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission shall be a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and shall not, as has been suggested during this discussion, be a conciliation commissioner appointed under the Com monwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This is one of the most important clauses of the bill. The whole of the arbitral powers of the commission will be abrogated unless the chairman is a judge of the Arbitration Court. When replying to the second-reading debate, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) declared that the provisions of the bill almost slavishly followed the recommendations of Judge Foster regarding the establishment of the commission. In this instance, however, the right honorable gentleman departed radically from the recommendations. On page 24 of the report, His Honour said -
I have accepted the proposal of the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association that the chairman should be a judge of the Arbitration Court, and rejected Mr. Healy’s claim that he be a laymen. Mr. Healy feared that” a judge would bring a legalism and legalistic outlook and a cumbersome legal procedure which would militate against the commission’s effectiveness. Mr. Shand, and in this he had of course the support of Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Sholl, made what to mc was an unanswerable case.
Those are strong words. Having heard evidence and argument, His Honour came to the conclusion that the contention that a judge of the Arbitration Court should be appointed chairman of the commission was unanswerable. Mr. Healy had claimed before the royal commissioner that the chairman should be a layman. What constitutes a layman? He is a man who has no judicial authority - a man who might be appointed as a conciliation commissioner, because a conciliation commissioner need not possess any judicial experience or be a legal practitioner. For example, he may be a defeated Labour politican, a Communist from the Waterside Workers Federation or a union secretary or organizer. In short, a layman may be anybody whom the Government desires to appoint to this position. The AttorneyGeneral has compromised between the finding of the royal commissioner and the views expressed by Mr. Healy. He said, in effect, “I shall not offend Judge Foster by excluding from appointment as chairman of the commission a judge of the Arbitration Court”. Earlier, the right honorable gentleman had stated that a judge would be appointed, if possible. I ask honorable members to mark the qualification. At the same time, the Attorney-General did not desire to offend Mr. Healy, so he decided to permit the possibility of the appointment of a conciliation commissioner. Of course, the conciliation commissioner would be a layman, and Mr. Healy advocated the appointment of a layman to that position.
The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) attempted to reply to the statements by members of the Opposition that this is a Communist-inspired bill. I direct attention to the following observation by Judge Foster, in reference to Mr. Healy : -
His wide proposals envisaged the running of a very big business by the Stevedoring Industry Commission throughout Australia as actual employers.
Let us examine how far Mr. Healy’s observations regarding a big business enterprise have affected this Government. I direct attention to paragraph b of subclause 1 of clause 11, which states that the .functions of the commission shall be- . . to regulate industrial matters in connexion with stevedoring operations, and to regulate and control .the performance of stevedoring operations, insofar as those operations relate to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States or are performed in a Territory of the Commonwealth.
There we have the complete answer. Mr. Healy says, “ Give us a layman as chairman because we visualize this becoming a huge business enterprise “. The Attorney-General has compromised by accepting Mr. Healy’s recommendation in part, namely, in regard to the appointment of a conciliation commissioner as an alternative to a judge. At the same time, however, he has so framed another portion of the bill as to give effect to Mr. Healy’s suggestion that the commission should become a big business organization. I refer to that matter to show that this bill is definitely Communist-inspired, and that the provision for the appointment of a conciliation commissioner as alternative to a judge indicates the acceptance of a principle that has been laid down by Mr. Healy. I have no doubt that the AttorneyGeneral had a twinge of conscience when he said to the committee apropos of nothing, and not in relation to this particular clause, “ We shall appoint a judge, if possible “, and having made that concession, I believe that his legal training and his sense of fairness will lead him to see the merit in this amendment. I realize that pressure must have been brought to bear upon him to accept Mr. Healy’s recommendation with regard to the appointment of a layman. The right honorable gentleman has shrouded this proposal by providing for the appointment of a “ conciliation commissioner “ ; but that will not hoodwink anybody. We know whom the term “ conciliation commissioner “ may include. I am sure that the Attorney-General, because of his legal training, appreciates the necessity to have a judge as chairman of this commission in order that the matters that come before it may be given adequate legal consideration, and as the right honorable gentleman has taken one step towards meeting the wishes of the Opposition by stating that a judge will be appointed if possible, I suggest that he might be prepared to go the full distance and accept the amendment. If the right honorable gentleman were to do that he would be making a progressive step by enabling the commission to exercise thoroughly the powers conferred upon it by this measure.
– The amendment seeks to impose upon the Government the obligation to appoint a judge as chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. After consultation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), I informed the committee earlier to-day that it was the Government’s intention to appoint a judge to this commission if possible. I qualified my statement because I know of no method by which one could compel a judge of the Arbitration Court to accept a position of this kind should he wish not to do so. However, I have no doubt that a judge, fit, able and willing to do this great national work, will be found.
– Would the AttorneyGeneral consider additional appointments if necessary?
– Additional appointments will probably become necessary as the result of the passage of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and it may be that additional appointments will become necessary under this measure, too. I have stated frankly te the committee what the intention of the Government is. I only qualified my statement lest we could not find a judge of the Arbitration Court willing to do the work, and, although I think this difficulty will be overcome, it is for that reason that the Government is not prepared to remove from the bill provision for the appointment of a conciliation commissioner. That provision has nothing to do with the proposal that Mr. Healy put ‘before Judge Foster. He did not argue in favour of a conciliation commissioner at all. He merely said that the chairman should be a layman.
– “What is the difference between a layman and a conciliation commissioner?
– A great difference. A conciliation commissioner is appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and takes the oath prescribed by that act. Under the new bill he will have a status equivalent to that of a judge, and his position will be much closer to that of a judge than ever before. Therefore, I am not prepared to say that a person occupying such a position would in no circumstances be fit. to be chairman of the commission. Having said that in justification of the alternative being provided for in the bill, I repeat that the Government proposes that a judge should be appointed, if possible, and in view of that assurance, I submit that the amendment should not be pressed. Let us suppose, for instance, that a vacancy in the position of chairman were to occur at some future date. It might well be that there would be available for the job a conciliation commissioner who had proved that he possessed outstanding qualifications, and was worthy of the position. Some honorable members opposite have gone out of their way to acclaim the work of Mr. Morrison. Mr. Morrison is a conciliation commissioner, and as such has done excellent work.
– Mr. Morrison has said that the commission is so useless that it should be abolished.
– Never mind what he has said. What he has done is more important. He undertook his present position at a most difficult time. Again 1 assure the committee that the Government proposes to carry out the intention that I have stated, and I urge the Opposition to accept that assurance without further debating this amendment. The position of a conciliation commissioner under the new Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be one of great authority, and much different from the old position. The salary will be increased substantially, and the status of the job improved. In addition, security of tenure of office will be given.
– Does the Government intend to appoint qualified legal men to these positions?
– I do not intend to make that a necessary condition of appointment, and I do not think that honorable members generally believe that legal training should ‘be a requisite qualification.
– Is there any possibility that the work of the Stevedoring Industry Commission and that of the conciliation commissioners to be appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will overlap?
– No, because under this measure there is a separation of the work of the commission from the work of the Arbitration Court, except in respect of the basic wage and the standard hours.. The reference to a conciliation commissioner is to make sure that if such a per- son were appointed as chairman he would have all the status that is given to him under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Of course he would be in close contact with the work of the Arbitration Court. However, in spite of the proposed enhanced status of conciliation commissioners, the Government proposes that the chairman of the commission shall be a judge, but, for the reasons I have given, I ask the committee not to make the appointment of a judge mandatory. I can understand a judge of the court holding the view that as there will be some administrative work to be performed - work not usually performed by a judge of the court - he will not be an aspirant for appointment. It might not be easy to get a judge to accept the position.
– The person appointed will have to make awards.
– But he will also haveto do some administrative work and carry out functions which are not usually performed by judges. That was pointed out by Judge Foster in his report. I do not think that the committee has anything to fear. I have been frank with honorable members, and I believe that the country will be satisfied with the appointment when it is made.
.- I should have been more inclined to accept the assurances of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) and adopt the course suggested by him had I not heard his speech last night, and his reply a few moments ago to an interjection by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn). Those two matters require further analysis if the committee is to be satisfied on the point raised. ‘ The AttorneyGeneral says that the Government intends to appoint a judge as chairman, if possible, and he has explained that he used the words “ if possible “ because it may be difficult to get a judge to accept the position. That was a remarkable statement coming from the AttorneyGeneral. If this body cannot inspire sufficient confidence for some suitable person to be willing to accept appointment, what confidence in it can we expect from the people of Australia? Every qualification of his statement made by the Attorney-General increases our suspicion. Last night he made it clear that the Government had come to the conclusion that the system under which judges preside and deal with industrial issues was not working satisfactorily, and that consequently a system of conciliation commissioners was to be instituted to deal with the problems which formerly were dealt with by judges. If that be a sound reason, and the Government proposes to cast aside the- practice of the past in respect of other industries, why should it not apply also to this industry? The stevedoring industry is one which the Minister himself admits calls for prompt attention when a dispute threatens
I shall not repeat all the reasons I have previously advanced, but I emphasize that awards relating to this industry will necessarily affect other industries. It is impossible to prescribe an hourly rate of pay for stevedoring and not thereby affect other industries. On the waterfront there are rates of pay which are out of line with the rates paid to men with greater skill in other industries. Because awards of the Stevedoring Industry Commission have not been related to awards of the Arbitration Court, we have said that the commission has its dangers. If a judge of the court is appointed as chairman he will be able to link his work with that of the court. A few minutes ago the honorable member for Bourke asked whether the work of the conciliation commissioner who may be appointed as chairman would overlap the work of other conciliation commissioners appointed under the act. The Minister replied “ No “, but that reply will not stand examination. Almost necessarily the chairman will be stationed in Sydney, but there are about 40 ports in other parts of the Commonwealth. Obviously, the chairman of the commission will not be able to deal with all the problems which will arise at those ports, and will require immediate attention. For some years the practice has been, in the event of a dispute arising at, say, Fremantle, to send a conciliation commissioner there to investigate conditions on the spot. Similar action is taken should a dispute threaten at Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane or any other port on the Australian coast. We may have a conciliation commissioner presiding over the work of the commission and other conciliation commissioners going about performing duties required of them in various poTts. Such a system will not work nearly so satisfactorily as one under which a conciliation commissioner operating in a port is responsible to a judge. A conciliation commissioner presiding over this body will not have the same authority over other conciliation commissioners as a judge of the court would have. Whatever our approach to this problem, we come back to the necessity for having as chairman a man with a legal background and an association with the work of the court.
If, in the face of these arguments, the Attorney-General will not accept the amendment, his action will merely give colour to our suspicion that the person who may be appointed chairman in the first place may not hold office for any considerable time. In the past, judges have been appointed who could not stand up indefinitely to the pressure applied to them, and they have resigned from their office, only to be replaced by men who were not judges. That happened in connexion with the tribunal appointed to deal with the coal-mining industry. Judge Drake-Brockman was removed, and a layman, Mr. Willis, was appointed in his place. The system soon became chaotic. A similar state of affairs arose in connexion with the Maritime Industry Commission. To-day, there is not even a conciliation commissioner presiding over that body; it is in charge of a layman in the person of Mr. Edwards, who is a representative of the shipowners. Whatever other qualification Mr. Edwards may have, what capacity has he to determine awards which shall aPPly to the maritime industry? If appointments of this kind continue, the industrial laws of the Commonwealth will soon be in a chaotic state. The Minister, who has had experience of these matters, knows that there is no more fruitful cause of industrial friction than having different sets of wages and conditions in industries doing comparable work. Both safety and sound administration demand that we shall have as chairman of this body a man with the training and authority of a judge of the court. For the reasons that have been given the Opposition is not prepared to accept the statements of the Attorney-General. If he accepts the amendment, the chairman will be a judge of the court ; if he refuses to do so, the Opposition will press its amendment.
.-Judge Foster recommended that the chairman of the commission should be a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I should have thought that, in view of the assurance given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) a few moments ago, a definite assurance, more or less, that a judge would be appointed, the Opposi tion would have been prepared to accept the clause as it stands. The AttorneyGeneral is a man of his word, and he gave sound reasons why the bill should not make it mandatory to appoint a judge of the Arbitration Court. He explained that circumstances might arise in which a judge would not be available. That is reasonable, and the assurance that a judge will be appointed when the act is proclaimed, should remove the objections of all reasonable people to the bill. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that there are good reasons why a judge should be appointed, and no doubt the Attorney-General was influenced by those reasons when he gave his assurance. For my part, I am not convinced that a judge need necessarily be any more efficient than some conciliation commissioners. I believe that it ought to be possible to get a conciliation commissioner who could fill the job very capably. I “am sometimes inclined to think that the presence of a legal man on tribunals of this kind results in delay in the framing of awards. That would appear to be the experience of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. However, in view of the assurance of the AttorneyGeneral, there is no need for the Opposition to persist with the amendment. As for the comparison which the honorable member for Fawkner sought to make with the Arbitration Amendment Bill, I point out that the congestion in the Arbitration Court is due largely to the long-winded procedure in that tribunal, and to the fact that cases have been piling up for a long time past. This has made it necessary for the Government to delegate some of the authority of the court to the commission. Despite the fact that there are 40 different port areas in Australia, I believe that the Stevedoring Industry Commission, whether under the chairmanship of a judge or a conciliation commissioner, will be able to deal rapidly with all matters coming before it, because the commission will have to deal with only one industry, whereas the Arbitration Court has to deal with many.
.- I listened with a good deal of interest to the undertaking given by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) that a judge of the Arbitration Court would, if possible, be appointed chairman of the commission, and I was in some measure reassured. The Attorney-General went on to say that he had no doubt that a judge would be found to fill the position. At the same time, he was not prepared to give an outright undertaking, and I think I begin to understand his difficulty. It is only fair to say that if he had his way a judge of the Arbitration Court would undoubtedly he appointed. His entire experience would indicate this, and I believe that it is his unshakeable conviction that a judge should be appointed. However, he is only one member of the Government, and there are other members of the Government who do not share his opinion. The remarks of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) confirmed this belief, because, while he played up the Attorney-General’s undertaking, it was obvious that he was not himself convinced of the wisdom of appointing a judge as chairman. Indeed, it would appear that he was actually of the opinion that it would be better not to have a judge. The Attorney-General ii> a man of wide experience, and, as I said, if he had his way a judge would be appointed. Probably the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) also favours this course, because the Attorney-General said that he had consulted the Prime Minister. It may be, however, that this is not the opinion of a majority of the members of the Government, and in the end the wishes of the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister may not prevail. If the bill is passed in its present form, it may well happen that a judge of an arbitration court will not, after all, be appointed chairman of the commission.
Let us consider the advantages of appointing a judge of the Arbitration Court. As has already been pointed out, he will be in a position to maintain a close liaison with the Arbitration Court, so that there will be a degree of co-operation which could not otherwise exist. The whole purpose of the bill is to remove the stevedoring industry from the control of the Arbitration Court. Members of the Opposition have pointed out that this may well involve grave dangers. It will tend to sectionalize industry, and unrest may be caused if this industry is placed in too favorable a position compared with others. However, if a judge of the Arbitration Court is appointed chairman of the commission, there is a chance that a< common policy may be applied in making determinations for waterfront work, and for other branches of industry still under the control of the court.
The next obvious advantage of appointing a judge as chairman - and in this T think the Attorney-General will agree with me - is that a judge is possessed of an authority under the Constitution that no conciliation commissioner can in law possess. We know from many judgmentsof the High Court the weakness inherent in appointing judicial- officers who lack life tenure. The appointment of someoneless than a judge may very well lead usinto a legal maze which everyone wouldwant to avoid. The Attorney-General iswell aware of this, and he must be influenced by this consideration in desiring: that a judge should be appointed.
Another point is that a judge would: possess qualifications for the position aschairman of the commission which noother citizen could have. I am not referring now to merely legal training, but to judical training, to the forensic experience which he has gained, and which must make him peculiarly fitted to exercise judicial functions. Some one who’ has had experience in the courts, who hasfought now on one side and now on the other in the almost infinite variety of cases which come within the experience of alegal practitioner, must be better qualified to see both sides of a situation than any layman, no matter what his training or experience. Therefore, a judge,, also by reason of his training, is more suited to fill the position than any other citizen could be. The next qualification which he possesses over and above any possessed by a layman is independence of mind, because the whole of his training has taught him to take a stand, ignoring public opinion and pressure from one side or the other which, in an industry like this, will certainly be applied. It would be idle and foolish to shut our eyes to the fact that in an industry such as this, in which there is so much conflict and hot feeling on both sides, endeavours will be made to bring pressure to bear on the chairman. The chairman is the key man, because with two representatives of each side, and the chairman having a casting vote, he will be the really effective member of the commission. A person with the training and background and the quality of independence of mind of a judge is the ideal candidate for this position.
– Does not the honorable member believe that a person who accepts the position will be capable of exercising independence of mind?
– Even assuming that a person has honesty of intention, will he possess qualities equal to those possessed by one who has had judicial training? I suggest that the whole of our experience in these matters during the last 100 years indicates that that is not so. It is not merely a question of honest intention. Assuming, for the purpose of the honorable member’s argument, that any person who is appointed is honest and intends to do’ his best, the fact remains that in matters of this kind, where bitter pressure will be brought to bear, it will not be sufficient for him to have honest intentions. The person appointed to this position must have the sort of training which will enable him to stand up to pressure. Let us take the position of the conciliation commissioners. They may be anybody. I assume that they may have honest intentions; but they may not have. In this sphere, we have all sorts of people who may be appointed. It has been disclosed that defeated Labour candidates and members of the Australian Labour party have been appointed as conciliation commissioners. They may turn out to be good people; but in New South Wales, again and again, union secretaries, and ex-union secretaries, have been appointed conciliation commissioners under State legislation. Those people have spent their whole lifetime absorbing one point of view. Even given honesty of intention, it is very difficult, indeed, for persons like that to become fair and impartial ; and it would be equally wrong to appoint as chairman of this commision a person who has been identified all his life with the shipowners’ point of view. Such a person, by occupation and by association, cannot help but be influenced. In a position of such vital importance to the coun try, and having regard to the need to maintain public confidence in this tribunal, it is necessary to appoint as chairman of it a person who is quite removed from the interests of any one party. I am quite sure that every word I have said meets with the approval of the AttorneyGeneral, and that if he had his way he would appoint to this position a man -with a trained judicial mind. I regret that he will not accept the amendment because the sole object of it is to give effect to what the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General believe in.
.- I am certain that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will agree to every word uttered by the honorable “ member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale). The more we examine the bill in detail the more depressed we become. The Government realizes the necessity for this commission, and is aware of the importance of the job which will be entrusted to it. It realizes that competent people should be placed in control of the tribunal; but it also realizes the difficulty of securing the services of competent people for positions of this kind. For that difficulty the Government itself is to blame. Although it has paid lip service to the principle of arbitration, it has rarely supported that principle in fact. Consequently, it will experience difficulty in obtaining persons with suitable qualification for appointment as chairman of the commission, as, I have no doubt, it will also have difficulty in inducing people with suitable qualifications to accept judgeships in the Arbitration Court. The Arbitration Court has, since its establishment in 1904, earned for itself outstanding prestige in the public mind. It is only during recent years that the status of the court has diminished. That process is still going on. The Attorney-General has said that he would appoint a judge to this position, and, indeed, he gave the committee an assurance that he will appoint a judge if it is physically possible to do so. Does he suggest that there is not a competent person in the community who is prepared to accept a judgeship in the Arbitration Court? Such a suggestion would be preposterous, were the prestige and status of the court as high to-day as it was in the past. We have ample evidence of the difficulty of the Government in this respect. One after another, the appointees of the Government to various authorities which it has established have resigned. After the Government established the Joint Coal Board months elapsed before it could obtain a person competent and willing to accept the position of chairman of that body. This commission is being set up under a cloud. It will notstart off with the prestige, or the status, which a body of such importance should enjoy. To-day, industrial organizations are passing resolutions in direct conflict with the accepted practice of the Arbitration Court. There must surely besomething wrong in this land if no person with the necessary qualifications is prepared to accept a judgeship of the Arbitration Court. I trust that the Attorney-General will prove his confidence in this commission by accepting the amendment. If he does so it will convey to the people that he believes the commission to be a worthwhile authority and to the legal fraternity it will be an earnest of his belief that it will serve a useful purpose. There will then be no difficulty in securing a competent person willing to accept a judgeship of the Arbitration Court and the chairmanship of the commission. If the right honorable gentleman wishes to launch this commission on a sound basis, to ensure that it shall do its job, and at the same time hold the confidence of those upon whose affairs it is to adjudicate, hewill accept the amendment. The people generally and those working under the commission will then feel that its originators have confidence in its powers to do the job it will be asked to perform.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr.
Harrison’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Cchairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That the following new sub-clause be added: - “ (5.) A known or reputed Communist shall be ineligible for appointment under this section, proof whereof to the contrary shall lie upon him “.
This is one of the most important amendments that could be made to the bill. Government supporters have indulged in a great deal of talk about the necessity for a fight with the Communists. The Government itself has already taken action in trade union circles to establish an alternative to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. We have witnessed the banning of a Labour league in the Macquarie district; we have read statement after statement by Government spokesmen to the effect that the great trouble in industry to-day is due to the influence of the Communists and their followers. Therefore, the Communists should be rooted out of all unions and industrial tribunals. As I have grave doubts about the bona fides of the Government in this respect, I introduce this amendment to test ite sincerity. If the Government really believes what it has been asking the people to believe, it will have no hesitation in accepting this amendment. If it is not prepared to do so it may, if it so desires, appoint a Communist to the commission.
– I shall consider voting for the amendment if the honorable member will alter it in such a way as to preclude the appointment to the commission of a member qf the Liberal party.
– It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a member of the Liberal party to secure an appointment through the good offices of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). The Communist menace is no laughing matter, and, if the Government desires to deal with it, it will have no hesitation in accepting the amendment. I leave the matter for the moment, because I want to hear the Attorney-General on it. He should have at his disposal, through the various departments that he administers, complete information as to the activities of these gentlemen in the community. Not long ago, he placed before honorable members authentic information as to what the Communists are doing in other countries. The time has come for the Commonwealth Parliament to face up to these fellows and say that no job shall be made available to any member, or reputed member, of the Communist party and that if any one wants to clear himself of that reputation -the onus shall rest upon him.
.- I support the amendment to exclude Communists from appointment to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Here is a great opportunity for the Government to show its sincerity. We know that privately many members of the Labour party are fiercely opposed to communism and to Communist domination of the trade unions. Moreover, the men within the unions will thank the Government if it declares itself. Many honest men in the stevedoring industry and other industries who want to work are forbidden to work by the machinations of men who owe no allegiance to this country. If those men can be segregated, forced from the dominant positions they occupy, many good Australians will have the right to work returned to them. The opportunity is here for the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to advise his followers to support the amendment. When he returned from one of his trips abroad the right honorable gentleman had favorable things to say about Russia. The Russians feared for their defence, he said. But he has seen and learnt a lot since then, and has made statements that the world is in a large measure menaced by the policy of Russia to-day. We have the fifth column of Russia operating in our midst. Honorable members saw the report of the Canadian spy ring inquiry. What happened in Canada is happening in Australia. Australia is suffering from the activities of the Communists, who, if justice were done, would be prosecuted and gaoled or deported to the country whence they draw their inspiration. Let the Government declare itself when the division comes by saying that it, too, wants to see the Communists eliminated.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) applies to the clause under which the Stevedoring Industry Commission is proposed to be set up. The clause provides that the chairman shall be a judge of the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner; but, in all probability, as I have indicated, he will probably be a judge of the court. The commission shall also consist of an officer of the Commonwealth, who will represent the Government and will not have a vote, two representatives of the shipowners and two elected representatives of the union. The amendment proposes the addition of a new sub-clause providing that -
A known or reputed Communist shall be ineligible foi appointment under this section, proof whereof to the contrary shall lie upon him.
Who is to determine whether he is a reputed Communist? Is it to be a case of give a dog a bad name and of saying to the dog, “ You must prove that you have not a bad name “. That is the kind of thing that was introduced by the Hitler regime in the early days of the Nazi terror, when cries against the Jews and the “ reds “ were raised. Such a law is absolutely unworkable. If any attempt be made to deal with the Communist problem it will have to be made in quite a different way from that envisaged by the honorable member for Barker. I can indicate no support from my party for the disqualification of a person simply because of his being reputed to belong to an organization or to have political views, unless he proves that he does not belong, to it and does not have those views. That would introduce a tyrannical system quite out of keeping with industrial arbitration. The whole plan is that the union shall have the right to elect its representatives. If it were said that certain groups were to be disqualified on proved facts, it would be serious, but if the disqualification rested merely on suspicion or reputation, it would1 be tyranny at its worst, and’ it would create industrial chaos in the community.
– And the onus of proof is to be on the accused.
– Yes. If the amendment were agreed to and applied literally, the judge of the Arbitration Court whom we asked to take the position of chairman of the commission would’ have to prove to some one not stated that he was not a Communist. In fairness to the honorable member for Barker, I do not think lie ‘advances Ids amendment as a serious contribution to the solution of a .serious problem. In any case, the proposal is not practicable and is wrong in principle.
– lt is evident that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is anxious to meet the spirit of the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). All he takes real exception to, from his reply, is the use of the words “ reputed Communist “. Perhaps in that respect the right honorable gentleman’s objection has a great deal of merit, especially as the onus of proof to the contrary is proposed to be on the reputed Communist, and I am inclined to agree with him.
But I think too that the Attorney-General is anxious to include in the bill a provision that will bar known and admitted Communists from appointment to theStevedoring Industry CommissionTherefore, if the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barker should be defeated, I shall move a further amendment, in the terms of the honorablemember’s amendment, to provide that known and admitted Communists shall be barred. That would conform to the views of the Attorney-General.
It is well known that the Communist party has one purpose, namely, to harrass established forms of government. Its members boast that their object is to overthrow the existing order of society and bring about the downfall’ of democratic government, whether it be a Labour government or otherwise, and that in order to achieve this they propose to foment strikes and general dislocation of industry. The object of the bill is to bring about harmony on the waterfront. How could that object be achieved if a man appointed to a commission was a Communist pledged to bring about chaos on the waterfront? The speech made by the Attorney-General was in line with the views of the majority of honorable members. For instance, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) expressed similar views in his maiden speech in this chamber, and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) have done so in numerous public statements. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber regard members of the Communist party as a menace to constitutional government in this country.
Me. Rosevear. - What would happen if a Communist selected for appointment to the commission happened to be an exserviceman ?
– He should be treated as a Communist, even if he had been awarded the Victoria Cross. Every Communist is pledged to bring about the downfall of the democratic system. Nothing can alter that fact. I consider that the honorable member for Barker has done a service by submitting his amendment to the committee, although I do not agree with him that reputed Communists should be disqualified arbitrarily. If the committee defeats the amendment, I shall move another amendment to give effect to the views which were enunciated by the Attorney-General and which are supported by many other honorable members.
– I wholeheartedly support the amendment. All of our industrial troubles on the waterfront and elsewhere are due to the activities of the Communists, who are determined to prevent people from working whenever possible. In spite of all their claims to the contrary, they have achieved nothing of any value for the waterside workers or for the remainder of the community. The only ‘benefit that the waterside workers have obtained as the result of Communist agitation is a provision for special payment for handling odorous cargoes, such as hides or bad potatoes, which is known as “smell money “. I watched several of these Communists going through a wharf shed on one occasion. They went from one bag to another, sniffing at each in order to see whether they could claim “ smell money “ for the men handling the goods. In this instance, they decided to “ demand half-a-crown “ for handling buffalo hides. I do not know whether they meant half-a-crown an hour, or half-a-crown for each hide; probably the result would have been the same in either case. Under Communist pampering, the waterside workers will probably begin to carry beauty compacts and scent bottles. I hope that the Government will not permit avowed Communists to be appointed to the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
– I desire to move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - (5.) A member of the Communist party shall be ineligible for appointment under this section.”
This amendment is more specific than the amendment which has just been defeated. It does not place on individuals the onus of proof that they are not members of the Communist party.
– I am of the opinion that the amendment is out of order. The honorable member should have submitted it in the form of an amendment to the amendment which the committee has just negatived. I rule that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is substantially of the same character as the amendment which has been defeated, and I cannot accept it.
– I rise to order. I distinctly heard the honorable member for Richmond state that, if my amendment were defeated, he would submit another amendment of which he gave notice at that time. You did not then call his attention to the fact that you would not accept his amendment in that form. I contend that, in the circumstances, the obligation was upon you to point out immediately that, if the honorable member for Richmond desired to move that amendment, be must submit it while my amendment was under consideration.
– I rise to order. The onus is not on the Chairman to point out to an honorable member whether a motion that he proposes to submit will be in order or out of order. The onus is on all honorable members to read and understand the Standing Orders.
– Surely the test of whether this amendment is in order is whether it is similar to the amendment which was negatived. The amendment which was negatived covered a much wider field than that which the honorable member for Richmond has submitted. The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Barker was to the effect that a known Communist, or a reputed Communist, should be ineligible for appointment to the commission and that proof of non-membership of the Communist party should be the responsibility of any person so challenged. Many honorable members on this side of the chamber might take exception to the wide provisions of such an amendment. The defeat of that proposal by no means negatives the lesser proposal submitted by the honorable member for Richmond. I contend that your ruling, Mr. Chairman, is wrong..
– Order ! The Chair has ruled that the amendment is substantially of the same character as the previous amendment, which the committee rejected. The honorable member for Richmond should have moved an amendment to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Barker, with a view to striking out the words to which he objected. The onus does not rest upon the Chair to inform honorable members what they should do under the Standing Orders. Honorable members are entitled to submit amendments at the appropriate time, and it is for the Chair to rule whether such amendments are in order. In this instance, the amendment which the honorable member for Richmond has moved is not in order.
– I move-
That the ruling be dissented from.
– I rise to order.
– There is no point of order.
– I desire to raise a new matter under the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member will not be in order in doing so before the motion has been disposed of.
The honorable member for Warringah having submitted in writing his objection to the ruling,
Question put -
That the ruling he dissented from.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. j. j. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 11.28 to 12 (midnight).
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 - (1.) The Chairman shall not, except with his consent, be required to perform any duties as a judge of the Court or as a Conciliation Commissioner, as the case may be.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after the word “except”, the following words be inserted: - “ as otherwise provided by this Act or “.
The additional words cover the position which would arise should the judge, as chairman, exercise jurisdiction under a clause which I shall move later to provide that the chairman of the commission shall exercise the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court in respect of legal questions. With the clause in its present form the judge could decline to perform that duty. The amendment simply makes itclear that he must perform the duties to which I have referred.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 - (1.) The Governor-General may appoint a person to be the deputy of any member of the Commission.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after the word “ Commission “, the following words be added: - “but such deputy shall not be a member of the Communist party “.
The Government and its supporters claim that they are fighting the Communist party and that the Labour party stands as a bulwark against communism. It is well known that it is the policy of the Communist party to obtain control of certain organizations in this country, and thereby place the government of the day in a powerless position. Accordingly they set out to ensure that key positions in various organizations shall be filled by Communists. Their tactics have been successful in the Waterside Workers Federation, the Ironworkers Union, and other organizations. The amendment, if agreed to, will prevent a Communist becoming the deputy of a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has spoken in terms which leave no doubt that he is opposed to the activities of Communists. Indeed, he has told us that he would welcome assistance in combating their activities. The amendment should, therefore, be acceptable to him.
– As the committee has already rejected a similar amendment in relation to the members of the commission it would be inconsistent to agree to this amendment in relation to the deputy of any of such members. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has said, I am opposed to the activities of Communists, but there is also an obligation to guard against the activities of other organizations or persons who in season and out of season exaggerate the activities of Communists. I cannot accept the amendment.
– When the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) was speaking to my amendment some honorable members gained the impression that if they watered down their proposals, the right honorable gentleman would be prepared to accept them. I did not hold, that view because I was firmly convinced that the AttorneyGeneral would not accept any amend ment. The Opposition is determined to have a vote on this subject, and will, if necessary, move a similar amendment to clause 10, and unless it be out of order it will move the same amendment later as a new clause should the occasion warrant such action. The AttorneyGeneral may wriggle, but the Government must face this challenge. The vote of every honorable member will be on record.
– I foreshadow a further amendment, namely, the addition of a new subclause 4 to read, “A person who is, or becomes, a member of the Communist party shall no longer hold any office under the commission to which he is appointed
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Anthony’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. j. j. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Spender) proposed -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (4.) A person who is or becomes a member of the Communist party shall be disqualified from becoming, or, if already appointed from continuing, to be an officer or employee of the Commission.”
THE CHAIRMAN- The amendment is out of order. The clause relates to the appointment of deputies, and the honorable member’s proposed amendment is, therefore, not relevant.
THE CHAIRMAN. - I have ruled that, because clause 7 deals with the appointment of deputies, the honorable member’s amendment is out of order.
THE CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member is familiar with the contents of the bill, and he must know the appropriate place at which to move the amendment.
THE CHAIRMAN.- Clause 7 is the only matter before the Chair.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 - (2.) The Chairman may, and shall if so directedby the Minister, at any time call a meeting of the Commission.
– On behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), the words “and shall if so directed by the Minister “ be left out.
Once again we find that the Government proposes to exercise direction over the commission. Already, we have charged the Government with directing the present commission. The result of that has been to rob the commission of the powers it already possesses. Interference by the Government with the commission has caused the resignation of valuable officers. Further, the commission has been held in contumely, and the waterside workers have refused to take any notice whatever of the commission’s rulings. When we pointed out those facts, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) assured us that the Government had no intention of interfering with the commission. However, dealing with the clauses, we found, first, that the Government proposes to appoint an officer of the Commonwealth to the commission, and that his duty will be to report to the Government. Obviously, the Government intends to use that officer for the purpose of implementing its policy, that is. for party political purposes, because through him it will direct the commission what it must do. Now, in the clause under consideration, in the words for the deletion of which I now move, we find an admission by the Government, an admission naked and unashamed, that it intends to direct the commission. If the commission is to be vested with the same functions as the Arbitration Court, surely the Government will not need to direct the chairman to call a meeting of the commission. We are told that the chairman may be a judge, in which case he will have undoubted standing. He will be fully competent to ensure that the commission carries out its functions because he will be versed in arbitration procedure and will not fail to call meetings of the commission when it is necessary to do so. It would appear that there is an ulterior motive underlying this provision, because it says, in effect, that whilst the commission is actively employed about its duties the Minister may direct the chairman to call a meeting of the commission.
The next question that arises is for what purpose would the Minister direct the chairman to call a meeting. In this, we have revealed the Government’s purpose in appointing a representative on the commission. He will say to the chairman, “ There has been some alteration in government policy and you must call a meeting of the commission”. When the chairman asks the reason for such a meeting, the officer will reply, “ I have been directed by the Government to inform you that it considers that a certain decision made by the commission is contrary to government policy. You have deregistered a number of men, and the Government now directs you to reinstate them. You must call the commission together for that purpose “. I remind the committee that the Government ordered the reinstatement of men who were deregistered as the result of the pay day dispute. In that instance, the Government said, in effect, to the present commission, “ You deregistered fourteen men, and now you have a strike on your hands. Now, we direct you to reinstate those men”.- That is what happened in the past. Under this measure, the Government will have power to call the commission together and to direct it as to what it should do. I have not the slightest doubt that that is the object of this provision, and, that being so, honorable members on this side of the chamber will vigorously oppose it. We are opposed to the setting up of a party political junta which seems to be the Government’s objective in appointing the commission. Such action will not be tolerated by the people for one moment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 - ( ] . ) Subject to the approval of the Minister, the Commission may appoint such officers and employees as are necessary to assist it in exercising its powers and functions under this Act.
– I move -
That, after sub-clause (1.), the following new sub-clause be inserted: - “ ( 1a. ) In the appointment of all officers and employees under this section, preference shall be given to returned servicemen and servicewomen.”
Up to date, the Government has merely indulged in shadow-sparring in professing its support of the principle of preference in employment, to ex-service personnel. In making any worthwhile appointment up to date is has invariably found some excuse for wriggling out of its obligations to grant preference to ex-servicemen. It has made many appointments for which hundreds of ex-service personnel, out of the 750,000 members of the fighting forces, were highly qualified and would have carried out their duties with efficiency and benefit to the community. I ask the Government to demonstrate its bona fides in the matter of preference for ex-servicemen by accepting the amendment. Under the Rehabilitation and Employment Act preference to exservicemen is limited to a period of three years. I object to the whole basis upon which the Government has professed to grant preference to ex-servicemen. If the Government is really desirous of honouring its obligations to ex-servicemen it should grasp the opportunity now presented to it by accepting the amendment.
.- Under the Reestablishment and Employment Act provision is made for preference to exservicemen according to a plan accepted by the Parliament. That provision applies to employment with the Stevedoring Industry Commission just as it does to employment with the governments of the Commonwealth and the States or under awards of the Arbitration Court or industrial tribunals. The Government proposed to adhere to the law of preference as laid -down by the Re-establishment and Employment Act. If the honorable member wishes to amend that law he will have to endeavour to do so on some other occasion.
– If an ex-serviceman is not a registered member of the Waterside Workers Federation how may he obtain employment under this clause? The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) knows very well that the claim that exservicemen are protected under the Rehabilitation and Employment Act is mere sham and hypocrisy. He is well aware that if an ex-serviceman be not registered by the Waterside Workers Federation he cannot secure employment with the commission as the clause now stands.
– The clause deals only with the appointment of the commission.
– I am aware of that.
– The honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the clause under discussion.
– Then I shall take a later opportunity to express my views on the subject.
– I am somewhat surprised at the reply given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). The right honorable gentleman knows very well that the specific preference granted to exservicemen under the re-establishment legislation is inoperative in all cases where it may be of value. If the AttorneyGeneral and the Government are sincere in their protestations about the welfare of ex-servicemen, there can be no possible objection to the insertion in every bill which proposes the establishment of authorities or commissions of a clause providing for preference to ex-servicemen in such appointments as may be made. Sub-clause 2 provides that officers and employees appointed to the commission shall not be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1946. Only a fortnight ago the Government introduced a bill the purpose of which was said to be to bring additional public servants under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, yet to-day it includes in another measure a clause specifically excluding the employees of the Stevedoring Industry Commission from the provisions of that act. The only, difference between the employees of the Stevedoring Industry Commission and employees of the Repatriation Department and the War Service Homes Commission, with whom the recent legislation had to deal, is that the latter are almost exclusively ex-servicemen. As the subclause stands at present the employees of the commission may apparently be anything but ex-servicemen. The manner in which the proposal of the honorable mem.bev for Moreton was brushed aside by the
Attorney-General seems to indicate that ex-servicemen are the last people to be given consideration by this Government. No doubt the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) will ask what is the position of Communist ex-servicemen. I am strongly of the opinion that all Communists, whether they be exservicemen or not, should be excluded from appointment to the commission.
Mk. Rosevear. - Even those decorated with the Victoria Cross?
– Yes. Tens of thousands of ex-servicemen who are not Communists possess the requisite qualifications for appointment to the commission, and accordingly it is not necessary to consider members of the Communist party when selecting ex-servicemen for appointments such as this. I have no doubt, however, that some honorable members opposite when considering applications for such appointments would think first of members of that party. The reply given by the Attorney-General in relation to the commission and its staff being excluded from the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act is inconsistent with the principles of the bill which was before us only a fortnight ago. I support the amendment.
Mr. WHITE (Balaclava) [12.37 a.m.J. - I support the amendment, and I appeal to the Government to accept it as embodying a principle in which it professes to believe. Honorable members opposite know only too well that the preference provisions of the Rehabilitation and Employment Act are honoured more in the breach than in the observance. Instances of this which have arisen in the past may well be repeated. Too often has the Government ignored the principles in which it professes to believe. There have been instances of that kind in connexion with recent appointments of trade commissioners. Of the applicants for the post recently filled by Mr. Breen and Mr. Frost, the former members for Calare and Franklin, respectively, 219 out of a total cf 319 were ex-servicemen, yet their rights were ignored. Hundreds of young ex-servicemen who have had the reponsibilities of command, and who lost five valuable years of their lives while serving their country, have come back only to find themselves laughed and jeered at by honorable members opposite. I have had many letters about ex-servicemen being taken from the services of the States into the Department of Supply and Shipping who have never been able to secure permanent positions. I support the amendment.
– I makea further appeal to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to accept the amendment. I stress the need for such an amendment because every time there has been a worthwhile appointment ex-servicemen have been excluded because of some technicalities or some hidden features in the Rehabilitation and Employment Act. We had an instance of this in a recent appointment to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. When we objected we were informed that the council was not subject to the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Is it proposed that the employees of the commission shall or shall notbe public servants? Will the Attorney-General say whether all appointments under this bill will or will not be subject to the Re-establishment and Employment Act? I do not like the way in which the Government has been making appointments of late. It never lets an opportunity pass to side-step the preference sections in that act. It exercises a skilled hand in drafting legislation in order to avoid granting preference rather than carry out the letter and spirit of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. I want on this occasion to put the issue beyond a shadow of doubt. All honorable members with regard for the welfare of ex-servicemen will support the amendment if it comes to a division, but I hope that the Attorney-General will reconsider his amazing attitude of hostility to the amendment and accept it without dividing the committee.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Francis’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (4.) Aperson who is or becomes a member of the Communist party shall be disqualified from becoming, or if already appointed, from continuing to bo, an officer or employee of the Commission “.
The amendment speaks for itself. My purpose is to see precisely where the Government stands in relation to its contention that it is opposed to the Communists. It is acknowledged that Communists are at the root of the troubles wherein the Government is defied on the waterfront. I should particularly like to know where the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) stands when it comes to a vote on the proposed new sub-clause because for a long time he has pretended opposition to the Communists. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has also expressed views against the Communists, but I doubt whether it Was more -than mere talk, and I shall be very surprised if he ever does more than talk about the Labour party being opposed to them. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who is endeavouring to interject, is a notable exponent of the Communists’ tactics of branding as a fascist anybody who opposes communism. Indeed, I am inclined to believe that the honorable member is a secret member of the Communist party. If we held an inquiry into the activities of that party, the result might be upsetting to him. T. Lave reasons for making that statement. This proposed new sub-clause will give Government supporters an opportunity to indicate clearly whether they are opposed to communism or not. They have frequently expressed their opposition to the party. Now they have a chance to give expression to that opposition by disqualifying any member of the Communist party from being appointed as an officer or employee of the commission.
. ‘ - I strongly support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). The Communist party is the most dangerous disruptive organization in Australia to-day. Its members openly declare their opposition, to any form of constitutional government. I know of numerous instances in which Communists have led unions into industrial trouble. We must increase production .if Australia is to prosper, but we cannot do so while Communists are white-anting our key industries. They control the coal-mining industry, for example. The acting president of the miners federation in my home town is a professed Communist. Men like him have caused untold trouble in the industry. They have also caused unrest amongst waterside workers ami seamen. Australia to-day is suffering from the effects of scores of strikes and disturbances from Cape York to Wilson’s Promontory. There are many industrial disputes in northern Queensland. Thos*; have not been actively fomented by Communists, but the workers involved in them have found that to strike is the only way in which they can impress their grievances on the Government. Dairy men have discovered that they cannot secure a fair deal unless they strike or threaten to do so. They have learned this lesson, from Communist-controlled organizations. I shall do everything in my power to resist the disruptive tactics of the Communist party. Australia should now be on the crest of the greatest wave of prosperity in its history; but the Government, owing to its futility and weakness in dealing with militant unions and the Communists, has missed its golden, opportunity. I support the proposed new clause.
– This proposed new clause applies the acid test to the Government and its supporters. Nearly all of the honorable members whose bright shining faces I see before me have, from time to time, protested in throbbing tones their opposition to communism. Yet now that they have a clear-cut chance to exclude Communists from appointments to the staff of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, they “ squib “ the issue. The obvious inference is that all their anti-Communist talk is mere humbug and hot air. I believe that some honorable members opposite would support the amendment but for the fact that they are so regimented that they are not game to defy their masters. There is no doubt that others amongst thom, in their hearts, are enthusiastically in favour of Communists and their technique. Honorable members opposite say that the Communist party is “ only another political party “ and that therefore we should not interfere with it. But it is not a political party at all. It is a revolutionary party. Every tenet of its faith favours revolution. If, of course its members can achieve their objects by white-anting our’ constitutional institutions they will do so. If they fail to succeed in this way, they will do it by blood-thirsty revolution. That is their avowed policy, which is expressed in every Communist text-book and which is uttered by Communists in the Sydney Domain every Sunday afternoon. The central article of the party’s faith is revolutionary, not political. We say that members of this organization who are pledged to destroy our democratic institutions, by bloodshed if necessary, should be prevented from doing so. If it can be proved that they are creeping into important public positions, we should take steps to exclude them from such positions. I do not agree that a reputed Communist should be required to prove his innocence, but men like Healy, Roach and Thornton, who are confessed Communists, should not be permitted to occupy public positions, they should be banned from the commission, and this amendment will do it. We should provide in this bill that any man who is proved to be a Communist should be forced to resign. The matter of proof offers no more difficulty than in any other matter of proof in courts. Unless the protestations of honorable members opposite have been nothing more than hypocritical flapdoodle, they will vote for the proposed new clause before the committee. If they oppose it, we shall know them for what they are - fellow travellers with the Communist revolutionaries.
– I cannot understand why the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will not accept the proposal before the committee. He has listened attentively to the speeches made by honorable members on this side of the chamber, but he has not explained why he opposes the proposed new clause. He knows that Communists who will seek appointments to the Stevedoring Industry Commission will do so for the purpose of disrupting the industry. Knowing this to be the avowed policy of the Communists the right honorable gentleman should seek to protect the industry, which is susceptible to Communist infiltration. The president of the Waterside Workers Federation is a selfconfessed Communist, and there are many Communist cells within the federation. There is no doubt that the representatives of that organization on the commission will be Communists. Surely the Minister is anxious to ensure that the staff of the commission shall be free of the taint of communism. Our arguments have been clear and simple, and there is no reason for the Minister to hedge on this matter. If the Labour party sincerely desires to clear its ranks of Communists, it will accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender).
– I am not surprised that the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) does not reply to the Opposition’s contentions, because he is not able to do so; but I am surprised that my own colleagues have so little knowledge of political principles. It is well known that the Labour party is a socialist party, and that its members believe that no farm, business factory, or home should be owned by an individual.
– What rot!
– Members of the socialist Labour party must believe that, if they are true to their election pledge.
THE CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member is digressing.
– I am not.
THE CHAIRMAN.- The Chair has ruled otherwise.
– The Communist party and the socialist Labour party have the same objective. Both parties believe in the complete socialist state.
THE CHAIRMAN. - Order ! I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the amendment.
– I am referring to communism. The Attorney-General could not reply to the contentions of the Opposition because the objectives of the socialist Labour party and the Communist party are the same. The only point of difference is that the Communist believes that a socialist state can be attained and held permanently only by totalitarian methods. It is on the question of method only that these two political philosophies differ.
What argument could the AttorneyGeneral advance against the amendment except that no person should be debarred because of his political views from seeking employment and sustenance for himself and his family. He cannot use it, -because this bill deprives men of the right to work on the wharfs unless they are members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In truth, the right honorable gentleman is left without a feather to fly with. He cannot deny the contention that the objective of socialist Labour is the same as that of the Communist party. He cannot state that the
Communist can be debarred from entering this industry because of his political views, as the bill provides that a man may only be employed on the wharfs if he is a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. For those reasons, the Attorney-General is not able to reply to the contentions of the Opposition.
– Then why has the Opposition asked the Attorney-General to reply?
Mr.HUTCHINSON. - I am making it plain that there can be no reply. Honorable members opposite dare not vote for the amendment, but honorable members on this side of the chamber are bound, first, to tell the Australian people exactly what the Labour party stands for; secondly, to reveal that socialist Labour and the Communist party have a common objective; and, thirdly, to expose the tyranny involved in the bill.
.The Opposition, which has monopolized this discussion, has not attempted to define “ Communist “. If the Government accepted the amendment, it would be obliged to define “ Communist “, and would experience great difficulty in doing so. Many people who claim that they are supporters of the Labour party, actually are not. Some of them have “twisted” to the Liberal party. Many people who describe themselves as Liberals, are actually not Liberals. How are we to bring into the net by legislation all the persons that we desire to catch ? The task would be impossible. Wherever it has been tried, it has failed. For example, it failed dismally in Germany. Repressive measures will drive the Communists underground, where they work most effectively. Let the Communist party remain in the open, where we can. see it working. If we drive it underground, we shall not know what it is doing until it is ready to rear its ugly head. The Opposition has given the Communist party an excellent advertisement.
– The best “ boost “ that the Communists have ever had.
Mr.DUTHIE. - I agree. This advertisement which the Communists have received during this discussion is out of all proportion to the influence that they exercise in this country. The only effective way in which to dealwith the Communists is not the method which the Opposition proposes. I referred to it in my second-reading speech, when I pointed out that the workers themselves should get rid of their Communist officials by defeating them at the annual elections for executive positions in the unions. That is the democratic way. Any other method will give rise in Australia to conditions similar to those that prevailed for years in Germany and certain other countries.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Spender’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Glare.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 - ( 1. ) The functions of the Commission shall be-
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), paragraph (b), the words, “ and to regulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations,”, be left out.
If the amendment be agreed to, paragraph b will read - to regulate industrial matters in connexion with stevedoring operations, in so far as those operations relate to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States or are performed in a Territory of the Commonwealth.
This is a cleverly designed paragraph, the effect of which could be completely to nationalize or socialize the stevedoring industry. The words which the amendment would delete from the paragraph appear at first sight to be innocent enough, but they could lead to the Government taking over control of all stevedoring operations in Australia. On page 25 of Judge Foster’s report His Honour referred to certain recommendations made by Mr. Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. Already during this debate honorable members on this side have pointed out that the object of the Communists is to bring about a nationalized State. Referring to Mr. Healy’s suggestions, Judge Foster said -
His wide proposals envisaged the running of a very big business by the Stevedoring Industry Commission throughout Australia as the actual employers.
His Honour referred to that matter earlier in his report, because on page 2 he said. -
Mr. Healy suggested that a commission be set up: which, in effect, would, as a quasi- governmental institution not only settle industrial relationships involved, but would also manage the whole industry.
That is clear. Mr. Healy submitted to Judge Foster a proposal for the control of the industry, and later His Honour said that Mr. Healy visualized the Stevedoring Industry Commission as one big business. One wonders whether the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has fallen into a trap, but perhaps he has not done so because, after all, one object of the Labour party is the socialization of industry. It may be that the AttorneyGeneral, with the help of Mr. Healy hopes, in this way to give legislative effect to one plank of the Labour party’s platform. Paragraph b of sub-clauseI would give to the Government power to socialize the stevedoring industry. If that is the Government’s intention, the Minister should say so.
– It is correct, as I pointed out this afternoon when replying to the second-reading debate, that the powers conferred on the commission go beyond the settlement of industrial disputes and the regulation of industrial matters in relation to stevedoring operations, and include the regulation of the performance of stevedoring operations in interstate and overseas trade. It is also correct that Judge Foster did not recommend that as a present functional purpose of the commission, but His Honour also said, in addition to what the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has read, that this power should be a reserve power in the hands of the commission. On page 22 of his report Judge Foster said -
Further, the more remote future may hold developments in this industry with which it would be altogether impossible for the court to deal. The tribunal to be set up should be such as could offer advice about the future development of the industry and also grow up in experience and power with these foreseeable developments.
Speaking of the desirability of the chairman devoting his full time to the work, His Honour said -
There is a tremendous task ahead to lift the status of this industry to the plane where alone we may expect results satisfactory alike to the workers, the employers, and the community.
Ho dealt then with the matter of discipline and referred to the profit motive as a means of achieving efficiency and economy in the industry in times of peace, but that motive was largely lost during the war. He added -
Pence may restore it but in the meantime if employers will not or cannot, conduct .this industry with maximum efficiency, then in the interests of the industry and the community, the Stevedoring Industry Commission must be given some powers to this end.
On page 29, the judge again refers to the community having an interest, both in efficient management by owners and fair and reasonable work by employees. He then goes on to discuss the problem of decasualization. On page 33 of his report, the judge concludes -
The conduct of the industry depends, more than most industries, upon the successful cooperation with other bodies, and that provision should be made to enable this to be dime as far as is constitutionally practicable. “Whilst the judge has specifically rejected, at least for the present, any suggestion that the commission should be set up as a quasi-governmental institution, not only to settle the industrial relationships involved, but also to control and manage the whole industry, the references above to his report indicate clearly that he has in mind for the commission, functions beyond the settlement of industrial relationships between employers and employees. To enable it to carry out some of these functions, the commission has been specifically empowered, as will be seen by reference to clause 13 of the present bill. It will be incumbent upon the commission to encounter many novel situations in its efforts to supervise and regulate the industry, and to serve, by so doing, the public interest. It is not possible, at this juncture, to anticipate just what difficulties and problems will be encountered, nor to specify in the bill what powers could be given to the commission to equip it to deal satisfactorily with all the developments which may occur. Therefore, it is regarded as essential that there should bc some reserves of power, and this is provided for in paragraph b of subclause 1 of clause 11.
I do not claim that the judge specifically recommended that there should be a reserve of power, but such a provision is in accordance with his general observations. Why should not the commission have some power to control and regulate the performance of stevedoring operations? For instance, if equipment is out of date, why should not the commission have authority to deal with the situation by regulation? The Commonwealth has authority over such matters by virtue of its power over interstate and overseas trade, and it is now proposed to confer that power on the commission. I say that such a provision is necessary.
– During the debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill, I drew attention to the words to which reference has been made, and I emphasized how wide was their scope. It is not a matter of conferring upon the commission some power, but of conferring upon it all power to regulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations. I have listened to the so-called defence of the AttorneyGeneral, and it amazes me that he should have refrained from reading the most important part of Judge Foster’s report. The first question that arises is why, in view of the comments in that paragraph which I shall shortly read, the Government should seek to confer this very extensive power upon the commission. This is what the judge said, and I read from the last paragraph of the report on page 40 -
These proposals arc very far-reaching and my investigations so far iia ve not enabled me in fully appreciate all the implications involved. However, the immediate and most pressing problems fall for solution within the powers 1 have recommended, and the further powers may very wisely wait both knowledge and experience, and depend upon the future recommendation of the new body which will steadily acquire, as time goes on. the necessary knowled pv and experience and capacity.
I cannot understand how, in the face of that statement, a responsible Minister can say that the judge recommended a provision conferring a reserve of power such as this upon the commission. The judge recommended nothing of the sort. On the contrary, he said that very wide and far-reaching proposals were pressed on him by Mr. Healy. He did not say that they were ultimately undesirable, but he said that such powers should be exercised only in the light of experience gained over the years. It is significant that the powers were pressed on the judge by Mr. Healy. I should like to know who pressed them on the Government. At whose behest were the relevant words included in the hill? I have a suspicion that we have before us a bill moulded under the constant pressure of Mr. Healy. I record my amazement that the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) should rise in his place and quote from the report of the judge in an attempt to support his attitude when that report contains the paragraphs which I have just read.
– The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) owes the committee an explanation. I quoted two passages from the report of Judge Foster to the effect that the Government should have reported unfavorably upon the recommendations of Mr. Healy on this subject of reserve powers for the commission. Now, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has read the last paragraph of the report, which makes it clear that the Attorney-General has been misleading the committee. Now, apparently, he is prepared to sit quiet and make no comment, thus admitting that he wilfully misdirected the committee. He owes the committee an explanation, and I demand that he make it.
– I addressed the committee quite frankly on this matter. 1 pointed out that Judge Foster did not recommend the implementation of this subject-matter; hut the very passage to which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has referred does show that he contemplated such provision in the future.
– The Attorney-General did not read the last paragraph of the report to the committee.
– It had already been read by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). I shall remind the committee what I did say. I shall not allow the committee to be misled by anything that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said in his impertinent remarks. I have not attempted to conceal anything, or to confuse the committee. I did not rely upon any opinion expressed by Judge Foster for warranting the implementation of this subject-matter.
– Why did not the Attorney-General read the paragraph quoted by the honorable member for Warringah ?
– I read the extract in order to show that Judge Foster envisaged this kind of control in future. I have come to the conclusion that courtesy and patience, and an attempt to be frank, are not appreciated by some honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Wentworth said that I attempted to confuse the committee. That is absolutely untrue; and it is unfair of the honorable member to make such a statement. In my view, and in the view of the Government, this power should be included as a reserve power.
– Who recommended that it should be included?
– The honorable member for Warringah again makes another imputation. He implies that Mr. Healy recommended it.
– Who did?
– The provision has been set out by the draftsman independently of any recommendation made by Mr. Healy. So far as I know, Mr. Healy has made no suggestion on the matter to the Government. Certainly, he has made no such suggestion to me or to the draftsman.
– We are not impressed by the indignation displayed by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). He gave us only half the picture, and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) made that clear. We should fully realize the danger of the power that the Government is taking under this provision. The Government can nationalize this industry. The work will go on, accelerated by the Communists who we know are out to obtain increased power. That is the explanation for the farce that continues on the waterfront. It reveals the reason why good men are spoilt by bad men. Honorable members opposite may smile; but in Russia it was not the prominent men who brought about the revolution. Lenin was not in Russia when the Czar was deposed; and Kerensky was pushed over by Lenin, who was financed by the Germans.
(Mr. Burke). - Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– The Government is selling out to these extremists. But honorable members opposite will suffer with the rest of Australia when the extremists take this power. There will be greater strikes on the waterfront; and honorable members opposite will soon know all about it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Harrison’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. P. Burke.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– This clause is the one in which we find the considerations that must guide the commission. As the safety principle is not incorporated anywhere in the bill, I suggest that it should be inserted in this clause. It could appropriately be inserted after the word “ speedy “ in paragraph a of sub-clause 2, which would then read - (2.) The Commission shall exercise its functions with a view to securing -
If that were done, I should regard the clause as satisfactory.
– Safety is one of the factors which have no direct relation to industrial matters and to industrial disputes. It should be one of the overriding purposes of the regulation-making power of the commission to ensure that adequate safety precautions shall be taken. The place suggested by the honorable member is a convenient one to insert the word “ safe “, and I am prepared to accept a suitable amendment.
Amendment (by Mrs. Blackburn) agreed to -
That, in sub-clause (2.), paragraph (a), after the word “ speedy “. the word “ safe “be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 (Hearing, &c, of industrial disputes).
– I move -
That, after sub-clause (2.), the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ (3.) For the purpose of hearing the parties to the dispute, and of inquiring into and investigating the dispute, the Commission shall have the same powers as the Court or a Conciliation Commissioner has under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1946 in relation to industrial disputes.”
This will give to the commission the long list of powers possessed by the Arbitration Court in order to hear disputes effectively.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 (Powers of Commission).
– I ask the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to clarify the meaning of this clause. We know that another measure will be introduced to impose a tax on the stevedoring industry for the purposes of this bill. The clause as printed contemplates the imposition of an additional burden, or the granting of power to the commission to impose a burden in excess of the levy to be raised by the taxing measure. Sub-paragraph vi. of paragraph b gives power to the commission to provide, or require the provision of, canteens, cafeteria, dining-rooms, rest-rooms, and adequate sanitary and washing facilities for waterside workers. Am I to understand that in addition to the levy to be imposed upon the industry power is to be given to the commission to require those engaged in stevedoring operations to provide at their own expense any of the amenities to which I have referred ?
, - A. taxation plan has been devised for two purposes, first to provide the administrative expenses of the commission and secondly to make it possible for the commission to make payments as a charge against the industry as a whole rather than against individual employers. These powers may in a sense be regarded as imposing additional burdens. The commission- may exercise them within its discretion after hearing the evidence and according to the nature of the award or order made. To increase wages or to fix hours may impose additional burdens. I remind the honorable gentleman, however, that power to fix hours also implies power to reduce hours. With that reservation the meaning placed upon the clause by the honorable member is correct.
– The last sub-paragraph of paragraph b empowers the commission to make provision for the payment of guaranteed weekly or daily wages to waterside workers. I am not at all sure as to what is the policy of the Government on this matter. Sub-paragraph ii of paragraph b empowers the commission to make provision for annual and sick leave. Having regard to the industrial trouble on the waterfront to-day, does the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), intend that a waterside worker may strike and break the law as often as he likes, and, in due course, after the expiration of every twelve months, be entitled to annual leave at the expense of the Crown?
– As in the case of the Arbitration Court, the conditions under which such annual leave may be granted or withheld will bc at the discretion of the commission-.
– Then some direction should be given to the commission limiting the condition* under which annual leave may be granted. The representative of the Government on the commission will be able to put the Government’s viewpoint in regard to these matters without reference to this Parliament. That is a matter about which we have already complained. I am firmly of opinion that if a man fails to carry out the job he has registered himself to perform - and I use the term “ registered” with a good deal of emphasis - severe penalties should be imposed upon him with respect to his rights to annual leave. These penalties should not be left for determination by the commission; they are matters upon which the Parliament should have some definite say. Is it likely that in cases of ordinary breaches of the law the Attorney-General would agree that the penalties to be imposed by the courts should be left to the determination of some outside body which may not include in its membership one member of the judiciary. The right honorable gentleman will say at once that the penalties should be incorporated in the act. Should, not that be also the case in this instance? Sub-paragraph iv of paragraph b empowers the commission to establish and administer employment bureaux for waterside workers. If all waterside workers are to be registered,, as is contemplated by this bill, what need is there for employment bureaux?
An employment bureau is an exchange where people who require labour and those who proffer their services meet and come to an agreement. Under this proposed law nobody will be offering for work unless he is a registered member of the Waterside Workers Federation. That is quite clear. Therefore, the necessity for an employment bureau in the generally accepted sense will not arise.
The clause further provides that the commission shall have power to make provision for the payment of attendance money to waterside workers. I have heard it described as “ appearance money “. I think this is one of the most remarkable things any government has ever agreed to. We have heard a lot about conditions on the waterfront. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Saturday there appears a list of tax-evaders, some of whom are described by the Taxation Commissioner as fraudulent. One in that category is a waterside worker who understated his income from 1937-38 to 1939-40 and from 1941-42 to 1943-44 by £1,935, on which he was charged an additional penalty of £203. I am amazed that the “waterside workers have not proclaimed a general strike in order to have that gentleman’s penalty returned to him. That poor fellow is to get 16s. a day when he turns up for work and there is no work for him. If the payment of appearance money is to apply on the waterfront, it will not be long before the Commonwealth Government will have other industries applying for similar treatment - the building industry, for instance. When a wall is started and inclement weather intervenes, the men cannot work; but what is to prevent them from turning up to collect appearance money ?
Mk. Chifley. - A similar provision is contained in many awards.
– Then, by heaven it will not be long before it is in every award. If that provision is to be incorporated in awards for the stevedoring industry, it must be incorporated in the awards for other industries. I say to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and to the Attorney-General that the conditions that they are putting into pieces of legistion like this connote such a financial responsibility that no government will be able to stand up to it. They are in the position of the lady friends of Louis XIV. of France who could idly say, “After us the deluge”. The flood will come after the present Ministry goes out aud a government from this side will have to clean up the mess that it is so glibly making now at the expense of other people.
Certain things in this bill cannot be justified by any government in any circumstance. The cost of handling on the wharfs has risen enormously as the result of reduced output per man-hour. More men do les3 work. It stands to reason that the value of our exports .must decline and the cost of our imports increase because of the increased costs of handling on the wharfs. I am surprised that this bill does not provide that anyone working overtime on the wharfs shall be guilty of a capital offence, because that is just about what we are getting to. The world was never in more need than now of the commodities that we have to export. Yet there is a deliberate, premeditated and malicious attempt by the waterside workers in the port of Sydney to keep those commodities from the people who want them. All we get in response to that from the Government is that extra good conditions are to be provided for the men responsible for that state of affairs. Claude 13 is wicked and unjustifiable. It is time that honorable members of the Opposition, who represent industry, stand for freedom of the individual and believe that something like common sense should be imported into legislation, took a firm stand.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 - (2.) The provisions of section forty-eight and of section forty-nine of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1941 shall apply to awards and orders made by the Commission which are of a legislative and not an executive character, in like manner as they apply to regulations.
Dr. EVATT (Barton- Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs [1.57 a.m.]. - I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), after the word “ Commission “, the following words he inserted: - “ (not being awards or orders made to prevent or settle industrial disputes, or regulating industrial matters, in connexion with stevedoring operations) “.
The effect of the amendment would be, as in the case of awards and settlements of disputes made by the Arbitration Court, to require industrial matters to be kept within the province of the commission. All’ other orders, such as those regulating stevedoring operations, would be subject to disallowance in either chamber. The necessity for that was pointed out to honorable members in the second-reading debate. This is to meet requests expressed during the secondreading debate with which the Government is in agreement.
Amendment agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, Nos. 15, 10.
Lands Acquisition Act- Land required for Commonwealth office accommodation purposesSydney, New South Wales.
House adjourned at 2 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cinderella on Strings (35 nun. and 16 mm.). - Experimental film showing use of puppets. A number of copies have been purchased by education departments.
Native Earth (35 mm. and 16 mm.) - The story of Australia’s work in the mandated territory of New Guinea. Commercially re’leased in Great Britain and France and in Australia. Copies circulated to all overseas points. Inquiries for commercial release in South Africa, Egypt and Singapore now under consideration.
Pacific Terminal (35 mm. and 16 mm.). - A picture on Sydney and its environs circulated to all overseas points and extensive showings reported. Inquiries for commercial release in Egypt and Singapore.
School in the Mail-box (35 mm. and 16 mm.). - Featuring Australia’s correspondence schools’ systems. Made for showing at Paris U.N.E.S.C.O. Conference. ls being shown commercially in Great Britain and France and inquiries received for commercial release from Egypt, South Africa, Singapore and Australian theatres.
Story of a City (1.0 mm.). - A documentary in colour on Newcastle, New South Wales. Made for special display at exhibition held at Newcastle-on-Tyne. Circulated to all overseas points. Copies sold to educational bodies.
Watch over Japan (35 mm. and Iti mm.). - Depicts the role of Australians as members of tha British Occupation Forces. Commercial release pending in Australia and several other countries. 16-nim. copies for release at all overseas points. - V ostein Gateway (35 mm. and 16 mm.). - A documentary on Perth made for special showings in Perthshire, Scotland. Screened theatrically throughout Australia. Inquiries for commercial release from Egypt and Singapore. Wide distribution at many overseas points.
Men Wanted (35 mm. and 16 mm.). - Produced for Department of Immigration for screening in United Kingdom.
Australian Diary No. 1, Australian Diary No. 2. - Produced in conjunction with Fox Movietone News. 35-mm. release restricted, but 16-mm. copies distributed to all overseas points for non-commercial screenings.
Australian Diary No. 3, Australian Diary No. 4. - Series of short “ way-of-life “ sequences produced by department’s films division. Commercial release being investigated. 16-mm. copies being printed for distribution to all overseas points. It is intended to produce one diary each month. Release in several countries expected.
Australia To-day (10 mm.).- A comprehensive four-reel ‘ film on Australia in colour. Widely in use overseas. Very well received and in keen demand. Many copies have been sold by the department.
Bushland Fantasy, Fine Feathers ( 16 mm. ) . - Two natural history colour films produced for’ use by overseas representatives of the Commonwealth. Widely released and in keen demand by educational bodies.
Journey of a Nation (35 mm. and 18 mm.). - A break-of-gauge film completed for Department of Transport. Theatrical release being arranged
Galling the Community (35 mm. and 16 . mm.).- Produced for Department of Post-war Reconstruction for educational purposes.
Something to Eat (35 mm.). - Released theatrically in Great Britain, for which country it was specially made.
Book in Circulation (35 mm.). - Produced for the Department of Repatriation to show what is being done for maimed servicemen; released theatrically.
Loans Films (35 mm.). - Three films were produced in connexion with the Security Loan.
The cost of these films was approximately £32,500.
In addition to the above subjects 21 films are in course of production and are nearing completion. Six of these are in 16-mm. colour and fifteen in 35-mm. black and white, which will also be reduced to 16-nnn. size for world distribution.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470313_reps_18_190/>.