18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr.Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn toto morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
Dismissal of Officials
– I have inmy possessiona copy of a credential issued to Eric Aubrey Small, one of the four men dismissed from the Prices Branch, signed bythe Assistant Deputy Prices Commissioner, Mr.Weir, stating that Small’s services had been satisfactory. I understand that a similar credentialhas been issued to Leslie Horsey, another of the four men dismissed. How. does the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs reconcile these credentials with his statement that the four men had been dismissed because their services had not been entirely satisfactory?Have similar credentials been issued to the other two men to whom I have referred, namely, Bellemore and Gale? If not, what were the circumstances which led to their dismissal? In view of the strangeness of the circumstancessurrounding this matter, will the Minister assure the House that an inquiry will be held immediately was to clearup to the satisfaction , of the public and the men concerned the allegation which has been made?
-I shall be glad to refer the question to the Minister for Trade and Customs, I have nothing to add at this stage to the statement which I made last week.
-Isthe Prime Minister awarethat, owing to the present shortage ofhousing for the people, and the consequent high seats thathaveto be paid), many invalid and old-age pensioners have only 12s 6d. a week with which to provide themselves with food, clothing, fuel and light?.’ In. view of- this state of affairs, will the right honorable gentleman consid’er mating the increased pensions payments, forecast to take effect from- tire 1st July next, retrospective to the. date of his. announcement o£ the increase? “Will lae also consider. increasing the payments; even further to> such aged amd incapacitated persona as- cannot, augment their pensions by their own efforts audi have no- tape of securing admittance to hospitals, with. a. view to- being- pro.vided with sustenance a?nd care?
– As. has been, indicated in the House-, the Government has given consideration to the matter- of pensions. Tha proposal!, which will be embodied in amending legislation thai; has not yet been placed before the House1, is nhat pensions shall be increased by 5s.. a week. as. from the 1st July next., Alteration of that decision is not likely: I shall give consideration, to the second part of the question.
Cabot* fob SS. “ Orion- “-Pood Parcels - Flood Victims.
– Can the. Minister representing the. Minister for’ -Supply and Shipping say whether it. is correct,, as reported, that, passengers, travelling, by Orion, were allowed to- load mo-tor car3 on the. vessel’, instead of food for the people of Britain being carried? If so, can he say whether action, willi be taken in future to ensure that food, rather than luxury motor cants,, shall be carried, on. vessels travelling to Britain?
– I Lave seen a press statement that motor cars, were being 1’oad’edi on Orion and that food for Britain was left behind’. In, answer to some criticism I understand’ that a. representative of the shipping company said that his company had’ no power to refuse to load,’ motor cars and’ to carry food’ instead. I cannot understand such a statement being made, because the Government’ hass no control’ of such matters and I am confident that the- shipping’ company con-Id have loaded’ food1 instead1 of motor cars had’ it so desired. I also saw a re- port that a. representative of. a. stevedoring committee had p-aid a; tribute to- the waterside wankers for loading- ais- much food as possible in a given- time-.,
Mb. DUTHIE.- Gin the Minister rep.resenting the Minister- for Supply and Shipping say. whether it. is. true that: the captain of Onion, had to leave behind part; o£ the food cargo> which was to be loaded at Melbourne: in order to: take: on consignments of: other goods elsewhere^ amd that this is- contrary to press reports om the- subject ? Did the: captain- of. the. snip personally thank tha wharf labourers for the- extra effort they made- to load, the food iii) the time available ?
– I. made it clear in answer to an earlier quest’ on that the shipping- authorities had paid a tribute to the work of the waterside workers in loading food’ into Orion in quick time-.. It: isi also true that: some food was Deft, behind,, and- cargo of another kind loaded, a fact: which, is to be. deprecated. I shall direct, the. attention, of the Minister for. Supply and Shipping; to the incident,, with! a view to preventing a recurrence.
– Has the Government made inquiries through Australia House into reports- from London that “ back-street operators are soliciting orders for Australian food parcels from foreigners- living in Britain1? I refer to a report that one company advertised an Australian food! parcel, including lib. of tea, lib. of sugar and lib: of cocoa and 21b. of coffee- at 33s. for- direct despatch to Poland’, whilst an advertisement appeared in the London Times, stating -
Large’ Australian food exporters require reputable English agents to handle immediately the distribution of Australian, parcels in big Gi-flies’ in< the British Isles, on a liberal commission: basis. Apply Lawson- Gasson Mower- Ltd-., care Commercial- Banking Co.. Pitt-street Sidney.
Has; the Government inquired, into* the part played by the company named) in these operations ? If these inquiries: have beran made, will, the Prime Minister inform the House of the truth or- otherwise of these’ reports ?’
– Tie- matters which the- honorable- member has raised1 have’ not come to my notice through any channel:; but inview of all the information that he has supplied, I shall ensure that the allegations will be investigated.
– Some weeks ago, I asked the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government intended to support the national appeal of the Australian Red Cross Society on behalf of the victims of the disastrous floods in Great Britain, and whether any facilities would be made available to the organization. I understand that Commonwealth departments have given a considerable measure of help in many ways, but as the State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria have rendered tangible assistance in the form of subscriptions, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government intends to support this laudable appeal either by gifts of food or money?
– As the honorable member for Balaclava has indicated, all Commonwealth departments were instructed to give whatever help they possibly could render to the Australian Bed Cross Society, and conferences were held with a number of departments, including the Departments of Supply and Shipping, Trade and Customs, and Commerce and Agriculture, with the object of providing facilities to enable the Australian Bed Cross Society to obtain such gifts as might be available. I dealt with the matter of financing the relief to Great Britain when I introduced the United Kingdom Grant Bill 1947, under which a special grant of £25,000,000 will be made to that country.
– I referred to the granting of assistance to the Australian Red Cross Society.
– I had in mind the granting of general economic relief to Great Britain. ‘ The Commonwealth Government took the initiative in this particular matter by providing financial assistance, and the Government of the United Kingdom will be able to expend the money in any way that it desires. I considered, at that time, that that fully met the wishes of the British Government in regard to the granting of assistance, without making a donation to any special appeal.
– I have received from the Public Service Association of New Guinea and Papua the following telegram : -
As I understand that the Minister for External Territories is likely to go abroad soon, I ask him whether he will give urgent attention to this matter before he leaves, and also whether he will arrange that a notice of motion in my name, concerning the administration and development of Papua and New Guinea, shall be discussed before he leaves tor Geneva ?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will supply me with the telegram because in the form in which he read it the message does not appear to be intelligible. I assure the honorable member that the matters to which he has referred, and others which require attention, will be given consideration before “I leave Australia which will not be for some weeks. I shall do everything possible to have the notice of motion standing in the honorable member’s name discussed, as I am desirous of hearing the puerile attack which I have no doubt the honorable member will launch against the administration of Papua and New Guinea, and also because it will give me an opportunity to give an effective reply to his criticism.
Action against Mr. R. E. FlTZPATKICK and OTHERS.
– Can the Attorney General say whether legal action has yet been taken against a man named Fitzpatrick in connexion with work at the Bankstown aerodrome, or is so much pressure being brought against the Government that it is trying to avoid taking action?
– I am not aware of the precise stage which the proceedings have reached, but I am certain that no pressure is being exercised. I understand that the case is before the High Court, but that a decision has not yet been given. I shall ascertain the position and inform the honorable member later.
Shipping Berths - SS. “ Misr. “.
– I have received numerous inquiries from people in Australia who are anxious to obtain passages for relatives in Britain to come to this country. Can the Minister for Immigration say whether anything further is being done to obtain ships, and when we may expect the position to improve?
– Everything possible i? being done to get more ships from the British Government, and to arrange for the chartering of ships from the United States of America and other countries in order that more people may be brought hero from. Great Britain. There was an excellent prospect some time ago of getting Aquitania, but because an emergency developed the British Government now needs the shin itself. It is expected that this emergency will continue for about six months. The Australian High Commissioner in London has been asked to press, our claim for Aquitania when it becomes available. We have obtained from, the British Government in substitution three ships, Ro.,,ch,i. Chitral and Ormonde, which carry 600, 700 and 800 persons respectively. But the British Government has to consider the needs of its own dockyards; and all these vessels are being sent into dock for reconversion and refitting before they will be available to us. We have endeavoured to secure the vessels in their present state because it would suit us better if we could obtain them now. However, Ormonde is being refitted to carry 1,100 passengers instead of SOO, so it will suit our purpose to wait in this case till its accommodation is so increased. It must always be borne in mind that of the 20,000,000 tons of shipping which Britain owned before the war 13,800,800 tons are now at the bottom of the sea, and no ships have been built to replace lost tonnage. Orcades, which will be the first boat of the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited to be commissioned and which will replace one of the same name, and quite a new vessel too, lost during the war, will not come off the slipway until September, 194S. Fifty per cent, of the vessels of that line which traded between the United Kingdom and Australia prior to the war were sunk during the war, and the losses of the Peninsular and Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited and other shipping companies were correspondingly severe. We are doing the best we can in very difficult circumstances, and we are receiving the. utmost co-operation from the British Government. We have been promised accommodation for 6,000 passengers in the migrant class this year. Our prospects are bright enough to justify the belief, that we shall be able to obtain another 12,000 berths during this year, and we are still pressing our claims with the Admiralty for aircraft carriers. In every other way possible we are endeavouring to obtain more ships for the transport of migrants to Australia. ‘
– In view of the large number of tourists who have travelled between England and Australia recently, will the Minister for Immigration ensure that immigrants selected as suitable for this country shall be given preference in the allocation of shipping berths ?
– I should be glad if the Government had some authority in the allocation of shipping berths to people coming to this country from Great Britain. Unfortunately, the Government does not own so much as a single nail in a ship, and, therefore, is not able to determine the allocation of berths. Since we allow people to apply for passports and now make no inquiry as to whether or 1101 their voyages are justified, it is true that quite a lot of people are travelling to-day who have no real occasion to do so. That is increasing the difficulties of the people of Great Britain who want to come here. Generally speaking, people whose trips are for pleasure, rather than for business or for any purpose of national importance, are creating a problem for both the British and Australian Governments. I shall gladly, con.municate the point of view expressed by the -honorable member :to ‘the High Commissioner in London for transmission to the British Board of Trade with a mew to ascertaining whether something can be done to stop the unnecessary jaunts of such people.
– Will the Minister for Immigration, after having inspected the vessel ‘Misr, about which there has been a good deal of controversy, make a report to the Parliament as to ‘how the ship was used to bring migrants to Australia .and ‘who was responsible for placing on it .the type of immigrant that . was on board .?
– I do -not need any time to make a report ;to Parliament on this subject. As I inspected the vessel at Melbourne yesterday morning, I am now in a. position to say that I regard the im migrants on “hoard Misr as ‘being quite desira’ble people. I saw a number <of women, and also children of varying ages up to sixteen -or seventeen years, who ‘have come to Australia, to join their husbands and fathers. They have -come from famished portions of Europe. and certainly were not clothed as well as Australians, but they are a healthy., happy lot .of people. I wm .sure that within .a few years .the children will be almost indistinguishable from. Australian children, and that they will make .good Australians. The ship on which they travelled >w.as built by the Americans in .1943.; it was one of thirteen such ships built to take part in the Normandy landing. It was afterwards sold by the Americans to the British ‘Government which, in turn, sold it to the Egyptian Government. The vessel was never intended to be used for carrying migrants thousands of miles’; it was a troopship built for a special operation, and is still in its original condition, which is unsuitable, for carrying immigrants. The captain and the crew did their best in difficult ‘circumstances with. 700 people representing 96 different nationalities. The ‘complaints that have been made -were justified from certain points of view, !but when all the facts are taken into consideration, it can foe said that conditions -on the ship were tolerable, a-nd that the immigrants carried hy it are decent ‘people who have -come to A-ustralia to. join their relatives at no expense to the Commonwealth -Government.
Losses on Omnibuses awd Hostels.
– The .Auditor-General, in his annual report for the year 1945-46, discloses that the loss incurred by the Government in the running of buses in the Australian ‘Capital Territory amounted to £15^662, and that the loss incurred in the conduct of the four government controlled hostels in Canberra, including the Hotel Kurrajong and the Hotel Ainslie, exclusive of interest and depreciation changes, amounted to £7,760. I ask the Minister for the Interior what is the reason for these losses, and whether they are likely to continue ? Or, are we to understand .that, in common with ‘.most government enterprises, these concerns wre doomed always to show losses?
– The losses incurred in the operation of the buses controlled by tire Government in the Australian Capital Territory have -been receiving consideration for some tame. ‘These buses serve the needs ‘of people who, in many cases., are obliged to live in outlying areas because of shortage -of housing accommodation in the Territory and, -consequently, have to travel considerable distances with very few passengers. However, efforts are to he made in order to arrest the drift. Perhaps, I shall not be very popular when I announce that ‘fares will be increased «s from the end >of this month. In addition, the buses in .use are almost worn out, and w.e have not been able to obtain new ones to take their places. Under these conditions, the buses in use require Mechanical .attention very frequently, and this increases operational costs. New buses are ‘0’R order, bint it will be some considerable time before we , can expect delivery of them
With respect to the Hotel Kurrajong and other hostels under the ‘control of the Department -of the Interior, it is recognized that those hostels were established for the ‘convenience of .members ©if Parliament, ministerial staffs ‘and public servants who -come to ‘Canberra for ‘only short periods. Nevertheless, accommodation must be reserved for members of Parliament and ‘certain ‘officers’; and the tariffs at those hostels have always been fixed more or less arbitrarily by the Department of the Interior. ‘That was the case1 under previous governments, as well as at present, because it was never intended that those establishments were Iff be paying propositions.
– The Hotel Canberra, pays its way.
– The Hotel Canberra is conducted, on totally different lines from the Hotel’ Kurrajong and the Hotel Ainslie which* were referred to by the honorable member.
Statement- ira Australian Representative mw Japan.
– -Has the Minister- for Commerce and1 Agriculture seen a statement in a recent- issue of the Melbourne Herald that Mr: Williams, Australian wool representative in Japan,, has resigned amd. that kei had described! his job as. futile ? Can the: Minister confirm the statement.?
– I did see- a statement in the Melbourne H’eral’d apparently emanating -from Tokyo- announcing that Mi1. Williams’ had resigned his- position, and! that, among other’ things, Mr. Williams’ had started’ that lis job was o futile. As far as I am aware, Mr. Williams has not resigned1. He is returning to Australia’ and1 another Australian officer in Tokyo- will take over his position’. His task has, for the time being, been completed1. I am- not prepared1 to accept a newspaper version of statements allegedly made by Mr: Williams in Tokyo unless’ I have first had an opportunity to’ consult with Mr: Williams and ascertain their truthfulness1 o<r otherwise.
Statement1 by Msv P. J. Clarey, M.L.C.
– I ask the Minister’ for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that Mr. P. J. Clarey, M.L.C., presided at a meeting yesterday of trade unions at which a decision was reached’ to conduct a stoppage after the 12’th May if certain demands are not conceded by the Arbitration Court? Is this the same Mr. Clarey who is’ Minister’ for Labour in- the Victorian Government? If it is-, will the
Minister, for the- guidance of the citizens of Victoria1 who are- likely to be affected by such stoppage, confer with Mr. Clareyin his capacity as Victorian Minister for Labour and ascertain from him whether in his1 capacity as1 president of the Australasian Council1 of Trade Unions-, Mr. Clarey proposes1 to conduct an unlawful stoppage after the 12th May?
– I was not in Melbourne yesterday when the meeting to which the. honorable member refers is alleged to have taken place, and accordingly I am unable to. say whether or not Mr. Clarey presided over it. For that reason I am unable to answer the second part of the question as to whether or not it was the Mr. Clarey who is Minister for Labour in the Victorian Government. As- to- the last part of the honorable gentleman’ si question;, I shall discuss- with Mr. Clarey whether or not there is any truth, in the statement made by the honorable member..
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is doubtless aware that, there is’ a very heavy yield of potatoes, in Tasmania this year which are not likely to: be- utilized by the Australian people. Has the honorable gentleman considered offering- these potatoes to the British people,, or,, if they do not require them, to some one. else: Tn. order to utilize the potatoes, it will be- necessary to* process them and for that purpose to re-open some- of the dehydration plaints which have been closed since the- war ended’. Will the- Minister ascertain whether- Tasmanian potatoes can be used more extensively, a*nd if he is. able to find means of utilizing.’ greater quantities of them, will he give the Tasmanian Government, or the1 appropriate authority sufficient notice of the seed to’ reopen; the dehydration plants ?
– I am. aware that there is a very good’ potato crop in Tasmania this year. These potatoes could probably be absorbed by the mainland States; but du© to- the very grave food shortage in Great Britain, I have, as I announced last week during the debate1 cm a motion moved’ by the Tight honorable member for Cowper to discuss the food needs of Great Britain, cabled the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom and asked him to ascertain whether the British Ministry of Food was desirous of taking quantities of canned and dehydrated potatoes. It would be .possible to re-open dehydration factories established in Tasmania during the war and to process the potatoes. Upon receipt of a reply from the United Kingdom, I shall be glad to indicate to the honorable gentleman, and to the Premier of Tasmania, whether it is desired that these dehydration factories should .be re-opened for the purpose.
Drought Relief - 1945-46 Pool - Cornsacks
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister on a subject which I discussed on the motion for the adjournment of this House last Friday. It concerns a statement made by the right honorable gentleman regarding drought relief for cereal-growers, which reads, in part, as follows : -
It has been decided that funds to the extent of £1,500,000 will be provided by the Commonwealth and State Governments on a fi to £1 basis to provide assistance to cereal growers by .way ‘of grant in respect of crop failures in the 1946-47 season.
Although the statement does not make the point clear, I am personally of the opinion that it refers only to New South Wales. However, that is not stated definitely. I now ask the Prime Minister whether the statement refers specifically to New South Wales. If so, will the right honorable gentleman consider making similar provision for all States, of the Commonwealth? Many of my constituents have written letters to me recently asking what is to be done about drought relief payments for crop failures in northern Victoria. Their need is very urgent. I should like the Prime Minister to make a statement regarding the possibility of payments being made to growers in northern Victoria who had crop failures last season.
– I have replied in a fairly lengthy statement to-day to a question that was asked last week, I think by the honorable member for Wide Bay, regarding drought relief in Queensland.
That statement sets out the conditions under which the Commonwealth Government gives consideration to requests for drought relief. If a State government considers that there is a special case for the Commonwealth to assist in regard to drought relief, it prepares that case in full, as was done by the New South Wales government, and submits it to the Commonwealth Government. Then, consideration is given to the request by the Commonwealth Government. However, as I pointed out last week, the general practice has been for the States to bring such requests for money to a Conference of Commonwealth and Stale Ministers as part of their programmes for assisting in drought relief. Nevertheless, if a case is presented by a State government, it is examined fully by the Commonwealth Government.
– Wheat for the 1945- 46 .pool was acquired under a National - Security Regulation which provided for the payment of an advance to the growers’, and the subsequent distribution to them of profits realized from the .sale. This position was later altered by the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act, which provides that the Government shall retain substantial sums of money in the Wheat Stabilization Fund. The’ Wheat Stabili*zation Act is now a “ dead letter “, because of the refusal of certain State Parliaments to implement it with’ complementary legislation. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture emphasize to Cabinet the necessity to pay the growers who put what into the 1945-46 pool on the basis on which their wheat was acquired? This would result in the distribution to them of some millions of pounds.
– As far as I am aware, the Commonwealth. Government has not received any notification from the State Governments that they are not prepared to implement their part of the . agreement by introducing complementary legislation. .Should such a notification’ be received I have no doubt that the Government will give consideration to the matter to ensure that the wheat industry remains on a satisfactory basis.
– The Government having assumed control of the imports of jute, and the silo and railway systems throughout Australia having proved inadequate to meet storage and transport needs when a big wheat crop has been harvested, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether arrangements are being made for jute to he imported and wheat bags to be supplied in sufficient quantity to provide for the coming harvest?
– The Department of Supply and Shipping, through the Jute Controller, and in conjunction with the Australian Wheat Board, is making every endeavour to ensure that the wheat bags available in Australia during the coming harvest will be sufficient to meet requirements. I understand that, in addition, the responsible authorities are endeavouring to ensure that facilities will be available for the provision of additional silo accommodation, or” at least of bulkheads wherever they can be provided.
– I direct a. question to r.he Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping regarding the scarcity of bicycle tyres and tubes. I preface it by explaining that I do not ask a question in this House unless I have tried to obtain the information by correspondence. In this instance, I have definitely tried without success, and I. have heard many other honorable members ask questions on the same subject. The shortage of bicycle tyres and tubes is of great importance because it affects coal-miners and other workers. There is already a shortage of coal, and unless the present situation is rectified, joint action may be taken by the workers. Is it a fact that, since the Government has relinquished control of rubber, there is an acute shortage of bicycle tyres and tubes but not of motor car tyres and tubes? In view of the fact that many thousands of coal-miners and other workers are unable to travel to work, and that the country is thereby losing valuable production, because the men have no means of transport to and from their work other than bicycles, I want to know what the Government intends to do to overcome the shortage. Could not the Joint Coal Board obtain a priority for the supply of bicycle tyres and tubes to workers who are obliged to use bicycles as a means of transport to and from their employment?
– There appears to be a considerable shortage of bicycle tyres and tubes for the use of various sections of the community representations concerning which have been made to me by a number of’ honorable members. As far as I am aware there is no shortage of motorcar tyres and tubes. Whether the Joint Coal Board would be able to order re,quirements of individual coal-miners to provide them with a means of transport to their work is doubtful.
-Could it not order tyres and tubes in bulk?
– Since all control over rubber- by the Government has been removed. I am afraid it would not be possible for it to compel manufacturers of bicycle tyres and tubes to supply them. However. I will ask the Minister for Supply- and Skipping to go into the. matter and see whether the Joint Coat Board could place hulk orders, as suggested by the honorable member, with the rubber companies for sufficient of those necessary commodities.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Prices Commissioner has given directions to private hospitals in Tasmania and possibly elsewhere that have resulted in three increases of fees in the last six months. If so, what are the directions, what are the reasons for them and what increase of fees was involved? .
– I shall be glad to pass the honorable gentleman’s question on to the Minister for Trade .and Customs and have an answer supplied as soon a& possible.
Imports from J apas.
– Has the Prime Minister any information that cotton and silk textiles are coming from Japan through America to Australia and arebeing paid for with dollars? If that is so, could not those materials be bought direct from Japan, either as a part of Reparations or in return for the wool that we are likely to sell to Japan ? Could we not pay Japan in the same currency lis it will pay us ?
– A direct financial arrangement has been made for the ‘pay ment for Australian wool by Japan. In Regard to the procuring of rayons and silks, particularly rayons, and other materials from Japan, arrangements were made with General MacArthur for one of his special officers to come to Australia and discuss the general matter of the supply of textiles. Then arrangements were made for a special mission representing the Department of Supply and Shipping and, I think, the Department of Trade and Customs, to go to Japan with authority to purchase available materials. It appears necessary to discriminate between materials because, I understand, some ave of poor quality. The import of materials from Japan as a part of reparations is not possible at this stage because the general matter of reparations has yet to be dealt with on a broad scale. I am not aware that raw materials and piece goods are being sent from Japan to America before being brought to Australia and paid for in dollars, but I will make inquiries. If goods of the type and quality that we want are available in J.apan, the mission has the authority to buy them.
Air-mail Services to Japan.
– Last week, the Minister representing the Postmaster-General promised to confer with that Minister on the matter of air-mail letters to Japan, and the reason for any alleged discrimination against Australian newspaper correspondents officially attached to the Supreme Allied Command there. Is the honorable gentleman yet able to supply any information on this subject?
– I did make the promise which the honorable member has stated, but, unfortunately, the PostmasterGeneral has been ill. When he returns to his duties, I shall ask him immediately to investigate the -matter, :as early as ‘possible, I shall give to the honorable gentleMian the information that he desires
Overseas Visits by Members - Standing Orders Committee.
– Will the Prime Minister furnish a statement setting out in detail the number of official journeys overseas that have been made hy members of .the Government since the .2nd August, 1945, the missions which they undertook, and the cost thereof?
– I believe that such a list was prepared some time ago in reply to a question that had been ‘asked in the Senate. I shall arrange to have it brought up to date.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, how often the Standing Orders Committee which deals with the Standing Orders of the “Parliament meets-; when did it last meet; and what opportunities have private members to bring to the notice of the committee matters in connexion with the Standing Orders of the Parliament which they believe should be revised?
– If my memory serves me aright, the Standing Orders Committee has not met since .1941, when certain recommendations were brought before the Parliament shortly before a general election. .1 shall make certain of the date, and will let the honorable member have the information to-morrow.
Patients in Military ‘Hospitals.
– As applications by persons who desire to participate in full-time training under the .Commonwealth’s reconstruction training .scheme must be .lodged by next June, will the Minister for Post-war .Reconstruction state what consideration has been .given to the rights of patients in military hospitals who have been prevented by war disabilities from taking advantage -of the scheme .and may not yet have lodged applications?
– -The ex-servicemen concerned may still make application. However, I shall inquire into the point that the honorable member has raised, in order ito determine whether there is (any necessity to extend beyond the date mentioned the time for the lodging of applica- tions.
British Merchant Marine Personnel
– The Minister for Repatriation is aware that Australians who served during the war in British merchant navy vessels are not able to participate in any Australian hospital or other repatriation benefits, unless their case is approvedby the British authorities. This circumstance obviously causes a. good deal of delay and. hardship to persons who wish to make application in this connexion. Will the Minister consider bringing such persons within the scope of the act, and thus enable them to receive benefits without being subject to the present delay?
– If the honorable member will supply specific particulars of any persons who served with British forces outside Australia and are not entitled to the benefits conferred by the act, I shall have thematter examined and shall furnish an appropriate reply.
Dr.GAHA.-It has been brought to my notice that a number of young men in Australia, at a stage in life somewhat later than usual, desire to obtain the higher education that is provided by universities. Others who have completed the first yearof a course are precluded from continuing their studies because of insufficient means. I also understand that the accomodation at someofour universi ties is inadequate to meet current needs. Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction endeavour to expand the functions of our universities, and also consider the possibility of establishing a fund to enable those ambitions young men and women who have the necessary qualifications to complete their education in higher realms?
– The position of young men and women, who, at a stage in life somewhat later than usual, desire toundertake a university course, is not an easy one, particularly at the present time. The honorable member has mentioned two aspects.First, there is the matter ofaccomodation. Australian universities function under State statutes, and the Commonwealth has no authority to compel State governments to increase the existing accommodation at them, even if its desired to do so. However, the Commonwealth has provided a grant of over £1,000,000 to universities throughout Australia to enablethem to add to the existing accommodation, in order that post-war reconstruction trainees who are attending them may be assured of adequate provision in that respect. On thefinancialside, the Commonwealth has made provision for the paymentof living allowances to civilian students who areattending universities, on the basis that this assistance shall be given to those whose examination results prove that they are the most highly skilled, the assistance being restricted to a specified number of students each year. As far as I know, there is nothing to prevent participation in that scheme by older individuals who qualify for the assistance by merit. There is another aspect which the Government has to consider. If the principle were admitted that older members of the community should be given facilities for studying at a university, theapplicationof an age limit would be inescapable, because every such individual who received training at a university or any other educational institution would be maintained for the time being by the restof thecommunity, and the Government, representing the community, would need to have regard to what would remainof his life during which he could beof service to the community. From the standpointof the community, not the least good would be done by trainingolder individuals to take up professions which they would be able to follow for only a comparatively short period of theirlives. As I have shown, the matter bristles with difficulties. However. I shall give further consideration to it, inorder to ascertain whether there is any other information which can be supplied to thehonorablemember.
Service in Yugoslavia,
– Accord ing to a press statement, anumberof Australianwomen desire to serve without pay as nurses in Yugoslavia, It has also been reported that a number of Russian women who are married to Englishmen are not permitted to leave Russia. Would it be possible for the Prime Minister to arrange with Marshal Tito for the exchange of these women, in the proportion of two, or even three or five to one ?
– The question will be answered by the Ministerfor Immigration?
– If the honorable gentleman will let me have details of the cases he has in mind and the evidence upon which he has based his question, I shall have the matters investigated, or at least, that part of his question which relates to Australian women leaving Australia to serve in Yugoslavia. As to the other portion of his question, I am afraid that, not being a mathematician, I cannot supply an answer.
Assistance to Employers
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say whether it is a fact that the Secondary Industries Division of his department assists private employers to obtain workers from overseas? Is it a fact that many employers enter into contracts or agreements to pay wages above those prescribed by awards in order to entice workers to come to Australia, but pay to them only award rates? Has his department any knowledge of what happens to such workers after their arrival in Australia ?
– The Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction assists employers in many ways, including that mentioned by the honorable member, but beyond putting employers in touch with types of employees who are not available in Australia the division takes no action. It certainly does not take part in preparing contracts between employers and employees. I emphasize that the service rendered to employers by the division is undertaken only when employers cannot obtain in Australia workers with the necessary qualifications. I shall look into the matter further, but I can assure the honorable gentleman that the Secondary.
Industries Division of my department does not do any more than put employers in touch with the type of employee which they seek.
Debate resumed from the 18th April (vide page 1437), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure before the House is the fulfilment of a long-standing promise to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-46. Prior to introducing a measure of such importance the Government has no doubt had many discussions and conferences, and therefore we are entitled to assume that the bill now before us contains provisions which the Government believes will lessen, if not entirely remove, the industrial unrest which from time to time is evident in this country. The bill is complementary to other legislation relating specifically to the coal-mining industry and work on the waterfront; read together they can be said to contain the Government’s legislative remedy for industrial unrest.
Before discussing the measure itself, I propose to make a brief survey of industrial conditions in Australia, with special reference to the strikes and hold-ups which occur almost daily. I shall then attempt to diagnose the ailment from which our industrial system suffers, because, unless we know precisely the causes of industrial unrest, it is unlikely that we shall be able to suggest an effective remedy. During the war, all sections of the population in Australia, with very few exceptions, did a magnificent job. Australia’s war effort was one of which no one need be ashamed. It is true that trouble occurred here and thereat certain times, but the overall war effort of Australia was most creditable. With the ending of the war it was natural that people should relax; that those who had been under great strain, and who had been anxious for the welfare of kinsfolk should tend to lapse into lethargy. However, I believe that the reasons for the present trend in industrial relations goes deeper than that. For many years past,. Australians have pinned their faith to industrial arbitration. There is a Commonwealth Arbitration Court, there are State arbitration courts, and, in some States, there are wages boards. When it was proposed, some years ago, that the Commonwealth should abandon ‘ the field of arbitration, the people rejected the proposal emphatically. On the whole, the arbitration system has much to recommend it, and it has worked fairly well ! Under it, the conditions of the workers have improved considerably. Wages have increased until it is no exaggeration to say that the standard of living in Australia is equal to that of almost any other country in the world. However, the Government cannot escape criticism for the present failure of arbitration to function satisfactorily. It is generally recognized that if a tribunal is to function satisfactorily it must have the support of the central authority, that is, the government of the day. What is more, it must have the confidence of the parties for whom it adjudicates, and of the people generally. Over the years the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has succeeded in winning the confidence of employers and employees, and the fact that the people rejected the proposal to abolish the court shows that it has earned for itself the goodwill of the public as a body that can be trusted to decide the difficult and contentious industrial questions that arise from time to time. It is true that d’uring the war regulations were issued setting up certain additional industrial authorities, but I am confident that the people expected that those emergency measures would cease to operate when the war ended. Unfortunately, the Government, in its wisdom or in its folly, has continued a number of controls, some of them of a very important kind. By the passage of legislation setting -up such authorities as the Joint Coal Board and the Stevedoring Industry Commission the Government has continued into peace-time some of the emergency organizations established during the war.
It was recognized long before the war that the division of industrial control between the Commonwealth and the States created serious difficulties. The
Commonwealth Arbitration Court is authorized to adjudicate on disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, but it often happened that when the Commonwealth court issued a determination in respect of an interstate industrial matter, dissatisfaction was caused in similar industries of an intra-state character which had been the subject of determinations by State tribunals. In 1929, the people were asked to decide whether the Commonwealth should vacate the industrial field altogether, leaving it entirely to the States, and the people decided that the dual system should continue. Nevertheless, this system, as I have pointed out, makes sometimes for dissatisfaction, especially when one arbitration authority gives the workers in an industry more generous treatment than those in a similar industry have received from another authority. It is not surprising that there should be dissatisfaction when we understand what impediments have been placed upon the successful working of the arbitration system.
During the war, the Government issued regulations -controlling industry. Some of the most important of these-were what have come to be known as the wagepegging regulations? I do not want to canvass their merits at this stage. I believe that there was much to be said for taking action to prevent the sky-rocketing of wages and prices during the war, but I am emphatically of the opinion that once the Avar was ended ‘the Government should have reconsidered its policy in respect of this matter. The Government pays much lip service to the principle of arbitration, but it has rarely done anything in support of that principle, and one of the greatest handicaps to the satisfactory operations of the arbitration system was the operation of the wage-pegging regulations. It did not apply equally. The very basis of wage-pegging in this country was a travesty of equity. The restrictions were not spread over the community, or employees as a whole, to a like degree. For instance, whilst it was prescribed that wages paid in any particular industry must be in accordance with the awards applying in that industry, employers who had customarily paid rates above award rates prior to the introduction of wage-pegging, were allowed to continue to> pay the- higher rates. In addition, unfortunate anomalies were allowed, to creep into many industries; I have m mind the position at Broken Hill where, under an agreement between a company and its employees, the latter are paid a lead bonus which fluctuates according to variations of the price of lead. As that price is high at the -moment, the lead bonus to those employees is now very remunerative. I am not suggesting that that bonus should not be paid; but it is obvious that while miners at Broken Hill receive such an advantage, employees in other industries feel they also are entitled to a corresponding advantage, and consequently, are dissatisfied with an anomaly of that kind. More important still, wage-pegging destroys the incentive of the worker to do his best. The wage-pegging regulations prescribed, willy-nilly, that all employed, with the exceptions to which I have referred, must be paid the wages awarded by the Arbitration Court; that is, the minimum wage, in the main, was also the maximum wage. Under such conditions employees generally lost incentive to put forward their best efforts. It is useless to argue that employers and employees should give of their best in any circumstances. During the war, all of us had the incentive of self-preservation, or the incentive of patriotism, which, I believe, was more wide-spread, and with such incentives all, even those who did not receive any additional remuneration for extra effort, gave of their best. But it is futile to suggest that under normal peacetime conditions employees generally will give of their best when, a 300 per cent, effort on the part of an individual receives no recognition. The most appalling feature of wage-pegging, however, is that it destroys enterprise on the part of the worker at a time like the present when we so urgently need, to increase production. Furthermore. when representatives of employers and employees approach the Government on this matter, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is quite adamant that wagebegging is part of the Government’s policy and must remain. It was only when; great pressure- was: exerted, by the extremist elements in the trade unions that the Government grudgingly relaxed wage-pegging. Tien, on every occasion amendments of the regulations were made, the’ Prime Minister declared that the court could as a consequence function in an equitable and satisfactory manner But, of course, the cold fact is that as soon ais claims were made to the court under the 1 amended regulations, the judges had to admit that they were unable to deal fully with the claims owing to restrictions still existing under the regulations. After the. last amendment was made the Prime Minister said that the court had full power to do’ justice to employees, but in the very first case that subsequently came before the court, the Acting Chief Judge intimated that despite the amendment he .could not concede certain claims made by the applicant union. Such conditions are destructive of the prestige of the Arbitration Court. When the court is shackled in that fashion, it is futile to expect it to function satisfactorily, and to maintain industrial peace. The responsibility for such a state of affairs lies with the Government. At the same time, individual members of the Government must accept a share of that blame, because we have the extraordinary position that whilst the Government shows itself to be supersensitive with regard to the propriety of debating in this House matters relating to a case before a civil court, many honorable members opposite are not so sensitive towards the Arbitration Court. Last week, when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) sought to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a matter relating to a case which had been heard in one of. the lower courts and in which counsel for the defendant expressed his intention to appeal, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) set forth the Government’s ideas as to the propriety of any honorable member raising matters which related to cases bef ore the courts. At the same time, however, honorable members opposite do not display such great respect for the Arbitration Court. It is just as important to maintain the status and prestige of that tribunal as it is to maintain that of our civil courts. The cold fact is that some Ministers and .-some (honorable .members ‘opposite . have acted in ;a way calculated to destroy the prestige of the Arbitration Court and the confidence of employees in that tribunal. Surely, the Government must recognize the importance of maintaining the prestige of the Arbitration Court. However., it was reported in the *Sydney Morning Herald of the 14th May last that the Minister for Labour and National Service (.Mr. Holloway) had described- Chief Judge Piper as “ spineless and weak-kneed “. Surely, a Minister should be the last to criticize the Arbitration Court in that maimer. We were not so surprised, perhaps, to read in the Melbourne Sun of the 29th May last that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward)., when addressing employees .at the Islington railway workshops in South Australia, described the Arbitration Court judges .as being “ overfed and underworked “. Then Ave had the extraordinary position that while cases were being heard by the court, members of this Government expressed their views upon particular cases, and, what is more disastrous, State Labour governments have actually passed legislation in order to forestall certain judgments of the Arbitration Court. How any authority operating under conditions such as this can create confidence or give satisfaction is beyond ray imagination. The fact is that this Government, and the Labour movement generally, must realize that they cannot have it both ways. It is of no use for some Labour leaders to give lip service to the arbitration system and for others, and rank and. file members of the party, to attempt to destroy the very basis upon which the system rests. The position as I see it is that unless this Government gives real support to the Arbitration Court, and to the determinations made by that body, we shall not have industrial peace in this country. It is high time that, the - Prime Minister made a definite pronouncement upon this matterIt is hopeless, to pass legislation in this Parliament unless the powers of the authorities established under it are wholeheartedly upheld by the ‘government of the day. If I am any judge - and I can speak merely from1 the experience we havehad in the past - this Government is only too ready to use the weight of its numbers to pass legislation in this House, but never once has it given unqualified support to the authorities established under such legislation. We have only to consider the history of some of the authorities -established ;by the Government during the war period to see how ineffectively they d] ave been supported by the Labour administration. Recently we passed the Stevedoring Industry Bill, the purpose of which was to perpetuate a stevedoring industry commission, .established during the war under the emergency war-time powers of the Government. The chairman of the “war-time body is still in office. One of the first issues which that body was -asked to adjudicate upon was what is known as the double-dumped .wool bales dispute. I have no desire to discuss the merits of that issue ; I merely point out that, notwithstanding the fact that this issue was to be decided by a. commissioner of the Government’s own selection, and that the commission heard evidence from the parties to the dispute and carried out inspections at the wharfs, as soon as its decision was announced the waterside workers went on strike and the then Acting Prime Minister, who is no longer a member -of” this House, overrode the decision pf the commission by withholding permission for the export of doubledumped wool, until the issue had been decided by another tribunal.
– Has. that tribunal ever met to decide the issue?
– No, and in my opinion it never will. That kind of action “ torpedoes “ authorities established by this Government. Unless we have definite evidence of a change of heart on the part of the Government no good results will flow from the enactment of the measure now before us. I have no desire to discuss the bill at length because my leader has already effectively analysed it; but there are certain aspects of it upon which I should like to comment briefly. One of the main features of the bill, as stated by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in introducing it is that it emphasizes conciliation. The right honorable gentleman said that in the past there had been too much legal procedure and that while legal formalities were being complied with, a dispute’ very often reached a stage at which it became very difficult to settle, and that it was accordingly proposed to do away with a great deal of the existing procedure and make provision for a settlement of a dispute without bringing it before the court. That was the idea underlying the action of the Government when it appointed conciliation commissioners in 1940. Under this bill, however, the powers of the commissioners are to be very widely extended. Under the original regulations the conciliation commissioners were in fact conciliators but they had no arbitral authority. To all intents and purposes, the new conciliation commissioners, are to be judges of the court itself. At all events they are to be clothed with powers almost equal to those possessed by the Arbitration Court. This substantial widening of the powers of conciliation commissioners will bring about lack of uniformity in the judgments given in industrial matters. As I mentioned earlier there seems to be some difficulty in aligning the judgments of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the arbitration courts of the States. Now, however, in addition to the arbitration courts of the Commonwealth and the States, decisions in respect of industrial matters are to be made by fifteen conciliation commissioners. This new departure will lead to a great deal of confusion and, no doubt, to great dissatisfaction among the workers if differing awards are made. My second comment concerns the lack of qualifications needed by appointees to the position of conciliation commissioner. In this respect the bill merely provides that the Governor-General may appoint conciliation commissioners for the purposes of the act. Not one word is said about the qualifications of appointees. If it be not necessary to define the qualifications to be possessed by conciliation commissioners, who are to be given such wide powers, why it is necessary “to define the qualifications of judges of the Arbitration Court itself? It is equally im- portant that conciliation commissioners should have the requisite qualifications to carry out the task. Notwithstanding the fact that their field of operations will be severely curtailed when this bill becomes law, the bill prescribes that the Chief Judge and other judges of the Arbitra tion Court must be barristers or solicitors of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State and of not less than five years standing. In other words they must have training and experience for the job. There is a great clamour about the procedures of the Arbitration Court being strangled by legalisms and an insistence that the procedural delays must be reduced. We must be very wary of what Mr. Justice Davidson has described as the “ cult of the untrained “. These commissioners will have a difficult job to perform, and in my opinion they should be required to possess high qualifications in order that they may function satisfactorily. As I have said, their powers will be very considerable, and I am at a loss to know the exact limits that will be placed on those powers. The bill provides for the insertion in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of a new section in the following terms : -
A Conciliation Commissioner shall not be empowered to make an order or award in relation to -
the standard hours of work in an industry:
the basic wage or the principles upon which it is computed; (c)the period which shall be granted as annual leave with pay; or
the minimum rate of remuneration for adult females in an industry.
That states clearly the things that a commissioner cannot do. However, the following proposed new sub-section sets out certain duties of a commissioner, and I fail to see how they will be limited under the bill: -
It shall be the duty of the Conciliation Commissioner to do all such things as he thinks fit for the prompt prevention or settlement of the industrial dispute by conciliation or arbitration.
That is clear, and I would have assumed, but for the terms of the proposed subsection immediately following it, that it excluded the matters which I mentioned earlier as being matters for decision by the ArbitrationCourt. The succeeding provision is as follows : -
Nothing in any other provision of this Act shall prevent a Conciliation Commissioner from taking action under this section.
That is definite. I do not know whether the making of an award by a commissioner will be considered to be “ action “ within the terms of this measure. The
Attorney-General should inform the House of the precise limitations that will be imposed upon the powers of the commissioners. Another curious provision in .the bill is as follows: -
A Conciliation Commissioner may, if he thinks fit, at any stage of a matter before him, and upon such terms as lie thinks fit, refer any question, of law arising in relation to that matter for the opinion of the Court.
But, in spite of-. the fact that a commissioner may not be clear on a question of law, the bill then provides -
Notwithstanding the reference of a question of law to the Court under this section, the Commissioner may make an order or award in the matter in which the question arose.
I.n other words, a commissioner will not be prevented from making an award, even though he may not bo clear on a legal aspect of the matter before him. An even more disturbing fact is that, having referred a question of law to the court and obtained a decision upon it, a commissioner will not be compelled to bring any previous or “ tentative “ award into line with the determination of the court. The bill states -
Upon the determination hy the Court of a question of law referred under this section, the Commissioner may make an order or award, not inconsistent with the opinion of .the Court, or may vary an existing order or award in such a. way as will make it consistent with that opinion.
A commissioner “ may “ vary an existing award or order but if, in his wisdom, he considers that the legal interpretation of the court may prove to be unsatisfactory to the plaintiffs, he may not do so. I.” consider that that provision, for all practical purposes, wipes out the authority of the Arbitration Court on questions of law. Thus the commissioners, in addition to having wide conciliation and arbitral powers, will have powers over and above those of the Arbitration Court itself.
I hope that the Government will realize that no authority can possibly function satisfactorily unless, first, it is clothed with, the necessary powers and, secondly, it has the support of the supreme arbitration authority in the country. The establishment of a tribunal to adjudicate on contentious matters of great complexity, which will give decisions binding on only one party, will lead to endless strife and to the bringing to bear, of con tinual pressure upon that authority. I direct attention to what has been said on this subject by Mr. Justice Davidson, who has had a great deal of experience in industrial matters, having been given the job of inquiring into the administration and control of the coal-mining industry. In his report on the industry, he stated that statutory law on compulsory conciliation and arbitration was based on a number of sound principles, which included the “ enforcement of the court’s decisions by appropriate penalties “ and, in New South “Wales and Queensland, “ the prohibition of strikes and lockouts and the punishment of persons causing or aiding and abetting those disruptions of the country’s economy “. « In other words, Mr. Justice Davidson considered that the only way in which a court, or any other similar authority, could function satisfactorily was by having its awards enforced on all parties to a dispute. He went on to state that “ a dangerous drift from these principles had developed during the war towards a departure from the basic requirement of disinterested, independent and highly qualified referees and in limiting the right of appeal from minor tribunals. The multiplicity of courts, boards and authorities in the coal-mining industry is a hindrance to ‘the efficient operation in the mines and to the maintenance of industry. . . .” One of the great deficiencies of this bill is that it provides no penalties for employees, or unions which act on their behalf, who break awards or fail to observe -them. Although the employers will be bound, quite rightly, to observe awards, the bill will provide no power to compel employees to observe them. The employees, knowing this, are less likely to observe the awards than if they knew that certain offences would be committed if they did certain things and that penalties would be imposed upon conviction for those offences. Though this bill sets out the considered opinion of the Government, it flies in the face of the experience of the last four or five years. Everything that happened then, particularly in the last two years, shows how necessary it is to have a proper authority that will not give conflicting awards in similar industries and power to police the awards once’ given. Those things do. not reside in this measure, and that is its great weakness. The Government may put it through the House with The numbers it has behind it, but I hope that it will .consider the suggestions made from this side, because, if it does, I am confident that we -shall have a much better and much more workable arbitration system than we have had.
.- This ball to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is designed to bring peace in industry and to overcome many anomalies in dealing with industrial disputes. The Attorney-General (Dr, Evatt) should be congratulated upon this honest attempt to deal with the present unsatisfactory industrial position. I am surprised at the opposition to this bill and the lack, of support of the Opposition to its splendid features,. Attacks have been made not only on the bil] but also on trade unions. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said -
The bill is not an attempt to solve the industrial problems, of to-day., lt is au attempt ,to placate the militant unions who are asking for this hill.
The bill will give satisfaction to all section’s of the community, not only the militant unions, brat all unions which .apply for court awards and .favour arbitration. It will streamline the arbitration system. It is true that in the last few months and probably since the [termination of the war there has been considerable industrial trouble. Trade unions are formed to .safeguard the economic and industria! »con= dixons of their members. They ,-ase not formed foi- any .other purpose. They seek t-o obtain improved living standards, working (Conditions amd social security for their m em he:rE. They have a most responsible job. -One would think, hearing Opposition members denounce trade union leaders and members, that they were opposed to any (kind .of .trade union organization and would like to see the workers without unions -or societies to safeguard their interests. Trade union leaders .are charged with a heavy .responsibility in carrying suit -.the wishes .of their members. My (experience as a member ( Ch a trade .union was that -unionists did >not strike until they had given .serious .con sideration to the issues involved. Union leaders always considered three important, factors before determining on a strike-first, the dispute must be grave ; secondly, all ways and means must be explored to settle the dispute before deciding to strike; and thirdly, there should be some hope of success. Although some disputes in the last few months have not arisen from grave causes, most strikes have been fought on very grave issues. 1 know, as a trade unionist, the serious discussions that occur in the meeting rooms before strikes are decided upon. It is not the leaders of the trade unions that cause strikes. They generally try to show their members just where their advantages lie, just how mush they can expect to receive and what benefits will accrue to them if they go on strike and bring about . industrial turmoil. Before counselling a strike, the union leaders make sure that their members will emerge from the strike better off than when they ceased work, for it is always .considered that a strike that leaves the members in a worse position is a bad policy that should be avoided if at all -possible. It is wrong for the Opposition to accuse the trade union leaders pf irresponsibility. During the war they .co-opera ted with the Government in .solving the :mam-,power pro D leans that had to be solved if the war was to be won. Their achievements -were marvellous. .These trade union ileal e.r.s allowed what might be regarded ta» a cancellation ,of their awards. They agreed to the dilution of labour. They allowed into the organizations >men who were not, frailly qualified .tra dennes .to enable .the Government to make a successful war effort. These -men who allowed the rights of their members -to he .-abrogated for the sake -.of the waa- ^effort ar.e now charged with being irresponsible leaders of the industrial movement.
In my io;pinion, ibis bill is -necessary. The .part that conciliation commissioners will play as most important .and has been long desired. The .delay an the settlement of .disputes and In -the hearing of .cases before the Arbitration Court is considered irksome by the men in industry;. When a .claim ;is filed in the court and the -men expect .a decision within a month or (t.wo of the making of it-heir .claim and they wait for about two years, they aire naturally ‘dissatisfied and seek other means, .of redressing their legitimate grievances. That often takes the -form of a .strike, with resultant industrial chaos, -but that at least draws some attention to .their grievances.
The Attorney-General has a twelvepoint ‘programme that ‘he .considers “will give satisfaction to the Arbitration ‘Court itself and to members of the ‘community. The .proposed method >of settlement of .disputes ‘does mot follow the present method of judicial (decision, lt aims at conciliation between the. disputants. There should be no objection to that. There should be no objection to m en confer.r.ing ; for the purpose .of learning the -cause of the trou’ble. Et is proposed to -dispense ‘with the system under which conciliation ‘commissioners me subordinate to -the Arbitration “Court with an inferior status. ‘The honorable member 4or Wakefield (Mr. McBride) said that we already ‘had -conciliation commissioners. I agree, but -they have mot had the power that they “will have .under this legislation. It is most important that conciliation commissioners, when (dealing with, industrial disputes, sh,M have the power to -say whether they will :hear them as arbitrators, <or whether .they .will take written ,or .-oral evidence. ‘I ..give honorable members ian instance of what .happened at Mart’s Dock, .Sydney, when .a collier came in covered with coal dust >and -men were asked to do ja dirty .job on it. They (asked for dint money :o’f l$d. fan -hour. The organization .control^ ling Mortis Dock .would not -consider their claim. The men then (gave the manage- ment thr.ee days to reconsider their application, -but -the management would not do .so. .-Following that the -men decided to withhold their labour. .A[s a result, they were <au-t of (work two and a half meeks saud -other ‘unionists had to levy themselves to .-support them. After two and a ih alf weeks the management decided that the men were -entitled ito (dirt money.. Sad there (been .a. conciliation commissioner available, ‘.exercising the power that -.this bill ogives to shim, ‘.the dispute could have been settled immediately and there ‘twould have been -no strike. .Men working on Orange ‘under the metal trades union’s award, . .asked ‘for 6d. an hour increase for “diesel money “.. They applied for an officer of the .court to in spect the work. No officer of tue court attended, and the men withdrew their labour, resulting in a -stoppage for ‘six weeks. ‘The -dispute could have been settled if a court official had visited the jo’b and submitted the dispute -to a judge. No .consideration -was -given to t-he men’s claim and a six -wee’ks’ ‘stoppage occurred in -one -of the -most “important ‘branches of industry, -which >was a –most serious matter. It is essential that disputes should -‘be -settled almost immediately, -an.d for -that reason I support -the appointment tff -conciliation -commissioners. “They will ‘fulfil a ‘long-Mt -want in industry and will bring ,great satisfaction to the workers. ‘The workers -do -not like to ‘be on -strike-; they are not -satisfied in ha ving three, four and ‘five weeks off -work and their union comrades ‘having to ;meet levies ‘to -‘support them
There is -a dispute at present at the .Botany works -of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited in any .electorate. The dispute arose >many , months ago when the workers .-sought increased wages and .adoption (of ja -Commonwealth award as .against -a Joss favorable State annand under which, they ware working. Their claims were refused by the company ,amd the -workers, an Unwin, refused to work (.overtime. .One non-unionist declined ito ‘observe the ‘Overtime ban imposed by the union, sand arn ‘consequence the lU-ni.on withdrew -its labour altogether. The .company was prepared to .ask its employees ,to wor-k overtime in defiance of ‘the .union’-s attitude in ,an <attempt to break down .the union.- ‘Howe.v.er, while the men were tout .on strike the company reversed its attitude and decided .to observe the .Commonwealth award. But the court refused to allow the company to pay the rates prescribed by the Commonwealth award and ordered the employees to make application to the court. The .union concerned .did make application to the court, ,b.ut it is still awaiting a decision. This company has just announced a diet profit if or the .year of £413i,-3£)2. The company, which made almost .£50.Q,0.0.0 profit, -refused to,give its employees any consideration. “W-e ar.e supposed to be moving towards -a new deal in industry; yet an ‘organization making -an annual profit -of nearly £000,000 refuses to apply a. Commonwealth award to its employees! The provisions in this bill will definitely clear up the position in regard to industrial disputes and will prevent many of them arising. Under the present arbitration procedure four separate steps have to be taken to get an industrial determination, whereas under this scheme all that is required is that the parties shall notify the conciliation commissioner concerned. It is the conciliation commissioner’s responsibility to keep himself au fait with what is going on in his particular branch of industry. That, of course, is a most important job. The only criticism of the bill that has come from honorable members opposite is their contention that the awards made by the conciliation commissioners whom it is proposed to appoint will create confusion because they will be men without legal knowledge, and it is suggested that the interpretation of their awards will cause chaos in industry. But the proposed commissioners will not make awards incapable of interpretation because they will be experienced industrialists, and men of ability, courage and character. This Government will not appoint men who have not got those attributes. Honorable’ members can rest assured that no individuals will te appointed to these positions unless they are properly equipped to carry out these most important duties.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) in his rather fantastic speech said that there were never any delays in the Arbitration Court. I was a member of the Locomotive Enginedrivers Union, and ,that union waited eighteen months for its claim to get before the court. When it got before the court we had to wait two years for an award. Although our members worked under the most irksome conditions, with all sorts of anomalies in their award and carrying out an important transport job on behalf of the nation, time and again the court said : “ The court will not sit until next month; there is no judge available”. Many of these little pinpricks which cause so much trouble could be rectified immediately by the intervention of a conciliation commissioner as provided for in this bill. I commend the measure as one which will bring peace to in- dustry and one which will work moreeffectively than the present organization..
I come now to clause 17 of the bill,, which is important. That clause provides that there is to be a Bureau of Research and Statistics under the direction of the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, that there is to be a conference ‘ every half-year, and that an annual report is to be submitted to this Parliament. These are entirely new features in arbitration. The bureau of research and ‘ statistics will be most valuable because it will collect industrial data from all parts of the world and this will be of the greatest assistance to the conciliation commis.sioners. The half-yearly conferences, which are to be presided over by the Chief Judge, will enable anomalies to be corrected and will assist in the elucidation and interpretation of awards, thus removing much of the present confusion.. The annual report to be submitted will give Parliament the opportunity of deliberating on the activities of the court and the conciliation commissioners and will remove the idea that the Arbitration. Court is above criticism by Parliament.. Furthermore, it will give Parliament an opportunity to review the activities of the conciliation commissioners because details of every dispute disposed of will be set out in the report. This innovation will give the people of Australia, an opportunity to keep their eye on the new court. I support the bill. Members of. the Opposition have said that there will be too many conciliation commissioners, and that this will lead to confusion. The fact is that there will be only fifteen for the whole of Australia. When we consider how rapidly industry in Australia is expanding, how many problems will have to be dealt with, such as child labour, female labour, apprenticeship, special rates for working in cold and in heat, and in confined places and under conditions where ‘ “ dirt “ money is payable, it is evident that fifteen conciliation commissioners will not be too many. It will in future be possible for the unions to have their grievances rectified more speedily, instead of waiting sometimes three years for an award to expire. ‘ I believe that the Government is doing a good job. on ‘behalf of the trade unions and Australia generally.
There are many in this country who believe that the Australian system of conciliation and arbitration is not only the palladium of economic justice and industrial strength of our people, the bulwark of their economic security and social wellbeing, but that it is also the source of our security as a nation, because we are “ not as a house divided, “ and we know just where we are going one with another - and with other nations as well. Insofar as the proposed amendments will add to the efficiency of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and our system of conciliation and arbitration, it will be of immense value and service to Australia and to our democracy, and its success is expected with confidence by all good unionists. I support the bill.
– I could have wished for two things in this deb’ate. In the first place, I could have wished for an atmosphere less charged with knowledge of the excesses which a handful of selfish, arrogant trade unionists have committed at the expense of a long suffering public. That leads to charges of appeasement on the one hand, and of reprisals on the other by those who oppose either the bill or the criticism of the bill. In the second place, I could have wished this subject to be approached less on party lines than has been the case. There is no one here who does not wish most sincerely for peace in industry, and there is no one in this House who does not believe in the principle of arbitration.
– And of conciliation?
– Yes, and of conciliation. Every one believes that when disputes occur the machinery of conciliation and arbitration should be set in motion as’ the best way to settle, them. The question is, what is the best kind of machinery for the purpose? I listened to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) when he said a few minutes ago that this measure would give satisfaction to practically every section of the population in Australia. I compliment him on his optimism, and I have no doubt that this bill will be received with satisfaction by a considerable number of groups in Australia. However, what we want is a bill that will, in the long run, reduce the number of industrial disputes. I am not one of those who doubt the good intentions of the Government in this matter. The fault with the Government is not-that its intentions have been bad. Its faults, and they are many, are faults of weakness.. I remind the Government of the proverbial destination of roads which are paved with good intentions, and I believe that the road along which the Government is now conducting us is much more likely to lead to the hell of industrial turmoil than to the -heaven of industrial peace. ‘
The title describes this measure as a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-46, but this is not an amending bill in the true sense of the word. As a matter of fact, it provides for a complete revolution of principle. It involves the abandonment of a great part of the industrial principles which have been followed for over 40 years. When considering proposals for amending our arbitration system, Ave should ask ourselves how well has the existing industrial machinery served the country, and to what extent changes are needed. The first Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed in 1904 - that is, 43 years ‘ago, and certain objectives were then stated. The first was to prevent lock-outs and strikes in relation to industrial disputes. The second was to facilitate and encourage representative bodies -of employers and employees to submit industrial disputes to a court for arbitration. The third was to provide for the making and enforcement of industrial agreements between employers and employees.- It appears clear that the second and third objectives have been more or less achieved. Certainly, representatives of ‘ organizations of employers and employees have grown tremendously, and the. making and enforcement of industrial agreements between employers and employees has operated with considerable success. But what about the first objectivethe prevention of lock-outs and strikes in relation to industrial matters? I have here a table which summarizes the losses of working time in Australia due to industrial disputes compared with the losses of other countries. The figures show the working days lost per thousand employees in the mining industry and transport from 1927 to 1943. The table excludes workers in primary industries, the civil service and the defence forces^ because there are hardly ever any disputes in those industries.. For the’ others; the average number of working, days lost was as follows.:. -
Thus, on a comparative population basis:, Australia lost four times as much industrial working time as Great Britain and Canada., an’d’ five times ais much as New Zealand. Apart from the material loss thus caused, there is further the very depressing effect on our national morale and the appalling spectacle of class warfare. On the asset side of the balance-sheet that I am endeavouring te place before the House there are some impressive figures’. The cases disposed of by the Arbitration Court numbered 1,372 in 1944, 1,085’ in 1.945, and 1,099’ in 1946. Those figures represent, settlement by the COurt of more than three cases daily. Yet honorable members opposite, and persons outside this House, frequently complain of the slow working of the court. It may be slow on occasions, but by and large it has given and is still giving very good service. Other factors can be placed on the1 credit side. It would not be far f rom the truth to say that, great though the number of industrial disputes and the loss of working days has been, but for the court it probably would have been much more. I believe that our arbitration system as a whole has rendered a valuable service in raising the standards of living of all sections of the community. We have every reason to be proud of it, and to retain it. Yet it is true to say that the system has1 not fulfilled all the hopes that were entertained when it was introduced. I ask myself whether failure of those hopes to mature has been due to the system itself, or to causes outside the system. Powerful forces are at work in this country in opposition to the arbitration system. There is the psychological factor which seems to affect all human beings after every great war. It was in evidence after World War I., and it has been in evidence since the .termination of World War II. There is no doubt of the- existence of widespread, industrial unrest not only in. this, country hut also throughout the- democratic world. Mention has’ been made of. strikes in the United States of America, and also in Great Britain,. Canada,. New Zealand, and other British countries. But we all realize - and if. we do- not we” should1 - that the degree of unrest is far greater in this CoUntry than in the other countries I have mentioned!.. I believe that the- present psychological unrest,, which is- the aftermath of all. wars, will pass away as’ it did after World War I.
There is another strong factor against arbitration in this country. The active, well-organized’ and very influential Communist party has consolidated the postwar discontent to suit its own ends, with the result that non-Communist trade union, leaders have found their positions threatened. A case in point is the transport strike which occurred in Victoria a few months ago, the significance’ of which cannot be overrated.. The Communist leaders of the transport unions made certain demands. What electrified those Communist leaders, as well, as the strikers and, indeed, the whole of the trade union organization, was the weakness of the Cain Government, which strengthened the demand for direct action throughout Australia and furnished positive proof that such action was more profitable than reliance on the somewhat drawn-out procedure of the Arbitration Court. .Since then’ - and I say it with a great deal of regret - trade union leaders, in order to regain moral leadership of their organizations, have very largely adopted’ the aims, and in some degree the tactics, of the Communist leaders. We all know that the Communists, individually and as a party, are not in the least interested in the merits of an industrial issue. They make use of the discontent, which I am sorry is rife to-day among large .sections of our people, to gain their own ends. Proof of that is to be found in the fact that the majority of strikes, at all events those of. large dimensions, have been indulged in by unions that are led by Communists. It should be noted that those strikes have occurred in key industries, which, as we all know, Communists throughout the world seek to control.
There is -.one .further point -that I want to make. Tie power of the trade unions in Australia is to-day -out <of ail proportion to what it was ten, fifteen <ox twenty years ago. Their main objective then - it still is, in some degree, to-day - was to settle industrial issues and -obtain better industrial conditions for their members. They have become so powerful that their ideas now soar £a>r beyond an industrial issue, and they are exercising -very .strong political pressure -on governments. No one will deny that. They have gone beyond the purposes for which they were formed, and are becoming self-conscious in a sense which is very had for the .community as a whole. A handful .of men in a few industries <can now paralyse .transport. I cite the .Bunnerong power undertaking, the operations .of the Colonial .Sugar Refining Company Limited at Yarraville and the Newport power station, as examples. I could mention a dozen others of the same type. Sometimes not more than ten men need bo withdrawn from their positions in order to paralyse industry as a whole, and cause immense inconvenience t.o the community. At different times, all of us have ‘spoken against the power of monopolies. To-day, we have a succession of examples of the power of the monopoly which exists in the vested interests of labour organizations. They are exercising their power regardless of the effects on others. I ask honorable members opposite, as well -as those who sit on this side of the House, what they would say if the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the ‘Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, or some other large concern, suddenly decided to conduct its works in order to raise dividends, increase prices, or make larger profits for its shareholders. Swift and sure action would be taken to prevent such an occurrence. Yet the power of these other vested organizations, the trade unions, is being used to achieve the same result, and not much is being d’one to curb them. It is clear that, in such circumstances, the State must intervene in order to protect the in terests -of the community as a whole.
This subject goes deeper than those things of which I have already spoken. Just as a divorce law cannot ensure harmony in a married man’s household, bo arbitration machinery will not of itself maintain . peace in industry. What is needed is something which is curative rather than preventive, -something which will prevent disputes from arising. The main cause of the troubles which beset industry lies deep -in- the problem of human relationships. It is in that sphere that we have failed. Australia is far behind Britain asn-d the United .States -of America in this field. The average factory worker or farm worker asks for more than fair wages and good conditions. What he is looking for is, perhaps, rather intangible, but it cam. be said that he wants ‘to be regarded as of some importance in the organization ‘of which he ds a part; he wants 4o be more than a cog in the industrial! ‘-machine. Over 1/00 years ago, Thomas Carlyle wrote -
One thing I -know; never on this earth was the relation of man ito main carried .on by cas)) payment alone.
That is as tune too-day as when it was written.-, the root -of .our industrial troubles lies in wrong hum,un relationships. We must tackle that side .of the problem if we .are to have industrial peace in .the years to come. Some ‘employers expend a lot :of time and money in an attempt to -get closer to their workers, but unfortunately they are comparalively few in number. Other employers provide amenities and improved working conditions foi’ their employees, but they are still not (close enough to the workers. Unhappily, the large mass of employers are hopelessly ‘Out of date; they are 40 or 50 years behind the times in this field. In my opinion, an employer occupies much the same position as that of an officer in the army. An officer in command of a platoon is responsible for everything connected with the platoon - food, clothing, equipment,’ training .and morale. TJ he fails in respect of any one item the platoon is no ‘longer efficient. Employers may not be able to go that far, “but they could go much farther than most of them are now prepared to go. The responsibility -of an employer does not .end when he has filled the pay envelopes of his employees or when they have passed >o,ut through the factory .gates. ?Similarly, many workers have a one-sided outlook, because for many years they have listened to their leaders saying that the “ boss “ is exploiting all those who work under him, and that the interests of the workers and the employers in industry are opposed. That poison has been at work for many years and has had harmful results; the great majority of workers now - believe that they ‘and the boss must necessarily he in opposing camps. Ear too many workers seem intent on doing some injury ro their employers. They fail to realize that thereby they are injuring the public, and that eventually they will injure themselves. We must preach another gospel in board room and factory. Both employers and employees must be led to see that better human relationships in industry are vital. For that reason I should like the Government to take more interest in human relationships than it has done hitherto. Unfortunately, I have not time to develop that argument fully, but I. point out that in Great Britain much has been done by the setting up of works councils. I have recently been informed of the excellent work performed by these councils in connexion with the chemical industries in Britain.” The purposes of these works councils is to keep workers informed of matters associated with the industry in which they are engaged, thereby causing them to take a greater interest in their work. In some places works councils have been extended, and now joint production committees deal with the .more technical aspects of employment. The Government would do well to follow the example of Britain in this connexion.
At the commencement of my speech I asked what, changes were necessary to make the principal act effective. I say now that I do not think any major changes are required in that legislation. What is needed is a speeding up of the arbitration machinery and a simplification of methods. The main principles underlying the existing legislation are sound, as results have shown.
In my opinion, this bill has three chief defects. First, it relegates the Arbitration Court to a secondary position and transfers the power of the court, in a large measure, to the fifteen conciliation
Ifr. Ryan. commissioners who are to be appointed.. Secondly,” I fear that fifteen conciliation, commissioners dealing with a variety of cases will give different judgments, and thus create anomalies which will lead todissatisfaction, and possibly disputes. Thirdly, the bill makes no proper provision for penalties for infringement of thelaw. In my opinion’ every law enacted by any Parliament must contain provisions for punishment for infringement,, and those sanctions must be enforced. Thecommandment, “ Thou shalt not steal “, has been embodied in legislation which, generally speaking, is obeyed. Should, thefts or robberies occur, the authorities immediately become active, and convicted offenders are punished. Honorable members can imagine what would happen if law-breakers could rob and steal without fear of punishment. Before long crime would be on the increase.
I recall a personal experience in Germany more than 20 years ago. I wasthe first and perhaps the only person, ever to establish an arbitration court in that country. Probably, no arbitration court exists there now. When the Allies occupied Germany after World War I., a large number of industrial disputes, similar to those which we are experiencing in Australia to-day and many of which were inspired by Communists, occurred. No machinery other than brute forceexisted to deal with them. In an attempt, to minimize and settle these disputes, some of my colleagues and I created arbitration courts in the British zone of occupation. A court consisted of two assessors representing the employers, two assessors representing the employees, and the tribunal was presided over by a British official. To the awards of these tribunals were attached penalties for nonobservance. During the two years that I was in Cologne, those laws were obeyed, and the only strikes which took place - a few of them were certainly on a large scale - collapsed when the prescribed penalties were enforced. On several occasions in this House the Minister for Labour and National Service has asked: “ How can you imprison 5,000 or 10,000’ men who have disobeyed the industrial laws and gone’ on strike? “ Of course, all those men cannot be imprisoned, but the leaders, who are responsible for the actions of the ranh and file, may be prosecuted and either sent to prison or fined. My personal experience in Germany, where I had the duty of addressing meetings ‘of employers and employees, was that this system succeeded because we had the power and the determination to enforce those awards. The effect of any law depends far less on the details of the law itself than on the manner in which it is administered. The trouble which we are experiencing to-day is largely due to the fact that the present Government has failed in its duty to enforce our arbitration laws. Therefore, I hope that if this bill becomes law the Government will enforce its provisions.
.- The bill which the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has introduced for the reorganization of arbitration, has been universally recognized as one of the most important and far-reaching industrial measures that has yet been presented to this Parliament. It is a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the purpose of streamlining our system of conciliation and arbitration by the elimination of all cumbersome preliminaries and technicalities, and the substitution for legal technique and courts of law practical decisions of experienced and independent laymen in the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. For this purpose, the Attorney-General proposes to’ transfer to conciliation commissioners a portion of the Arbitration Court’s power to settle disputes. The commissioners’ awards will be final instead of being subject to appeal, as at present. The court will have power, under the bill, to adjudicate on only four matters of general importance, namely, standard hours, basic wage, annual leave and female minimum rates.
The Attorney-General stated that approximately fifteen commissioners would be appointed, and that they would be assured of security of tenure. Another important proposal is that commissioners shall have power “ without technical and artificial hindrances “ to discover the cause of industrial disputes and to conciliate the disputants. If conciliation fails, a commissioner will attempt to settle a dispute by making an award or order. Formal and overtechnical procedure may delay settlement of disputes. Critical first stages will be abandoned. Commissioners will be able to intervene before differences between parties become acute. I believe that immediately a commissioner becomes aware of trouble he will try to end a dispute by conciliation,’ and if this fails, he will attempt to settle it by arbitration. This bill will abolish the cumbrous preliminaries which have tended to prevent the industrial authorities from taking hold of the situation before it crystallized into a dispute. Secondly, when the machinery has been brought into motion, the bill substitutes for legal technique and courts of law the practical decisions of experienced laymen, who will exercise administrative discretions. When they handle a situation, their methods will not be governed by’ any technical or ‘ legal procedures. They will be given wide discretion to act for the purpose of preventing and settling disputes.
The aim of the Government has been to embody in the bill a true spirit of tlx-‘ constitutional power of the National Parliament with respect to industrial disputes. In my opinion, this bill will be of immense value and service to Australia and to our democracy, and its success i* anticipated with confidence by all good unionists. Naturally, I expected thai every honorable member, regardless of hi? political beliefs, would give to this measure his wholehearted support and approval. But members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party have opposed the bill for purely political purposes. The bill is designed solely to nip in the bud any matter that might cause, or lead to, industrial unrest. Therefore, it would appear that the Opposition is more concerned to discredit the Government than to maintain industrial peace. Evidently; honorable members opposite want to bring about industrial and economic chaos, in their desperate attempt to gain control in this Parliament and to destroy the people’s government. However, I am afraid that they will have a long wait before doing so, because I believe that they will remain in opposition for many more years.. I emphasize, that they have, done more: than any other section: of thoi peoples to* incite the, workers.. Ii sup-, port the: bill, and compliment- the Attorney-General upon, introducing* it.
Sitting suspended1 from 5:46 to 8:p.m
Mrs-. BLACKBURN (Bourke y [8.0.]- I. arn prepared’ to support” this bill* Because it lays* emphasis on the conciliation com:missioner and not upon’ the judge of” the Arbitration- Court’;, in other words; upon a layman” and not a legal man-. The. institutions set” up under any, arbitration court must’ lie’ between the fire of two parties, each* with great things at stake, one1 defending” the right to live’ on profits’ and1 the’ other the right to live at all. A’ court” staffed’ by lawyers is not a suitable’ or competent’ body” for the work of conciliation” and1 the Government, realizing; that’, lias provided’ in the bill’ for the institution of a’ better system. It has Been* said: by some honorable members 1-h’afr a’ conciliation court staffed’ by lawyers is’ a” necessity. A legal’ opinion given in 1930 on that matter reads -
Conciliation or” arbitration, when! administered by’ judge.s with no- training in industry and no- experience in negotiating in. disputes between employer and’ employee”, is Unsatisfactory, provokes litigation) and’ is not-‘ conducive to the preservation of. industrial peace.
Tire- bill provides’ for” fine- establishment of a’- Bureau of- Research and1 Statistics. The bureau should- Be’ constantly adf work investigating and carrying out research in’ industry,- always- a step1 ahead’ of need, iw order to” shorten’ the procedure before the: Arbitration’ Court-‘ by having available as soon as a’ dispute’ arises the necessary information r era-ting to- the- industry in1, which’ the dispute has arisen. Tfe is’ contemplated’ thai? the’ judges of the Arbitration’. Court will still continue’ to exercise control, of such matters as- standard’ hours”, questions df: law, and such matters as> may be- referred to’ the court by the Registrar in accordance with proposed! new section” 33-. It is intended’, that conciliation, commissioners1 shall! hear evidence and’ make- awards, al function^ at present exercised, by the Arbitration Con;rt.. ‘ The success’ of”’ this; legislation willi depend to- a great degree ora; the conciliation commissioners: In ai legal document, prepared in 1928> the qualification which should- be possessed by a1 concilia tion! commissioner.’ is” described” as follows : -
Sm far- as practicable; each appointment of a Conciliation, Commissioner.- shall, be.- made from among! persons- having experience in. industry generally and’, in particular, in some part* of that industry or- some’ part”- of that group) off related* industries’ to which - it’ is’ intended! to> assign, suein Conciliation’. Commissioner.
In’ this” connexion L ma&e at suggestion, to the: Minister/which’ I realize. may not? find favour among’ many honorable members, namely; that: among the fifteen. conciliation commissioners to:, be’ appointed, a number, should’ be1 women; Ii suggest also that” the1- present machinery clauses, of the bill should be discarded and) that. arrangements should be made for. the. provision ihi lieu’, thereof of alternative- machinery along the” lines- of the” Victorian- Wages Board’ system. I make my- suggestion under four.” headings - First, that’ the Minister adb.pt the Victorian Wages Board’ system”, but without’ a chairman at the- preliminary” discussions”;- secondly, that to the’ extent of agreement by the wages’ board1, it should’ have” power to” make awards”; thirdly, that the wages Board1 should not meet’ merely when called together but; regularly and frequently;, and, fourthly; that a” conciliation commissioner, who would’ be its chairman, s’h’ oul’d’; be its- permanent’ executive officer, examining’ continuously matters coming wi’thin his! jurisdiction”. In His book, Towards Industrial’ Peace,, M’r. Foenander supports the” establishment of such ma’chinery. The object’ of the conciliation and arbitration’ system is to preserve peace between’ those engaged’ in industry, but’’ the” object”” of the wages board, system is to secure social justice. The particular weakness of the. bill now before us is it’s’ lack of Labour principles and its failure” to provide whether the court or the conciliation commissioner should’ act in. accordance with the minimum needs of ai family or ia accordance with what industry cant afford to- pay.. Mr. Justice Higgins supported- the former- principle, but- the- social philosophy,, or- the: lack, of it,, exhibited by later’ judges, resulted; in their- leaning towasr.dk the latter.. There is? at reference te this in-, an article- published in the: Australian Quarterly, written1 by the present Attorney-General (Dr;. Evatt)’,, in. which the right honorable gentleman pointed out thatin 1928 the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, had an amendment inserted in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, making provision to the effect that, before making an award, the court should consider its probable economic effect. Commenting upon that provision the AttorneyGeneral wrote-
Organized labourstrongly objected to the clause,so it was provided that the new section shouldnot affect the court’s practice in relation to the basicwage.Labour remained dissatisfied fluid in 1830 Mr. Scullin repealed the clause altogether. By the uninitiated, this repeal might have been regarded as having finally divorced the court fromthe faculties of economics. But Chief Judge Dethridge took the view that Mr. Bruce’s much debated amendment 1928 was quite unnecessary; therefore its repealaccomplished exactly nothing.From a legal standpoint this ; opinion is understandable, but the result has been to bring into being a sharpcontradiction in basic wage mattersbetweenthe principle of Mr. Justice Higgins and that nowadopted.
In order to providefor those Labour principlesto which I have alluded, or some of them, I shall propose at a later stage to insert, in clause8 of the bill, provision for a newsection, 43pa, ofthe Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I shall notdeal with the details of it now because it is rather lengthy, but I shall do so in committee. Honorable members opposite have attemptedto discredit the bill on the ground that it -is Communist-inspired. Several of them have urged the inclusion of a clause to prohibit strikes or to punish strikers.
– And prohibit lockouts.
-Yes - and lockouts. Whether we like it ornot, strikes and lockoutscannotbecured in that way. Strike-breaking regulations havebeen tried in other countries and have always failed. Strikes and lockouts are diseases of ourindustrial society, and we have to regard them as such. They can be no morecured by such legislation than a sorecan becuredby covering it with a plaster. By coveringa sore, you probably make it worse. The same thing applies tostrike-breaking legislation and strikes. Moreover,, the people would have no respect for laws which attempted to command them todo the impossible.
Mr. Justice Higginsdescribed theArbitrationCourt as “an instrument for raising the downtroddenandfor improv ing the stamina and character of later generations “. The Arbitration Court cannot have that effect under the present system. Mr. Justice Higgins resigned the presidency of thecourt in 1922 because he considered that the powers of the court had been unduly diminished, and since that time theemphasis of arbitration procedure has been recognized to be on the side of theemployers. Under this bill, the new system may bring about relief from industrial unrest in its present form. Honorable members opposite have asked why there is need for a change after 40 years of a so-called satisfactory system. If they will take the trouble toexamine the facts, they will realize that, during the whole of that period, there ‘has been controversy on the subject of arbitration. Honorable members apposite have made the accusation that the bill has been inspired by a small militant group, but the truth is thatthe changes provided for in the billhave been wanted and urged for many years. I have before me adraft of an arbitration bill which was prepared in 1928. It contains provisions similar to those in the bill now before the House. Emphasis is laid on the appointment of commissioners. The draft proposed that the Arbitration Court be alaycourt to consist of a judge, as president, andof persons having the ability to act ascommissioners but not necessarily judges. That; bill was pre- . paredby alegal man. I have also before me other proposed amendmentsof the arbitration law prepared by thesame hand at different dates, and a report of an arbitration committee of the AustralasianCouncil of Trade Unions Congress dated the27th February, 1930. The report ofthat committee is extremely interesting, becausethe material whichit contains is the basisof the provisions of the bill now before the House. I refer to these things deliberately in order to answer the charge made by honorable members opposite that thebill represents the proposalsofCommunists ofthe present day. It isnot for meto say that this billhas been framed because of the report which I havementioned, but my belief is that the bill has resulted from the deliberations of that committee. I believe that the report has influenced the framingof the billboth directly and indirectly. Lest it should be suggested that the members of that, committee might have been Communists all those years ago - and there were Communists then - I point out that the seven signatures at the end of the report are headed by that of a Minister of the present Government.’ I shall read the last paragraph of that report, because .people should not be misled by continual declarations that Communist propaganda is at the back of the bill now before the House. The final paragraph is as follows: -
Your committee desires to add that it invited Mr. Maurice Blackburn to assist in its -deliberations. This he did, attending many sessions, and we desire to express our appreciation of his many services.
The material which I have mentioned during my speech, all of which is of the same character as the bill before the House, was prepared by Mr. Blackburn.
.- This bill is, as a previous speaker said, an important and far-reaching measure. It will bring radical changes into our method of conducting arbitration between parties to industrial disputes, and it represents, I assume, the principal means put forward by the present Government for the restoration and maintenance of industrial peace. It is fitting, and, indeed, necessary if we are to have a proper perspective of this legislation, that we should examine its background. For my part, I can do’ no better than turn to the industrial situation as it exists in Victoria to-day. I am able to speak with first-hand knowledge of that situation, which is so critical and so abnormal as to give point to the remarks which I propose’ to make regarding the bill. Victoria is at present in the midst of an industrial crisis. Transport services have been interrupted, and in some places have ceased altogether. There are restrictions on the use of power and fuel of one kind and another. Production has been seriously reduced. There has been dislocation of -commerce and industry and great inconvenience has been caused to the com.munity as a whole by the long drawn-out -dispute in which the Amalgamated Engineering Union and certain employers in the metal trades are involved. This situation has been accompanied in the last few days by developments so serious that they should be placed on record as an indication of the length to which we can go in Australia in a period of peace .as the result of an industrial dispute not satisfactorily determined. Last week the Lord Mayor of Melbourne in the course of a statement made for publication used these words - “ The fight is on. Let us have a showdown now “. In the last couple of days a respected member of the Parliament of Victoria, a veteran of two world wars and a former Deputy Premier in the person of Mr. Kent Hughes, has openly advised housewives to disobey the power restrictions.
-mams. - To break the law!
– Yes, break the law. That coming from a man who has held a responsible position in the community ! In addition we had the Commonwealth Council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union authorizing the Victorian branch of the union to take such measures as it. considered necessary to gain its ends. At. the same time, we had the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union agreeing to intensify the struggle. It was in that atmosphere that the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain, said on Thursday, “ I cannot see daylight “ ; hut by Sunday he had seen daylight all right, for on Sunday he said, “ It is as clear as the noonday sim that the Communists are out. to overthrow our system of arbitration “ That is the situation in general terms that the Government now faces and that this legislation seeks to remedy. But what do we find in Victoria? We have in the Ministry of the very Premier who made that statement a Minister for Labour who also happens to be the president of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Clarey, M.L.C. Yesterday, jumping out of his role as Minister for Labour and putting on the mantle of the president- of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, he presided over a meeting of the disputes committee of that organization. Twelve of our key unions were represented and there he with them came to a decision that from the 12th May next, unless certain demands, which have been presented to the Arbitration Court, are conceded, there will be a stoppage of work by those unions. This at the very time when the State is completely disorganized as the result of the current industrial crisis! So we have this final fantastic contribution by Mr. Clarey himself.
I mention those facts briefly because they give a background to our consideration of this legislation. Those are not facts peculiar to Victoria. This is not something which is happening there and has escaped the other parts of the Commonwealth.. What is happening in Victoria has happened in one form or another in every other State in the last few years. If we look at the record of 1945, the last of the war years and the first of the peace, we discover that there was in that year a record number of industrial disputes up to that time for the Commonwealth. In that year we lost 2,200,000 working days as the result of disputes, proportionately six times the number of days lost in Great Britain. In 1946 we had the record number of working days lost inthe last 25 years. As for 1947, we have a taste of what it has brought to us. These things are not peculiar to any one State. They have occurred throughout the Commonwealth at the time when political Labour has been dominant, in which it has controlled not merely the Commonwealth Parliament but has had a majority in five of the six State parliaments as well. Following on that record, we have presented to us this bill as the Government’s solution of this grave problem.
What does the bill do? It clips the wings of the judges of the Arbitration Court and gives the power of deciding disputes to fifteen conciliation commissioners. We are told that this is going to” streamline “ our arbitration system.
I say it is going to torpedo our arbitration system. Other speakers have dwelt on the weaknesses of what is proposed, for instance, the absence of uniformity. How are we to have the same principles applied to the variety of disputes that are likely to occur if we have fifteen men, each going his own way and giving a decision according to the merits of the case as he sees it; but not co-ordinating each with the other the principles that they are to apply? I put it to honorable members opposite with practical experience of these matters that they do not know of any more fruitful cause of industrial disputes and unrest than having men working alongside each other doing comparable work on different wages and conditions. We have, therefore, in order to preserve that uniformity and avoid the friction that can result from differentiation as between working groups, to keep under the control of the court those matters in which the judges are able to confer and see what others are doing and in that way preserve uniformity of treatment. But if we are to have fifteen conciliation commissioners in all parts of the Commonwealth going out to see the dispute and trying to give an immediate decision if they can, what prospect can there be of uniformity ? This whole policy overlooks one most important element in arbitration, namely, public interest. It is not difficult to get management and men coming together, assuming that Government controls are lifted, and having the management saying, as it might say, “ All right, we will give you an extra 15 s. a week and put it on to the cost of the product”. We have had that in the past in the coal industry with the coal-owners saying, “ All right, we will give you so much and the price of coal will go up by so many shillings a ton “. That is one way of settling an industrial dispute, but it does not accord with public interest. The Arbitration Court has stood for public interest. There are three parties at all times to a dispute, the management, the men and the community, and above the storm, as itwere, able to examine the case presented by the management and the men we have a court able to give a decision that will have due regard to what is justice to the community as well as justice to the parties immediately involved. How can we have that public interest fully protected if the prime purpose of the conciliation commissioner is to give a solution, if he can, on the spot, or as speedily as possible, of the issues in dispute? How can he weigh how the public interest is likely to be affected? That, of course, is one fundamental weakness of the scheme.
Another matter that was dwelt on was the possibility of unsuitable appointments being made of men who, although they may have some practical experience- of indus trial matters, have not the needed temperament or- training and cannot: exercise essential impartiality: I do not say that we have not in the ranks of managements and men people who can do a useful job of this kind. We expanded the system of conciliation commissioners dur. ing the war. One of the most successful appointments- was made by. me as Minister for Labour and National Service, when T appointed Mr. Commissioner- Mooney,, who was. at that; time in the office of the honorable member for. Batman (Mr. Brennan), a former Labour AttorneyGeneral. Se had: had experience in the political field and in the industrial field, and”- my recommendation that he should, be appointed one of our conciliation commissioners was adopted by the then- Prime Minister- (Mr. Menzies-). And it has been a very good appointment! I give full credit to Mr: Mooney for the- work which he has- done. But there is- the danger that appointments made- by this Government will be- unsuitable, and we on this side of the House can be excused, for our fears in that, regard when we hear remarks– from honorable members, opposite such as- those of the honorable member for Hunter (.Mi”. James), calling: on the Government to appoint men drawn from, the trade unions, men who are openly- and avowedly sympathizers with, his own political ideals. If unsuitable appointments are made, the other dangers to which I have referred become so much more intensified.
We should apply another test, andagain, I speak from a vivid, if somewhat, painful, experience. During World War IT., when the parties now constituting the Opposition were in office, we were pressed to appoint special tribunals to deal directly and expeditiously with coalmining disputes. We appointed three for the principal coal-fields of New South Wales. What was our experience? No honorable member on the Governmentside will claim that we secured industrial peace on the coal-fields; on the contrary) the situation steadily deteriorated, despite the fact that men had been appointed to these tribunals who, it was considered, would- be fully appreciative of the minerspoint of view.. That was our experience;. What was the- experience of the present:
Government?.’ It appointed special conciliation commissioners. One- dealt with, the stevedoring; industry, and: I recall to the minds of honorable members the debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill, in which the weaknesses of that scheme were exposed. The then presiding- conciliation commissioner expressed very grave doubts whether he was justified in carrying on the, commission,, and. rumour had it that he had recommended’ to the Government that the commission be disbanded. We know the experience of the Maritime Industry Commission,, and of. the similar body which functioned in New Zealand. So, if the test of experience be applied to this proposal,, it must fail. Take the long-drawn-out dispute in the metal’ trades in which the Amalgamated ‘ Engineering Union and other metal trade unions are involved. If the proposed system: was going to provide a solution of. our industrial problems, why has it not done so there ? As we all know,, a conciliation commissioner dealt with that particular issue, and he was. given power to make the award. The conciliation commissioner was Mr. Mooney,, of whose ability all parties speak most highly. What, was the result? The dispute is being carried’ a stage further in the Arbitration Court. I do not want to dwell on it, but at least his efforts did not solve the problem. The present system, without any such modification, can and will work. It has worked in the past, and we gloried in it. Australia’s arbitration system, we claim., pioneered and developed industrial fairness to a degree that was not found in any other part of the world. Under it, men were able to get progressive improvements of their living conditions. Awards- were made for industries, codes of conduct prescribed and standards of wages fixed which gave to workers security and confidence. We took pride in them But in those days, men who approached the court wanted” it to deal fairly with the problems before ifr. A similar position could obtain to-day if the parties would come- along as– men of good faith and with good will, genuinely seeking a determination of- matters in issue between them. Honorable members who have dealt with the problems1 of industry know that the Arbitration ©burt to-day is usually the last resort. .Usually, a .preliminary ‘conference is held between the parties. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the matters left undetermined are brought before .the .court. If .the parties are -seeking justice, and :nothing more, the arbitration system will work. But we have men like Mr. Monk. Speaking with full authority as secretary of the .Australasian Council of Trade Unions, he .said, in connexion with the hearing of the -40-hours case : - “This is not intended as .a threat to ‘the Court, tout df the 40-hour week .is .not granted by ‘….. Arbitration Court, the trade union movement will ta’ke up the struggle - and it will be a long ‘and (bitter struggle - until we attain our objective”.
While men come before the court and mate inflammatory statements of that kind, there can be no hope for any arbitration -system in this ‘country. ‘The system must be based upon a willingness of the parties to submit to arbitration, and abide fairly by the determinations of the courts.
– What does that mean in physical terms 3
– I shall come .to that, if given an opportunity. My chief criticism of this legislation is not based upon the matters I ha<ve already mentioned, serious as they are - serious enough, indeed, to condemn utterly the proposed legislation and to prove that it cannot meet the difficulties confronting us. My chief criticism is that the .Government has shirked the real issue, .namely, is there to be industrial law? Is it to be prescribed by industrial tribunals, and, if so, is it to be backed by the authority of a parliamentary democracy.? This is not a problem of mechanics, of whether we ought to have a few more judges or commissioners. It goes deeper than that. This is a question of the highest constitutional principle. We know we must have industrial law, just as we have civil law and criminal law to’ guide our conduct in community life. If there is to be industrial law, is it to enjoy the .sanctions that .our other branches .of law do to-day ?
Political Labour is reaping the consequences of a generation of false doctrine, of more than twenty years of false propaganda. Repeatedly, members of .this Parliament, and leaders outside it, have preached the pernicious ‘doctrine <of the class war to the working men and women ©f this -country. What place is there in a young democracy like Australia -for the doctrine of the ‘class war ? What foundation has it in fact, when we know that in the .services during World War 1., and in the recent war, men and women from all parts of the Commonwealth and from all walks of life were able to combine in a sustained effort for a common -cause, the security of our way of life and the preservation of the liberties we enjoy
– Are they not .entitled similarly to the benefits of their .sacrifice now ?
– ‘Certainly they ‘ are. Sound administration now would produce steady progress in our living standards, security under the law, and the right of a .man to wor,k- - just as another would preach the right to strike. The class war has been the tool of the” Communist agitator in this .country, and it has been taken -up by too many people who ought to know better. Associated with that is the fallacious doctrine, the utterly false notion, of the existence of a right to strike. I know that <one is always open to .the charge of being called a reactionary if he condemns the right to strike. We are told that it is the workers’ last weapon. I was listening to the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) earlier this evening, when she said that santions had been tried in other countries and had always failed. According to her, attempts to impose penalties against strikes or lockouts in industry, because what is said of one should apply with equal force to tha other,, have always proved unsuccessful. The honorable member overlooked one important consideration so far as Australia is concerned as have other honorable members opposite including .the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), because he is not free from responsibility in this matter, who have publicly spoken of the “ workers’ right to strike “. They have all ignored- the fundamental consideration that, from the moment we accepted as the policy of our main political parties the system of arbitration, the worker and the management had their remedy, and any right to strike, which might have existed in the absence of the law, disappeared from that day. I listened to the honorable member for Bourke quote with approval utterances by the late Mr. Justice Higgins. Indeed, many honorable members opposite have quoted with approval his words, just as many trade union spokesmen from time to time have quoted approvingly what he had to say on these issues. No man could have been more forthright than he was on this particular issue. He said in his book, A. New Province for Law and Order -
There should be no more necessity for strikes and stoppages in order to obtain just working conditions than there was need for the Chinaman .of Charles Lamb to burn the house down whenever he wanted to roast pork. ‘The arbitration system is devised to provide a substitute for strikes and stoppages, to secure the reign of justice as against’ violence, of right as against might - to subdue’ Prussianism in industrial matters.
We cannot have a clearer condemnation or a more effective demolition of this socalled theory of the right to strike than is contained in that statement by a man who was always a stalwart for the rights of r,he working man and who insisted, when be had the opportunity, on doing what he could to give to him the best possible standards in industry. These lines of propaganda, which have been carefully fostered by political Labour over the last generation, are now bringing the harvest and consequences to the Labour party in Australian Parliaments. Another important development, to which I must refer, is the growth in power of the trade union movement during the last twenty years. We shall not understand what is happening in Australia to-day unless we have an appreciation of this development. [ mention the growth in numbers of the trade union movement, because, that does convey some indication of the growth in power and authority which has accompanied the growth in numbers. Before, World War I. there were approximately 500.000 trade unionists in Australia. Shortly before the outbreak of World War IT., the number had increased to nearly 1,000,000. To-day the figure stands at nearly 1,250,000. Therefore, honorable members will see that from the beginning of World War I. until the present time the number of trade unionists in Australia has more than doubled.
– The number of workers also has more than doubled.
– Of course ! The number of persons employed in industry has considerably increased; but as a political force, and the trade union movement set out to constitute itself as a political force, the increase of numbers has undoubtedly meant a substantial increase of political strength. I have only to put it to honorable members opposite what the trade union influence in their own electorate means in regard to their selection, political support and organization of election campaigns. The propagandists and the spokesmen, whom they get to recruit their movement, impress upon them, if they needed any impressing, just how powerful an influence this Can be. The growth of the trade union movement is not necessarily a bad thing. We on this side of the House believe in unionism. We believe that there is an obligation on men in industry to associate themselves with the bodies which have been established for their own protection and that they should give support to those organizations.
– Compulsory unionism!
– We do not believe in compulsion, because we do not believe in coercing people against their principles on any of these great issues; but we do believe in unionism, and in the right of the individual to determine for himself whether he will associate with these organizations. When, however, the trade union movement or individual elements in it set out to put themselves above the parliamentary democracy and above the Government which the people have elected, this Parliament, if it has anyrespect for itself and any regard for its obligations to the community, must resist these developments with all its force. The factor which undoubtedly contributes to the disorder and anarchy which prevail in industrial . matters in Australia to-day, has been the steady retreat under political Labour leadership in the Parliaments in Australia against the pressures which have been applied to them by the organized trade union movement.
I pass from that aspect ‘to a true indus- . trial policy for Australia at the present time. If the solutions which the Government has put forward are inadequate, and if this retreat has occurred which has weakened the authority of the Parliament, what are the solutions that a person possessing a constructive mind can propose? I attempt those suggestions briefly in the time remaining to me. The first is that governments have an obligation to see that there are accessible to those involved in an industrial disagreement tribunals which can speedily and impartially give a decision on the matters in dispute. We have them. An analysis will show that, all too frequently, delays have been contributed to wilfully and, in many instances, deliberately, by people who did not want an impartial decision from the court. But that is the responsibility of the Government. If it can be shown at any point that delays occur or parties have not a ready access to the tribunals, the onus is on the Government to remedy that situation. Having done that; and the tribunal in question having given its decision, the Government must be prepared to back with its authority the decision which has been made.
The .honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) asked earlier, “ How is that to be done ? “ There are many practical ways in which it can be done. We have a civil . law. Bights and remedies are available to those whose civil rights are infringed. But the civil law has behind it the backing of the courts, and anybody who gets a judgment from the court may use the authority of the Government, the Parliament and the court itself to enforce his rights. We have a criminal law. If people violate it, penalties are provided which again have the sanction and authority of the Government behind them. They can be enforced. If the industrial law is to have any meaning, because a law without force is meaningless and futile, appropriate penalties must be attached for’ breaches against it.
– What does that mean in physical terms?
– I shall explain it to the honorable member, and if I require an extension of time to enable me to complete my remarks, I hope that he will assist me to obtain it. When an organization, be it one of employers or employees, defies the court, there should be power in the court to deregister it. I admit that that power is given under the bill. There should be pow.er to attach the funds of that organization. There should be power to prosecute and, if necessary, fine the persons who offend against the law. Penalties are provided under this legislation, but they ‘ are of such a minor character that we cannot hope that they will give the authority that is necessary. Power should be conceded to a judge of the court to hold in contempt of court those who wilfully incite others to disobey the orders of the court, as was done in respect of Lewis, when, as a leader of a miners’ organization, he defied the Government of the United States of America. Power should be given not only to the court but also to the Government itself to deregister an organization, if it thought proper to do so when there had been disobedience of a decision of the court. In a condition of serious industrial disorder, of the character of that which is being experienced in Victoria at the present time, the Government should be prepared to prosecute, and, if necessary, imprison those who are disturbing the peace, dislocating transport and creating industrial anarchy. Such sanctions should be applied equally to organizations of employers and employees. All this lies within the compass of this Parliament. Unless the Parliament is prepared to give to industrial tribunals the powers that I have mentioned, the industrial law will represent only a meaningless use of words. There can be no law unless it can be enforced.
As a final element of industrial policy, there should be a progressive increase of living standards, a real pressing on with a housing programme, and a realization by those who are employed in industry that their condition can be steadily improved only by means of productive effort. The policy of the Government, however, has been responsible for the industrial dislocation of which I have spoken, the obstruction of our housing programme, the reduction of all production, and the failure by public utilities to provide the transport services which the public is demanding. The Government must enforce the authority of industrial tribunals, and must give effect to a policy which will ensure steadily rising standards of living.
That,., in< a. nutshell1, is an industrial policy for the– Commonwealth, of Australia. Any government which- claims, to speak, for the people, of Australia at’ the present time should give effect, to it. There would then be virtually an end to the industrial, disorder’ which is such a blot on. our community life at the moment. But such a policy can deal only with industrial grievances and difficulties; and! the causes- of those grievances* and difficulties- can; be removed^ when they have been brought before industrial tribunals’ to have judgment pronounced upon them.. It may be that there are in Australia to-day people who do not come within the realm of aft” industrial policy, who are* sot looking’ for a just determination of the claims that they submit,, but, in the words- of the Labour Premier of Victoria), are determined to smash our system- of arbitration, and with it the parliamentary democracy for which, we stand. If the Government has. reason to believe that there are- forces, working, in this country which are not basing their demands on legitimate industrial grievances, but are using those grievances as a pretext in order to foment disorder, and are employing, the- strike as a political and revolutionary- weapon, then the obligation is on the Government to- stand up to that internal enemy, just as- it has the obligation, in time of war,: to stand, up to. an external enemy.. There is very good reason to believe that that is what is happening in Australia to-day. That belief is voiced not merely by me or the Labour Premier of Victoria,, but also by some of the leading members of the Government. If that be so, then just as it would1 be futile to use a” pop-gun against a tank and fi ope to smash it, so also is1 it futile to- expect legislation of the kind’ that we are now considering to provide a solution of our problems’. The responsibility is on the Government to maintain1 security and industrial peace’, and thus to effect’ the- improvement’ and progression’ of our’ living standard’s that we know’ to’ be possible. Any governmelit which fails- the country at the present’ time1 i» the discharge’ of that responsibility, cannot’ claim the’ right to continue’ t’o> occupy the treasury bench.
Mr; DRAKEFORD’ (Maribyrnong- Minister for’ Air’ and1 Minister’ fbr’ Civil
Aviation”)’ [8:-56]’i- The1 honorable- member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt)- has simply followed the- line of argument which’ apiparently has been organized’ by the Oppo1 sition, against what must prove to. bie a great’ improvement of our’ industrial and arbitration’ legislation. I refuse to believe that the people to whom he has referred as being’ on strike at’ the present time, are- “‘enemies’ within the gates’’’. They are the very men who’, during the period’ of the’ war, enabled’ us to function successfully in the production of arms and ammunition-, aircraft, and all other essential material’s. They are very dissatisfied’ with existing conditions’ and’ have every right to voice their’ dissatisfaction’. The honorable’ member- said” that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley)’ had stated publicly his belief that the workers should have the right to strike. As one who has been1 associated for- years with an organization; which very rarely uses the Strike weapon, and” yet occupies an important position in the transport industry of Australia, I say quite frankly that whilst I do not. desire encouragement of the . application; of the right- to strike, I agree wholeheartedly with the Prime Minister that to> take away that right would be. to- take away what, in the final analysis,, is an absolutely essential weapon for the protection of the workers’ in» dis1 putes with their, employers.
I commend the- bill foi- the approval of this House-. It faces up. .to the problem of industrial! relationships! im. a most prac-tical and painstaking way. It. is a milestone along, the road’ of industrial progress, and ha.* been very necessary for a long time.. I recall out of my experience the attempt- that, wass made- by this ParId ament to> legislate for the’ setting1 Up of conciliation committees. The people’ who sought- to prevent, those committees from coming, into- operation now” sit on’ the opposite side of the House.. They directed their efforts through a public utility- ;- the railways. I was then industrial advocate for’ the- locomotive enginemen. The validity of the establishment of conciliation’ committees was’ challenged by the
Hallways Commissioners, who were iri the fortunate’ position of being able1 to’ use public’ funds for’ the engagement of the lest lawyers’ in’ the- community. IiS is one1 of the misfortunes of our industrial legislation that the; courts* are- used, so frequently by lawyers, not always to the advantage of the disputants;. If laymen were appointed to- such positions) with guidance’ en1 the main’ principles’ by, the court itself - and I am not criticizing, the court in .any way - I believe that the industrial situation in Australia, would be more peaceful’ than it has been in the past. That is what we all ought to strive for., Whilst I do not doubt’ the sincerity of honorable members opposite, the speech of the honorable member for Fawkner and’ other Opposition members who have spoken indicate that they are not’ so anxious for industrial peace as. they are to secure a weapon with which to flog the Government.
The Attorney-General (Dr.. Evatt) made it clear’ that this bill throws open to employer and employee alike the gate leading to a quick, and logical: discussion of a dispute at its source.. Under this legislation, the. arbitration system will not be stripped of legal principles-. There is nothing to prevent applicants with legal, training from- being -appointed as conciliation commissioners… Our experience shows- that it is. possible, to-secure laymen, capable of settling, industrial disputes. Knowledge of the law is: not a condition! of appointment; nor. should it be, particularly when provision, is made in’ the bill -Jo* main: principles1 to be dealt with by the co’urt. Far from, there being a wide. .gulf between reasoning power and judicial temperament, of. judges and commissioners, the fact remains’ that, no- act of any .existing, conciliation., commissioner has ever been vetoed or criticized by a judge. In the- light of that fact, what is wrong with, appointing, commissioners to deal, with disputes- at their source-?
I know something of industrial problem.’ as. they affect employers.- and employees; or, in other words, as they relate to- wages’, labour and capital. My experience was gained, not im the calm seclusion of a lawyer’s- chambers, but amid the whirring wheel’s- amd the. toil’ and sweat of industry. Having- myself participated in industry, I was able to take part in the discussions in a way that. I have- reason tq. believe- was helpful to the tribunals dealing; with the disputes. I agree that stoppages’ of work are regrettable, but they are not peculiar to: Australia.. They flow from the capital and labour problem, which is not con1 fined to Australia,, but. exists throughout the world. No- country can be. heralded as; “ the- laud without strikes “. During the first. World War; Britain prohibited strikes and provided heavy penalties- for strikers such as: ba.ve> been suggested tonight by the: honorable member for Fawkner; but notwithstanding chose enactments; strikes, continued to occur. later, during World War II.,. the Nazis tried to suppress strikes with horrible brutality.. ‘ Nevertheless’, strikes- -occurred not only *im occupied countries, where the penalties- were exceedingly heavy, but also in Germany., It is clear that, the prison cell or, the lash will not end. strikes. Only wise administration and! conciliatory action on the part o£ employers and employees’; which may be described as: natural’ justice;, can lessen strikes.
As a union- official for many years I speak, with first-hand knowledge of industrial disputes and’ the value: of conciliation in dealing with them. I have spent many years dealing with industrial matters and the problems incidental to them.
The legal implications of this bill have been fully and ably explained by the Attorney-General, who is acknowledged to1 be one of the greatest jurists that this nation has produced1, and as both advocate tend judge has’ made’ not-able contributions’ to the enunciation and clarification of industrial law. The bill provides a new and favorable psychological factor in dealing- with disputes.. -I have- a high appreciation of the judges of the Arbitration Court, but the- average worker - it may be said,’ erroneouslyregards the courts as’ being entangled in . legalism and antagonistic to- him socially and economically. That being so; workers generally prefer to have matters in dispute’ between them amd their employers dealt with by men- who- have1 a knowledge of their industry and understand’ what is required rather than to. have- their- case and that of their opponents developed by lawyers- im the. court. It has. been said that the existing act provides, for the exclusion of lawyers from, the court. I recall- what happened in connexion, with what: is known ,as, the “ Ten per cent case,- in which I was’ am advocate, for the railway men. Men of high legal standing, some of whom are now judges, appeared for the employers. Among them was a man who later became Mr. Justice Ferguson, and also the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) who at all times and in any court is a most capable advocate, and Mr. Stanley Lewis. Banged against those eminent legal men were two or three men without legal training like Jack Chapple and myself, but who had had a wide experience of industrial matters. We endeavoured to prevent a reduction of the wages of railway men by 10 per cent. We appealed to the court to exclude the legal men and referred to the section of the act which provided that lawyers should not appear before the court without the consent of both parties to the dispute. The lawyers contended that the case was not an ordinary arbitration case but one involving a variation of an existing award. The full court appeared to be impressed by that argument, and after seme consideration it upheld that view, and so the lawyers remained. To the ordinary laymen it was obvious that the advocates who appeared on behalf of the railway men were endeavouring to protect their wages and conditions, but to the lawyers the situation was different. Probably in a strict legal sense they were right and the result was that we could not prevent them from appearing in the court. On that occasion Judge Dethridge said that the court needed the assistance of legal gentlemen in considering the intricate matters that were being dealt with. That attitude on the part of the court has not been forgotten by the workers. They were very bitter about it at the time, and now they demand some change in the legislation. Yet when the present Government, realizing that there is too much industrial unrest, introduces legislation providing for a practical attac’k on the problem, that legislation is criticized, not constructively, but in a destructive spirit by leading speakers on behalf of the Opposition. Obviously, Opposition members do not want a more, contented state of affairs in the community. They would prefer the present turmoil to continue so that they could make political capital out of it, and perhaps win an election. Many wage-earners believe that judges are drawn from a class that is far removed from the bread and butter world in which they live. Their experiences in the court have led them to seek some better machinery for settling disputes.
The bill before us ought to commend itself to every reasonable person. ‘lt contains some provisions which were proposed by the late Mr. Maurice Blackburn,, a former member for the electorate of Bourke, for whom I had a profound respect. As legal adviser to my union, he assisted in every way to improve conditions and promote industrial peace. His services were always available to the workers for little reward. When I. was a member of the Commonwealth Council of Federated Trade Unions, Mr. Blackburn, in consultation with the unions, drafted a bill which in the early thirties contained conciliation provisions designed to make the existing act more workable. However, they were swept aside by the use of legal powers, and much money was spent in order to prevent the workers obtaining the benefit of conciliation which they believed would be beneficial to them and the community. We recognize that it is not possible for each of the conciliation commissioner; who will be appointed to have worked in every industry with which he may be called upon to deal, but a commissioner’s decision, will gain added weight from the fact that he belongs to industry, and is not detached from the problems of the wageearner. Advocates such as Mr. P. J. Sheehan, of Melbourne, and Mr. Oscar Bryant, of Sydney, do work just as satisfactory as that done by members of the legal profession. They are competent to formulate workable and equitable judgments. No one will deny that Mr. Mooney, has proved to be a very capable conciliation commissioner, and I pay tribute to the honorable member for Fawkner for having appointed him. Is there any reason why other men just as capable should not be appointed? Member’s of the Opposition have heaped scorn on the Government’s proposal, and have assumed that the men appointed will not be capable and impartial. I repudiate that suggestion. This Government is just as capable’ of appointing good men as was the honor able member for Fawkner when he was Minister.
It is possible to solve many disputes without reference to courts, and without the intervention of lawyers. Many unions
Iia ve had practically no stoppages because laymen with -common sense have settled disputes as they arise. Let me give a few examples. The Australian Journalists’ Association has had only one stoppage in’ SO years. They had a very good award given to them by Mr. Justice Isaacs, who afterwards became Governor-General of Australia. Later, they improved on that ‘ award, as they had a right to do, by presenting sensible arguments, supported by facts. Of course, they had the advantage of working in an industry which could afford to pay fairly high wage’s for the work which was to be done. The Shop Assistants Union is another which has had very few disputes, and my own union of locomotive enginemen has had very few disputes. The fact that they have recently become involved is merely indicative of the fact that there is at present much dissatisfaction, particularly among ex-servicemen. Young returned men have had very little experience in industry, but they are demanding something better than they were getting before. Much has been said about a new social order. I seldom use that phrase because experience teaches us- that we can progress only by evolution, and it may take a long time to achieve the state of affairs which we desire. It would be merely deluding men to hold out hope that an ideal state of affairs can be quickly brought about.
An erudite knowledge of law is not a necessity for settling industrial disputes. A lawyer may know Halsbury from cover to cover, and yet be of little use in mediating between disputants. I know some lawyers who, when they appear in court, have aggravated the trouble rather than helped to settle it. I am not referring to any one in particular, and I know that some industrial advocates can also tend to aggravate differences. It must be. remembered, however, that when they have a large body of dissatisfied men behind them demanding better conditions they must present their case in a way that represents the feeling of their members. Under the present system, we tend to get too many rhetorical pyrotechnics from lawyers whose efforts tend to feed the flames rather than subdue them. On the other hand, there have been in Melbourne outstanding men who will be remembered by those with experience of industrial affairs in the past, men such as Mr. Michael donnington, Mr. Montague Henwood and Mi’- E. C. McGrath. Their work as conciliation commissioners has been praised by employers and employees, and by judges of the court.
This bill preserves the processes of law. It does not upset the established principles of fair play, and it does not throw overboard the case history of any particular industry. All it does is to afford an opportunity for conciliators who have worked in industry to use their industrial experience and common sense to prevent disputes from developing into stoppages. Opposition members have said the worst possible things about the bill. They are veritable calamity howlers. They do not credit the Government with any capacity for making wise appointments of conciliation commissioners.
Lord Asquith in his book, Industrial Problems and: Disputes, said that the main problem was to get the parties together and keep them together. This, he-said, required patience, tact and judgment of men, ingenuity, courtesy, and an utter absence of exhibitions of partisan feelings. Irony, invective or eloquence were unwise weapons to use, as they were liable to be misunderstood. No one is in a position to state dogmatically that these qualities repose only in a judge, and cannot be possessed by a conciliation commissioner of proved ability and experience in industrial affairs. That, apparently, is the opinion of the honorable member for Fawkner, also, who appointed Mr. Mooney as a conciliation commissioner, although he was not ‘ a lawyer or a. judge.
– He was a senior law clerk - what is called a managing law clerk.
– He had some knowledge of the law, it is true. He was, I understand, senior clerk in the office of Brennan and Rundle. I have no doubt that the Government will be able to choose fifteen suitable conciliation, commissioners. I agree that a great deal depends upon the quality of the men appointed.
The honorable member for Fawkner referred to the work of Mr. Justice Higgins, and it would be impossible to cite a better authority on arbitration. The Leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Justice Higgins was too technical, but I doubt whether any one who appeared before him in the Arbitration Court would agree with that. If ‘ever a man tried to free himself from (technicality it was Mr. Justice Higgins. He was the father of industrial arbitration in this country. In his book, A New Province for Law and Order., he declined to forecast the future, but /he did say that the Commonwealth ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Act could he made to yield even better results with proper amendments, including amendments of the Constitution, if the -Government and the Parliament acted with common sense. When this Government proposed to the people am alteration of the “.Constitution to give the Commonwealth Parliament greater industrial power, members of the Opposition opposed us on the hustings, and ;so successful were ‘they that the powers sought were refused. This is a common-sense bill in Hine with modern industrial requirements. Mr. Edward F. McGrady a prominent officer -of the American Department of Labour with a wide reputation as a conciliator in the settlement .of major industrial strikes, in ais book, How Peace Came (to Toledo, wrote that in .long hearings “men are apt to become impatient and irritable. Parties become conference-drunk. By bringing rial a fresh. mind a quick :settlement can he frequently reached “. “ >Conference drunk” is probably a unique .expression, but none the less it is realistic.
To suggest, as the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) suggested, that the Government is abandoning Labour’s policy of arbitration hy yielding to pressure by ‘the ‘Communists is not a very helpful observation. The honorable member for Faw’kner made ‘a similar ‘Statement. But what paTty do Communist candidates oppose at general -elections? Invariably, they contest industrial :seats which -are held “by Labour -men who -are pledged to support the principle off arbitration. I emphasize ‘that point. I ‘know of ‘few -cases in which an honora’ble member opposite has been opposed -by a Com- munist .candidate. -Only very .rarely, if at all, has that occurred. It is safe to say that 95 .times out -of 100 the .Communist party (nominates ‘ candidates .against “Labour men .who .are (pledged ito the principle of arbitration ; yet honorable members opposite ha.ve. the audacity to -.say that the -Government is yielding to Communist pressure .by introducing a measure of this ‘kind. At -every election, .the Labour .candidate has two (classes of opponents,, the Com.munist candidate and the Liberal, :or Australian -Country party (Candidate, the latter, of icour.se, being virtually a Liberal under another name. Both the parties represented by honorable members opposite vie “with .each- other in misrepresenting and vilifying “the Labour party. The (honorable, member for Indi .declared that this measure has been introduced .at ‘the instigation of the Communists who >are determined ito destroy our .industrial conciliation and -arbitration system. How :does such a statement -square with the fact that *Labour News, the official ‘organ of the Ironworkers Union led toy the Communist party leader, Ernest Thornton, isa its (latest issue attacks the bill under the heading “Little -Change in Arbitration Act “ ? ^Clearly, honorable members ‘Opposite have no ground for contending that the ‘Government is dominated by the Communist party. The -honora’ble member for Indi ‘attempted ‘to link the Labour party with the .Communists. No Communist party leader has praised -this bill, for the very good reason that Communists and Liberals alike are opposed to the Labour party’s industrial legislation. As this measure strengthens the arbitration system, it is not surprising that it has found no support- from the Communist party, whose policy is against arbitration. Indeed,, after listening to honorable members opposite, one would be led to believe that the Liberal party -is opposed to arbitration. They advocate that strikers should be arrested, and that .the worker should be .deprived of bis .only (possession, his .ability .to work.
Rural industry has n’o’thing to fear under this measure, because matters relating to rural industry can be ‘dealt with (by ‘commissioners who will ‘have special knowledge and -experience of -rural ind’ustry. The Labour party Stands four-square by the principle of industrialconciliation and arbitration. The bill widens what the late Mr. JusticeHiggins described as “ a new province for law and order”. The Government is not abandoning the arbitration system, as the honorable member for Indi claims. He should know that it was an anti-Labour government which tried to abandon theCommonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and, as a. consequence, was swept out of office in the wrath of an indignant people. Mr. Justice Higgins, at page 161 of his book, A New Province for Law and Order, said -
Industrial subjects cannot be permanently excluded from the purview of free man engaged in the industry….. the capitalist has; his capital at stake, the worker has his life at stake..
Yet honorable members opposite would take away from the worker the right to strike. I belie ve that that right should be exercised only as a last resort; but, deprived of that right, the worker would be reduced to a condition of slavery. That, up doubt, is the objective of honorable members opposite, in order to serve the ends of the interests they represent. Indeed, that is putting their arguments mildly.
Mr. Justice Higgins often cogitated on ways and means of extending the province of arbitration. He advocated the setting up of boards of reference, and, in his book, wrote that “ the greatest gains which humanity has made for itself have been the result of bold experimentation with correction of mistakes “. In this measure, the Government is endeavouring to correct the mistakes made in the past, and it is significant that honorable members opposite oppose its policy. Mr. Justice Higgins resigned because he believed that the Government of the day, which was anti-Labour, was about to remove him from his court and that that Governmenthad fatally impaired the public usefulness of the Arbitration Court. He dealt with that subject on page 176 of his book. However he never opposed the appointment of special industrial tribunals. On page 175 ofhis notable book he insists that any such tribunals should not be temporary, or created to meet a particular emergency, but should be permanent in character. Permanence in the personnel and character of conciliation commissioners is provided for in proposed new section 11. People who say that the provisions of the existing. Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act are sacrosanct, and that we shall surely be ruined if they are altered, forget that that act has been amended on at least fifteen occasions since it was enacted in 1904. The bill applies lubrication to the wheels of a system which the President of the New South Wales Industrial Commission, Mr. Justice Taylor, recently said, “ should be streamlined”. Our population, industry and wealth have expanded.
Expedition is the first requisite in the settlement of industrial disputes. Under the bill, the Arbitration Court is to be retained;, but: it will deal only with those major matters which involve uniformity and legal technicalities. Everyday disputes which donot require involved legal processes can be prevented and settled by conciliation at their source. The principal act, despite its; faults, has served Australia well. Its chief defects are its formalities and long-drawn-out hearings. Speed and less formality are the keynotes of this, measure. It provides the opportunity to deal with disputes at their incipient stage, and for prompt settlement before they develop. Conciliation commissioners will not be subordinate to the court in every respect. They will work in a specific domain where no abstruse knowledge of the law will be required, and will have power togototherootof threatened industrial trouble and arrange a settlement by conciliation. If a dispute cannot be settled by conciliation, a commissioner will! have power to make a decision by arbitration. In the past, organizations, smarting under a sense of injustice, have had to wait for long periods for a hearing. Under proposed new section 42 a conciliationcommissionerwill be given power to decide matters upon which oral evidence will be required and to apportion a fair time for the hearing of such evidence. The four outstanding matters in industry, namely, standard hours, the basic wage, annual leave and female minimum rates, will be left to the judges of thecourt. It is readily accepted that the success of this amended system will depend to a great degree on the quality of the men called upon to administer it. ‘The Government can be relied upon to appoint as conciliation commissioners men of industrial experience, reasoning powers and judicial temperament. Another beneficial factor will be the saving not only of time hut also of money in industrial litigation. “With the success of the system will follow enormous savings of time and money in industry and an increase of the production of the nation. At the proceedings before the conciliation commissioners and the court people will no longer be permitted to talk till doomsday, playing upon the emotions of warring parties and often adding fuel. to the fires of a dispute. Disputes will not obtain a long lead, as they do now, before the hearing begins. The bill provides that unions and employers must notify any threatened or existing dispute, but failure so to notify will not prevent a conciliation commissioner from acting. In short, the bill provides a vehicle for much-needed improvement of the relations between employer and employee. I commend the Attorney-General for presenting to the Parliament a measure which will be of great benefit, not only to industrial disputants, but also to the welfare of the nation as a whole. -
– I listened with interest to the speech de- livered by the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford). The honorable gentleman said that he considered some contributions to the debate had been valueless. In his speech he also contributed much which to my mind was valueless. In glowing terms he praised the bill, claiming it as a panacea for all our industrial troubles. Just now we have had distributed to us copies of more than 50 proposed amendments which have been drafted while the debate has been in progress, I am afraid that the Minister must have overlooked them when he so enthusiastically praised the bill. The honorable gentleman claimed that he believed in the strike weapon and that honorable members on this side of the Souse opposed it. It is a pity that he did not go farther and say that he believed in the strike weapon being used only after a secret ballot had been taken by financial members of the union involved in a dispute. I have been a member of a union for a considerable time and I am well aware of the fact that unionists do not like to be told by their leaders to down tools and go on strike; they want to exercise the rights of the majority in a secret ballot before deciding to stop work. Many honorable members on this side of the House agree that it is unwise for lawyers to be present at Arbitration Court proceedings; we believe that the cases should he presented by laymen. The purpose of the conciliation and arbitration system is to maintain peace in industry. The conciliation commissioners will have power to inquire into an impending or existing dispute. The idea which should be uppermost in their minds should be to do everything in their power to prevent any serious’ stoppage of industry. The Labour Government promised the people in 1943, and repeated in 1946. that it would guarantee peace in industry, something which it claimed the Opposition could hot do; but 1 do not. believe that even its most solid supporter would claim that we have had peace in industry during the last two years. Every strike in the eastern States, no matter how small it may be, causes great hardship to the people of Western Australia, portion of which I have the honour to represent in this Parliament. On Friday last I referred to the effect of strikes in the eastern States on the despatch of muchneeded cargoes to Western Australia. The latest figures indicate that at the three main eastern ports, 30,000 tons of cargo is awaiting shipment to Western Australia, much of it consisting ‘ of machinery and parts needed urgently by farmers to sow food crops for the starving people of Great Britain. The position has gravely worsened during the last six months and Heaven alone knows when the drift will be corrected. The Western Australian Arbitration Court consists of a judge and two lay members, one a representative of the workers and the other a representative of the employers. No lawyers are permitted to appear before the court. That system has worked admirably. It is well known to the people generally that in Western Australia there are very few industrial troubles. If it is possible to achieve industrial harmony to that degree in Western Australia, surely it is possible to do so in other parts of Australia.
This bill, which is merely a palliative, and a very distasteful, one at that, proposes the appointment of fifteen conciliation commissioners, but it does not provide whence they shall come or what power they shall exercise. It merely excludes from their jurisdiction four matters, namely, standard hours, the basic wage, annual leave and female minimum rates. N”(> principles are laid down for their guidance nor is any provision made for uniformity in the judgments which they may make. No. right of appeal from their determinations is to be given to the worker or the employer. Although the chief judge may assign the commissioners to various ‘industries, or groups of industries, that is as far as he is- to be permitted to go; he is not to be authorized to give them any directions. Whilst in his wisdom he will allocate commissioners to industries to which they are most suitable, there will undoubtedly arise occasions when some commissioner will be called upon to adjudicate in a dispute affecting an industry about which he knows very little. Having been a working man for the greater part of my life, I realize that the worker will be the first to discern when a conciliation commissioner has no knowledge of the industry in respect of which he is called upon to adjudicate. The immediate result will be the destruction of confidence in the commissioner’s ability justly to deal with the issues at stake. That disqualification will also be observed by the employer: my concern, however, is for the worker. I said when I first came into this House, and I repeat - possibly to the chagrin of honorable members opposite - that I can uphold labour principles just as well as or better than they do.
Consider the employers. They also deserve to have a fair deal, and they are entitled to have some sort of representation before the courts or commissions that will adjudicate in the industries in which they are engaged. Their money is invested in those industries, and they are providing the means of employment for the people. The employer who does not build his business upon the contentment of his employees will not last very long in business, and I have no concern with him. However, the majority of employers want to do right by the workers who carry out the plans that they have made for their businesses, and their interests should be considered. As I have said, we need not bother about the unscrupulous employer, for “ the game is bigger than any of the players “. It is possible to bring about a system of cooperation between employers and employees, and that is what we should strive to do. For many years I have said that while we have labour in one camp and capita] in another camp, both ready to come out at a moment’s notice and upon the slightest provocation to do battle with one another, we shall never have peace in industry. The only way of achieving, peace in industry is to bring these two sections together. In this respect, employers can do more than they are doing to-day, although some employers in small businesses have done a great deal to improve their relations with employees. Employers generally should take the initiative in bringing labour to the management table. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne has said, referring to the present crisis in Victoria, “ Let us have a showdown ‘’. I have prayed for a show-down for a long time. We must have one, and the sooner we do so the better’. Employers can make a real contribution towards industrial peace. In doing so, they should not make their .approach just to union officials, because I do not trust some of those gentlemen. They should broadcast their proposals far and wide, “and let the people of Australia know the terms that they are prepared to offer to the employees. Then public sympathy would be behind their move. When public sympathy has been with strikers, which is very infrequent, the strikers have obtained much more than they would havedone otherwise. Employees also have an obligation to work for peace in industry.
When a good offer is made by ah employer, it is accepted in the first instance by his employees. However, while the employees are considering proposals for the improvement of their conditions the obstructionist, the “ white ant “, the Communist, comes in and says to his fellow barkers, “ Be careful, Inhere is -a nigger in the wood pile “. He ils -the man who destroys -peaceful relations ^between ‘employers and employees, and who wants to -destroy the unions and eventually the arbitration system. Unfortunately, I fear that he is the -man- to whom -some honorable members opposite are prepared . to pander. I recall an incident illustrating the mischievous nature of such agitation, which -occurred in the automotive industry in Perth. The manager of a company put before his employees a scheme under which they would earn, at the very least, £1 a week each above the award rate. The men were willing to accept the proposal, but the manager said, “ I do not want you to reply immediately. ‘Take a fortnight to consider it, and then ‘let me know your decision ‘”. On a Fridaymorning, he went to see the men and ‘they said that the plan was acceptable to them. -He said, “ All right. I will put the machinery in operation to bring it about”,. But “a senior official went to the manager and said, “If you introduce this plan in your section of the industry, there will be a general stoppage in the automotive industry’”. ‘Unfortunately, the manager weakened and gave way before the threat. The only thing that he asked was the fight to tell his employees what the -union official had done and said. I know that this happened, ‘because the official -who took that action taught me part of .my trade. I say both to employers and to employees that they must come together and work for their mutual benefit. This can be done in. small business concerns in which managements can even igo as far as. to. institute profit-sharing schemes fur the welfare of the workers. That is the sort of thing that will help to bring rea’l peace in industry. Of course, such measures cannot be put into effect in some of the large industries, and it is necessary to have arbitration and conciliation courts to assist in maintaining peace in them. However, this bill will not tend to ‘bring about that happy condition. After studying it and the accompanying memorandum which has been circulated by the Government, I cannot .find any provision in it which will stop a wage race. Very probably, the men who will be appointed as commissioners ‘wi’ll disregard the economy -of -the State and the ability -of industry -to ipa-y -increased costs, as some members .of this House -unfortunately desire. They will hand out increased margins “ willy .nilly “ to workers in certain industries, and will thus set up a vicious spiral that will, in the long run. be harmful ,to the workers. Furthermore, there will be no right of appeal against their decisions. The right of appeal is given to the most depraved felon, but under this measure it will be withheld from the working man by the working man’s Government. I have not the slightest idea why provision has not been made for appeals, because I am certain that the workers will want to appeal against decisions of the commissioners more often than will .employers.
– The Government will insert provision for appeals in that event.
– I hope that it will do so. I .said earlier that there will be a wage race, and I shall endeavour to prove my point. I regret that several honorable gentlemen .from the Government side of the House are not in the chamber to-night,, because 3 shall refer to statements which they have made in this debate. The first .of these gentlemen is. the honorable member for, Parkes (Mr. Haylen).. As honorable membea-,3 have observed, the honorable gentleman invariably speaks with hu tongue iii his cheek. I am very ;pleased that .1 .refrained from saying what I should like to have ‘said to. him when he declared that Opposition members .understood .nothing .about arbitration. I .did :-not notice that he contributed anything of value to the debate nor .did I observe from his remarks that he .cared very .much about arbitration or, for that matter, knew anything .about it, .or that he .cared very much about the working men .about whom he talked during his short address. However, he did say that the honorable members for Robertson (Mr. “Williams) had delivered a masterly and enlightening speech on the subject -of arbitration. He remarked that this doubtless was due to the ‘legal -training .of the honorable member -for Robertson. If that latter statement be ‘correct, and if legal training be essential to a knowledge -of the needs of working men and the operation of the arbitration ‘system, it seemed rather strange that the self -same ‘legal gentleman was apposed very much to having ‘a’ny members of the legal fraternity involved in any way ‘with the Arbitration Court or the panel of ‘conciliation commissioners. [ turn <now to -my old -friend, “the honorable member for Hunter ‘(Mr. James)-. I really mean “Shy oM friend “. -Ever since I have been in this House I have thought the honorable member has been trying to rank with -some of the ‘extra special quadrupeds of this country. He wants to be first in everything. I de hot know whether to call Min *’ Old Rowley ‘” or “Sidney James”-.
Mr-. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Sheehy). You will call him the honorable member for Hunter.
– Referring to the conciliation commissioners, he let the cat out of the bag by saying, ‘” They must be unionists, they must be ‘the men that we require,, and they must do,. what we require, and, if they don’t, we will ‘ sack ‘ them “.
– Hear, hear!
– But they cannot be “ sacked “. Under this wonderful bill; which,the Minister for Air said was such a good thing, they ‘cannot be “ sacked ‘ Once appointed, they stay in their jobs until they reach the age of ‘65 years; and ‘their terms may be extended to the age ‘of 66 or, in some cases, 67 years: They may be “ sacked “ only for misbehaviour- and I do hot think that they will be accused of that; at any rate; I hope not - or for insolvency. The honor-able member for Werriwa (Mr-. Lazzarini.) -said that the conciliation commissioners should be appointed to carry out the wishes of the unions, whatever they might be> with’Out regard foi” the ability df industry to pay and without the slightest reg’ard for the economy of the country.- Whom would that hurt? It would not hurt the big man whom the honorable member foi- Werriwa referred t’O: Unfortunately; it would, hurt the working man. The big Main;, sitting in his swivel chair with a ‘whisky decanter alongside of him and a fat cigar in his mouth, would laugh. The need is for a spirit of co-operation”’. The real unionists’ must be given ‘the power to ‘run ‘their ‘own unions The bill as -framed is not going to bring about the winder filll conditions :th’at honorable member’s ‘opposite hope -foi’. The whole of Part il. should he Scrapped. Peace iii industry is priceless. We ‘cannot calculate what it would mean to Australia. Therefore we should hot ‘consider cost ‘as ‘the Minister for -Air ‘suggests. Cost means nothing ‘in this regard. If we are to have a conciliation and arbitration act that will benefit ‘industry in the whole of Australia, let us go the. full distance and appoint extra judges; taking a tip from Western Australia and appointing to assist them in forming the court representatives of the employers arid the employees in every industry likely to be involved in dispute. We should thereby save the thousands and thousands ‘of pounds that industrial turmoil is ‘costing us to-‘day.
– the worker’s will get “pie in the sky “ then.
Mi”. HAMILTON^ - The workers can be on that ‘court and they can be advocates such as the best man ever to appear in -industrial arbitration-, “ Ernie “ Barker j who Mr: Justice Higgins said was the only man who could interpret the Arbitration Act correctly. We should go the full distance and Create an arbitration court consisting of judges and representatives of employers and employees culled from the appropriate industries1. The Minister for Air mentioned the strike weapon. I believe iia the strike weapon, but only as long as the financial members of the union “are permitted to have a secret ballot before any union official is ‘allowed to call them out oil strike. We shaM then realize that there is real -trouble brewing! Most unionists want the secret ballot. It blight to be conducted by either the State or the Federal electoral ‘office dr some other independent body. . If honorable members opposite talk with the unionists they will find that they want that provision. Consideration should be given to the Queensland arbitration law: From tha.t appropriate penalties could be culled for employers’ organizations that offend,’ and for union officials if they attempt to’ call a strike without first’ having a secret ballot of the financial members of the union. I do not think this, bill will bring about the happy results that some honorable members believe it will. The measure will need a lot of discussion in committee. We are in for a rosy time in trying to decipher the host of amendments that have been circulated to-night, but I- hope to have an opportunity in committee to say a few words about the various clauses as we’ reach them.
– This measure is an earnest of the Government’s policy on arbitration. I believe that arbitration itself will be stabilized and that its principles will be strengthened by it. It will not be amiss if T make some reference to the principles of arbitration and the part that they play in the life of Australia. I speak on behalf of the bulk of the trade unionists of this country and the working class in general when I say that they wholeheartedly accept the principles of arbitration. But it is not merely a matter of the acceptance of those principles, because the workers have good reason for dissatisfaction at the delays that have occurred in arbitration, especially in the last few years. It is to obviate thos© delays that this bill is before honorable members. It proposes to remove the anomalies that hinder the efficient working of the system. As the bill says, it is designed “ to establish an expeditious system for preventing and settling industrial disputes “. It is no exaggeration to say that there have been and .are cases waiting for two or three years for hearing and determination. More than one union has had its case before the Arbitration Court for more than a year without a hearing being yet in sight. It is only natural that with the expansion of industry and the development of industrial life the Arbitration Court, existing to-day as it did about twenty years ago, is unable to meet the demands made upon it by the quickened tempo. A feature of the bill is the provision for fifteen conciliation commissioners. That will go a long way to remove the anomaly that has caused so much dissatisfaction amongst the workers. If this bill does nothing more than speed up the hearings of cases it will be commendable. It has been argued that cases are unnecessarily strung out when they come before the Arbitration Court. I do not like recriminations, but one can point with justification to many instances of the employers having attempted to stone-wall in the court. Furthermore, attempts have been made to discredit the trade union movement be-‘ cause of present, industrial conditions in the State of Victoria. However, I remind the House that when the ‘ first arbitration bill was before this Parliament in 1904, members of the parties opposite painted the same picture that they are attempting to paint to-night. The attitude of the Opposition parties is no different to-night from what it was then, and the condition of industry is substantially no different to-day from what it was then. Strikes are not peculiar to Australia; they have never been peculiar to any industry. Because of the condition of society, trade unions must re main free to use the strike weapon. I have stated my opinions on this subject before in this House. I believe that the right to strike is inherent in a free country, and that any attempt to restrict that right, is an abnegation of democracy. In the last resort, one can make OUt from the moral point of view a strong case for the right of the working class to strike. On the other hand, I am not contending - and no one with any sense of responsibility would contend - that the indiscriminate use of the strike weapon is justifiable. But some attempt has been made, not only in this debate but also in other debates, to deprive the trade unions of this fundamental right. Whenever this has been attempted, in any part of the world, the effects on the nation concerned have been catastrophic. One of the lessons of history is that where the rights of the trade unions have been fundamentally impaired or curtailed, that nation has decayed. [Quorum formed.’] I have attempted to reply to some of the comments made on the use of the strike weapon, and perhaps some reference to lockouts, particularly to a lockout which took place some two or three months ago would not be out of place. As the result of a dispute at Balmain there was a lockout on the waterfront for four months. So, after listening to criticism by the Opposition of the trade union movement, I invite attention to the fact that one of the biggest dislocations on the Sydney waterfront in recent years was the result of a lockout imposed by the Metal Trades Employers Association. This bill will not only preserve, but also strengthen, the principles of arbitration and I believe that it will have the support of the whole nation.
The case which members of the Opposition have attempted to make, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), is that the persons to be appointed as conciliation commissioners must have had legal training. Such an argument is not a valid one, and under existing conditions is unreasonable. If we proposed to establish an organization which exclusively required legal knowledge, then something might be said for the Opposition’s point of view. But to-day we have a system of arbitration which has stood the test of time and which has served this country well. In the development of arbitration in Australia, some of the most important contributions have been made by trade union and industrial advocates. These men did not qualify at any university and they do not carry the letters “Ll.B.” after their names; but I submit that our arbitration system* would have been the poorer without their contribution. For that reason alone, it would be unreasonable to exclude them from consideration when the proposed appointments are made. The Leader of the Opposition said that when the appointments are announced he will refer to the speech which he delivered in this debate, and justify what he said. I say frankly that if some of our industrial advocates and trade unionists’ representatives are not appointed to these positions, I shall bc bitterly disappointed, particularly in view of the great contributions to’ industrial law which (hey have made. If these men are to be excluded from appointment from where will the appointees be chosen? Are they to be chosen only from the ranks of those who have had legal experience and from those who have appeared on behalf of employers in the courts? If the fact that a man is lacking in legal experience to be a reason why he should not be appointed to such a position, I do not know where the -commissioners will .be found. The successful operation of the proposed system does not require the exercise or the possession of legal knowledge; as in all important positions, it requires character and common sense. Therefore, I say that the commissioners should be chosen from the ranks of the union representatives and industrial advocates, who have played such an outstanding part in the development of our industrial system.
This bill is in conformity with the policy of the Australian Labour party. On this policy the Government went to the people and received their approbation. As the result’ of the introduction of this bill, we on this side of the House can proudly claim that our party is continuing to play a major part in the development of industrial arbitration. The trade union movement wholeheartedly accepts the principle of arbitration. Such attempts as .have been made in recent years within the trade union movement to undermine the system of arbitration have aroused such a violent reaction in the movement itself that the people responsible for the attacks immediately changed their tactics from a frontal attack to a- more subtle one. I contend that th’e system of arbitration, notwithstanding its defects, omissions and shortcomings, and the criticism levelled at it from time to time, has done a good job in this country. The alternative to arbitration is the law of the jungle.’ Arbitration has been a tedious process, and, on many occasions, has given rise to justifiable criticism within the ranks of the workers. Nevertheless, Australian workers wholeheartedly and unreservedly accept the principles of arbitration. Whilst they recognize that it has stood them in good stead, they realize also that it has its imperfections and shortcomings. The bill represents an attempt by the Government to remedy some of those imperfections, remove some of the shortcomings, and make a contribution towards the development of our arbitration system.
– With characteristic technique, Government supporters have sought to pin upon members of the Opposition the charge that they are opposed to trade unionism, because they, dare to criticize this’ bill. They accused’ honorable members- on; this side of the chamber of opposing the. bill because they aire opposed! to unionism’. They declare that the Opposition does not desire the Arbitration- Court to be made workable. They state* that the Opposition’ hopes to; destroy the machinery which is designed to, protect unionists. I state- emphatically that those charges are f false. Honorable members, on this- side of the chamber believe that the greatest single achievement towards improving the standards, of the workers in Australia has been their adherence to unionism. By that statement, I mean sane unionism-, which is entirely different from the spurious form of unionism which is- being practised to-day. [Quorum formed.] I am glad that attention ‘was directed to the state of the House, because it indicates1 the lack of interest shown by Government supporters m this bill. The bells had to be rung in order to summon them to listen to> a speech on a bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which the Labour Government has introduced.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to proceed with his speech.
– I am- merely pointing 1 out that the necessity to summon Government supporters to the chamber is symptomatic of the lack of interest which they have always shown in matters associated with, arbitration. The form of unionism which is being practised to-day, and which is contrary to the form, of unionism in which the Opposition believes, is of a. spurious kind. The leaders of many of the big trade unions to-day are pledged ‘to destroy unionism. Almost without exception,. Communist leaders are directing the major unions. All honorable members know that the history of communism throughout the world has been to destroy, wherever possible, an amalgamation of workers. Therefore, when I describe it as a “ spurious form of .unionism I am letting it down lightly..
This- bill may be discussed more effectively in committee than during the second-reading- debate. Government supporters, have declared that members of the Opposition’ are prone to criticize and not hellp the Government to pass’ this bill’. 1 urge the Government to examine carefully the- amendments’ which the Opposition, will suggest in committee for the purpose of improving the bill. If the Government adopts those amendments, the bill will emerge from committee an infinitely better measure than’ it is in its- present, form. During, the secondreading debate, honorable members oppo.site have constantly extolled, the virtues of the bill. They asserted that it represents, an attempt to- streamline. Arbitration Court procedure. They declared proudly that the bill was the last word in legislation to give justice to the workers, and restore peace on the industrial front. The fatuous nature of those eulogies is- revealed by the fact that since the Attorney-General- (Dr. Evatt) moved the second reading,, he has circulated no fewer than. 54’ proposed amendments. These amendments are designed to improve the bill which honorable members opposite asserted represented the lastword in. industrial legislation-. (Quorum formed.] I propose to examine the his tory of this bill. Many months- have passed since honorable members were told that the Government intended- to- introduce this- legislation. Numerous conferences took place between employers and employees, between governments and employers, audi between governments and employees. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions prepared a bill for the improvement of the arbitration system, and’ even the Communists, made suggestions. . When the Attorney-General introduced the bill, the Prime- Minister (Mr. Chifley)- appeared to be so impressed with its pristine brilliance that he announced that the Government would not accept any amendments to- it. Although this- bill is- essentially one. for consideration- in committee; I propose- to discuss some of its general- principles. That industrial -anarchy is- the order of the day is clearly shown by the present strike in Melbourne, which was. so ably dealt with to-night by the honorable member for- Fawkner (Ms. Holt),, .and by the answer given recently by the Minister for Labour and National Service: (Mr. Holloway) tO’ a question asked by tha honorable member for Warringah (Mr.
Spender), ki which he said that, to the end of February last, 358,509 workers had been involved in strikes and lock-outs, causing approximately 2,000,000 mandays to be lost to industry. [Quorum formed.] Industrial disturbances have been caused so- as to challenge the rule of law and the authority of the Arbitration Court, and to replace them by a form of collective bargaining. In such circumstances, the Government has introduced legislation which, apart from the 54 amendments that we have not yet had an opportunity to study, is designed to destroy the- whole principle of the arbitration system as we know it.
The Attorney-General has claimed that the object of the bill is to streamline arbitration. Those who have examined its provisions have found that the streamlining is to be effected by a process of emasculation. The vital provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act are to be removed from it, leaving only an emasculated sort of thing which we have been told will ensure industrial peace. For 40 years the arbitration system has withstood the stresses and strains of industrial unrest, and any shortcomings have been due to the failure of governments to uphold decisions of the court. The present Government has been the principal offender in that direction. By its every action, it has. weakened the authority of the court. “Why has the present arbitration system lasted for 40 years? Ti seems to. me that the real reason is that it has been based on judicial decisions which have given a certain degree of stability to the economic fabric of this country, and a uniform’ interpretation of the right of employers and employees, without disregarding the rights of the community generally. This legislation will destroy all that, because the Government proposes to allow each of fifteen conciliation commissionerrs to make awards that will have no relation one to the other,, no regard for the economic fabric of the country, and1 no recognition of the needs of the community, all of which factors have been regarded by the Arbitration Court as essential to the- stability of industrial determinations. Inherent in the British- race is- respect for the rule of law,, because the people themselves are the makers of the law and be lieve that it must apply equally to all who are affected by it. The people will find it very difficult to accept this departure from a principle which was formerly conceded to be necessary. By means of this legislation, the Government will destroy the judicial atmosphere of the court. Already, judicial sanctions- have been destroyed, and since their destruction the court has not recovered the respect in which it was previously held. That is what the Communists desire. When judicial sanctions were withdrawn in 1930 much of the respect for the Arbitration Court disappeared. Mow the Government proposes to destroy the judicial atmosphere of the court by appointing conciliation commissioners. It has reverted to the system of collective bargaining favoured by the Communists. Prominent Communists have expressed themselves as opposed toarbitration.. In 19-32, Mr. Sharkey, the federal president of the Communist party, said -
The Communists regard the State-controlled arbitration system as a pernicious, antiworking class institution. . . . We fight against this arbitration-.
Mr. Thornton, another prominent Communist, said ;
We are opposed to the principles of compulsory State arbitration, while not opposed to all forms of arbitration and conciliation. We are opposed to the regimentation of tirade unions by the Arbitration Court.
It will be seen that, although there was a difference of opinion between those two prominent Communists, they were agreed in their opposition to the arbitration system. Mr. Wells, the president of the miners’ federation!,, was reported in the Tribune, of the 11th September, 1945, as saying-
Malicious and stupid suggestions that the federation .proposes to1 abandon the strike weapon, amd embrace arbitration have no foundation.
Let us now see, what the present Prime Minister said in this Souse when the need for enforcing the rule of law and upholding the Arbitration. Court was under discussion. On the 10th July, 1946, the right honorable gentleman said -
I have never felt that you, can-, drive men back to work by .enforcing, the law.
Tha* is- the opinion of the Prime Minister of Australia who had sworn to uphold the country’s’ laws.!’ Bus statement was an open invitation to the Communists to go ahead. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 14th May, 1946, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) described Chief Judge Piper as spineless and weak-kneed, whilst the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), speaking at the Islington Railway Workshops in South Australia- on the 29th May, 1946, said that arbitration judges were overfed and under-worked. lt will be seen that there is not much difference between the opinions of Ministers in the present Government and Communist leaders as to the nile of law ‘and the value of the Arbitration Court. All of them are determined not to make the arbitration system workable. The Government now proposes to destroy the Arbitration Court and the arbitration system and to throw industrialists back on the old system of collective bargaining. In other words, it has retreated before the Communists.
A classic example of ministerial interference with the rule of law as laid down by the courts is seen in the happenings associated with a May Day stoppage at Port Kembla. Judge Cantor had made it clear that the action taken by workers at Port Kembla was a breach of an award, but when the employers said that they would suspend the men guilty of a breach of the court’s award, the DirectorGeneral of Man Power told representatives of the employers that if they did employ sanctions he would revoke the suspension. The same evening the then Solicitor-General, Sir George Knowles, speaking . by telephone from Canberra, told representatives of the employers the’ text of an order made in accordance with the views expressed by the DirectorGeneral of Man Power to which I have referred. The Solicitor-General said that the order would be made unless assurances were given by the employers that no action for the suspension of the men on strike would be taken. How can workers have any respect for an award of the court when they know that all that is necessary to have it varied is for pressure to be exerted on the Government? Let us see what happened when sectional committees set up by the Government during the war were subjected to pressure. Honorable members will recall that matters associated with the Maritime Industries Commission were discussed in this House at some length, because that body had decided to reduce war risk bonuses. Under pressure, the Government assured the striking seamen that the amounts deducted from them would be restored. That action led to the resignation of the chairman of’ the Maritime Industries Commission, Mr. Justice De Baun. In effect, the Government said that, if the commission dared to prescribe terms and conditions contrary to those desired by the union, the Government would step in and alter its decision. Let us consider what has happened in connexion with the coal-mining industry. How often has pressure by the coalminers caused the Government to retreat? We remember what happened in regard to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. When the bill appointing the commission was being debated in the House, members of the Opposition cited case after case of Government interference with the commission. So consistent has this interference become that the men in charge of sectional commissions of that kind have lost all power to act except at the direction of the Government. I am convinced that the record of the conciliation commissioners to be appointed under this measure will.be no better. . It is possible that a number of commissioners, dealing with several sections of industry, will make determinations which are at variance one with another, and have no relation to the needs of the industry as a whole. In the end commissioners and chairmen of sectional tribunals will tend to become mere creatures of the Government.
Mr. Justice Davidson was appointed to report on the coal-mining industry. Honorable members opposite tend to place much reliance on his findings; but this is what he said when discussing compulsory conciliation and arbitration -
Mr. Justice Davidson observed, however, that “ a dangerous drift from these principles had developed during the war towards a departure from the basic requirement of disinterested, independent and highly q nal i lied referees and in limiting the right of appeal from minor tribunals “. The multiplicity of courts, boards and authorities in the (coalmining) industry is a hindrance to the efficient operation in the mines and to the maintenance of industry . . .
It is symptomatic of the direction in which the Government is travelling that it should once more propose to take the direction of industry out of the hands of trained men and place it in the hands of those who lack training - the very thing to which Mr. Justice. Davidson pointed as a dangerous procedure. Judge Foster, who inquired into and reported upon the stevedoring industry, ‘ stated -
True it is that the Stevedoring Industry Commission did not secure industrial pence nor harmony - it did not prevent all disputes in any port, even disputes of a major character - it did not prevent hold-ups of ships nor secure regular continuous stevedoring operations - it did not make the fullest use perhaps of the skill and knowledge nf stevedores and their foremen-‘- it did not secure the authority of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia over its own members.
That is a serious indictment. As Judge Foster, points out, a sectional tribunal set up to control one division of industry was not capable of winning the support of the members of even that section, yet the Government now proposes to appoint fifteen conciliation commissioners who will each be in charge of a section of industry. The Government claims that this will make for industrial peace, but all our experience points to the contrary. Having brought industrial law into contempt, and having destroyed judicial sanctions, the Government now proposes to destroy the judicial atmosphere of the court, and to tender it ineffective as an instrument for the settlement of industrial disputes. Judge Foster recommended that a judge should, be appointed chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Discussing the appointment of laymen to such positions, lie said -
Perhaps a layman .might be found who would achieve that (success as chairman of the commission) better than a judge of the court, but my recommendation involves those qualities which it was gratifying to have the eminent gentleman of the bar concede were to be found in our judges in Australia, and which are not ordinarily to be found in laymen. A specialized training, a capacity to hear and determine, a knowledge of law. -of the rules of evidence, of the weighing of evidence, an appreciation of the necessity of proof, of weighing of interests and above all, an independence and freedom from political and other pressures. Here it is important’ to realize that a judge does in a special way represent the community interest, and is on this tribunal the only representation.
The Government claims that the appointment of laymen to such positions will reduce the number of stoppages, but that has not been the experience on the coalfields or on the waterfront, and I do not. believe that it will be experience in industry generally. As I have pointed out, laymen will be subject to pressure from the unions or from the Government. There is nothing in this bill to curb the activities of unions which use arbitration when it suits them, and rely on direct action if their demands are not met. 2To explanation has been given by the Government of the provision which removes restrictions on the court’s power to award preference to organizations without prejudicing preference in employment to ex-service personnel. The reason for the absence of that explanation is quite obvious, because it is apparent that this is the. first step to be taken by the Government to introduce compulsory unionism in industry generally. At the committee stage, honorable members on this side of the chamber will have much to say with respect to clauses of that kind. There will be no right of appeal against awards made by conciliation commissioners; yet the principle of appeal is elementary in ordinary law. We are to assume, apparently, that the conciliation commissioners will lie infallible. Let us follow that proposition further. Should a commissioner be above yielding to outside pressure, or direction from the Government, and be trained in adjudication and capable of holding the scales of justice evenly between employees and employers, my objection would not apply; but as a general rule we do not find that men of that type are appointed as conciliation commissioners. And we are not likely to find men of that type appointed to such positions under the bill. In these circumstances, what would be the effect of that provision upon a union like the ‘Ship Joiners and Carpenters Union, which applied for and was granted registration in the Commonwealth and State arbitration courts, but whose registration was subsequently challenged by the Building Workers Industrial Union, whose president, Mr. Bulmer, declared that he did not care for the Attorney-General, or the Prime Minister, or any court of law, and that his organization would smash the “Ship Joiners and> Carpenters Jindong .How would a .conciliation commissioner fare against pressure which might .be .brought to . bear upon -him ..b.y .a major .union like the Building Union Workers -Industrial Union? Tn .such circumstances, .1 .can foresee. a union .like ‘the -Ship .Joiners and Carpenters Union being ‘exterminated almost overnight at the behest .of a stronger organization. .All .of us -are aware of ..the fight .which the .Balmain ironworkers ;put .up against the Communistcontrolled iron workers union. How would a conciliation commissioner of the kind that will .be -appointed -under the measure resist pressure from .a major union .in ..circumstances .of that -nature? [ have not the slightest .doubt ‘that -the registration .of .the weaker .organization would .be .immediately withdrawn, .and that it w.ould be smashed. That is what will happen when laymen, subservient to pressure by rn.ajj.or organizations, .are appointed as concilation .commissioners. I -repeat that under the measure there is up .right .of appeal to ‘the Arbitration Court from decisions (of conciliation commissioners,Such right <of appeal is essential if justice is to he -done to .all parties. .Otherwise,, w.e .shall -not >be .able to maintain industrial peace.
However, as ‘honorable members on this .side have pointed -out, there is ;a way to establish industrial peace. It is necessary to ‘ re-introduce certain sanction’s against known .disrupters holding ‘office in trade’ unions. It is useless for the Prime Minister to say that it is not possible to force workers to return to work by applying the rule of Taw.
It is useless for him to say, “ You cannot gaol 50,000 workers “.. Honorable members on this side do not say that, sanctions should be imposed against 50,000 workers; but we insist that sanctions should be imposed against disrupters in trade unions and officials who incite workers to strike without just cause.. Those are the men who should, be gaoled; and if that were done industrial peace would be , established almost overnight. Strikes, under certain conditions,, should be declared to be. illegal’,, because it is impossible to insist, upon the observance of the. law when it suits one,, and to. opposeits, application, in respect of offences against .the industrial -law -when the latter .does <not ‘fit ‘in -with ‘one’s .ideas. The industrial daw -is -the -law of the country, and it .must .be “enforced to the same .degree -as vis -the ordinary *civil law. .Otherwise, -the “Government will make the Arbitration ‘‘Court .-a -farce and -a sham and hasten ‘its destruction. .lf -the Government ‘is-not prepared to .uphold -the Arbitration Court ‘then it .-should .come out into the open and say so.
Mi-. SPEAKER.- The honorable ‘members time ha’s expired.
r—The honorable member for ‘Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said ‘that this bill -is designed to destroy the Arbitratio’n Court, -and ‘lie implied that the court which ‘has ‘been in existence for 40 years must be ‘allowed *to continue to operate -for .all ‘time without any -effort being made to correct its defects. However, “experience -shows that the present system >of industrial conciliation and “arbitration .cam be imp-roved, and that the court -can -be -enabled to achieve the objective -for which if was originally established, ‘namely, to ‘give a fair deal to the workers and to maintain peace in “indus’try. The hon’or-able member, repeating’ the arguments of his colleagues, . said that there is a way whereby -the existing .system can be made to work. -Tt is a pity that honorable members opposite who now have a -solution of this problem at their fingertips were ‘not on the scene to ‘advise the Bruce Page Government ‘of means to maintain” industrial peace. In 192’9 when the problem of industrial unrest was riot so a’cute -as- iiia to-day. that government introduced’ what it miscalled the1 Maritime Industries Bill, and Mr. Bruce, who was then Prime Minister,, when introducing that- measure said-=-
This fs’ a measure to’ give effect; £6 the’’ policy df the Government which already lias; been announced’, to withdraw from” fhé field ‘ill’ industrial regulation’ save Hi respect of themaritime waterside industries, which wit! continue to be controlled by the Commonwealth not under its arbitration powers, but under the trade and commerce powers of the Constitution
That- was the’ action’ of an anti-Labour government”; yet honorable”: member’s opposite flow” accuse this Government of attempting to destroy the- Arbitration
Court % introducing this-, measure whose; real’ objective is- to improve, the existing arbitration; system.. Referring- to. the arbitration- system, Mr. Bruce said. -
We endeavoured to* make it operative,, andproceeded to enforce, the law. Experience- lias*, however,, shown the impossibility bt enforcing, the. la.w when organizations representing tens of. thou snide of men refuse to obey it, and’ that goodwill : and’ co-operation- must be established before obedience, can; be. obtained: Clearly the principle embodied im the Commonwealth Con: ciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904-28 is not now acceptable and it is f utile to- attempt’ tocarry out the provisions of that act.
My reason for- reading that- extract- is- to point out that the government of the. day had not the answer, although, as Mr. Bruce said in. unequivocal terms,, it. had endeavoured to enforce the 1’aw. He proceeded to quote the then. Attorney-General,, the present.- Chief- Justice, of the High Court;. Sir;- John Latham-, as having; said -
There, rs one .condition upon- which the, Con:tinuance of. the arbitration system depends and that is. the, general principle that, those whoappeal to- the arbitrator, must observe hisawards, that; those who seek the benefits- conferred; by the. court must be- prepared to work, under its awards.-..
The Prime Minister- and the. AttorneyGeneral of the day, twos men who have moved on to.- other responsible, positions,, have clearly expressed the view that,, as a, means of bringing together: the/ parties. to, a- dispute> and of preventing” ai dispute, from spreading- to- the stage; at which it, reaches actual, open, industrial warfare, the conciliation- machinery that, existed, at the time, and still exists; was. incapable, o.fmeeting the situation.. Finally,. Mr. Bruce’ said -
For years- we have been trying to- find, a, solution, and after what has occurred, in recent years, I am convinced that we shall inevitably fail’ unless we are able to bringthe contending par-tics closer together, and obtain that co-operation- which, is essential.
The argument- advanced by honorable members throughout the- whole course- of this debate has been simply that the Government should enforce the law,- and’ take action to end industrial conditions. similar to- those which existed! in the time of the Bruce-Page Government and which, in. Mir. Bruce’s words; were clearly beyond. the> powers of the Government and out? side the scope of the then and now existing arbitration machinery. Honorablemembers opposite- have. indulged in a massof’ vague- generalities:; they .talk-: inter minably’ but indefinitely- about, bringing; the: parties.’ together, enforcing the rule of raw,, and, creating harmony between the various’, sections, of- industry. They utter very nice sentiments to which every honorable member of this House and most o£ the.- people: of this, country subscribe. But w.e need: moira than vague- generalities expressed* in this.- House-. We require- a, more.constructive. approach. 60 the problem’ which has. been in- existence for many years in- the industrial history of Australia; Cb.’, this, occasion, the Government has sought to reform the arbitration machinery,, and not to withdraw completely,, as did a Nationalist government, from the- field of industrial arbitration, leaving, to some other governmental instrumentality the.- responsibility, for promoting, peace in industry.. The Government, has brought down a comprehensive amendment of the,- Commonwealth Conciliation, a-nd Arbitration. Act..
Arbitration machinery in this country has had an- interesting history* In the early years, of the Commonwealth Parliament; arbitration was one of the matters upon which governments fell. At that stage, the existing arbitration-, machinery was not completely satisfactory- to.- some of the enlightened men who sat in this. Parliament. I. remember reading- the views- expressed by a then member of the House, Mr. Higgins- later Mr. Justice. Higgins - who supported a,n amendmentto the initial. Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill., He- claimed that- it would, have.- a very beneficial, effect- on the machinery proposed to, be established. Unfortunately; the, amendment, was defeated. From that time onward, except foi” some circumstances of general unrest, the- Arbitration; Act- has functioned- with afair measure of efficiency:. At. times,, breaches of awards,, and major disturbances ha-ve- occurred, particularly during the Bruce-Page Administration; but, in general* the awards of. the court have been adhered, to, and- the court has performed a very- valuable function. We have passed on. from, the stage where the. court can handle the vast volume of work that to-day presents itself, in our more, widely developed industrial, economy. The. principle of arbitration; itself is., now under attack by some, people- who, favour collective, bargaining. The. activities, pf
Communists in this connexion have been frequently mentioned. Undeniably, they are opposing and are seeking to destroy the system of arbitration. However, that principle is as widely accepted to-day as it was at any previous stage in our history. “Whilst that is true, those ‘who have defended the arbitration system, or, more particularly, the machinery of arbitration, have had to play, at times, on a sticky wicket. Delays in the Arbitration Court, formalities before the court, and other things, including legal technicalities have acted as a deterrent to the peaceful ‘ settlement of disputes. Many men have seen the Arbitration Court used by employers, if not to prevent the advancement of the terms and conditions of employment, at least to delay their acceptance. Because of the legal formalities in which Arbitration Court proceedings are frequently enshrouded, some of the attacks made upon the arbitration system have a good deal of substance. The bill seeks to take from the Arbitration Court all matters that can be dealt with by men without legal experience, leaving to the court the determination of major principles. Conciliation commissioners, who will be selected by the government of the day, will have the task of bringing together the parties to a dispute, at least in its early stages. In other words, the emphasis is on conciliation rather than on arbitration. On this aspect of the bill, the Opposition has launched its major attack. The purpose of appointing these conciliation commissioners is to reduce, br, if possible, prevent ‘the strikes that occur under the present system of arbitration. Honorable members opposite have suggested that outside the legal profession it will’ be impossible to find fifteen men who will bring to their task as conciliation commissioners broad judgment, a clear mind, and impartiality - men who will make an award in accordance with the facts adduced and opinions formed as the result of discussions. I am not aware that members of the legal fraternity are excluded from selection, and nobody has said so. However, I should not be worried if they were excluded. The fact would not concern me in the slightest degree, .because I do not accept the ‘view that all the ability to handle industrial matters and all the wisdom in dealing with these complex and important problems resides in the legal fraternity. Not only is it necessary to exercise wise judgment in selecting the right men for appointment as conciliation commissioners but also it is of very great importance to choose, from the vast array of legal talent available, the most suitable legal authorities as judges of the arbitration court. The selection of these judges is of greater importance than the selection of judges for other courts, because the problems of arbitration, and the human factors involved, are different from those which must be dealt with in other courts.
There will be no difficulty in selecting fifteen commissioners who will bring to their new positions the talents that are desirable in the jobs that will be entrusted to them. They will need a number of qualities, including a fair judicial approach to their problems, an enlightened attitude of mind, and willingness to realize that, in this modern age, the factors that governed the thinking of earlier years do not always apply. They must realize that delays must be minimized as far as possible, and that everything must be clone to ensure that parties to disputes shall have full confidence in the arbitration machinery. If the commissioners have such qualities, there can bp no doubt that the machinery will work satisfactorily. If they do not have those qualities, even a whole army of lawyers and judges could not make the industrial arbitration machinery effective. I regret that we have been told by the Leader of the Opposition, and by lesser lights in opposition, that the Government will make appointments of a political character. I shall not discuss the history of political appointments in Australia in detail, but if I did I could show, as honorable members opposite must admit, that the history of anti-Labour governments has been well studded with political appointments not only to diplomatic posts but also to judicial and other positions. I shall not mention names, because the men appointed usually have done excellent work in whatever capacity they have served. If appointments ma.de by this Government can be said to have a political taint, the accusation can be levelled with even greater force and truthfulness against appointments made by antiLabour governments. However, I remind honorable members opposite that Labour governments have not confined their appointments to men of sympathetic political views as anti-Labour governments throughout the years have done. The first appointment ever made by the present Labour Government was that of a defeated senator of the Australian Country party, who was given an important post in Western Australia. It is’ unfair to attempt to discredit this new arbitration machinery by suggesting that political appointments will be made and. that therefore the system will be ineffective or partial in its operation.
In dealing with arbitration in Australia, and in fact, throughout the world, governments must realize that there are new problems and new possibilities to be considered in industry. “Workers are now entitled to all of the benefits that can be given to them as the result of scientific advances and technological developments. They must also recognize that shorter hours of work and higher wages are not only of benefit to the individual worker but also of advantage to the community as a whole.
– That is the way to minimize production.
– I do not intend to reply to the interjections of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride), which do not appear to be relevant. The purpose of the bill is to simplify the approach to the Arbitration Court, to make that approach as easy as possible, and to enable parties in industry to bo brought together at the earliest possible stage of disputes so as to prevent ruptures from developing, if possible. This purpose is highly desirable. To-day, the fact that shorter hours of labour and higher wages make, a large contribution to the soundness of the economic structure of the country is more generally accepted than ever before. These improvements minimize accidents and industrial fatigue.
– And production, too.
– Order ! The honorable member has already spoken on this subject and must cease interjecting.
– In that way they provide for greater production than was pos sible under the bad old conditions of long hours of work and inefficient methods. In my opinion, the greatest financial burdens in industry to-day are not due to high wages and improved conditions of labour. The greatest barriers to improved production, except in a few isolated industries, are inefficient and backward methods. The industrial commissioners to be appointed must realize - and I believe that they will do so if. intelligent men are selected - that, in the twentieth century, workers are entitled to the many benefits of scientific and technological development.
The Arbitration Court has functioned over many years with a fair measure of success. This bill will not undermine it. Any system that carries on for. long periods without alteration must undoubtedly develop faults which, unless corrected, will finally lead to its disappearance. In this measure the Government, far from endeavouring to interfere with the principles of arbitration, is effecting a permanent improvement of our industrial arbitration machinery. Honorable members opposite have said that it is a “ streamlining “ measure, and they object to it because of the derivation of that word. It does not matter what word is used, the simple fact is that, if we simplify the approach to the Arbitration Court and appoint to its tribunals men who will seek to reconcile the” parties to industrial disputes and resolve their difficulties, we shall make a big forward step. If, by this approach, we minimize delays, which in the past have frequently been lengthy, we shall also help to improve and perpetuate the arbitration system. This Government, at a time of unparalleled industrial disturbance throughout the world, is making a bolder and more constructive approach to the problem of arbitration than was made by an anti-Labour government which was confronted by similar problems in a much lesser degree. It has shown itself to be willing to face up to the situation, as Labour governments have always done, and to endeavour to develop a system of arbitration that will put an end to disputes as far as is possible. Disputes do not arise from any single cause. They are the result of the times in which we live and of experiences which we have had in recent years. As the Leader of the Opposition frankly admitted, there are parties on both sides with no wish for industrial peace or desire to participate in conciliation or arbitration. The Government is providing the machinery, but only the people can provide the spirit. If the right spirit is forthcoming we shall be able to institute a system of arbitration that will be more real, more effective and more beneficial to the people.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Archie Cameron) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1947 - No.18 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 38.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Departm ent -
Defence - A. P. Fleming.
Supply and Shipping - L. A.Richardson, C. J. Sullivan.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 32.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 24.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 18.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes-
Harvey, Western Australia.
South Brisbane, Queensland.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 1 - Liquor.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Canberra University College - Report for 1946.
Trade Commissioners Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 48.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : - .
n asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 4. The matter of security safeguards in all such cases is at present under careful review by theCommonwealth Investigation Service in co-operation with the Public Service - Board and with other departments. I also refer the honorable member to a question asked by the honorable member for New England, and to the reply given on the18th March, 1947, which pointed out that it is undesirable to give information about specific security activities, because the very disclosure of the information prejudices the success of the activities concerned.
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows- - 1 :and 2. The itinerary for Field-Marshal the Viscount ‘Montgomery., approved :by him, .provides for lis arrival in .Perth at 3 P.m. on Wednesday, 9.th July, .and for his departure from Perth at 8 a.m. on Friday,, 11th July,’ a total of 41 hours
Broadcasting.: Use of Official Cabs by australian broadcasting commission.
y - ‘On the .25th March, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following questions.: -
I now inform the honorable member as follows : -
WAR .Service Homes.
Mr.- Francis asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
How many homes .were erected .under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act in each State of the Commonwealth in each of the years 0:942, 1943, 1944, 1945. 1946 and this year to the 2Sth February?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
As mentioned in my reply of 26th March, 194.7, to a previous question asked by the honorable member” the activities of the War Service Homes Commission during the years 1-942 to 15)45 were curtailed owing to war conditions and the necessity of utilizing all available materials in the national interests.
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply .and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied *;he following information: -
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
How many “gallons of raw linseed oil and paint were used in the recent painting of the Taxation Department building on the corner nf Murray and Barrack-streets, Perth?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The paint being used is ready, mixed and 204 gallons will be required. This is the estimated required quantity as the work is not yet completed. The 204 gallons of paint contain approximately 114 gallons of linseed oil.
n. - On the 25 th March, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked the following questions : -
Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction sa.y what progress has been made with the establishment of an aluminium manufacturing plant in Tasmania? Is the total estimated cost yet known, and can an estimate be given of the cost per ton, of the aluminium when produced? Can aluminium be purchased from overseas, and, if so, at what price?
The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following information: -
– On the 13th March, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) asked the following question : -
Does the Attorney-General recall that, on the occasion of the debate on the aluminium bill nearly three years ago, he gave a specific promise to Parliament that before any major expenditure was incurred, a complete re- investigation of the whole proposition would be made? Does the right honorable gentleman agree that that promise makes it obligatory on the Government to present to this Parliament for further discussion the completed report of the commission appointed to make this investigation? Is the Minister aware that the commission had become so desperate 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 ore to be found in any appreciable quantity in Australia? ‘ Can the Minister defend economically the proposal to establish this industry in another State where no such high-grade deposits exist?
The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following information: -
A complete report was prepared and presented in the House of Representatives early in November, 1940. At that time, full opportunity was given to members of Parliament to discuss the contents of the report, and it is thought that the obligation, if any, which had been placed on the Government, was thereby fulfilled. The report has been printed and disseminated freely. A further edition is at present being printed.
The second portion of the question regarding the action of the Government in offering rewards to farmers for the location of bauxite indicates a lack of knowledge of -a common practice which government authorities have observed for a number of years, and that is the offering of inducement to prospectors for the discovery of mineral deposits of all types. The Government has done no more than apply this policy in its investigation in the bauxite field. One of the main reasons for this action is to assist the commission in its endeavours to locate bauxite which has not been alienated from the Crown by commercial interests, and therefore would’ be available to the commission without payment of royalties or similar charges. .
The Government is fully aware of the Victorian deposits, but in this case the field is alienated from the Crown, and the costs of production would therefore be ‘ increased.
The location of the aluminium reduction plant has been decided by statute, as the Alu- minium Industry Act provides that it shall be sited ‘ in Tasmania, which State is sharing equally with the Commonwealth in the establishment of the’ industry. - The Government knows of no economic reason why ‘the existing arrangements should not be continued.
Threats to Members of Parliament.
Mi-. Chifley.- -Un the- 27th March, the honorable member’ for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a question concerning parliamentary privilege in relation to a. member of the House of Commons, Mr. W. J.’ Brown.
The High. Commissioner in London has forwarded an extract from Hansard of the British . Parliament which gives an indication of the circumstances of the matter and which I will send to the honorable member for his information. It will be seen that Mr. Brown’s case has been referred to the Committee of Privilegesof the British Parliament and has not been finalized. In regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question., [ have received no complaints from any Labour member of an attempt, on the part of any outside organization to - use coercion in an endeavour to bring about a particular attitude towards the International Monetary Agreements Bill. It is not proposed to take action as suggested by the honorable member.
Postal Department : Food Parcels for Britain.
y. - :On the 17th April the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked a question concerning the postage rates on food parcels in the United Kingdom. The PostmasterGeneral has- supplied the following information : -
The postage rates ‘on overseas- parcels do not come entirely within the control of the Australian poet. Office, the charges being determined by mutual agreement with the country of destination. The charges for. food parcels for the United Kingdom have, been fixed by agreement with the British authorities and the rates are designed to cover handling and transport in Australia, transportation by sea, and handling and delivery in Great. Britain. The proportion of the charges retained by Australia is comparatively small. The question of reducing the postage, on food parcels for the United Kingdom was represented to the British. Administration some time ago, but the authorities in that country expressed the view that having regard to many important aspects involved it would be inadvisable to extend a special concession in .the case of parcels from
Australia. The charges on a parcel of books forwarded to Great Britain would be ls. 4-Jd. for four pounds as compared with ls. lid. for a food parcel - of three pounds. In the former case, however, the whole of the postage would be retained by’ the Commonwealth whereas the British Administration requires a substantial proportion of the revenue from the parcel rates in order to compensate them for handling and delivery costs’. There is no evidence that the present charges on food parcels represent a . serious deterring factor in their despatch to the United Kingdom. In the light of ali the circumstances therefore, it. is considered doubtful whether the abolition, or reduction of the postage rates on such parcels would bc the most effective -way of providing assistance.
y. - On the 16th April, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) asked a question concerning tho drought’ relief for Queensland. Further to my reply to the honorable member on that occasion I would inform him that the Honorable the Premier of. Queensland did, in fast, protest to me regarding what he described as unfairness on the part of the Commonwealth Government in assisting the’ New South- “Wales cereal growers by way of drought relief subsidy whilst not giving similar treatment to Queensland growers who suffered loss in- the. same way. Mr. Hanlon informed me that he intended raising the matter at the next Premiers’ Conference. On the 16th April, in reply -to the Premier’s representations, I advised him as follows -
My Government has made the position quite clear on numerous occasions that the provision of drought relief is primarily a matter for the States and a Commonwealth contribution is rade only in exceptional circumstances, and eve:1 then only after consideration’ of a detailed case submitted by the. States.
Although the Commonwealth ‘Government recently agreed to assist the New South Wales Government in cereal relief scheme, there were no prior consultations as to the basis of that scheme. In fact the State made’ its own investigation into the incidence of drought, determined its own measures for assistance to cereal growers and then submitted the detailed scheme of assistance which it proposed and sought Commonwealth financial assistance to meet part of the cost thereof. After full consideration and as a measure ot financial aid, my Government decided to assist, on a £1 for fi basis with the State.
As I have already said, my Government i? quite ready to examine any considered proposal submitted by. your Government.
Commonwealth Literary Fund : Mb. J, M, Rawling
y.- On the ‘-26th March, the right honorable member /for Cowper -(Sir Earle Page) asked * question -.regarding the association *f Mr. J.. M, pawling with *he Communist party.
J have ;macle inquiries in connexion with .iiia matter and Am advised by Mr. Rawling that .h9 ;ia -not a member of the Communist party and that, on the contrary, ;he is an active opponent of that
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 April 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470422_reps_18_191/>.