20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.80 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, arises from certain statements that have been made outside this country about the United Nations forces in Korea. Oan the Minister giv«e the House an assurance that the position of the Australian forces and other British Commonwealth forces in Korea is completely satisfactory from the viewpoint of essential replacements of equipment and reinforcements?
– I can give the right honorable gentleman an unqualified assurance that the position in regard to reinforcements, equipment, clothing, food and other essentials for the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Australian Army in Korea is completely satisfactory and is better than it has ever been. I had the pleasure of discussing the matter this morning with Major-General Kingsley Morris,’ the Director-General of Medical Services. Yesterday, he returned to this country after one of his annual visits to our forces in Korea. In discussions with me and in his report, he has stated that he is sure that we have adequate reserves. We have several hundreds of men in what we call “ K “ Force, who have been specially enlisted for service in Korea. We have also the members of the Australian Regular Army, who are prepared to serve anywhere in the world. They are well trained and well equipped. We were never in a better position to back up adequately our two splendid battalions in Korea. I have always given the highest priority to reinforcements, leave, and supplies for those two splendid battalions, which are fighting for us. In addition to the regular reports that I receive, I insist upon a weekly return in relation to these matters. We are issuing special winter clothing to our men in Korea. Their winter equipment has been improved as the result of the experience of two very rigorous winters. Honorable members saw the sample of the winter equipment that I brought back from Korea last Christmas. That equipment has been improved. One portion of the equipment has been issued, the second portion will be issued when the winter in Korea becomes colder, and the third portion will be issued when winter conditions there reach their peak. The equipment includes woollen balaclava cape, to which some reference was made recently in the press. I am happy to inform the right honorable gentleman that our forces in Korea are better supplied and are in a better reinforcement position now than at any other time in their history.
– Order ! There was too much conversation in the chamber while that answer was being given.
– Since it is obvious that the amendments to the wheat stabilization scheme, which is due to terminate with the current harvest, that have been suggested by the Australian Wheat Growers Federation in a fifteen-point proposal, are not acceptable to the seven parliaments concerned, and since it is equally obvious that the amendments acceptable to the seven parliaments will be rejected by the growers-
– Order ! What is the honorable member’s question?
– Since it is obvious that the amendments acceptable to the seven parliaments will be rejected by the growers, who are required to reach a decision about them in a ballot, will the Minister take the appropriate steps to submit to the six State parliaments a proposal for the Australian Wheat Board to be vested with the authority to acquire, finance and sell wheat to the best advantage, as agent for the growers, free from political control, as the only practical alternative to a general breakdown in the marketing arrangements ?
– Order ! That question is altogether too long and too complicated and, in my view, it should have been placed on the notice-paper. The Minister may answer it if he chooses to do so.
– It is true that the proposals of the Australian Agricultural Council for a one-year extension of the present wheat stabilization scheme, with appropriate modifications, have not proved acceptable to the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, and that the proposal of. the federation that an agreement should be reached forthwith on a seventeen-point plan of its own devising has not met with the final approval of every one of the seven governments. However, there is nothing in the seventeen-point plan of the wheatgrowers federation falling within the authority of the Commonwealth which this Government is not prepared to accept in principle. The proposal for a one-year extension is not now practicable, because the South Australian Government has informed me that it would not be prepared to introduce legislation to that end. No doubt further negotiations will take place. I think that one point on which there is universal agreement is that the advantages of organized marketing of wheat should not be lost, and if it were acceptable to the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, or if the wheat-growers in a ballot themselves agreed that they would regard a system of organized marketing as an adequate protection of the interests of their industry, I am sure there would be no objection to a facilitation of arrangements to that end by this Government.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether, in view of the announcement that the Trans-Australia railway line is to be equipped next month with a fast-drawn modern diesel train, consideration has been given recently to the standardization of the gauge between Kalgoorlie and Perth. If not, will the Minister discuss this matter with the “Western Australian Government with a view to the earliest possible extension of this excellent service to Perth?
– I undertake to bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Shipping and Transport in another place and to see that the honorable member is supplied with an answer.
– That question should have gone on the notice-paper.
– Will the Minister for Health inform me whether it is a fact that requests have been submitted to him on several occasions for the health authorities -to investigate fully the Kenny concept and system of treatment of poliomyelitis, as propounded by Sister Elizabeth Kenny? As there is a great deal of confusion on the position of the Australian Government in relation to this matter, will the Minister indicate whether such an investigation would be the responsibility of the Australian Government or of the State governments? Most people will agree that Sister Kenny, by her wo’rk, has done a great deal to promote a better understanding of poliomyelitis, and has made a great contribution towards evolving improved methods of treatment. I therefore ask the Minister, if the matter comes within the province of the Government, whether he will arrange for an investigation of it to clarify the position or, if it be a State responsibility, whether he will refer the requests to the Queensland Government and the other State governments concerned for their consideration?
– Certain requests have been made by various authorities for an investigation into Sister Kenny’s methods. Two investigations have already been made officially, one by a royal commission established by the Queensland Government in 1938 and the other by the New South Wales Government in 1939. A special clinic was also established at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, and it operated for several years. As the reports to which I have referred are still pertinent to the matter and nothing fresh could be achieved by any further investigation, I see no reason why another investigation should be held in this country, especially as there has already been a considerable amount of investigation in Great Britain and the United States of America, and on the continent, into the whole subject of the treatment of poliomyelitis during the last ten or twelve years. The position at present is that the orthodox method of treatment, and the Sister Kenny method of treatment, differ very little indeed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply, and I point out, by way of explanation, that when I was in Canada, I saw the largest aluminium works in the world, which produce 500,000 tons of aluminium a year. The company is planning an even bigger project in British Columbia. In view of the growing world demand for aluminium products, and the obvious future of the industry, will the Government push on with the project in Tasmania with all haste? Does the Government intend to bring bauxite from the Netherlands East Indies region before the project actually commences in order to stockpile this essential raw material for the future?
– I am delighted to hear that the honorable member for Wilmot has had the benefit of seeing the Canadian works. I can only say I am sorry that I have not had the same privilege.
– The Minister will have plenty of time.
– I think it will be possible for me to make a ministerial visit in about six years’ time without any difficulty at all. I am aware of the position of the aluminium industry in Canada, and of the extension to which the honorable gentleman has referred. At present, Australia buys aluminium in ingot form from the Aluminium Company of Canada and, no doubt, will con-: tinue to do so for some years. We are pushing forward as vigorously as we can with the works at Bell Bay with the object of bringing our Australian works into production at the earliest possible time. It is hoped that the end of 1954 will see the production of ingots in this country. We already have a stockpile of bauxite in Australia. It may be necessary to import some supplies of that mineral, but it is hoped that we shall be able to exploit, a little later, a most encouraging find of bauxite in Australian territory.
– I desire to seek guidance on a matter of privilege, and, accordingly, address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. First, are you aware that a civil authority has reprimanded a member of this House for flying his private aircraft at a fairly low altitude over this House? Secondly, do you regard the action of the civil authority as a breach of privilege ? I preface the third part of my question by the statement that the House is well aware of the diligence and jealousy with which you guard the privileges of honorable members within the precincts of the House, the lateral bounds of which are clearly defined. Does your authority over this House extend above the building? If it does, will you inform the House how far it extends in that direction?
– I was not aware until this morning that there had been any trouble about the matter to which the honorable member for Higinbotham has referred. I can assure the honorable member that a very interesting case on the matter of traffic regulations as they impinge upon parliamentary privilege was brought up last year in the House of Commons. It is known as the John Lewis case. If the honorable member studies that case, he will find that the British committee on privileges determined that privilege applied to a member of the House of Commons in traffic matters only insofar as it enabled him freely to carry out his parliamentary duties. I am not at all sure that in this case any attempt was made to impede the honorable member from coming to or leaving the Parliament. If there was, I shall be only too happy to investigate the circumstances. The third part of the honorable member’s question is indeed very interesting. I must have some authority’ for a little distance above this building to be able to authorize honorable members to walk about on the roof. However, I am not endeavouring to get into conflict with the celestial powers ; yet as an ordinary mortal I am supremely conscious of the contest that each of us carries out with his Satanic Majesty from, the nether regions.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council state whether the Government has signed an agreement with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited with regard to the rationalization of the major air lines of Australia? Is it a fact that the Government has agreed to give Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited a loan of £4,000,000 to buy new equipment? When is the legislation which the Prime Minister promised last week to put before the House, to be brought down to deal with these matters?
– I am not aware whether the agreement referred to by the honorable member has yet been signed. I have no knowledge about the sum of money that he mentioned as being included in such agreement. If the honorable member will possess himself in patience, he will find that the legislation will be introduced at an appropriate time. I am certain that he will then be able to direct his attention to it.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether an exserviceman land settler is eligible for assistance to build his home under the War Service Homes Act ? I ask that question in view of the fact that adequate finance has not been made available to many such settlers by certain State governments.
– No. If an exserviceman, or anybody else, who benefits under federal legislation, receives assistance in one direction he cannot get it in another. If an ex-serviceman is benefiting under the war service land settlement scheme he cannot benefit under the War Service Homes Act.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health, and I am seeking further information about the pensioner medicine scheme. I ask this question in the interests of pensioners who, through some misunderstanding of the scheme, are paying for medicine which could be made available to them free of charge. I know from the answer that the Minister gave to a question asked recently, that proprietary medicines cannot be prescribed. Under what circumstances can proprietary brands be dispensed? If a doctor prescribes an A.P.C. mixture, can a pharmacist provide a standard brand of A.P.C. ? If a doctor writes a prescription which agrees with the composition of a proprietary brand of drugs, can the pharmacist then provide that proprietary brand or must he compound the medicine himself ?
– It is not the intention of the Government to make continuous inquiries into the content of various proprietary medicines. We have made possible the provision to pensioners of all the drugs in the British Pharmacopeia, many of which are tablets of the nature mentioned by the honorable member.
– Having regard to recent political happenings in Victoria, I ask the Minister for Health whether the Government is prepared to enter into an agreement with that State, pending the passage of requisite State legislation, in order to make available payments at the rate of 8s. a day for ordinary patients and 12s. a day for insured patients under its hospital benefits scheme?
– It is very difficult to follow the kaleidoscopic changes that are taking place in the political situation in Victoria and to know exactly how one can keep abreast of them. In order to enable honorable members to understand Victoria’s position in relation to the Government’s hospital benefits scheme, I shall refer briefly to the history of the matter. The old agreement with that State expired on the 20th August and, as will be remembered, the Parliament empowered the Government last year to make a new agreement with the various States. Unfortunately, in the case of Victoria it is necessary for the Government not only to make a new agreement but also to ensure that it will be ratified by the Victorian Parliament. Although early this year an arrangement was made with the Victorian Government in that direction, the requisite measure is still before the Victorian Parliament. I suggest that if Victoria desires to derive full advantage from the new agreement it should pass that measure before its Parliament is dissolved. Insured patients in private and intermediate wards in public and private hospitals in Victoria are in the same position as are similar patients in other States in that the benefit of 12s. a day is payable in respect of them; but insofar as the old agreement with Victoria has expired and the new agreement has not been ratified by that State, benefits payable under the new agreement which has been made with other States are not applicable to Victoria.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is true that many doctors have become so accustomed to prescribing drugs and compounds under proprietary names that they would have difficulty in describing them by their proper pharmaceutical titles.
– I can speak only for myself and doctors with whom I am acquainted. Most doctors do not prescribe proprietary medicines. They are able to cure patients, as I did, by using the British 1’harmacopoeia and writing their own prescriptions.
– Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been directed to references by several textile manufacturers to the fact that whilst the industry is showing most encouraging signs of revival and re-employment in it is increasing, they are apprehensive that a sudden lifting of import restrictions will be detrimental to the industry’s prospects? Can the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that the interests of the industry will be safeguarded as import restrictions are reviewed and adjusted in accordance with the improvement of Australia’s trade balance ?
– I am aware that increasing orders are flowing again to the textile industry and that employment in it is increasing. I can well understand the honorable member’s interest in the welfare of this industry because he has been giving attention to that matter for some time. I assure him that the Government is interested in seeing that not only the textile industry but also all Australian industries are prosperous and are given every opportunity to expand. I shall see that attention is given to the matter that he has raised.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council inform the House why the very distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at the Australian National University was not invited to attend the test explosion of the atom bomb at the Monte Bello Islands? Furthermore, has the Government yet ascertained from the United States of America why an eminent Aus-‘ tralian, who is a world authority on nuclear physics, was refused a passport to enter that country?
– The honorable member has asked whether I have any information to give to the House with respect to the two matters he has raised. The answer in each instance is “ No “.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Is it the practice in the Army to dismiss men with a dishonorable discharge if it is found after their enlistment that they have a criminal record of a greater or lesser degree? If that is so, will the Minister reconsider the matter in view of the fact that in cases that have come to my notice the men concerned have had honorable service in the Army previously? It appears that they are being subjected to undue punishment if they are given a dishonorable discharge for an offence that was .committed before they joined the Army and for which they have already paid their debt to society.
– I know of no case that is parallel to those that have been mentioned by the honorable member. If he will supply me with the details of those cases, I shall inquire into them.. Persons who have been guilty of theft and breaking and entering have applied for enlistment but such persons are not permitted to join the service. The Army is conducted in such a way to-day as enables men to leave their belongings lying about their quarters and a person who has the habit of taking things that do not belong to him would be a menace. Any man who has joined the Army and has been concerned in circumstances similar to those mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes must have enlisted by making a false statement. Such, a man would be discharged from the Army because he had made a false statement in his attestation papers.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform me whether it is a fact that certain States provide a housekeeper service in homes where the wife is stricken with illness or in the case of maternity? Is a substantial sum of money provided by the Australian Government to the States to meet the cost of those services? If so, does South Australia participate?
– It is true that a fund is available to supplement payments towards housekeeper services that are provided in certain States. Most of the Australian States participate but South Australia is not one of them. The circumstances arose before I took over the administration of this portfolio and I am not fully acquainted with the details, but to the best of my knowledge, South Australia refused to participate because one of the requirements was that the State concerned was required to maintain its own expenditure on a housekeeper service before the Commonwealth benefit was made available. Obviously that was insisted upon in order to ensure that the States did not neglect their own duties and simply accept the Commonwealth grant. The Australian Government had in mind that this grant should be additional to the sum that each State was providing for the purpose. I think that that was the reason why South Australia stood out of the scheme. Whatever the reason, that State has not participated in it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. What is the reason for the cessation of the agreement between the Royal Australian Air Force and the aero clubs under which the aero clubs trained certain categories of pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force? Is the Minister aware that that training was done at economical cost, and is he aware of the. detrimental effect that its cessation will have upon reserve training ?
– I am aware that pilots were trained by the aero clubs very economically. I am not conversant with the situation that the honorable member has outlined, but I shall have inquiries made and supply him with an answer to his question.
– I refer to the distribution of the proceeds of the sale of ex-enemy property and assets in Australia as compensation to former prisoners of war and ask the Minister for Social Services to give an unqualified assurance that he will take appropriate action if such is required, to ensure that those payments will not be taken into calculation in any way as income or property when the means test is applied in connexion with the payment of any social service benefit to which the recipients of the money may be, or may become, enttiled
– A precedent has been established in these matters of payments to ex-servicemen of gratuity and other benefits and they are never taken into consideration in the assessment of pensions. I am pleased to be able to inform the honorable member that the Government has already decided that such payments to ex-prisoners of war who are receiving social services benefits shall not be assessed against them.
– The question that I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Externa] Affairs relates to the report of a special committee of the judiciary which was presented to the United States Senate on the 2nd July last, a copy of which I showed to the Minister this morning. Is the Minister aware that the committee is a bi-partisan body and that its findings have been endorsed by members of both parties in the United States Senate? Is he also aware that the report is the most revealing commentary yet available on the pattern of Communist infiltration into government agencies and propaganda and publicity agencies? As it is desirable that the report should be made widely available to persons engaged in public duties and in journalistic and radio work in Australia, will the Minister arrange immediately for some thousands of copies to be brought into Australia so that they may be distributed to all members of all parliaments, all senior public servants of the Commonwealth and the States, and journalists and others engaged in propaganda and public relations work? Is the Minister aware of the value of the report as a document which reveals, for the first time I believe, the true pattern of Communist infiltration in those spheres?
– I have seen a copy of the report, and there is no doubt that it reveals the methods by which the Communist party and Communist sympathisers may seize control and influence the activities of organizations, the majority of whose members may not be Communists. It is certainly a very interesting report. In answer to the honorable member’s inquiry whether the Australian Government will take the responsibility of obtaining and distributing a large number of copies of the report, I can only say at present that, although the facts contained in the report would be salutary for the Australian people, the proposition needs further consideration. I shall discuss the matter with my colleagues and ascertain whether the suggestion can be adopted.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs state whether it is a fact that the Indonesian delegate to the United Nations has informed the United Nations Trusteeship Council that Indonesia will continue to press its claims for the sovereignty df Dutch New Guinea ? Will the Government immediately place before the Trusteeship Council the views of the Australian people on this vital matter?
– As the House is aware, the Minister for External Affairs is attending the General Assembly of the United Nations, as the head of the Australian delegation. He will represent the views of the Australian Government on this question. In fact, he has already done so. In short, those views are, first, that the question of the future of West New Guinea is not to be disposed of by unilateral action by any power that may have wishes of its own; and, secondly, that the rights of the Netherlands, which are clearly established and referred to in existing agreements, are not to be lightly brushed aside by the ambitions of some other power.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Are Commonwealth cars provided as a matter of course for government officials, including Ministers’ secretaries and other members of their staffs, for use between aerodromes and their offices or homes when, they are travelling to and from Canberra ; or are cars provided only when officials have to carry large quantities of official documents or papers? Is any check exercised on the use of Commonwealth cars by officials?
– There is no general authority for government officials to use Commonwealth cars. There is a series of rules on the matter, but the rules are much too detailed to read to the House at question time. Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition may use Commonwealth cars, at their discretion, for themselves and members of their staffs. That provision arises from the very difficult conditions under which we live and work in Canberra and in the capital cities from which we come. In certain circumstances, it is necessary for members of the staffs of Ministers to use Commonwealth cars between aerodromes and their homes when they are travelling to and from Canberra. Most of them, in addition to their personal luggage, carry heavy parcels of files, which have to be carted between the capital cities and Canberra each week. As Ministers and the members of their staffs often live in different suburbs, it would be impracticable to use only one car for a Minister and his staff. Some restraint is exercised on the use of Commonwealth cars. I shall not tell the House that the privilege is not abused sometimes. It is only human that it should be abused on occasions. But we keep a check on the use of cars, and corrections are made from time to time. On the general question of the use of Commonwealth cars by government officials, I have the authority of the Prime Minister to examine that matter now, to see whether it would be appropriate toimpose further restrictions.
– I have again to call the attention of honorable members to the fact that they. are drifting from the rules which govern questions. Several of the questions that were asked to-day contained from six to eight parts. To my mind, that is a clear violation of the Standing Orders in regard to questions without notice. Long questions evoke very long replies. Very few questions can be asked and answered when honorable members and Ministers are so loquacious.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Cotton Bounty Bill 1952.
Wheat Export Charge Bill 1952.
States Grants (Administration of Controls Reimbursement) Bill 1952.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment : -
Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Bill 1952.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill 1952.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Copies of the report are not yet available for circulation to honorable members.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leavebe given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Social Services Consolida tion Act 1947-1951, as amended by the Social Services Consolidation Act 1952.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This short bill is designed to insert a new section 133b into the Social Services Consolidation Act and to give positive legislative sanction to a practice that has been followed since 1947. As honorable members are aware, new Australian immigrants undergo a course of assimilation on their arrival. During that course, and pending their placement in employment, they are provided with board and lodging in centres conducted by the Department of Immigration, or in hostels conducted by Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Similarly, board and lodging is provided for some assisted British immigrants after their arrival and pending placement.
Since 1947, it has been the practice to pay a special benefit at the unemployment benefit rate to new Australian immigrants during this initial period. Part of the benefit is paid directly to the immigrant for pocket money, and part is paid to the Department of Immigration as a contribution to the cost of board and lodging provided. A similar practice is adopted in the case of the unemployment benefit payable to British immigrants pending their initial placement. An immigrant, whether British or otherwise, who becomes unemployed after his initial placement is paid the unemployment benefit and, in some instances, is provided with board and lodging in centres or hostels. The proposed amendment will empower the Director-General of Social Services to retain part of the benefit payable, when board and lodging is provided, and to pay the sum retained to Commonwealth Hostels Limited or to any government department or authority which provides the board and lodging.
I commend . the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan Eraser) adjourned.
In iC Committee .of Ways find Means:
– I move -
That, on and after the twenty-eighth .day of October,, One thousand nine ‘hundred and fifty-two in lieu -oi the rate imposed -hy vn Stevedoring Industry Change Act 194.7-1951, the i:a,te of the charge in respect .of the employment of waterside workers be Eleven pence for every man-hour .of employment.
The funds required by the Austraiian Stevedoring Industry Boar.d t.o carry out its functions,, including the payment of attendance money to waterside workers, are obtained from a charge imposed und.er the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act on 4-he employers of waterside workers. The proceeds of this charge are credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and equivalent amounts are paid to the boar.d und.er [the authority of the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act. The charge was fixed in 1947 ,a.t 4-Jd. a man hour of employment, but was reduced to 2$<L. in October, 1949. It was increased to 4d. in December, 1951. Notwithstanding measures taken to effect economies, a .combination of circumstances which have arisen in recent months now makes it necessary to increase the .charge. First, there has been a decline in the volume of inward cargoes, which has meant less (Congestion on the wharves. It has also meant that, for the first time for years, there has been an ample supply of labour in most major ports. The consequence has b.e.en a much quicker turn-round of ships. This is to the great benefit of our economy generally. Among other things, gr.eater regularity of sailings have become possible. There have already been instances of reductions in freight rates with some revival of competitive .conditions. It is reasonable .to assume that some more general reductions .of freight rates will he marie. Secondly, the .Commonwealth. Arbitration Court has recently increased the amount of attendance money. As from the 1st October ,the payment has been 16s. instead .of 12s.
These factors have had a two-fold effect on the board’s finances. Coincidental with a substantial -reduction in revenue from the charge because .of ,the lesser number of man-hours (worked, there has been a heavy increase of .expenditure both in the number receiving attendance money, but also in the amounts paid out. The .current volume of these .payments has resulted in a deficit in the board’s .account, which will continue to increase during the next two months owing to the lag in , collection of the ^charge and payment to the board.
The purpose of this motion is to increase .the charge to lid. a man hour of employment on and from the ‘28th October, 195-2. This is .expected to provide sufficient revenue to cower the ‘board’s commitments at the current rate, and to eliminate the deficit in its account within a reasonable period. When this result has been .’achieved .consideration will be given to a seduction in the rate of charge. During the second half of .the (financial year revenue from the charge was at the rate of £675,0,00 per annum. For the financial year 1952-53, at the .current <cate of 4d.; the .estimated revenue would be £583,000. By increasing the rate to lid. a man hour on and from the 28th October., 1952, it is estimated that the additional yield during the balance of this financial year will ,b.e £600,000, making a total .of £1,183,000 for the full year.
On the face of it an increase from 4d. to Hd. seems large and likely to add new burdens to the community, but in fact, when regard is paid to freight and handling charges, any net increase due to the charge would be quite small. A few examples will show this. The present freight and handling charge for general cargo from Sydney to Melbourne is 135s. ‘6d. a ton. If the increased charge provided for under this bill ‘had to be passed on, the increase in the cost of ‘handling the cargo mentioned would he roughly ls. 2d. per ton. The additional cost on bulk cargoes will be considerably less - for example, about .onethird of a penny a ton for wheat to the United Kingdom. Members of the committee may be interested in. some other examples, because we have a concern lest, any action of ours shall add to freight cost3, and so influence living costs generally.
– Was the Minister referring to bagged wheat or silo wheat ?
– I was referring to bulk wheat. I suggest that in the case of bulk cargoes the charge would be considerably less, but the two examples I have given are of extremes that have come to my notice. The maximum amount likely to be borne as the result of this charge is about ls. 2d. a ton, as I have mentioned, in relation to general cargo, and the lowest amount would be, I think, about one-third of a penny a ton for wheat carried to the United Kingdom. The increase in relation to flour carried to the United Kingdom and the Continent would be 0.5d. a ton in .a total freight charge of 112s. 6d. a ton. The increase on- wool carried to the United King-; dom and the Continent would be 3.6d. a bale in a total charge of £4 13s. 6d. a bale. Other increases would be as follows: - Steel from Newcastle to Melbourne, 3.6d. in a total charge of 114s. 6d. a ton; timber from Baltic ports discharged at Sydney, 1.5d. per 100 super, feet in a total charge of 78s. per 100 super, feet; Queensland sugar discharged at Sydney, 6.6d. in a total charge of 112s. a ton.
I think honorable members will see clearly from the examples that I have given that, even if the shipowners were to pass the whole of this charge on it would have a negligible effect on freight costs. The Government hopes that shipowners will take stock of the new situation that has arisen in our ports, where an ample labour force is available and a speedier turn-round of shipping is possible, which should give them an opportunity to advertise regular sailing schedules, and, having all these factors in their minds, would consider that the time is ripe for a review of freight charges. Overseas shipping interests have already made some reduc-tions of their freight charges. A reduction of freights will make some contribution to the general efforts of the Government to stabilize costs, if both interstate and overseas shipowners not only prove themselves able to absorb this new stevedoring industry charge, but also find it practicable to reduce their freight rates generally.
Debate resumed from the 21st October (vide page 3426), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill constitutes an important proposal to amend the Navigation Act. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who introduced it in this chamber, has referred to certain important parts of the act. What we have to remember at the outset is that the Navigation Act is an act of Parliament of enormous importance to the commerce and to the mercantile marine of the nation. I do not think any important amendment of it has ever been passed by this Parliament without the most careful preliminary inquiry being held at which an opportunity has been given to all interests concerned to put their case before the committee or royal commission, as the case might have been. One would think that a course such as that would have been adopted by the Government in connexion with this proposal. . I believe that if the Minister for Labour and National Service had had charge of the bill originally, some such course would have been adopted. However, the bill was introduced originally in the Senate, and there was very little opportunity for debate on it in that chamber. I wish, at the outset, to make the point that section 4!24 of the Navigation Act contemplates that in certain cases a council representative of shipowners, underwriters, navigation officers, engineer officers and seamen, amongst others, may be constituted for the purpose of considering any alteration of the law. The reason is that the slow progress of statute law in connexion with the shipping industry of Great Britain has been a feature of legislative history. Parliaments have moved carefully and have always insisted upon a proper preliminary inquiry. I believe that the House, if it fairly considers this bill in the light of the submission that I am making and that will be made by the honorable member for
Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), and other Opposition members, will come to the conclusion that this legislation should be carefully examined, in order that we may ascertain whether it will achieve the objectives which the Government spokesman in the Senate, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has stated he hopes it will achieve.
The mercantile marine of Australia, and the merchant shipping fleet, are vital to this nation. Hold-ups in shipping, whatever may be the cause and whoever is to blame for them, involve tremendous losses to the people. There are certain extreme cases, no doubt, when workers in industry have no resort except to the withdrawal of their labour. But to take that action in connexion with a ship, except in the most extreme cases, is a most serious thing. We should always seek the real cause of industrial trouble, and ascertain whether the administrative machinery is satisfactory. I agree with the statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service about the delays and the losses to this country as the result of ship delays. I myself would take the strongest action in any cases in which it was shown that ships were held up, not for industrial causes, but for some political causes, such as a demonstration to carry out a purpose of the Communist party, or for a purpose completely foreign to the interests of the workers. Such a situation is most serious, yet the bill does not deal with it. The object of the Government, from the outset, has been to get rid of the Maritime Industry Commission, which has rendered most valuable service to this nation during the last ten years. I ask the House not to agree to the motion for the second reading at this stage, and I move -
That all words after “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the bill be withdrawn pending a full inquiry into the. detailed proposals for altering the provisions of the Navigation Act.”
I contend that the bill, instead of being the product of a carefully considered examination of the position, has the signs of being a slapdash series of amendments that have been rushed through the Senate in the hope that, somehow or other, they will get by, and escape a critical analysis. I hope that the bill will not escape critical analysis in this House.
I agree with the tribute paid by the Minister to the Maritime Industry Commission, and particularly to the acting chairman, Mr. S. T. Edwards, who has occupied that position since the resignation of the chairman, Mr. Justice de Baun, in 1944. Mr. Edwards is associated with one of the great shipping companies, Mcllwraith McEacharn Limited. Other members of the commission are the representatives of the shipowners, all the unions engaged in the maritime industry, and the Government. . I should have thought that if there was not to be a statutory inquiry into the Navigation Act such as is contemplated in section 424, the Government would have had prior consultation with members of the Maritime Industry Commission on this legislation. But that matter was not referred to the commission, or to the acting chairman, before the bill was introduced in the Senate. The members of that body were treated with complete discourtesy. That was wrong. Mr. Edwards has. been interested only in the smooth working of the industry. I have stated that he is associated with one of the great shipping companies, but as the acting chairman of the commission, he has occupied a semi-judicial position, and all the representatives of the trade unions who have spoken to me on this matter, have paid a great tribute to him. What, then, are his views on this bill ? We have no knowledge of them. He has not been consulted on the matter. In those circumstances, the amendment which I have moved should be adopted by the House. The Minister knows how dangerous it is to rush legislation through the Parliament, which will vitally affect the interests concerned. He should agree to an inquiry into the proposals. There is nothing more important than the welfare of the mercantile marine. During the last war, the members of the mercantile marine, broadly speaking, underwent the same dangers and privations in the Pacific as members of the Royal Australian Navy. We recognize that fact. Tribute was paid to members of the mercantile marine, who encountered all the dangers of war, including attacks by enemy submarines. Everybody knows how well they served their country, and that fact has been recognized by the statutes passed by various governments. If we are to alter conditions in the maritime industry, we should approach the matter in a responsible way. There should be a judicial or semi-judicial inquiry before the Parliament acts in the matter.
The Maritime Industry Commission was not consulted, and its advice was not sought, on these proposals. The first knowledge that members of the commission had of this vital bill was gained on the day after it was introduced in the Senate. In other words, they were given no more information about the Government’s proposals than an ordinary casual member of the public. They were treated discourteously by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, although they devoted a tremendous amount of time during the war, and have done so in the post-war period, to maintaining the continuity of shipping on the coast. The Maritime Industry Commission, which was established in January, 1942, has been the means of bringing together, round a table, under the chairmanship for the most part of Mr. Edwards, representatives of the Government and all interests in the maritime industry. That personal contact has undoubtedly created a friendly atmosphere among responsible persons in the industry, and the problems which the commission has faced have frequently been solved by conciliation and ready agreement. I cite, as an instance, the matter of accommodation for seamen. The Maritime Industry Commission, without being limited to the minimum accommodation laid down by previous practice or law, set about the practical task of gradually improving accommodation so as to raise the standard of living conditions in old ships and in ships under construction. The result of the efforts of the commission is apparent to all who are well acquainted with the shipping industry of Australia.
I turn to another aspect of the matter, which is the reasonable maintenance of discipline on board ship. The Minister has emphasized it, and he was entitled to do so, because a ship is in a special category compared with all other locations of industry. The danger to life is of greater importance than the safety of goods. According to the information I have received, no fewer than 850 persons have been excluded from the industry over a long period for misbehaviour. It was considered that their continued employment was unlikely to be of any advantage to the industry or themselves. That action has been taken on the level of the Maritime Industry Commission, which consists of representatives of employers, employees, and the Government. That showed that the Maritime Industry Commission is alive to its responsibilities in that respect, and although the handling of shipping industry disputes is not directly within its jurisdiction, hundreds of disputes have been prevented or settled by the commission without reaching a court or conciliation commissioner. In the last two years or so there have been changes in the arbitration machinery of this country, and a conciliation commissioner has been dealing with those matters. One of the Government’s proposals is to substitute for a conciliation commissioner a judge of the court to deal with industrial disputes. However, not content with having a judge, the Government has decided that there shall also be a right of appeal from the decision of the judge in certain types of cases to the full bench of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Appeals will be dealt with in circumstances analogous to those that honorable members discussed during a previous sessional period of this Parliament. Therefore, there will be a multiplicity of tribunals. ‘ I can understand the Government insisting on a general alteration in this matter, but it must understand the viewpoint of the Opposition that such an alteration is likely to lead to uncertainty, delays and difficulties.
– Because it is of vital importance to get a prompt decision in industrial disputes. A decision that operates for one, two or three months is not desirable; nor ia it desirable that such a decision should be perhaps reversed on appeal six months later. Nothing is more likely than that system to be in itself a cause of industrial disputes. I shall now give honorable members some illustrations to support my case for a proper inquiry into this matter. Paragraph (6) of proposed new sub-section (c) of section 6 of the principal act is designed to add to the definition of “ desertions “ in the principal act. It provides that if a seaman is absent from his ship without reasonable cause for more than 48 hours he can be classed as a deserter. That principle is already recognized in the law, but the new sub-section will increase the penalty. That is a matter upon which the Maritime Industry Commission should have an opportunity of putting its case. I believe that the commission would not support such a proposal. There is another provision in the bill of even greater importance than the one that I have just mentioned. In the proposed new division 7 a certain provisions have been inserted which are in accordance with the Maritime Industry Commission’s past practice and orders. However, proposed new section 45a (8.) provides -
A superintendent may refuse to approve the engagement of a person whose character is such, or whose conduct has been such, that, in the opinion of the superintendent, that person is unsuitable for engagement as a seaman.
That provision requires special attention because it will place the whole power and responsibility in this matter in the hands of one man, whose refusal to approve of an engagement may not be related to any offence connected with a ship at all. Under the Navigation Act the procedure is that such a matter is discussed by the representatives of the employers and employees at an ordinary or special meeting according to the circumstances, and around the table a satisfactory agreement is usually reached. It is wrong that one man only - a superintendent - should be vested with the primary power to make such & decision, and throughout the difficult war and post-war years, such a decision has been, in the hands of a responsible body drawn from employers and employees in the industry. There is another anomaly in the provisions of this measure. The bill can apply only to interstate shipping, to which the superintendent’s refusal can only legally apply. That is to say, it cannot affect domestic shipping within a State. I suggest that there will be confusion about overlapping jurisdiction such as that which we have experienced in other aspects of the Commonwealth law. This provision threatens the possibility or the probability of endless disputes.
Another provision which indicates the importance of carefully considering all matters such as those dealt with in this measure, is that which is designed to remove the restrictions upon the engagement of enemy aliens as seamen on Australian ships. That matter should be examined to try to ascertain whether the intention of the Government will be carried out. Clause 14, which is designed to amend section 50 of the principal act by omitting the word “ six “ and inserting in its stead the word “ twelve “, is a further illustration of matters within this measure which require further consideration. Clause 14 provides that a seaman will be engaged on articles of twelve months’ duration. That sounds all right, but it does not mean twelve months’ work. The new provision will, in effect, hold a seaman on a ship for a period of twelve months unless the ship returns to the home port, or the master consents to the discharge of the man away from the home port. The present provision correctly limits that period to six months, after which, if the ship is not returned to the home port, the seaman can claim his discharge. That provision for six months’ service is one over which there was a tremendous controversy. I suggest that the Maritime Industry Commission should consider that clause, and if it is not able to do so I suggest that a proper commission should be established to consider the difficulties of that provision.
Now I come to a matter of great importance. That is, accommodation. Proposed new section 138 provides for the setting up of a committee to deal with the matter of accommodation on ships being built, and also on existing vessels. There will be no right of appeal against the decision of that committee, but it is provided ti) it if there is a dispute between any of the unions and employers the matter shall go before a judge. Therefore, in the first instance, a committee will deal with the matter, then it may go to a judge, and if there is to be a further hearing the matter may go before three judges That is in complete contrast with what the Government hopes to achieve by tie bill, because in order that there can be an appeal from the committee’s decision, a dispute will have to be caused. Otherwise, the judge will have no jurisdiction. Therefore, in all probability the measure will cause disputes rather than prevent them. The present method of dealing with this matter by a conciliation committee has been substantially successful. That committee is presided over by a chairman to whom the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) paid a glowing tribute.
In order to safeguard the health of those who go to sea, the Maritime Industry Commission introduced a provision for compulsory X-rays of the chest. It also introduced a provision for the medical examination of all new seamen and those who had been absent from the sea for more than twelve months and wished to return to it. There is no indication in the bill that that practice will be continued. There may be a section in the principal act which could cover that matter, but if so, X-ray examinations can be made only on the application of a master or an owner. This health safeguard should not be limited in that way, and I ask the Minister to consider carefully that . particular proposal. To further illustrate my arguments, it should be pointed out that in certain circumstances ships can be taken to sea under this measure in an undermanned condition. Such an occurrence would place the master of a ship in an invidious position. The responsibility is placed on him, but really the master of a ship cannot fairly be regarded as an independent authority in matters of this kind. The shipowner would be really responsible, and the master of the ship would, undoubtedly, as he is in law, be subject to the control of the company that owns the ship. If the master is to assert his opinion in a matter of this kind the procedure will involve the possibility of disputes with the owner. The responsibility for permitting a ship, having less than its statutory complement, to go to sea should not be placed upon the master, but should rest entirely upon an independent authority, such as a conciliation commissioner, or a judge or the Maritime Industry Commission.
– It would take a week to get the matter before the commission.
– No. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) knows nothing about the working of the Maritime Industry Commission. It has a representative in every Australian port who constantly maintains contact with it. Matters which may appear to be subject to delay when dealt with in accordance with the commission’s procedure are, in fact, dealt with promptly, and, in some instances, within half an hour. Responsibility for making such a decision should be placed upon a responsible authority, such as the present chairman of the commission. He should say whether a ship should be permitted to go to sea. That responsibility should not be placed upon the master of a ship. In any event, the existing safeguard should not be altered except as a result of an authoritative recommendation to that effect by a committee, or authority, after investigation of the matter. Delays have occurred on our coast and, perhaps, they have been too numerous. However, I cannot see anything in the bill that provides a remedy for such delays. The Maritime Industry Commission should be strengthened instead of being disbanded. The commission may have certain weaknesses.The Minister may have some objection to its personnel, or to the present basis of representation on it. If that be so, he should take steps to remedy those weaknesses; but he is not justified in getting rid of the- commission altogether.
The bill also deals with the right of payment of wages in instances in which a ship is wrecked or lost and the services of the crew are terminated. This matter arises under section 85 of the principal act, which is now to be amended. The contention that has always been made by the seamen is that cases of fire, stranding, or collisions have the same result upon them from an employment point of view as does a wreck. Therefore, clause 23 should be broadened in order to conform to the original objective of the principal act, which was that seamen should not be deprived of employment as a result of a wreck. The same observation applies in respect of collisions and standings. Tha new provisions - I have given only a few of the illustrations - are likely to lead .to further disputes. They do not appear to offer any guarantee of improvement. Will the substitution of a judge for the conciliation commissioner effect an improvement? At one time, Chief Judge Piper dealt with this industry; and he did so successfully. At present, Mr. Hamilton-Knight is the conciliation commissioner who deals with it. Is it suggested that he is inefficient? No such suggestion has been made. It cannot be expected that a single judge, who is also engaged in making awards, will be able to deal with all shipping delays and disputes that occur throughout the Commonwealth. That will be his responsibility under this measure. At present, the machinery of the Maritime Industry Commission extends to all ports throughout Australia, and it is promptly informed of any dispute that occurs. Will a judge be able to act as promptly and effectively? Physically, he will not be able to maintain the contacts that the commission now maintains. In those circumstances I can see no ground for altering the existing machinery without a proper investigation having been made of the whole matter. It is too much to expect that a judge, who, at the outset, will have only slight knowledge of the industry, to take control of these difficult matters, which the Maritime Industry Commission has been handling since it was established in 1942. I repeat that it would be far better to continue the commission and to clothe it with additional powers. If necessary, the basis of its composition could be altered, although I believe that the present method of representation on it is adequate. Certainly, it has displayed great efficiency in handling matters of the kind that I have indicated.
The Government should continue the present method of round-table conferences for the handling of shipping disputes between employers and employees. The Government, of course, has legislative responsibility in this matter; but my fear is that one result of the new provisions will be that they will tend to cause disputes. I refer, for instance, to disputes about accommodation. A committee is to be established. Its decision will not be final, but will be subject to the court, when the latter is acting in the case of a dispute. Therefore, the method of appealing against decisions of a committee will tend to cause disputes. Different sections of a ship’s complement require different classes of accommodation. The engineers, for instance, claim that accommodation should be provided for them in a certain part of the ship and navigation officers require accommodation of a different type. That is why not only the shipowners, both interstate and intra-state, but also the representatives of the marine engineers, cooks, stewards and seamen are called upon to settle such matters. Up to date, they have done so at roundtable conferences at which government representatives attend. The proposed provisions require to be investigated more carefully. The Minister, not without substance, claims that he wants to consult with the employers and employees concerned. I ask him to ascertain why the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) did not consult with members of the Maritime Industry Commission, or representatives of the shipowners and the unions concerned before he introduced this measure. So far as 1 am aware he did not consult with representatives of the shipowners. Certainly, he did not consult with union representatives.
– Did any section of the industry request the Government to introduce this measure?
– The country has been crying out for it for years.
– I inform the honorable member for Evans that no responsible member of the Maritime Industry Commission, no representative of the employees’ organizations and, as far as I know, no representative of the employers knew that this measure was to be introduced. I repeat that the measure contains nothing which, in itself, will provide a remedy for the evils which the Minister has mentioned. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition, I demand that the Government arrange for a proper inquiry to be made into these proposed alterations. For the reason I have given I submit my amendment to the House.
– I do not wish to speak at any length .on the amendment, but I think it proper that the House should be informed at the earliest moment that the Government is not prepared to accept it.
– Should not the Minister hear my colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. .Clarey), before hp addresses the House? He should also hear other .honorable members before he rejects the amendment.
– I know what the Leader of the Opposition has in mind, but for me to delay my reply any further would be to indicate that the Government was not in a position to assure the House immediately that very full consideration has been given to the matters that are included in this bill. It is not correct to say that there has been no consultation with the interested parties. I know that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has had under consideration for years the amendments that ase embodied in this legislation. He has given much careful thought to means of improving shipping conditions around the coast of Australia. While it may be technically correct to say that the Maritime Industry Commission as such has not been consulted in detail by my colleague, I am informed by .him that he has had discussions with the acting .chairman of the commission to whom tribute has been paid by the Minister in another place and by myself in this House. He has discussed -with that gentleman in considerable detail the matters that are included in the bill.
– Was that .before the bill was introduced pr afterwards t?
-Before the bil was introduced. That is the information that I -have been given by my colleague. In addition, ‘he ‘has had considerable discussion -with the government representative on the Maritime Industry .Commission, a gentleman of long experience who has been able to keep my colleague fully informed of developments and of the .experience of the commission over many years. I shall not debate the bill because that would not be in accordance -with Standing Orders as I understand them. But, as one justification for the Government not accepting an amendment to defer this legislation, I point out to the House that the purpose of the whole -field of the proposed amendments is to put into legislative form practices that have been carried out by the commission itself for several years. It is not as though sp.mp new set of working conditions were being imposed upon those engaged in this section of industry. They will hardly be conscious of any change at ,all. The only result will be that when disputes arise, as they do inevitably from time to time, there will be some ‘modification of the machinery for handling the industry. The .change will be not in substance, I should imaging, but in the personnel of those who will be dealing with the disputes. There will be some difference with regard to the personnel concerned -with accommodation matters and so on. But so far as the working conditions generally affecting seamen in Australia :and around the coast are .concerned, I am .not aware pf any .change in substance that is contained in these proposals. Consequently, the -Government believes that jio useful purpose would be served by holding the type pf inquiry that has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. It is not difficult to contemplate the long delay that would occur if an intricate bill (Containing so many clauses were to be ;given the detailed .analysis by the various parties involved that has been suggested by the right honorable gentlemam. such a delay would defeat the purpose of the Government and would :no$ ma’ke aa immediate or real contribution to the improvement of shipping services..
– Order i Before I call the next honorable member who is to speak upon the measure, the House should be .clear on the procedure. I shall permit discussion pf the motion and £be amend.ment together.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) (4.0] * - I regret -that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt;) has taken up the attitude that he has adopted towards the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). This measure is so intricate in its form that it warrants very careful consideration before any attempt is made to force it through the House in the way intended. Whether the Minister is prepared to accept cold facts or not, one must be impressed by the fact that extensive alterations in the industrial «ode of the maritime industry are implied in this bill which contains 21 printed pages. Honorable members on this side of the House will agree that it is essential to keep the maritime industry operating smoothly. That is a matter of national importance. But one must consider the advisability of including in this measure provisions that obviously will not maintain peace in the maritime industry. The Minister has informed honorable members that the bill includes most of the principles that have been adopted by the Maritime Industry Commission over a period of years. Then he informed the House that the commission had not been able to maintain peace in the industry by the implementation of the policy that is now to be included in the principal act. Those statements merely emphasize the need for the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
A comparison of remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) who is in charge of the bill in this1 House, and those made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) in another place indicates the difference in their points of view. One Minister claimed in this House that the bill represented an attempt to improve the machinery that is “to govern the maritime industry. His colleague in another place stated that it represented an attempt to streamline the relevant machinery. The difference between streamlining and improving shows the need for ‘the adoption of the amendment. There is mo doubt in my mind that it was the intention of ‘the Minister who originated this bill merely to streamline the legislation without regard *o the impact or result of doing so. Because it touches closely on industrial arbitration principles that have not previously been accepted by the Minister in charge of industrial matters in this House, that honorable gentleman might well pay regard to the amendment. I invite honorable members to consider whether this bill streamlines the code. If it does it cuts across industrial principles that have been accepted as correct and principles that must be restored if conciliation and arbitration is to be preserved. This is a consideration that has not been discussed in either House. The bill will affect not only the Seamen’s Union, but also the organizations of marine engineers, marine stewards, and others who serve on ships. Surely those unions are entitled to be consulted about the provisions of such an important measure. At no stage during the debate on the bill in this House or in the Senate has the work of the Maritime Industry Commission been condemned, or even criticized severely enough to warrant any alteration of its duties. In fact, the principles upon which the commission has based its work have been adopted by the Government. No greater tribute could be paid te such an authority.
The haste with which the bill was introduced in and passed by the Senate indicated that much more lay behind the Government’s move than the mere desire to bring peace to the maritime industry. The bill was rammed through the Senate - I use the word deliberately - ‘in a few hours against the protests of the Opposition. The Government claimed that the passage of the bill was a matter of urgency. But more than a week elapsed before this House was given an opportunity to debate the measure. Therefore, we are entitled to seek the reason for the Government’s behaviour.. Its conduct appears all -the more inexplicable when we recall that, on the ,9th September, the Minister for Shipping and Transport .said -
If tile Communists will leave Ms ra-lone we wall get back :to the regular .shipping service
Te had before the war. The only thing that is worrying us now is that the Seamen’s Union in >noir-6n Queensland sugar .ports is demanding exorbitant -rates of -pay -and adopting ‘blackmailing -tactics. They have no >respect for Commonwealth ships
There we have an admission, which was made only a month before the bill was rushed through the Senate, that the Government considered everything on the shipping front to be lovely. We may be excused, therefore, if we ask the Government to state the real reasons for the introduction of this measure. What effect will it have on the maritime industry? Is its main purpose to deal with the Communists in the industry? If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, what action does the Government propose to take when the bill becomes law? The statement by the Minister for Shipping and Transport on the 9th September indicated that the only trouble in the shipping industry at that time was due to Communist activity in the ports of northern Queensland. That situation would not justify the introduction of this bill. The Minister’s statement confirmed our view that the Maritime Industry Commission answered all the requirements of the industry. The Government is shirking its responsibilities. It lacks the courage and capacity to do its job properly, and it wants to transfer its duties to a single judge.
What will be the effect of this bill? Clause 10 will repeal sections 43 and 44 of the principal act, which provide that ships’ complements shall be engaged as provided in the schedules to the act, unless otherwise specified by the Minister upon advice from the Marine Council and with the approval of the Maritime Industry Commission. Those sections of the act contain the secret of the success of the present system. The commission includes representatives of the seamen, the marine engineers, the marine stewards, and all others to whom the safety and efficient operation of a ship are of direct importance, but clause 10 provides for a new section 43 which includes a provision under which the superintendent at the port of departure of a ship may, on his own responsibility, authorize the employment of a crew otherwise than in accordance with the schedules. The proposed provision is as follows : -
Where the prescribed crew for a ship has not been obtained and the master or owner of the ship satisfies the superintendent at the port of departure of the ship that the master or owner has made all reasonable efforts to obtain the prescribed crew for the ship, the superintendent at the port of departure of the ship may, by writing under his hand, authorize the master to take the ship to sea with such crew as is specified in the authority being a crew of not less than four-fifths of the engineroom staff, and four-fifths of the deck complement, of the ship.
Therefore, the only factor that the superintendent may be called upon to take into consideration is the question whether or not the master or the owner of a ship has tried to engage a full crew.
– Has the honorable member read the existing section?
– Yes, and its provisions are entirely different from those that the Government proposes to insert in its place. The departure of a ship with less than the prescribed crew could be authorized, under the terms of section 43, only by the Maritime Industry Commission. Under the terms of this measure, seamen may be required to take a ship to sea with only four-fifths of the proper complement if the superintendent at the port of departure can be satisfied that the master or the owner has tried to engage a full crew. Nothing could be more calculated to cause discontent in the maritime industry. Seamen understand their jobs, and they know when it is not safe to take ships to sea. They should not be obliged to man a vessel against their own good judgment merely because an official has been satisfied that the master has done his best to obtain a proper crew. This measure will change completely the procedure under which decisions are made as to whether ships shall be permitted to put to sea. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Mcleay) has said that the intention of the Government is to streamline that procedure, but it is doing so without regard for the safety of seamen.
Under the provisions of proposed new section 45a, a superintendent who is called upon to determine whether a seaman shall be permitted to start work, will have no discretionary power at all. If a seaman has certain bad marks on his record or has failed to do certain things, the superintendent will have to stand him down. The seaman will have a right to appeal against that decision to a single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I did not believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), with his vast knowledge of the need for appeals to be dealt with by proper authorities, would ever suggest, either in this chamber or .in any other place, that a single judge should constitute an appeal tribunal to which workers in a certain industry could appeal when, in a year or two, appeals made to the judge would affect orders that he had made in respect of the industry. I know of no other’ industry in which anything like that has been attempted. This bill has been so crudely drafted by people who do not understand industrial matters, that it invites industrial chaos in the maritime industry. In many instances, the appeals heard by the single judge would involve incidents that occurred five years previously, perhaps in the far north of Australia or in Fremantle. The measure proposes that a single judge shall be the only tribunal to which seamen may appeal against decisions made by a superintendent who has no discretionary power. The Government is proposing to establish industrial arbitration machinery of a type that has not previously been established in any country in which British justice is administered. I am not on the side of the Communists. I say again that the Government has ample power to deal with Communists. It would deal with them if it had the courage to do its job.
Mr. Osborne interjecting,
– I invite the honorable member for Evans to examine the grounds upon which the judge will be empowered to uphold an appeal against a decision by a superintendent not to approve the engagement of a seaman. If the superintendent acts on the ground that the seaman has received three bad discharges, the seaman will be required to show, either that he has not received three bad discharges during the preceding five years - which is a long period of service - or that one or more of the bad discharges was not justified. If three bad discharges are received by a seaman during a period of five years, the superintendent will have no alternative but to refuse to approve his engagement. If a superintendent refused to approve an engagement on the ground that the seaman concerned had not served at sea for the prescribed period, the judge could allow an appeal against that decision if he were satisfied that the failure of the seaman to- serve for that period was due to sickness or accident. A superintendent would have no discretion in a case of that kind. He would be compelled to refuse to approve an engagement if the seaman concerned had not served at sea for the prescribed period, notwithstanding that he felt he should discuss matters of common interest with the man. I do not think I have ever heard of any suggestion so ridiculous as that the time of a single judge should be occupied in determining whether a seaman has lost time at sea through sickness or for some other reason. The whole bench of judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court would be required to dispose of all the appeals that would be made on that issue. The third ground upon which the single judge could uphold an appeal against the decision of a superintendent to refuse to approve the engagement of a seaman relates also to bad discharges. Again, a superintendent would have no discretionary power in cases of that kind. “Why should not superintendents be given discretionary power in cases involving the employment of seamen ? “Why should not some form of appeal tribunal other than a single judge be established to hear appeals against their decisions? The fourth ground upon which a seaman could appeal against the decision of a superintendent is one that the seamen need not consider at all. If a seaman were debarred from the industry by a decision of the Maritime Industry Commission and if a superintendent, having no discretionary power in the matter, refused to approve of his engagement by the master of a vessel, the seaman would be permitted to state his case to the judge, who, at any rate in the early stages of this scheme, would not know the first thing about the industry.
As time goes on, the court will make up its mind about some of the things that should be done in the industry. If the
Government has any faith in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and in the ability of a single judge of that court to correct what is wrong in this industry, it should give the judge freedom to do so. But this measure is designed to maintain all the principles that have been applied by the Maritime Industries Commission over the years. A judge of the Arbitration Court will be required to give effect to those principles, although they have failed to achieve their objective. I say, from my knowledge of industrial arbitration, that if the Government wants peace in any industry, it must let the court take control of that industry, and determine the code that should be enforced in the best interests of everybody concerned. In this instance, it should let the court determine the principles upon which, in the future, seamen will be engaged and dismissed. But the Government does not believe that a single judge of the court is capable of formulating a successful code for this industry.
– The honorable gentleman does not trust the court.
– I have always trusted the court. Let me take the matter a step farther.
– The honorable member does not know much about arbitration. He proves that he does not whenever he speaks on these matters.
– I rise to order. I submit that it is not fair for the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) to interject continually.
– I do not worry about what the honorable member for Mallee says. The Minister has said that the Government proposes to establish a representative committee to deal with accommodation questions, but the bill does not provide for the establishment nor prescribe the nature of such a committee. Why does not the Government insert a provision of that kind in the measure and give us at least a degree of confidence that it will do what it has promised to do. Surely that is not too much to ask. For that reason alone, the bill should be redrafted.
I turn now to the proposed new Part Xa, which deals with industrial matters.
It shows clearly that the Government does not trust the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Under those provisions, the powers of the court will be restricted in such a way as to destroy completely any chance of securing industrial peace in this industry. I invite the honorable member for Mallee, who knows so much about arbitration, to examine the provisions of proposed new section 405h. If he does so, he will discover that the only ground upon which the Chief Judge may permit an appeal to be made to the Full Court against the decision of a single judge on an industrial question is that the question involved is of such importance that it would be in the public interest for it to be dealt with by the Full Court. If for no other purpose, this bill should be withdrawn for the deletion of provisions that would restrict the freedom of the Chief Judge in considering whether an appeal to the Full Court from the decision of a single judge should be permitted. I invite the honorable member for Evans to consider proposed new section 405k, which deals also with appeals to the Full Court. It provides that, upon application by a person aggrieved by an order or award made by a single judge, the Chief Judge may grant leave to that person to appeal against the order or award only if he considers that it would be in the public interest to do so. This is the first occasion on which I have heard it suggested that the right of the Chief Judge to permit an appeal against an order should be subject to the provision that such an appeal would be in the public interest. As far as I know, the Minister has never supported that principle previously.
I have every reason to believe that if this measure had been considered by persons experienced in industrial matters, provisions of the kind to which I have referred would not have been inserted in it, but, because those provisions are in the bill, I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Unless those provisions are removed, the Government will put into the hands of the Communists in the Seamen’s Union the best weapon that they have ever had and they will exert an influence in that organization hitherto unprecedented.
The Communists have not come- to Canberra to protest against this, measure because they do not object to it. By this bill, the Government will hand to the Communists in the maritime industry some of the things for which they have been working for a long time. Communist union officials will be able to shed some of their responsibility to their membership and to place it upon the shoulders of a single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, whose powers will be restricted. I urge the Government to think again before it rejects the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) implied that this measure was a piece of hastily conceived legislation, but he did not state what he considered to be necessary or specify the provisions that he believed had not received enough consideration. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) refuted many of the contentions of the Leader of the Opposition. I consider that the bill is long overdue. It will serve a purpose that should have been served long ago. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said that he believed that the bill would place a weapon in the hands of the Communist element in the Seamen’s Union. That statement shows at least that he acknowledges that there is a considerable number of Communists in executive positions in that union. I can remember many of the statements that were made by honorable members opposite about the possible results of the Government’s introduction of legislation to provide for the election of trade union officials by secret ballot. The trade unions themselves have found that legislation to be exceedingly useful, and have made great use of it. It has given more real power to the trade unions to deal with the Communists in their midst than they have ever had before. I believe that this measure will also give a real power to the trade unions to deal with elements in the Seamen’s Union and other maritime industry unions that have been inflicting serious damage on the nation during the last few years. The Minister cited some illumi- nating figures in his second-reading speech. He said that in the last two years industrial disputes had caused delays to 74 Commonwealth-owned and 287 privately owned ships engaged in interstate trade, and that a total of 4,227 ship-days had been lost.
– That was not all caused by the trade unions. The masters of the vessels caused the loss of as many days as the unions did.
– It was not all caused by the trade unions, but it is not correct to say that the masters caused the loss of as many days as the unions did. I do not know how long the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) was at sea, or what connexion he has had with ships. I spent nearly thirteen years on ships.
– I was building them for about 30 years.
– I am talking about sailing, them, not building them. I have also been a member - of the British Seamen’s Union, and I am not unacquainted with some of the things that happen in maritime unions. The figures that the Minister gave make it perfectly obvious that the Government had a bounden duty to act in order to prevent shipping delays deliberately caused by Communists. I shall deal with other aspects of the bill at the committee stage.
There are several provisions which I should like to see incorporated in the measure. For instance, I should like the measure to institute a system of discharge books for seamen instead of the present system of single paper discharges. A number of other countries has the discharge book system, which is a more secure system than the single paper system and would enable u3 to operate more efficiently the provision in the measure that a seaman who has received a number of bad discharges over a year may have certain action taken against him. At present there is nothing to prevent a seaman from deliberately concealing, when he applies for a job, the fact that he has a bad discharge. Until such time as we adopt the system of having discharge books that will give an accurate and continuous record of a man’s work, there is a loop-hole in the law. It should have been plugged by this legislation. In fact, it should have been plugged years ago, and I hope that action in that respect will be taken in the near future.
I turn now to another point connected with the disciplining of elements in the mercantile marine that deliberately attempt to sabotage our shipping services. A method that is used to a considerable degree to carry out such sabotage is for nien to refuse employment at pick-111: centres. The legislation should include a provision to deal with such refusals of employment. When a seaman has refused employment three times in succession he should be suspended for at least one year. I could understand a man refusing employment once, or even twice, for family or other reasons, but when he refuses work on three occasions in succession he should be suspended.
– Industrial conscription!
– It is not a question of industrial conscription. I am certain that no genuine trade unionist would complain about a provision that a man who had a choice of working on any one of three ships in succession, and had refused it, should be suspended. If a man could not find one ship out of three on which he was prepared to work something would be wrong.
The honorable member for Blaxland mentioned clause 138 (1.), which states that the Minister “ may “ establish a committee to be known as the “ Crew Accommodation Committee “. I agree with him that the establishment of such a committee should not be optional, and the clause should provide that the Minister “ shall “ establish the committee. There is no doubt that many of the accommodation benefits won by seamen after hard struggles have been justly earned. It is not the intention of the Government to deprive the- seamen of the rights they have gained over a long period. The proposed crew accommodation committee could not take away those benefits. The Government’s intention is only to obviate some of the unnecessary shipping delays that have resulted from unjustifiable claims about accommodation. There is no doubt that many such un justifiable claims have been made, and have resulted in great inconvenience to the nation. Committees such as that proposed in the measure have existed in the past. They consisted of representatives from both sides of the industry, and their members were practical men. I cannot see any necessity for a right of appeal from the decision of such a committee.
I turn now to the remarks of the honorable member for Blaxland about the deletion of sections 43 and 44 of the act. The honorable member criticized the proposed new section 43 which will give to a superintendent the responsibility of judging whether a master has done all that lies within his power to obtain a full crew. I believe that the master of a ship “should have the right to decide whether or not his ship is adequately manned. I do not believe that any conscientious sea captain would take his ship to sea under-manned, and thereby jeopardize the safety of his ship and crew, even if such a course were suggested to him by’ the owners as. being economically advantageous. There is no doubt that on some short runs ships can work efficiently with fewer than the number of crew laid down in the schedule, because often crews are top heavy in numbers. It is fair, and necessary, that the master should have the power to decide whether his crew is adequate or not.
I mention in passing that I should like to see the repeal of section 30 of the Shipping Act, which deals with restrictions on the registration of ships. The whole of that section should be repealed because it is completely unnecessary. I commend the bill because T believe it to be necessary and long overdue. I consider that the dangers that have been mentioned by honorable members opposite are nothing but red herrings that they are attempting to drag across the trail.
– I rise to oppose the bill, because I believe it to be ill-conceived. The Government has not given proper consideration to the complications that will flow from it. I also believe that the Government should have consulted the parties interested in this matter before it brought down such a complicated measure. It has not consulted any of the trade unions concerned and, as far as we are able to ascertain, it has not been requested by the shipping companies, the Maritime Industry Commission, or the conciliation commissioner in charge of the wages and conditions of seamen and other maritime workers, to bring this bill down. What, then, is the reason for the Government’s decision to introduce the measure? We are entitled to ask why the Government has acted so hastily and with such secrecy in this matter. Is it because the bill is intended to make it possible for the Government to carry out its avowed intention to dispose of the Commonwealth line of ships, and that it considers that the operation of the measure will produce the kind of circumstances and industrial conditions that will give it an excuse to give away, or otherwise dispose of, the people’s assets in ships? Or has the ‘Government ‘some other motive and is it being driven by some other factor to take the steps that it has taken? The bill proposes to abolish the Maritime Industry Commission. The Minister said, in his second-reading speech -
The Government has, therefore, decided to establish under the Navigation Act machinery to deal expeditiously both with industrial questions in the industry and with the allied problems of employment of seamen and crew accommodation which have contributed materially to delays to vessels.
It would not be possible to appoint a body that would be more representative of the maritime industry than is the present commission. For the information of th» House, I shall read the names of the members of the commission. They are as follows: - Mr. S. T. Edwards, acting chairman, who is associated with Mcilraith and McEacharn Limited ; Mr. F. W. Radford, and Mr. L. G. Matthews, representing interstate shipowners; Mr. F. J. R. Gibson, representing intra-state shipowners; Captain W. G. Lawrence, representing the Merchant Service Guild of Australasia; Mr. E. A. Cole, representing the Marine Engineers Association; Mr. J. A. Tudehope, representing the Marine Cooks, Bakers and Butchers Association of Australasia; Mr. H. H. Moate, representing the Federated Marine Stewards Association ; Mr. E. V. Elliott, representing the Seamen’s Union of Australasia; and Mr. M. Bourke, representing the Government. So far as I can ascertain, all those persons, with the exception of possibly one or two, are men who have at all times shown complete consideration for the industry generally, and have acted in the best interests of all sections of the community. The Government intends to abolish the commission, which has rendered such excellent service, and which, according to the Minister’s admission, has done a splendid job throughout ten difficult years. The commission is to be replaced by a single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, who will be charged with the full responsibility of determining the matters previously dealt with by it. One of the tragedies of this proposal is that the committee atmosphere will be replaced by a court atmosphere. Everybody who has had any experience of industrial affairs knows that much better understanding can be reached between employer and employees in a committee atmosphere than is possible in a court atmosphere. When all the formalities of court procedure have to be observed, each party is always on guard, and is fearful of giving away a point, lest the judge should seize on it and use it as a reason for giving a decision against the party. A committee atmosphere is entirely different. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) sat with me on a committee constituted to consider the wages of the employees of the Adelaide City Council. I am sure that the honorable gentleman will agree with me when I say that the committee did an excellent job for the council, as the employer, and for its employees. We were able to meet, and discuss our differences of opinion. The representatives of the council could disclose confidential details of its financial position to the representatives of the employees, and we, in turn, could disclose to the representatives of the council some of the difficulties that we were experiencing. As the result of those discussions in camera, the parties were able to see the wisdom of showing a conciliatory spirit in some cases, and decide, sometimes, on grounds of expediency, to compromise. That kind of atmosphere is excellent. I believe that it is the only way in which industrial relations between employer and employee can be settled in a common-sense and amicable manner. This bill, unfortunately, will destroy the achievements of the Maritime Industry Commission towards that admirable end. A single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will be charged with the sole responsibility of determining all those matters that previously were dealt with by the ten members of the commission. The Minister said, in his secondreading speech -
The bill makes provision for a single judge of the Arbitration Court to deal with industrial questions in the maritime industry. A new feature of benefit to the seamen is the provision of a right of appeal to the judge against any decision which would affect their continued employment in the industry.
The Government considers that it is necessary to make provision for a right of appeal from the decision of a single judge, apparently because it foresees the possibility of an injustice being done to seamen, or, for that matter, to employers. Yet the Minister, when discussing whether the right of appeal should be given from the decision of the Accommodation Committee, said -
The Government believes that, as the committee will consist of practical shipping men, on both the employee and employer side, with technical advice available to it, its decisions on accommodation problems as such should be final.
The conclusion which I draw from the statement is that the decisions of the Accommodation Committee will be sound, so that an appeal from them could not possibly be justified. Why, then, does the Government propose to supplant the Maritime Industry Commission, which consists of “ practical shipping men, with technical advice available to it”, with a single judge who, on its own admission, is so liable to make mistakes that it is necessary to allow the right of appeal against his decisions?
The Minister has explained that a new feature that will be of benefit to seamen is the provision of the right of appeal to the judge against any decision that would affect their continued employment in the industry. He said -
Superintendents will be obliged to refuse to approve the engagement of a seaman who has received three bad discharges over the preceding five years, or who is guilty of serious misconduct, or who fails to serve a minimum period on articles during any six months.
In this bill, a seaman is not given the right of appeal against the decision of the master of a ship who decides to give him a bad discharge. Yet the legislation also provides that a superintendent shall exclude from further employment in the industry a seaman who has three bad discharges. How, then, does this bill safeguard the rights of seamen, or, indeed, give them any real rights at all? A provision should be inserted in the bill to enable a seaman to appeal against the decision of a master to give him a bad discharge.
– Such a right is given.
– That may be so, but I am not aware of it and I should like to be informed where it occurs in the bill, or the original act. Incidentally, the interjection of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) reminds me of one of my principal complaints against the way in which the Government has handled this bill. The matter has already been dealt with by the learned Leader of the Opposition, who said that this legislation is of such importance as to warrant a much more intensive examination of the matters with which it deals than has been made of them. Honorable members have not had sufficient time to examine the bill thoroughly. The principal act contains more than 400 sections, and this bill contains 38 clauses. Honorable members, presumably, are expected to understand the effect of the amendments proposed in the bill on the principal act. I venture to say that no member of this House, including the Minister himself, understands completely every aspect of the legislation.
The Minister said, in reference to the employment of a seaman with three bad discharges -
Superintendents will be obliged to refuse to approve the engagement of a seaman who has received three bad discharges over the preceding five years, or who is guilty of serious misconduct . . .
I direct attention to the words “ superintendents will be obliged “. Those officials will have no discretion in the matter. It will be mandatory upon a superintendent to refuse to approve the engagement of a seaman who has received three bad discharges over the preceding five years or who is guilty of serious misconduct. However, the Minister proceeded to’ explain that-
After six: months, a superintendent may readmit, to the industry a seaman who has received three’ bad discharges, but if he receives another bad discharge within the next twelve months’ he shall then- be- excluded from further employment in the industry.
Again, I direct attention to the fact that a superintendent will not be allowed a discretionary power. Up to the present time, the matter of the re-employment of a seaman1 who- has three bad discharges, has always been considered by the Maritime Industry Commission on the merits of the case. It is true that the commission has usually refused to approve the re-employment of a seaman who has had three bad discharges in the preceding five years but, in special circumstances, it could give him another chance. For instance, it might be considered that the decision of the master of the ship to give a seaman a bad discharge was too severe. However, this bill will’ take from every person, including the judge, the right to give a man another chance. The Minister said -
While superintendents will be required to exercise- some discretionary powers in the administration, it is intended that these will be strictly limited.
I consider that the House- should be- informed, in. greater, detail, of the discretionary powers that superintendents will be- required to exercise, and the extent to which they are to be limited. That is very important. The- Minister also said -
HonoraBle- members will- observe- that care has been, taken, in this bill, to provide, for a seaman aggrieved with a decision of -the Superintendent to appeal to the judge-.
Now let us consider the seaman’s right of’ appeal. In dealing with this matter the. Minister said -
On the pattern of legislation passed earlier this- year, the judge may, if he thinks’ fit, refer matters’ to the’ Full Court and- shipowners or maritime’ unions may, with the approval of the. Chief Judge, appeal against- the decision of the judge.
I ask the. Government to consider the circumstances, in- which a seaman who- is aggrieved by a decision of the judge- may seek a. right of appeal against that decision.. Perhaps such ai seaman, might have to. wait for weeks- and1 weeks before? the matter in which he is interested could be finally decided. If that is so, then it is not to the benefit of the industry that it should be allowed to occur. The bill will erase the provisions about accommodation from the Navigation Act. The abolition of the existing provisions is acceptable if they are outmoded,, as no doubt many might be. However, the Minister said that an opportunity had been taken in this bill to repeal all existing sections’ of the Navigation Act which have any reference to accommodation. The words of the Minister were -
An opportunity has been taken in this bill to repeal all the existing sections of the Navigation Act dealing with crew accommodation . . the new provision . . . provide . . for regulations- to ‘be made in relation to a number of important crew accommodation requirements which are. stated in the bill.
The Minister informed honorable members that at the same time as the crew accommodation committee is established there wM also come into force, by way of regulation,, provisions relating to’ the general standard of crew accommodation.’. I ask the Minister whether that means; that the crew accommodation committee,, to which the bill gives the sole right to determine matters of crew accommodation,, can be overridden by a regulation of the Minister? If so’, then it is a very bad provision. If there is to- be no right of ‘appeal from an accommodation committee to a. judge or some other competent body,, there’ should, be no right in- a Minister to> override a decision of. the committee. I hope that the fears that I have on that point are ill! founded, and that the Minister’ will- be- able to explain that the bill does not give him that right to issue regulations which will override thedecisions’ of the crew accommodation committee. It is import-ant that the members of the- committee’ should! be given the right to select their’ chairman), because the chairman will’ be’ invariably placed) in a. position, of having- to make the decisions of the committee.. One generally/ finds that noi matter.’ how justified a crew’s complaints: may be* the employers? repre.sentatives will gang up against the employees’ representatives; and vote againstthe employees? contention. Therefore,, the chairman will in. most cases; ultimately have- to’ make1 the decision. Consequently, the chairman of the committee should he a person appointed by the majority of the members of the accommodation committee. I know how hard it is to get a committee to agree upon the appointment of a chairman, but if it can be done it should be done. From my own experience of industrial boards in South Australia I can say that the employees’ and employers’ representatives can satisfactorily appoint a chairman from themselves. The system works admirably, because if a chairman gives a decision against one party then it can always be said that that party had a say in his appointment. I hope that the Government will allow the committee to select its own chairman. When dealing with ships officers the Minister said -
One of the most serious causes of delay to vessels has been the refusal of unions to complete crews which in many cases have been only one or two men short.
I do not believe for a moment that decisions of conciliation commissioners, judgments of arbitration courts or legislation of this House will force men to accept employment on a ship that they believe to be understaffed. It does not matter what the master of the ship or the conciliation commissioner says, and it does not matter what this Parliament says. We must not fool ourselves about what we can do by way of acts of Parliament and arbitration court awards. Making rules is one thing and ensuring that they are carried out is another. Let us not fool ourselves that any law that we might make will be carried out to the letter. To carry the argument to an absurdity, let us ass’ume that we legislated to compel everybody to wear a wig. I am sure that everybody would not obey such a law. To believe that they would obey that law would be justas foolish as to believe that by passing an act of Parliament, or giving a judge a right to make an award, seamen will man ships which they believe to be under.staffed and therefore dangerous. We must try to approach this matter in a more common-sense way. We should not dissolve the Maritime Industry Commission; we should strengthen it. We should not allow one member of the commission to cause the downfall of this magnificent and capable body. If this bill is aimed at the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, although the Minister did not say so, that union will be no more co-operative with an arbitration court judge than it has been with the Maritime Industry Commission. Why should it be? If the judge is to be given more power than that wielded by the Maritime Industry Commission, a power which will enable him to force the seamen to accept his decision, why can the same power not be given to the Maritime Industry Commission? I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the bill has been ill conceived, and that the Government should have consulted the parties most interested in this matter. I also believe that because it has not done so the amendment put forward by the Opposition should be carried.
.- One of the most amazing statements that I have heard in this House for a long time was the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that nobody had asked for this legislation, and that, therefore, it should not have been introduced. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) interjected to the effect that the country had been crying out for it for years. This the Leader of the Opposition denied. Does the right honorable gentleman believe that the situation on the Australian waterfront is entirely satisfactory, or that during the last few years there has not been an urgent need for some new approach to discipline on the waterfront? I can hardly credit that the right honorable gentleman meant what he said. As the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said in his second-reading speech, during the past two years industrial disputes have caused delays to 74 Commonwealth-owned ships and 287 privately owned ships in the interstate trade, and the appalling total of 4,237 ship-days have been lost. That is bad enough, but when we consider the carriage of cargoes around the Australian coast we see that the situation is even worse. Nothing has been said during this debate about the very bad service to the outports in the various States. I refer particularly to Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton and Esperance, in Western
Australia. Those ports are separated by great distances from Fremantle, the only port operating at full capacity, and coping with the trade of the outlying areas. It has been impossible for shipowners to arrange schedules for the outports, and they have been able to arrange only with the greatest difficulty for the provision of ships to visit those ports. To suggest, as the Leader of the Opposition did, that nobody has asked for this legislation is just fantastic. Not only have shipowners not been able to arrange for schedules for these outports, but they have also been unwilling, because of the uncertainty of the turn-round of ships in major ports, to try to arrange for ships to call at the outports. As a result of all that, untold damage has been done to the Australian economy during the post-war years. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) suggested that the Government was acting unfairly in introducing at this stage a bill that consists of so many clauses, many of which require detailed examination. The honorable member, of course, would like to take this opportunity to review the activities of the Maritime Industry Commission as a whole. I accept the Minister’s statement that the principal object of the bill is to give legislative authority to practices that have been followed in the industry for many years. For that reason, the matters to which the amendment that the Leader of the Opposition has moved refers do not require examination.
I support the bill because it seeks to bring the maritime industry within the general framework of the arbitration and conciliation system. It seeks to tidy up a position in which boards and commissions, which sprang up during the recent war, have been continued as a sort of hangover from those days. Different rules and different interpretations of discipline have been applied in respect of different industries. As all honorable members will agree, our arbitration machinery on the whole is sound, and 1 can see no reason why the maritime industry should not be brought within the framework of that system. The honorable member for Hindmarsh expressed doubt about effectiveness of the accommodation committees for the appointment of which provision is made in the bill. Apparently, he did not read the relevant provisions very carefully. Although appeals will not be allowed from decisions of such committees in respect of accommodation matters, nevertheless if either of the parties refuse to accept decisions of such committees an industrial dispute will obviously arise, and, in the ordinary course, the matter will be referred to a judge and ultimately, if necessary, to the full bench of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The bill will go a long way towards establishing peace in the maritime industry by bringing it within the framework of our arbitration system and by applying to that industry with equal force the discipline which the court now imposes on other industries. Whether the disciplinary system of the court be harsh, or lenient, the point is that it will be applied to this industry in the same way as it is applied to other industries. No one will dispute the fairness of such a provision. The need for a measure of this kind has been apparent for some time. The Government has given careful consideration to its provisions. I know that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has worked long hours in his endeavour to find a solution to the troubles that beset the maritime industry. The bill will not only effect an improvement in the industry itself but will also operate to the benefit of the Australian economy as a whole.
.- I support the amendment that has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I deplore the indecent haste with which the Government is rushing this bill through the Parliament. The measure is of vital importance to employees in the maritime industry. Of course, the Government is running true to form, because it is out to smash the trade unions. I am most concerned about that aspect of the bill. The Government, since it assumed office, has introduced a long list of bills most of which have been designed to destroy the trade union movement. Government supporters, as they have done in this debate, seize every opportunity to attack the Seamen’s
Union. Because a few of the officials who control that union happen to he members of the Communist party, honorable members opposite -claim that all members of the union are Communists. I give the lie direct to that contention. Only a few short years ago, those honorable members applauded the Australian seamen for their bravery in risking their lives by manning ships in submarineinfested waters in order to maintain our lines of communication and keep up supplies to our armed forces. Those events have passed, and now we find Government supporters continually attacking those brave men, alleging that they are in league with Communists and are responsible for shipping hold-ups on our coast. It suits honorable members opposite, when they are discussing matters that affect the maritime industry, to ignore the tactics that shipowners engage in with the object of destroying this magnificent body .of men. The Seamen’s Union has done much to improve conditions in the industry. All honorable members remember the ‘days of the coffin ships when, in many instances, members of crews did not know as their ship put to sea whether they would ever see port again. To-day, thanks largely to the efforts of the Seamen’s Union, backed by legislation that Labour governments enacted, no ship that is not seaworthy is allowed to leave port. The charge made by Government supporters that all members of the Seamen’s Union are Communists leaves me cold. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the joint policy speech of the present Government parties during the .general election campaign in 1949, talked glibly about communism ; but the Australian people .have since realized that they made a mistake in electing the present Government. Consequently, communism is no longer a neatly live subject.
The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) informed the House of the number of ship-hours lost through hold-ups and industrial disputes. Many of -.the ‘disputes that have ‘Occurred recently have not -been attributable in amy way to the Seamen’s Union. I refer, for instance, to the hold-up of
Daylesford, for some months. The union was blamed for that trouble, but when the facts were made known, it was found that the persons who had chartered the vessel had been responsible for it because they refused to cease employing apprentices on the ship on tradesmen’s work. I have no doubt that the ship-hours lost as a result of that dispute were included in the figures that the honorable member for Bowman cited. Statistics that Government supporters generally produce in this House are equally unreliable, including those that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) announces from time to time on unemployment and strikes.
The Minister has claimed that one of the purposes of this bill is to enable a proper .authority to deal expeditiously with industrial questions, including the problems of employment and crew accommodation which have contributed materially to delays. A feature of the machinery that is to be established to achieve such expedition is the provision of a right of appeal to a judge from a decision that would- affect a person’s .continued employment in the industry. The bill provides for a right of appeal to a judge from a .decision of a superintendent. Any one who has any knowledge of the industry knows the class of persons who are appointed as superintendents on the wharfs. Most of them cover up their incompetence by taking it out on their junior officers. This is another attempt by the Government to smash the maritime industry unions. The superintendent is a boss’s man and the Government now proposes to give to such an official control over the lives of seamen and their families, but, at the same time, it will graciously permit an appeal from a decision of a superintendent to a judge. Cunningly ‘concealed in the measure, which follows the pattern of -a bill .that the Government introduced earlier this year, is -a provision that “ the judge may” - ;not the judge must - ‘“if he thinks fit refer matters to the Pull Court with the ‘approval of the Chief Judge “. That >would be Kelly. If he gives approval, .an appeal may be made ‘to the Full Court, of which Kelly is the ‘Chief Judge, but not otherwise.
– Do you mean Ned Kelly?
– That is the expeditions way in which the Government, under this measure, proposes to deal with industrial matters.
– That wouldn’t be Ned Kelly, would it?
– Ned Kelly; that is Justice Kelly.
– Order !
– That was an interjection.
– It is out of order. The Standing Orders provide that no honorable member shall cast reflections upon the judiciary.
– I agree, Mr. Speaker; but as an elected representative of the people. I reserve the right to criticize the judiciary.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman has no right whatever to criticize the judiciary in this House.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I submit that the honorable member who has referred to Chief Judge Kelly as “Ned Kelly” should be made Jo withdraw that remark.
– A withdrawal should be made, in that case. I understood the honorable member to say-
– It was an interjection.
– Order ! The honorable member who made the interjection must withdraw it. Which honorable member made it?
– I made an interjection. The honorable member was speaking about a person named “ Kelly “. I did not know to whom he was referring. I said, “Do you mean Ned Kelly?” That is all.
– I must confess that when the honorable member referred to a person called “ Kelly “, I said in a jocular way, “ That wouldn’t be Ned Kelly, would if ? “ I was not aware of the person to whom the honorable member was referring.
– Order ! Honorable members have acquired a sense of innocence which is quite refreshing and which gives me cause for very great hope in the future.
– “Would it be proper, Mr. Speaker, to ask the Chair to apologize to me?
– Order ! The honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Curtin) will resume his seat.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) took up an interjection, and then said, “ The president of the Arbitration Court”. Perhaps hastily he reflected upon you, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure that he will withdraw, and I suggest that he be allowed to resume his speech.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson reflected upon me twice.
Motion (by Mr. Clyde Cameron) put -
That the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) be further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who has just resumed his seat, said that the Communist issue was no longer a live one. He tried to lull the country and the House into a sense of false security because he knows perfectly well that one of the members of the Maritime Industry Commission that is about to be abolished is a self-confessed Communist who is well-known in Australia. Mr. Elliott has been very active upon that commission. Yet the honorable member for Watson has stated that there is no need to worry about communism and that it has nothing to do with this bill. The members of the commission are very sound men. They are good people and have done good work. They have represented interstate and intra-state shipowners, the Merchant Service Guild of Australasia and other organizations. Their functions have been to administer discipline in the maritime industry, to settle disputes and to attend to matters relating to the employment of seamen. It is easy to state their objectives but it is difficult to decide exactly what they have done, and the full extent of their operations, because it is doubtful if the commission could be made to work in present circumstances. They had to carry out a very difficult job. In fact it was an impossible task. This House should be careful not to offer criticism of the commission and its members because this bill is meant to overcome the great difficulties that the members of the commission are facing. I believe that commissions of this type can be very harmful as commissions because of their fundamental nature, and because they take control of an industry from the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. They remove the industry entirely from the compass of the arbitration system and the practice, if extended or even maintained, must ultimately undermine that system. I commend this bill as a realistic measure. It is a new approach to the problem, it will abolish the Maritime Industry Commission and bestow great benefits upon the maritime industry.
.- This bill to amend the Navigation Act will give effect to the Government’s decision to abolish the Maritime Industry Commission. The commission was established in 1942 only after long and careful consideration of the problems and difficulties of the maritime industry. It is easy for Government supporters to say that disturbances in the industry are due to the activities of certain groups of individuals. The truth is, as we know, that troubles have beset the industry throughout its long history. An attempt was made to overcome many of the difficulties in the Australian section of the industry by appointing the Maritime Industry Commission. As other members of the Opposition have said, the commission has done a great deal of good. Surely the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) will not argue that all the industrial disturbances in the shipping industry are due to the activities of the seamen themselves, or Communists. The secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia is a Communist, and I have no doubt that, because of his political affiliation, he does not hesitate at times to cause disturbances. But trouble has been associated with the industry for centuries. That is why it is a fertile field for the activities of the Communists to-day. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has dealt very tellingly with the history of maritime upheavals.
Members of the Opposition are close to the industrial movement and they are aware that the Maritime Industry Commission has done more to preserve peace in the shipping industry than has any other instrumentality. We do not ask that the commission be maintained indefinitely, but we appeal to the Government to reconsider the bill before it finally determines to amend the arbitration system in the maritime industry in a way that will cause grave disturbances. This industry is affected by factors that are not common to any other industry, and, therefore, the Government should be very careful. The bill will produce little good. Measures of this character should not be enacted unless the Government has previously consulted the trade union organizations that are affected and obtained their approval and co-operation. We believe that the Government should have sought to obtain the advice of the Australian Council of Trades Unions before it drafted the bill. I am convinced that no member of this House will accuse that organization of irresponsibility. The fenner Labour Government was able to check many potentially serious industrial upheavals because it worked in association with the Australian Council of Trades Unions and obtained its assistance. The members of the council are willing at all times to help governments of all political colours to maintain industrial peace. The introduction of this bill is scant reward for the work that officers of that organization have done in the interests of industrial stability in Australia. Even if the bill did not include objectionable provisions, it would be unlikely to work effectively without the co-operation of the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
If the Government does not wish to consult the Australian Council of Trades Unions, it can get assistance from, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who is well qualified to express views on industrial matters.
– Why has he not done so in this debate?
– The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) has already expressed his opinions, but they have not enlightened the House. The honorable member for Bendigo will state his views later. We ask, as we are entitled to do, that the Government give earnest consideration to his opinions and those of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Blaxland.
– Let us not forget the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin).
– I should have mentioned! the honorable member for Watson, because he has had many years of industrial experience and knows mors about the unions and industrial problems than he is given credit for by the Government. Many members of the Opposition are willing and able to give helpful and temperate advice to the Government on the framing of industrial laws. Therefore, I urge the Government to heed their proposals. The bill contemplates far-reaching changes of industrial relationships in the shipping industry. The Australian Council of Trades Unions has loyally supported this Government and has indicated its willingness to continue to aid it in the industrial field. Therefore, the Government should turu to it for” advice now. Members of the Opposition are convinced that there has not been a responsible demand for the change for which this bill provides. Inexperienced members of the Government probably insisted upon its introduction in the hope that some good would result from it.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), another member of the Opposition who has had many years of industrial experience, has pointed out that the ten members of the Maritime Industry Commission were selected because of their knowledge of industrial affairs and their association with the shipping industry. The commission has come to grips with many of the industry’s problems. It has not solved all of them or put an end to stoppages, but it has achieved valuable results and has fostered co-operation between the different groups associated with the industry. ‘The record of the commission justifies its continued existence. The Government proposes that it shall be abolished and that the problems of the industry shall be referred to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. A single judge will be appointed to deal with such matters, and, in special circumstances, appeals may be made to the full court, subject to the approval of the chief judge. This will be a reversion to the old unsatisfactory arbitration system. It is idle to say, in justification of the bill, that a certain number of man-hours, or ship-hours, to use the latest expression, have been lost. A return to the old, ineffective system will not prevent disturbances and stoppages. We have no reason to expect that hold-ups will be eliminated after this bill becomes law, or that the causes of discontent in the industry will be removed. Anybody who has been associated with arbitration must know that the workers are never happy when legalisms intrude into industrial affairs. Trade unionists dislike the trimmings and formalities of the Arbitration Court.
Decisions made in an informal manner by an industrial commissioner or someother officer of the court are much morelikely to be accepted without suspicion! than are rulings of a judge that are issued formally in strict accordance with legal rules. A former president of the Arbitration Court of Western Australia, who i* now a member of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, established satisfactory working relationships between the various parties in the industries with which lie dealt in Western Australia. I refer to Mr. Justice Dunphy. As a judge of the State court, he dispensed as much as possible with legal formalities and frequently visited men at their jobs in order to hear their complaints. By that means, he established a healthy atmosphere in the industries. The Maritime Industry Commission was established for the purpose of carrying out the work of arbitration in the shipping industry in the same way. An industry of this type, with special problems of. its own, needs an unusual form of arbitration machinery. Perhaps’ the commission has not achieved the best possible results. In that case, some modification of the system is justified. How1 ever, the proposal to which the Government proposes to give effect will not effect any improvement. The commission has a specialized knowledge of the maritime industry and is able to work with a minimum of formality. It has developed special techniques appropriate to the needs of the industry. The sacrifice ot all the advantages that have been gained since 1942 will be a retrograde step. For these reasons, and because the Government has not given full consideration to all the problems involved, I urge the Government to accept the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, it address my representations .particularly to the Minister for Labour and National Service, because he is invariably reasonable in hi3 approach to industrial problems and listens with care to both sides of every case. I urge him to withdraw the bill in accordance with the terms of the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
.- This bill proposes some long-awaited and very important amendments of the Navigation Act. That act deals, not so much with the navigation of ships at sea, as with the regulation of our coastal shipping. It does not affect overseas ships, except incidentally. It is less concerned with problems of the navigation of ships at sea than with matters such as the engagement of crews, the discipline of seamen and other members of ships’ companies, the conditions of their service and their accommodation. It is, in fact, the employment charter of seafaring people round the Australian coast, and the basis of industrial conditions in our coastal ships. As such, it is a very important part of our industrial law.
To understand the importance of this bill, it is necessary to consider the dependence of the Australian community upon its coastal shipping. There can be no clear understanding of the need for a radical amendment of the Navigation Act without some consideration of the present state of our coastal transport services. Since the period just prior to the last war, shipping freights on the Australian coast have increased by about 350 per cent. Before the war, the freight on goods sent by sea from Sydney to Melbourne was about 30s. a ton, and now is about 110s. a ton. Before the war, the sailing dates and the dates of arrival of coastal ships could be forecast months ahead, but now there are no regular sailings of our coastal ships, and the same degree of reliance as a means of interstate transport cannot be placed upon them now as could be placed upon them previously. Yet in this country there is a. greater need for efficient coastal shipping; than there is in any other country of the world. I have pointed out to the House before, and doubtless I shall do so again, that the principal areas of settlement in Australia are separated by- vast distances. All of our closely settled areas and industries are situated on the coast, where we have excellent harbours, yet our coastal shipping services are declining.
Any rationalization of the Australian transport system depends upon quick, efficient and, therefore, cheap transport by sea between the States. The general lines of the Australian transport problem are clear. We need railways to open up the great areas of the centre and the north; railways to connect the interior with the coast, and road transport to feed the railways and the ports. But our railway system has been completely disrupted. It is out of date, overburdened and unable to pay its way. Often, it is unable to deal with the volume of traffic that it is required to carry. Motor transport, instead of feeding the railways and ports, is endeavouring to take the place of interstate sea transport. Motor car bodies are carried by road from Adelaide to Brisbane, and steel plates are hauled by road from Port Kembla to Perth. In those circumstances, Ave need not wonder why our road and rail transport systems are disrupted, and our roads are in a constant state of disrepair. The problem cannot be solved unless our interstate sea transport services are put into order.
This bill represents the first serious attempt since the war to solve the problem of the holding up of ships in harbour through crew shortages and petty disputes. One of the most important features of the bill is that it makes provision for the replacement of the Maritime Industry Commission. I congratulate the Government upon that. It is a forward move for which I have been looking for a considerable time. Earlier in the debate, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) was bold enough to say that, in recent years, under the regime of the Maritime Industry
Commission, a greater degree of industrial peace in maritime affairs had been achieved than this country had known previously. I believe that that was the purport of the honorable gentleman’s remark. I am bold enough to say that he was talking through his political hat. The maritime industry in Australia has never been more disrupted than during the post-war years. It is notorious that no industry in Australia is so firmly in the grip of the Communist party as is the maritime industry, through the activities of Communists in the Seamen’s Union.
Let me say at ©nee that I admire the attempts that have been made by parties on both sides of politics in this country to deal with Communists in industry. I believe that this Government has achieved notable successes through its industrial legislation and its high-lighting of the Communist problem during the last three years. I recognize that in certain industries Australian Labour party groups have achieved notable successes. But let no one suppose that an Australian Labour party group has made any more progress in the Seamen’s Union. That union is as much in the grip of the Communist party to-day as it was two years ago. There will be no improvement until order has been restored in the industry. This bill is the first serious attempt to do that, and it should be received by the House in that spirit. The honorable member for Perth complained that the Government had not informed the Australian Council of Trades Unions that it intended to introduce this measure. I have yet to learn that the approval of the Australian Council of Trades Unions is a necessary preliminary to the introduction of legislation into this House. But, knowing the careful manner in which the Government prepares and discusses its legislation, I should be astonished if the Australian Council of Trades Unions were not fully aware of the contents of the bill and had not acquainted some members of the Opposition with its views on the matter. I hope that more serious consideration will be given to the measure by members of the Opposition during the remainder of this debate than has been given to it so far.
The honorable member for Perth said also that the last Labour Government had had no trouble in the maritime industry. I believe that statement to be quite unfounded. The last Labour Government had incessant trouble in the shipping industry. Ships were always being held up. Such peace as it was able to achieve was bought by complete subservience to the Communists in the Seamen’s Union. If the House wants an illustration of the truth of that remark, let me remind honorable members of the shameful ban upon shipping for the Dutch East Indies that was imposed for two and a half years, at the instance of the Communist party. During that period, the policy of this country towards the Dutch East Indies was dictated, not by the Chifley Government, but by the Seamen’s Union as the voice of the Communist party.
– It was not the Seamen’s Union. It was the Waterside Workers Federation.
– I accept the correction of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). Doubtless the Waterside Workers Federation was backed thoroughly by the Seamen’s Union, but even if it were not, the matter is of no importance. It would still be true to say that such peace on the waterfront as the Chifley Government achieved was bought by subservience to the Communists, and that the policy of that Government towards the Netherlands East Indies was dictated by the Communist party, through Australian waterfront trade unions.
I believe that the abolition of the Maritime Industry Commission is overdue. Let me make it clear that I am not critical of any of the members of that body except the representative of the Communist party - Elliott. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) said in his second-reading speech, the country is indebted to Mr. Edwards, the acting chairman of the commission - and virtually the chairman for some years past - and his fellow members for their services to Australia. But they were charged with the performance of an impossible task, because the commission had no real authority to enforce its orders or to achieve the industrial peace that was its purpose. There are three valid objections to the continued existence of the commission. The first objection is based upon an industrial principle. If we intend to support the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, it is not right to remove a whole industry from the jurisdiction of the court and to place it under an independent commission which is subject to ministerial control. That is a general objection in principle which I have to bodies such ‘as the Maritime Industry Commission. Doubtless there was good reason for the establishment of the commission in war-time, but there is no reason why it should be continued indefinitely in peace. My second objection to the continuance of the commission is that, in practice, it has proved to be unable to deal with the disruptive tactics of the small Communist minority in the seamen’s union. The new machinery that will be established by this measure will provide a means by which at leas* some of those tactics can De countered. My third objection to the continuance of the commission is that its constitutional validity is now very doubtful. I remind the House that it was established by National Security Regulations, under the defence power, but it is doubtful now whether the continuance of the commission could be justified. For those reasons, I believe it to be right that it should be abolished.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman give his reasons ?
– If the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) cannot remember them, I shall send him a copy of the Hansard report of my speech, and he will be able to refresh his memory from it. To understand the background to this bill and the way in which it fits into the general industrial policy of the country, some consideration must be given to the difference between the maritime industry and industries ashore. I have no doubt that honorable members appreciate that the calling of the sea requires a high degree of co-ordination and order, in short greater discipline than is needed in industries ashore. I have referred to the action of the Communist minority in the Seamen!s Union in holding up ships. In general, the methods that they use fall under three* heads. The first method is to create1 petty disputes that can be prolonged in. their effect, and can delay the sailing of ships for a considerable time. It hasbeen found in practice, under the Maritime Industry Commission, that there has been no satisfactory means of settling such disputes or, having achieved a settlement, of enforcing it. The second means of delaying ships is to arrange for a small shortage in the ship’s complement at sailing time and then to call on the ship’s company to refuse to sail without the full complement. The third method is secretly to declare a particular ship black so that nobody offers at the pick-up centres to serve on it, and day after day, week after week, when hands are called for the ship, nobody offers. Up to the present, that method has been found to be extremely difficult to deal with. Before continuing on that matter, I wish to say that I believe that the great majority of seamen in Australian ships, like other Australians, are hard-working, industrious and well-intentioned people, and the employment of these methods is against their will and would be resisted if it could be. This bill will provide a welcome degree of stability to the maritime industry, and will enable seamen to go about their work as they wish to do.
I now direct the attention of honorable members to the methods by which the bill proposes to deal with the shipping delays I have described. The measure will generally increase the authority of masters of ships in dealing with petty disputes. Clause 12 provides that every agreement for the engagement of a ship’s crew shall provide that certain penalties will automatically follow the commission of certain offences. There can therefore be no argument about whether such matters should be included in the ship’s agreement, because they will have been virtually written into the agreement by law. This will assist in the disposal of petty industrial disputes on ships. If such disputes develop, and have serious consequences, the arbitral power of the conciliation commissioner, and the disciplinary power of the Maritime Industry Commission, will be replaced by the authority of a single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
For reasons which I confess not to understand or appreciate, criticism of the proposal to put a single judge in control of industrial affairs in the industry has been voiced by the Opposition. I consider such criticism to be generally invalid. In other industries, particularly the stevedoring industry, the system of having a single judge make himself an expert in the affairs of the industry and preside generally over its industrial affairs, has proved successful. I hope that the same success will attend the system in this instance.
The consistent pattern that delay through crew shortages takes is for the Communists in the Seamen’s Union to cause a shortage of ohe or two hands, or to take advantage of an existing shortage and to use it as a reason for delaying the sailing of the ship. The existing law gives power to the master to sail without his full complement provided he has not less than four-fifths of the complement. A lot of nonsense was uttered by honorable members opposite this afternoon about the dreadful consequences of imposing on a master the obligation to decide whether or not he should sail with four-fifths of his complement. I direct the attention of the House to the fact that section 44 of the act, which has operated since 1921, and which is to be deleted and replaced by a new section, contains a similar provision. It first states a general prohibition against a ship sailing without its full complement, and provides for penalties for illegal departure from port. But it then provides as follows: -
If a ship proceeds to sea being short in her crew of not more than one-fifth of her engineroom staff, or one-fifth of her deck complement, the master or owner shall not be liable under this section if it is proved that the broach was not occasioned through any fault of his own.
In other words, if the master can persuade the crew to go to sea with fourfifths of the complement, he may take the ship out without committing any offence, but he cannot force the crew to go to sea if the ship’s complement is even only one man short. The existence of that provision in that form was the cause of endless shipping delays on the Australian coast.
Mi-. Clyde Cameron. - Who fixes the complement of a ship?
– If the honorable member will bear with me for a moment I shall attempt to supply him with the answer to his interjection. The bill will provide the same general prohibition against the ship sailing unless it has the prescribed crew. For the benefit of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who has just interjected, I am referring to clause 10 which will insert a new section 43 in the act to provide that a ship may not sail without the prescribed complement. Several sub-sections of the clause then specify the means of determining the prescribed complement, while sub-clause (S.) provides as follows: -
Where the prescribed crew for a ship has not been obtained and the master or owner of the ship satisfies the superintendent at the port of departure of the ship that the master or owner has made all reasonable efforts to obtain the prescribed crew for the ship, the superintendent at the port of departure of the ship may, by writing under bis hand, authorize the master to take the ship to sea with such crew as is specified in the authority being a crew of not less than four-fifths of the engine-room staff, and four-fifths of the deck complement, of the ship.
Under this provision it will no longer be possible for a shortage of one seaman, cook, steward, or other member of a ship’s complement, to be used as a pretext to delay the sailing of a vessel indefinitely. As I have pointed out, there is another method that can be used by destructive elements to prevent ships from sailing. When a call is made at the pick-up centre for men to join a ship, it is easy for the Communists to arrange that nobody shall offer for the ship. The standard method of indicating that nobody is to offer for a particular ship is for a union official to turn back the lapel of his coat. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) laughs. He told us that he has built ships, but he has not sailed in them, and it is fair to assume from his interjection that he has not had experience of what is, in fact, a conspiracy to deny ships their prescribed complement. Ships can be delayed indefinitely by this means. A large number of ships was delayed at Newcastle not long ago by the adoption of this method, which has also been used in Sydney and in other ports on the Australian coast. If honorable members opposite are not aware of that fact, perhaps I am doing them a useful service by informing them of it. Unfortunately, I am unable to see that the bill will deal with that problem. The bill was introduced in the Senate and it was pointed out by two honorable senators-
– Order i The honorable gentleman may not refer to proceedings in the Senate.
– Then I say, sir, that the expectation has been aroused elsewhere that it may be possible to consider, in this House, amendments to the bill to provide a means of dealing with this problem of conspiring to deny a whole crew to a ship. One suggestion that has been made is to provide that if a man should fail to offer for employment as a crew member on three separate calls in one week, he shall be suspended. I do not pretend that this matter is free from difficulty, but I suggest, for the serious consideration of the House, including the Opposition, that this problem of a conspiracy to deny complements to ships must be tackled in some way, and I hope that at the committee stage some means for dealing with it may be proposed.
– “What about the conspiracy of the shipping companies to charge extra freights?
– I was about to say that the attitude evinced to-day by some honorable members opposite does little service to the cause of industrial peace because they apparently will not consider seriously the effect of this amending legislation, which is a genuine attempt to deal with the real problems of our shipping industry. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) had a great deal to say about the power of a superintendent to refuse the engagement of a seaman who had received three bad discharges in five years. He claimed that a seaman had no appeal against a bad discharge. His contention is wrong because clause 11 provides the most elaborate protection, by way of appeal to a judge, against the denial of employment to a seaman through the misapplication of the section or through his having been given an unmerited bad discharge. The bill provides, for the first time, as far as I am aware, that a seaman may appeal to an industrial tribunal against a bad discharge. It does so indirectly through the provision that if a superintendent refuses employment to a seaman because he has had three bad discharges within the prescribed period, the seaman may appeal to the court against the superintendent’s decision on the ground, among other grounds, that one of the bad discharges was unmerited. In effect, therefore, the seaman will have, for the first time, the right to appeal against a bad discharge. I have insufficient time to deal with other important parts of the bill, but I hope to do so at the committee stage.
I ask the Opposition to consider this legislation seriously against the background of disruption of the Australian coastal shipping trade with its enormous cost to this country in the delays to our commerce and the general ill effects it has on the prosperity of the whole nation, including those who cause the trouble. These are not the days of oppression of workers by rapacious bosses. The problem in these times is much more one of introducing some degree of responsibility into industrial affairs for the benefit of the whole community, and not merely for the benefit of a small- group. I remind the House of the importance of rescuing our coastal shipping trade from Communist influences. I also remind it of the well-known Communist technique expressed in the maxim, “If you can get hold of the police force of a country, if you can get hold of its communications and of its transport, then you have the lot “. The activities of the Communists in the Seamen’s Union, which no one has yet been able to deal with effectively, will bc able to be tackled now for the first time since the war, if this bill is passed. I have no doubt that if the House examines the proposed amendments and gives them the consideration that they deserve, the bill will be passed and will even meet with the approval of some honorable members of the Opposition.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- At the outset, I desire to correct a misapprehension under which the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) has been labouring. He has stated that the Australian coastal shipping has never been so greatly disrupted as it has been in the last two years.
– I think that the honorable member said “since the war”.
– It is immaterial whether he said “ since the war or “ in tho last two years”.
– There is a big difference between the two statements.
– I remind the honorable member for Evans of the conditions in 1920, which resulted in the passing of special legislation with respect to seamen in the time of Jacob Johnson and Tom Walsh, and later, what actually happened in the 1930’s, because the minds of honorable members should be entirely disabused of any thought or belief that the difficulties of the men who go down to the sea in ships are confined to the post-war period.
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Navigation Act, which is one of the most complicated acts placed upon the statutebook of the Commonwealth. The consolidated Navigation Act of 1935 covers no fewer than 241 pages, contains 405 sections, and has seven schedules and four annexures. Since the original act was passed in 1912, it has been amended on seven occasions, and two of those amendments were exceedingly complicated. It is for that reason that I emphasize the contention of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that this bill should be deferred in order that further consideration may be given to the important matters with which it deals.
Before I discuss the provisions of the bill, I should like to refer briefly to the background of the Navigation Act, and the conditions of seamen generally. The Navigation Act, which was passed in 1912, was an earnest attempt on the part of the Australian Parliament to give seamen reasonable and decent conditions of employment, and make the maritime industry as safe as possible. Some honorable members may be aware that, about 1840, an American named Dana pub lished a book entitled, Two Years Before the Mast, which dealt with the history of coffin ships, unsafe ships, inferior accommodation and so forth a long time before the introduction of navigation laws. I mention that matter in order to indicate that, from that time, an attempt was made in the English-speaking countries to improve the conditions of seamen, and we in Australia played our part in doing so by passing what was at the time the best navigation act in the world. I emphasize that the purpose of that act was to improve the conditions of seamen, and make Australian coastal shipping safe. Therefore, I am entitled to expect that when we are considering amendments to the Navigation Act in 1952, we should be examining it from the stand-point of progress made in the last 40 years, and should not justify a deterioration of conditions by pointing to the original act. In my opinion, this bill proposes some revolutionary amendments that will not be in the best interests of Australia. The legislation relates almost entirely to seamen, the tightening of disciplinary clauses to control seamen, and the creation of a special industrial tribunal.
My great regret on a matter of this description which affects shipowners, the maritime unions and the industrial interests of Australia is that the Government has not seen fit to confer with the Maritime Industry Commission, the shipowners and the maritime unions or with that great Australian organization, the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which all too often is called in to try to settle disputes in this industry when they are in progress. The failure of the Government to consult those organizations and bodies on this legislation has resulted in the production of a faulty bill, which is bound to have bad effects on the shipping industry. The Minister has indicated that he does not intend to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, but I suggest to him that the final consideration of the bill should be deferred at least until the maritime unions and the Australian Council of Trades Unions have had an opportunity jointly to discuss the measure with the Minister, and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator
McLeay), together with the Minister for Labour and National Service. 1 believe that to be essential and desirable. Unless the views of those organizations are heard, a large majority of the men who man our ships will consider that they have been treated unjustly and unfairly, that their case has not been heard, and that the Parliament has acted in a manner in which it possibly would not otherwise have acted. I make that suggestion to the Minister in the hope that he will give favorable consideration to it.
Does this House understand what the bill proposes to do? I shall state the provisions of the legislation in stark terms, so that all honorable members may understand exactly what the bill can, and possibly will, do if it becomes law. The bill proposes to make a seaman or an apprentice, who is absent from his ship without leave for 48 hours, a deserter. Later, I shall explain what a deserter means, and the penalties that may be imposed upon him. The bill proposes to permit a ship to go to sea without its full complement of officers. That provision is not contained in the original act, and is certainly a retrograde step in legislation designed to make shipping on the Australian coast safe as regards human life and property. Under the bill, a ship may go to sea with only four-fifths of its engine-room crew or its deck complement. The bill proposes to continue the auction block system of engagement of labour, which is a blot upon the Australian shipping industry to-day. Seamen will be black-listed and deprived of their means of livelihood. The bill proposes to introduce an arbitrary system of fines that may be imposed upon seamen, and deducted from their wages. The period of payment due to seamen or apprentices when employment ceases through the loss or wreck of a ship is to be reduced. Under the bill, the period of contract of service will be increased from six to twelve months. The fines for desertion are to be doubled, yet the bill leaves “ unaltered all the penalties applicable to owners that were incorporated in the legislation 40 years ago. The bill proposes to delete from the principal act the provision that a seaman who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment shall be paid all the wages due to him up to the time of his arrest. A. Crew Accommodation Committee isto be appointed to make recommendationson accommodation, and the alteration of accommodation. No statutory provisionis made for the representation of ownersor seamen on such a committee. Thebill makes an entry in the official logbookof a ship admissible as evidence inall courts. I submit that the Governmenthas placed this provision in the legislation for the express purpose of using it in connexion with industrial disputes. The bill proposes to make the act of persuading or inciting a seaman or an apprentice to commit a breach of his agreement, au indictable offence. That, obviously, c&j have reference only to persons who, whilst under agreement, are involved in an industrial dispute. The bill makes it a punishable offence to give shelter or accommodation to a seaman or an apprentice who has deserted his ship, failed to join his ship, or has absented himself from his ship without leave. That is a clear case of civil sanctions against the families of seamen. The bill proposes to abolish the Maritime Industry Commission, and place under other control manning and accommodation problems.
– Will the honorable member indicate whether any of those matters in the bill differs from the practice that has been in operation for some years?
– The Minister has raised an important point. He says, in effect, that the Maritime Industry Commission has, by its decisions, or by customs or practice, done some of the things - probably, from his stand-point, many of the things - contained in this bill. But that is no justification for placing such matter in statute law. The things that have been done by the commission have been done by a body of men - shipowners and the representatives of the maritime unions - who arc associated with the industry itself. They meet frequently. They are not bound by precedents. Their decisions can be changed as frequently as the commission likes to change them. If the commission decides one day that a certain thing shall be done, it can alter its decision on the following day. It is one thing to have decisions made on urgent matters that may arise at any time in the course of a day, by an authority which can change its decisions from day to day. It is another thing to incorporate such decisions in statute law, as the result of which they become binding, regardless of the circumstances, on those who administer the law, and can be changed only by amending legislation passed by the Parliament. I believe that the Government has failed to appreciate that important difference. I submit that this bill is coercive. Its repressive provisions are aimed at overawing and coercing seamen. The measure is deliberately designed to punish individual seamen for carrying out the decisions of their union, and it is on that rock that the bill is bound to founder and cause wholesale unrest in the shipping industry. The bill is not aimed at the union, and speaker after speaker on the Government side has claimed that the shipping industry’s problems are due to the actions of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, and its Communist controllers. This legislation will not deal with the union; it will select individual members of the union and punish them for what they do as a consequence of union decisions. The measure will lay those men open to terms of imprisonment, to heavy fines, and in certain circumstances to the loss of their livelihood and dismissal from the maritime industry. Those punishments can be clearly prescribed by particular clauses of the measure now before the House.
Proposed new section 4 extends the definition of “ desertion “ so that any person who remains away from his ship without leave for 48 hours may be classed as a deserter. Sub-section (4.) of proposed new section 45a provides that if a person fails to join his ship at the time he is due to do so the master is deemed to have given him a bad discharge. If the seaman is given three bad discharges within five years then he may be excluded from the industry altogether. In addition to those penalties, when a seaman is classed as a “ deserter “ he will be subject to a fine of £40 and the fine may be deducted from his wages according to the amount held in hand by the master.
Most of the disputes in the shipping industry concern accommodation. It is in connexion with those disputes, for which the union has taken responsibility, and over which it has exercised control, that individual seamen are called upon to take action. The action that the union requires them to take is dealt with by this bill, and as a result of its provisions individuals may be heavily fined, be deprived of their right to work in the industry and imprisoned. A singular fact is that in all the discussion that has taken place about the measure in this debate, Government supporters have expressed a general belief that the establishment of the special tribunal consisting of a single judge will thwart the activities of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia and bring about some measure of peace in the shipping industry. The fact is that the matter about which the majority of the disputes have arisen, that is accommodation, does not come within the province of the special tribunal at ail. The single judge who will be appointed to deal with employment in the shipping industry, will be prevented by this measure from dealing with accommodation because the legislation proposes to establish a crew accommodation committee to decide all matters concerning accommodation and alteration of accommodation. If the Government is relying on this special judge to bring about industrial peace in -the shipping industry, it certainly will be grievously disappointed because he will do nothing of the sort. That is simply because the principal cause of disputes is outside the jurisdiction of the judge.
I shall now deal with appeals against the decisions of superintendents to exclude, in certain circumstances, certain persons from remaining in the industry as seamen. We have been told by the Government that if a superintendent makes a mistake or an error of judgment, or if the person excluded from the shipping industry feels aggrieved by the superintendent’s decision, an appeal can be lodged to the single judge who will constitute the special tribunal. If appeals are not dealt with in a more expeditious manner than appeals have been dealt with by the Stevedoring Industry Commission this provision will be of very little use to seamen excluded from the shipping industry. At present there is a tribunal, similar to the one proposed in this measure, operating in respect of waterfront employment. I have been informed that at present there are scores and scores of waterfront employment appeals waiting for hearing by the special judge, Mr. Justice Kirby. At present the parties to those appeals can secure no information about when the cases will be heard by the judge. It seems to have been overlooked that the services of the judges of whom this special judge will be one, are first due to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. This House recently decided to constitute two full courts of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. There are only seven judges on the arbitration bench, and if two full courts are sitting at the same time the Stevedoring Industry Commisson and the special tribunal in respect of the maritime industry will not be able to function. Therefore, the judge who may be chosen as the special tribunal judge will be unable, throughout the term of his office, to give that close attention to the affairs of this industry that the Government expects him, to give.
One of the reasons advanced for the establishment of the special tribunal is that matters affecting seamen will be decided more expeditiously. I shall attempt to give honorable members some idea of how the Government proposes to achieve this expedition of hearings. Let us assume that an application has been made for an alteration of wages or working conditions in the shipping industry. The definition of “ industrial matters “ is very wide, and the powers of the Commonwealth in respect of trade and customs are invoked in order to increase the power of the special judge who will be appointed under this measure. That judge has power to make an award. The application comes before the court. At that stage the judge has the power to refer it to the full court on his own initiative, or on the application of one of the parties. If the judge refuses to refer it to the full court, one of the parties may lodge an appeal against the judge’s refusal to the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Then the matter goes to the full court. After partly hearing the matter, or after hearing it in full, the full court may refer it back to the judge who was to have heard it in the first instance. The judge then hears the case. It is then possible for one of the parties to appeal to the full arbitration court against the judge’s decision. The full court may then decide .that the order made by the single judge should not operate until the appeal is decided. More time must elapse before the full court can hear the appeal. Then the appeal is heard and a decision made. That is the unfortunate procedure that is now envisaged, and that is the sort of “ expedition “ that the bill will impose on an industry where expedition is regarded as essential in the settling of industrial disputes. At any time while the case is being heard the judge may refer any question of law to the full court for decision before he proceeds with the hearing. That can cause more delay. Honorable members will therefore realize that throughout the whole procedure delay can occur at every point. The Government, in view of this procedure, cannot say that it is . bringing expedition into the settlement of maritime industrial disputes.
I believe that in many respects this bill is savage and vicious. I believe that it will do great harm to the cause of better industrial relations in Australia. It will strain the loyalty of men to their union and will militate against their spirit of comradeship and their willingness to stand by their fellow workers when they believe they are being treated im justly. The Government should take into consideration that the psychology of the worker who goes down to the sea in ships is totally different from the psychology of the man who works on the land or in the city. Seamen have their own code of conduct towards their fellows, and their own sense of loyalty. Because of that code they do many things that are incomprehensible to those who work on the land. The seamen are hard workers, they take great risks. During the first and second great wars they were quite prepared to man the stokeholds of our merchant ships and run the risk of torpedoes and mines and bombardment by enemy ships. They were prepared to face all the hazards involved in keeping Australia’s ships at sea. It would certainly not be very pleasant to be in a stokehold when a ship was torpedoed or mined. The words used by Adam Lindsay Gordon in the Sick Stock-rider can be applied to these men. They are -
Hard livers for the most part, somewhat reckless as a rule;
They have lived hard and recklessly, but have always stood together in the fight for the protection of their interests. I believe that this legislation is bad. I believe that it depreciates the value of our Navigation Act, and I fear that it will have an adverse effect upon industrial conditions and industrial peace in this country. I consider that the Government would be well advised, even at this stage, to give representatives of the shipowners, the maritime unions and the Australian Council of Trades Unions an opportunity to discuss this bill in order that if amendments have to be made to it they will be made in a way that will preserve industrial peace and prevent a feeling of injustice among the seamen. Then, the Government would be able to bring down legislation that would be more beneficial to Australia than this legislation could ever be.
Mir. JOSKE (Balaclava) [9.0].- The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) made a very thoughful contribution to this debate. On ‘ previous occasions, he pointed out that weaknesses in the Maritime Industry Commission had been largely responsible for the failure of efforts to establish peace on the waterfront, and he urged that the commission be abolished and replaced by a more effective body. Every honorable member will pay tribute to the sailors of this country and to the British sailor of all time, but our preparedness to do so does not mean that we shall consent to industrial warfare on the waterfront.
– That is an insult to the said sailors.
– Apparently, certain members of the Opposition are not aware of the fact that trouble has occurred on the waterfront. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), in his opening remarks, said that he would deal with the bill in stark outline. He then proceeded in the starkest fashion to deal with the definitions of offences in the bill. He referred to the definition of “ desertion “ as “ The absence of a seaman or apprentice from his ship for u continuous period exceeding 48 hours without leave “, but omitted the words, lawful cause or reasonable excuse “. The qualification of that definition makes a very big difference indeed. If a seaman leaves his ship for a lawful and substantial reason he will not be guilty of an offence, but if he deliberately leaves his ship in order that it may be tied up at the behest of a Communist leader, then he deserves what he gets and the Communist leader deserves what he should get as an accessory. For a few seamen to tie up a ship by absenting themselves for 48 hours is a very different thing indeed from one or two persons absenting themselves from their work at a factory. Whereas, in the one instance, some slight inconvenience may be caused, in the other instance grave consequences result. The honorable member for Bendigo admitted that certain practices in respect of which the bill makes provision have been common in the industry. The measure provides that the ordinances and orders which have been administered by the Maritime Industry Commission shall remain in force. The bill contains nothing that is new so far a.s practices in the industry are concerned. The honorable member said, in effect, “ The commission might, from day to day, alter its orders “. That is an odd kind of argument. When a government introduces regulations the argument is raised that they should be embodied in the relevant legislation so that every one concerned will know where he stands ; but when the Government proposes to embody certain provisions in a bill, in order to make the position clear beyond doubt, the objection is raised that it will not be possible to alter such orders. Any orders that are embodied in a measure can be altered at any time if it should be shown that they operate unjustly. The honorable member wants it both ways. If the orders in question are wrong, they have been wrong for a long time, and much injustice has been done. Have honorable members opposite ever moved the adjournment of the House on the ground that employees in this industry have been punished wrongfully? Of course not. I have not the slightest doubt that if there were anything in the arguments that the honorable member for Bendigo has advanced on that point, honorable members opposite would have directed th,. attention of the Parliament to such facts. On the other hand, I have known honorable members to move the adjournment of the House in respect of many matters that have been of much less importance. The truth is that the honorable member for Bendigo was far from happy when he was making his speech. He referred to a special industrial tribunal. I do not understand that phrase. The object of this bill is to place the determination of industrial matters in the maritime industry within the jurisdiction of a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. There is nothing novel about that tribunal.
– The judge will be given special powers.
– In essence, these matters will be placed within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and members of all parties in the Parliament, as well as the great majority of Australians, accept the principle upon which the court functions. However, in the course of this debate certain members of the Opposition, as they have done in the course of debates on other industrial matters, have adversely criticized the court. I remind them that when the Government that they supported was in office, they did not seek to abolish the court but, on the contrary, introduced measures with the object of streamlining the court, as they put it. I refer to that phrase, because one honorable member opposite in the course of this debate drew a distinction between streamlining and improving the court. He said that streamlining was not the same as improving the court. When Labour was in office it introduced measures which it claimed would streamline the court. Under the present measure, it is proposed to place the maritime industry within the jurisdiction of the court.
The main cause for the introduction of this measure is the great upset that has been continuing on the waterfront for years. There is no point in saying that the upset was worse in 1920 than it is to-day. We live in the present, and the fact remains that industrial unrest on the waterfront to-day is serious.
The Government has the duty of maintaining shipping services on the Australian coast. That task has been made difficult because of delays that have been caused by seamen remaining absent from their ships in order to prevent them from sailing. This bill is designed to put a stop to practices of that kind. Its object is to establish peace in the industry by dealing effectively with those who are deliberately causing industrial war on the waterfront, particularly the Communists. The Government, true to its policy that communism must be fought and beaten, has introduced this measure as another step in its determination to achieve that objective.
Honorable members opposite objected to the provisions that the consent of the superintendent must first be obtained before a ship shall be permitted to sail without a full complement of the crew. One criticism was that a superintendent would not be able to exercise any discretion in such a matter, that he would just be obliged to give into the master of a ship who asked for such permission. This provision is very important. One of the greatest troubles on the waterfront has been caused by the luring away of a few seamen from their ship in order to prevent it from sailing with a full complement of crew. This provision is designed to prevent a continuance of that nefarious practice. In any event, superintendents require to exercise discretion in such a matter because the owner of a ship, or its master, must first satisfy him that all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain the prescribed crew before permission can be granted for a ship to sail. This places a heavy onus upon the owner, or master, of a ship and, consequently, a superintendent will be called on to exercise a very wide discretion. Indeed, I do not know of any other instance in which provision has been made for the exercise of so wide a discretion. The master, or owner, of a ship must make a very strong case in support of any request for permission for a ship to sail before such permission will be given. Honorable members opposite then advanced the argument that it would not be safe, in any circumstances, for a ship to sail without its full complement. The person who is in the best position to be the judge of such a matter is the master of the ship. He would not make an application of this sort without having good reason for doing so, and if he did so and his application were granted he would not sail his ship unless he was absolutely satisfied that it was safe to take it to sea. The Government is acting wisely in proposing to replace the Maritime Industry Commission by a judge of the Arbitration Court who, as I have said, is in essence the court itself. Whilst the judge is enjoined to use his utmost endeavours to settle disputes that may arise, there is always the overriding factor that the public interest must be considered. Therefore, the court must act not on grounds of expediency but in order to maintain peace in the industry in the public interest. The Arbitration Court has proud traditions and a capable bench. The Government intends to transfer the power to that tribunal. Could anything be fairer or more proper ? When the present members of the Opposition were in power they supported the Arbitration Court and endeavoured to improve upon the system. Yet, in their opposition to this bill, they are, in effect, attacking the tribunal that previously they upheld and. in which they reposed confidence. Can any honorable member believe, in those circumstances, that their opposition to this bill is anything more than factious? The Arbitration Court exists to bring conciliation into industry. Authorities such as the Maritime Industry Commission which were established during the war years have often made awards and given orders that were not in accordance with the views of the Arbitration Court. Because they provided different conditions and sometimes gave better treatment to some sections of employees, they actually created a certain amount of discontent in industry. It is important that those separate tribunals should cease to exist and that there should be a coordinated authority in Australia that will put terms of employment and industrial conditions upon one basis.
This measure provides that the maritime Industry Commission shall be displaced. There has been some astonishing criticism of the Government because that tribunal was not consulted first. Aa executioner does not lead a man to the scaffold and then ask him if he wants his head to be cut off. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has said that the acting chairman of this commission was, in fact, informed of thi) Government’s intention. No doubt then* is a very good reason why the Government did not consult the commission. Unfortunately, one of the members of the commission is Mr. E. V. Elliott, who is federal secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. He is one of those who have been mainly responsible for trouble on the waterfront. That gentleman has said whether ships will sail or not. He has decided whether accommodation is suitable or not. Complaint has been made to-night that the Government is to appoint an accommodation committee. Surely we prefer such a committee to decide whether accommodation is proper or not, rather than have Mr. Elliott speak for the whole of Australia. The issue between supporters of the Government and honorable members on the opposite side of the House is whether a Communist should have the authority on the waterfront or whether the matter shall be dealt with by recognized methods of government. This bill is an issue between the Government and the Communists. On such an issue, one would expect every loyal Australian to be behind the Government. I have heard nothing in the criticism that has been put forward to-day to suggest that the opposition to the bill is anything but factious. As the issue is between the Government and the Communists, why is the bill being opposed? Why is it that whenever this Government is fighting the Communists in the course of a policy to which the Opposition renders lip service, the Opposition is always upon the side of the Communists when the fight is on and the battle is most heated? This bill has not been shown to be a bad measure. I believe that it is a sound measure that will help to bring about industrial peace on the waterfront, greatly improve conditions in the maritime industry and make it far more difficult for Communists to cause trouble similar to that for which they have been responsible in the past.
Mr. THOMPSON (Fort Adelaide) 1 9.20 ]. - The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) said that the Opposition was opposing legislation that was designed to deal with the Communists. I read the speech of (lie Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck): who introduced this bill, and, after I had read it again, I came to the conclusion that this bill is metaphorically a mailed fist in a velvet glove. When the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) was speaking he slipped off the velvet glove and showed the fist as it really is. The honorable member for Balaclava only confirmed the fears of the Opposition on that point. I believe that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) deserves the highest compliments for the manner in which he clarified the terms of the measure. He said that he wondered whether honorable members on the Government side really understood the contents of the bill. If they really understood its implications I believe that they would support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that the bill should be withdrawn and given full consideration by all parties concerned.
The honorable member for Balaclava ridiculed the suggestion of the honorable member for Bendigo that the Maritime Industry Commission and perhaps the Australian Council of Trades Unions should have been consulted. To support his criticism, he advanced a very weak argument. He said that a man who was about to be executed was not consulted on the scaffold about his execution. A man is not hanged for doing good work but for having done evil. The Minister said that the Commission had done good work and when that statement is borne in mind, it is evident that this bill is intended to enable a big stick to be used on the men in the maritime industry. The statements of honorable members on the Government side prove that that is so. When the honorable member for Bendigo said that there were evils in this bill, the Minister interjected that they were already in the Maritime Industry Commission. If they are already there why does the Government want them incorporated in this bill? Obviously the
Government wants to deal with the position on the waterfront by using the big stick. The honorable member for Balaclava said, in effect, “ When the men in the industry talk war, we have to talk war too “. He meant that this bill was intended to enable the authorities to adopt punitive measures. I have been in close contact with seamen for many years. I have been associated with the hearing of disputes and I knew seamen well bef orethere was talk of Communism and when they were led by men who were as antiCommunist as anybody else. Those men were just as ready then to stand up to anybody who was treating them unfairly or victimizing them as they are to-day. We cannot afford to have any ships delayed and nobody deplores hold-ups on the waterfront more than I do. When ships are delayed, apparently for no reason at all, it is a wrong against the community, .but I do not believe that this bill is the way to deal with it. The action of this Government in endeavouring to force men back to work through the provisions of this bill will not operate successfully.
It is all very well to say that a few Communists are leading the seamen. Honorable members have been told by the honorable member for Balaclava that one man, Mr. Elliott, has been causing all the trouble and that he is the man who has said whether accommodation is acceptable. Mr. Elliott may play a big part in the Seamen’s Union, but it is not a one-man affair. Honorable members opposite have said that Australian Labour party groups have not been successful in the Seamen’s Union. I invite them to consider the background of these men. Throughout the centuries, seamen have had more indignities thrust upon them than any other section of the community. Such a state of mind has been bred into them, that they are prepared to stand up for their rights in the only way that is known to them. I deplore shipping strikes, but let us not lay all the blame on Mr. Elliott and the Communist party. These strikes are a result of the injustices that have been done to seamen through the centuries. We are often urged by honorable members on the Government side of the House not to dwell on the past. However, if we want to right a wrong, we must do what a doctor does when he wants to cure an insidious disease. The doctor tries to discover the root cause of the sickness and remove it, and to foster in the patient a state of mind that will help him to regain his health. We must follow the same procedure in our treatment of the seamen. That is what the Labour Government tried to do in 1942 when it established the Maritime Industry Commission. Government supporters have said that, although the commission served a good purpose in war-time, it is of no use to us now. That is the sort of attitude that rankles in the minds of the workers to-day.
The seamen want to win for themselves the best possible conditions of work. The Government apparently wants to prevent them from doing so. It blames the Opposition for its inability to deal with communism. That is entirely unfair. The pronounced difference of opinion between the Government parties and the Labour party on the issue of communism led to a double dissolution of this Parliament. The Government parties were returned to power after the ensuing election with a clear majority in each House, and they proceeded to pass legislation for the purpose of suppressing communism. They believed that they had the support of the people. But we know the verdict that was given by the people. They decided that the Government had acted wrongly. The Government also blames the Labour party on that account. It argues that we influenced the people to change their opinion. But the truth is that the common people decide what is best for common people. I appreciate the difficulties of the Government in the present situation. The immobilization of ships with valuable cargoes that are urgently needed elsewhere produces grave economic results, and I realize that the Government considers that it has a responsibility to prevent such stoppages. However, it is not justified in introducing a measure to deprive the seamen of rights for which they have fought over the years. The speech made to-night by the honorable member for Bendigo reminded me again of the ancient virtues that enabled the Labour party to rise to the top so that it could dominate parliaments and legislate for the working people. That speech was based on well-established truths.
The Opposition does not ask the Government to amend the Navigation Act in such a way as to give undeserved benefits to the seamen, but it objects wholeheartedly to the terms of the bill. The honorable member for Balaclava discussed the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Many trade unionists consider that there is too little conciliation and too much arbitration under that legislation. The bill provides solely for arbitration, not for conciliation. If it becomes law, the grievances of workers in the maritime industry will be decided arbitrarily by a judge. The. Maritime Industry Commission may have weaknesses, but at least it provides a means whereby representatives of all parties associated with the shipping industry can meet in amity for the purpose of resolving differences. We must bring the parties together around a table in an atmosphere of conciliation if we are to obtain the best results. The terms of the bill and the speeches that have been made by Government supporters will tend to influence the mind of the judge who will be appointed under this legislation. Ministers and their supporters constantly decry party politics, but their conduct in this matter has been dictated entirely by party political considerations. Members of the Labour party earnestly wish to promote industrial peace and production. Honorable members opposite are not more sincere than we are in our eagerness to foster the prosperity of Australia and the happiness of its citizens. We know that, if the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is affected by shipping delays, dividends may be reduced, but the effect, generally speaking, will be only slight. The man who is thrown out of work when industrial trouble occurs and is forced to draw upon his life savings is the one who suffers most. The humble people experience bitter hardships when others suffer only slight inconveniences.
The enactment of this measure will bring closer the impending struggle between workers and employers. Some Government supporters consider that the only way to resolve the differences between the parties to industrial disagreements is to force a showdown. They think that it might be better to tie up ships now and bring all transport to a stop than to continue to tolerate intermittent stoppages I warn them that the precipitation of a crisis will not overcome industrial troubles. I have seen too much of the effects of mailed-fist tactics on trade unionists to be deceived on that score. The forcible laying down of the law to the workers will not produce good results.
– It can cause only industrial chaos.
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) annoys some honorable members at times, but he understands better than most of us do the miseries that many Australians have suffered as a result of industrial disputes. Ministers and their associates may attempt to disguise the nature of this bill with all sorts of glowing assurances, but the workers who will be affected by it will not be deceived. The Minister for Labour and National Service, the honorable member for Evans and the honorable member for Balaclava are members of the legal profession, but the people will not be satisfied to have their fate decided by legal men. In the final analysis, they want to be judged by their peers. Australia relies upon the jury system. The members of a jury may lack the specialized ability of lawyers, but we trust them to make the final decisions in our courts of law. The members of tho Maritime Industry Commission may not be as well-informed on legal niceties as a. judge, but they have an intimate knowledge of the shipping industry, and they are men of good sense, whose main concern is to solve problems to the advantage of both parties. In effect, they constitute a jury of ten. The parties to disputes with which they deal are aware that the issue will be resolved by representatives of both sides.
I appeal to the Government not to proceed with this bill. The Navigation Act has been in force for 40 years, but no other government has considered it necessary to amend the act as this Government now proposes to amend it. The Navigation Act was not intended to impose duress upon the seamen, and this measure contravenes the spirit of the legislation. A single judge should not be vested with the power that is inherent in the bill. The purpose of the original Navigation Act was to protect the seamen, who previously had lacked protection of any kind. The Government now intends to amend the legislation so that it will be able to enforce objectionable proposals upon the seamen. The honorable member for Evans, for example, has proposed that the Government should have power practically to conscript seamen. He said that as the men had certain rights, they should be made to accept certain responsibilities. He meant that, if the men were to have the benefit of safeguards in relation to the standards and numbers of crews, they should be obliged to accept employment on ships whether they wished to do so or not. He said there should be some way of dealing with them if they refused to respond to a call to join the crew of a ship. I remind honorable members of the Fijian seaman who was deported from Australia recently. He left a ship at Sydney because he considered that the vessel was unsafe, and he was imprisoned. But we all know now how fortunate he was, because the ship that he left disappeared on the outward journey from Sydney.
Honorable members on the Government side of the House contend that a man who engages to serve on a ship for a period of twelve months but becomes fed up with conditions on the vessel after eight months and refuses to continue as a member of the crew, should be classed as a deserter and subjected to a severe penalty. Yet they say that this is a bill to foster harmony in the maritime industry and encourage seamen to man the ships! The honorable member for Evans said that about 90 per cent, of the members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia were good Australians, and implied that the other 10 per cent, were not. Let me tell the Government that, to a trade unionist, trade unionism is not just a myth. When a trade union believes that something is wrong, it will fight to put it right. When this bill has been passed, if the Seamen’s Union of Australasia takes action to remedy something that it considers to be wrong and issues certain instructions to its members, those members will be made to suffer if they obey those instructions. The only reason why the present leader of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia holds his position is that the majority of the 90 per cent, of the seamen whom the Government admits are good men voted him into office to represent them and to work for them. I know of a maritime union which has elected as officers ten anti-Communists and one Communist. The great majority of the members of the union are anti-Communist in their political outlook and are supporters of the Labour party. But they will elect ten Labour men to fill certain offices . in their union and then elect a Communist to fill another position, because they know that he has the necessary qualifications for the post and will discharge his duties in a manner that will be in their best interests.
When honorable members opposite talk about Communists in trade unions, let them remember that, in most instances, the members of the unions elect those Communists because they believe that they can and will do their job. Let me cite as an instance the federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy. Everybody knows that he is a Communist. The members of the federation vote for him, not because he preaches communism, but because they believe that he can, and will, obtain for them the things to which they are entitled. Similar remarks apply to Mr. Elliott of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. I have met Mr. Healy, but I have never met Mr. Elliott, and I do not know anything about him personally. The Government has said that this legislation will enable it to deal with Mr. Elliott effectively. I say that the Government is trying to take action against Mr. Elliott by bringing pressure to bear upon the 90 per cent, of the members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia who are good Australians. I have said throughout the piece that we cannot deal adequately with communism by legislation of this kind. If we can make trade unionists see that there are men other than Communists who could, and would do as good a job for them as the Communists are doing we should get somewhere.
This measure is an attempt to bring pressure to bear upon workers in the maritime industry by creating the fears which are the worst enemy of the workers - fear of what the future holds for them, fear about the security of their job, and fear of the imposition of penalties if they endeavour to get something to which they believe they are entitled. Fear has been always the greatest enemy of the ordinary working man. The Government is endeavouring to create fear in the minds of members of the maritime industry in order to make them fall into line with what it thinks should be done to deal with Communist leaders and communism in the industry.
.- Having listened to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who is rated as Labour’s best speaker on industrial matters, I am satisfied that the policy of the Labour party is to oppose for the sake of opposition. Not one constructive suggestion emerged from either the honorable member for Bendigo or the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson). This is a progressive measure, but the honorable member for Bendigo described it as repressive, merely because it seeks to deal adequately with deserters. Why should not the penalty for desertion be doubled? I speak as one who has been to sea. I know that a deserter endangers, not only his ship but also the lives of his fellow seamen. I can see no reason for trying to mitigate the crime of a man who is best described by the horrible word “ deserter “.
The honorable member for Bendigo complained that neither the Australian Council of Trades Unions nor the shipowners were consulted on this measure. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) stated quite clearly that an exhaustive examination was made before the measure was introduced, and that all interested parties in the maritime industry were consulted. Apparently, the honorable member for Bendigo objects to any legislative provision which requires that a man shall do his duty. Why does the Labour party always spring to the defence of the law breaker? The honorable member claimed that, under the bill, it would be possible to inflict penalties upon seamen for obeying the instructions of their union. Is this country to be run in accordance with the instructions of unions or in accordance with the laws of the land? The honorable gentleman then gave an example of what he said could happen - not of what was likely to happen. He cited a hypothetical case that was the height of improbability. Anything could happen. But let us be realistic, and deal with the measure as at is. Then the honorable member talked about mateship at sea. As one who has been to sea, I know something about the mateship and fellowship of men at sea, both on the lower deck and on the upper deck. I can say that in the Navy nobody shirked hardship. The men in the Navy did not ask for danger money, dirt -money, or hard lying money. They accepted their conditions cheerfully. A little of the same loyalty would come well from some of the members of the Seamen’s Union.
I thought it somewhat strange that the honorable member for Bendigo, who normally is quite moderate in his approach to this problem, should find himself in company with known Communists, defending the actions and utterances of men like Elliott, who have attempted to destroy the economy of this country. I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Port Adelaide play down the influence of the Communist secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. He suggested that the Government should hold up the bill so that it could be further examined - hold it up and give the Communists more time to wreak their evil on the economy of this country. He referred to Mr. Healy, the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, and said that the support that Mr. Healy received from the members of that union was given because he looked after their interests. It seems to me that the attitude of the Labour party to this problem is that it does not matter what a man does to destroy this country, or whether he breaks its laws, as long as he preserves the integrity of his union. I am a unionist, and I believe in good healthy unionism, but I say that we must observe the laws of the country.
Tasmania, in particular, has suffered at the hands of the Seamen’s Union. Shipping delays are affecting it more than any other part of the Commonwealth. Quite often, Tasmania has been down to its last ton of flour, merely because members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, on some flimsy pretext, have refused to take a ship to sea. It is well to remind members of the Opposition that the Maritime Industry Commission was established, by regulation, under national security legislation for the purpose of securing the adequate and efficient manning of Australian ships. It is significant that the first chairman of the commission resigned in November, 1944, because he refused to submit to political pressure. He advocated a reduction of the war risk bonus. That was, as was to be expected, opposed strenuously by the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, under the guidance of its well-known Communist secretary, Elliott. The Labour party, which was then in office, showed its partisanship by failing to appoint another chairman. However, the commission carried on very ably under its acting chairman and, in many respects, did a very effective job. When one bears in mind that in this measure are incorporated many of the things that were the function of the Maritime Industry Commission, it is hard to understand the opposition to it that we have heard from the other side of the House. The functions of the commission included the settlement of disputes and general liaison in employment matters. Generally, it functioned satisfactorily, but, despite the work of the commission, the shipping industry suffered many ruinous delays. We are all familiar with the rolling strike technique. We know that many ships on the Australian coast have been held up on the flimsiest of pretexts. Anthing that will serve the Communistic plan of holding down the general economy of this country is good enough. The commission was frequently defied by the union. In this connexion there are some very interesting figures that relate to shipping on the Australian coast during the last two years. They show that, in that period, industrial disturbances delayed 74 Commonwealth-owned ships and 2S7 interstate traders. The appalling total of 4,247 ship days was lost - at a tremendous cost to every man, woman and child in this country. The planned lawlessness of the Seamen’s Union has cost Australia millions of pounds. Every hold-up of a ship is part of an overall scheme. All law-abiding citizens will agree that the strongest possible disciplinary action is necessary if we are to maintain a regular flow of shipping. It is fantastic that a small militant section of seamen, owing allegiance to Stalin, should be allowed to continue to hold this country to ransom. The Communist plan has been well and deeply laid. Every ship that visits this country from overseas, and most of the interstate traders, has at least one Communist agent on board.
I had a very interesting discussion recently with a greaser from SS. Dubbo. As most honorable members know, that vessel has suffered more from delays than has any other Commonwealth ship. Incidentally the greaser is not one of my supporters. He supports the Opposition in this Parliament, but he volunteered the information that he was victimized because he resisted demands of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. 11is superior was a Communist, and he u-as instrumental in getting the man a bad discharge - the first he had had in fifteen years at sea. That kind of intimidation and victimization is typical of the Communists. This man put his case to me and I passed it on to the proper authorities, where it is now undergoing a proper examination. The man told me, of his own volition, how Dubbo had been held up in Adelaide for months on end. The crew would be ready to sign up, the ship would be almost ready to sail, and then some one would be missing. Excuse after excuse was made. The result was that Dubbo did not sail. That is only one example of the delays to which Australian ships have been subjected during the last few years.
The Government is to be commended upon its decision to hasten the turnround of shipping. In the past, it has been common for a ship to spend twothirds of its time in port. Ships do not earn money while they are in port.
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting, Mr. KEKWICK.- I am not disturbed by the ramblings of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He does not upset anybody on this side of the chamber. Mr. Downes. - He upsets air hostesses.
– Yes, when he is refused his second piece of barley sugar. [Quorum formed.’] When an honorable member on this side of the chamber gets under the hide of members of the Opposition, they show their irritation by calling for a quorum to be formed. I am grateful to honorable members opposite for having shown in that manner that I have touched a few sore spots. The Government is to be commended for deciding to streamline the shipping industry. The legislation provides machinery for more expeditious handling of shipping problems. There is only one way to reduce the time that ships spend in port, and that is to get back to the days of regular shipping schedules that existed before the war.
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– In those days ships, even though they were subject to unfavorable weather conditions, industrial disputes and other interruptions as frivolous as those we get from the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), could be depended on to arrive in port, discharge and load cargo, and leave again according to schedules that had been determined long before. Such a position was more satisfactory to the seamen and the waterside workers, as well as to the whole community, than is the present position. In those days it was almost possible for one to set one’s watch by the punctual arrival and departure of ships. The existence of such a position now would make cargo handling and the solution of labour problems easier. That position can exist again, however, only if labour disputes and other problems can be dealt with expeditiously and effectively.
After an exhaustive examination the Government decided to make provision for a single judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to be given power to deal with industrial affairs in the maritime industry. I consider that to be one of the most desirable aspects of the measure, because obviously it will expedite the hearing of claims and disputes. It is clear that the Maritime Industry Commission has become obsolete. Seamen will have complete protection under the bill, which will give them the full right of appeal from the decision of a marine superintendent to a judge of the court. There is nothing novel in the principle of giving a single judge jurisdiction in these matters, because it already applies in other industries. The judge will have all the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. He may make orders and awards, and determine matters relating to the salaries, wages, rates of pay and other terms and conditions relating to the employment of seamen. If he thinks fit, he may refer matters to the full court. Shipowners or trade unions may, with the approval of the Chief Judge, appeal against the judge’s decision in respect of any matter. I can see nothing in that provision to evoke any valid objection from the Opposition. As the honorable member for Balaclava has said, the arguments of the Opposition are completely specious. Honorable members opposite have not advanced one valid reason why this legislation should not be passed. One definite advantage to both shipowners and seamen of having a single judge to control the industry is that very soon he will acquire a special knowledge of its affairs through his continued close acquaintance with the specific problems and anomalies that affect it. That aspect of the matter should appeal to all honorable members.
The bill contains .provision for the promulgation of the same kind of orders as the Maritime Industry Commission effected, whilst, much of the disciplinary code ‘ for seamen contained in the existing legislation is retained. A seaman may be excluded from employment after he has received three bad discharges within a prescribed period, or has been guilty of particularly serious misconduct, such as absence from duty at sailing time, or desertion. It is astounding to hear honorable members opposite play down the seriousness of the crime of desertion. Desertion from a ship is an unforgivable sin. If a member of a ship’s crew is not on hand at sailing time somebody else has to carry out his duties. Such a deserter is not playing the game by his mates. I consider that the provision that a man must have had no fewer than three bad discharges before he may be excluded from employment is exceedingly liberal. One bad discharge is serious enough, and a man worth his salt would see that he had no more than one bad discharge. Fortunately, most seamen have not even one bad discharge. A man who has received three bad discharges has become an habitual offender, and, as such, is not fit to be employed or to enjoy the society of his mates at sea.
The disciplinary code will be administered by superintendents of mercantile marine offices who will have the power to refuse to engage seamen who have received three bad discharges in a period of five years. It is important to note that seamen’s rights will be adequately protected by the measure, because a seaman will have the right of appeal to the judge against the decision of a superintendent not to employ him. This provision will safeguard seamen against injustice. The Opposition has wailed that this measure is oppressive and will infringe the rights of individual seamen. But no law-abiding seaman will object to any of the bill’s provisions. Indeed, I would say that if the vast majority of seamen could free themselves from the influence of Elliott and some of his Communist colleagues they would welcome the measure, because it will assist a return to a regular flow of shipping which will enable them to know in advance at what time they will be in certain ports and at what time they will be home.
Another important provision is that a crew accommodation committee is to be established, and will comprise representatives of shipowners and trade unions. That i3 a definite forward step. I sympathize warmly with seamen in respect of the conditions that they had to face at sea not long ago. There are still some old ships which have unsatisfactory crew accommodation. The proposed committee is necessary to ensure that seamen shall enjoy the most comfortable conditions possible. I know what it is like to be at sea under trying conditions, and I have every sympathy with people who have to live in confined spaces on ships, especially below and tween decks. The presence of practical shipping men and technical experts on the committee should ensure a satisfactory solution of accommodation problems.
The provision that a master may take a vessel to sea under certain circumstances with not less than four-fifths of the deck and engine-room complement, will bc of considerable benefit in avoiding shipping delays. Often we have read of large vessels with valuable cargoes that are urgently required in another part of the country being held up merely because a few members of the crew were not available. Because its enactment will benefit not only the people- engaged in the maritime industry, whether they be shipowners or employees, but also the entire community, I support the measure strongly and commend it to the House.
Mi-. W. M. BOURKE (Fawkner) [10.13]. - This bill proposes to amend the Navigation Act, a long and complex piece of legislation which was passed in 1912 to prescribe minimum standards for people employed in the important work of keeping ships running, which is so vital to the well-being and economic life of the country. It would bc perhaps as well to take our minds back to the conditions under which our forefathers came to this country many year* ago as passengers on ships. They endured great hardships and privations during the trip to Australia from the other side of the world. Their conditions, as paying passengers, were bad, but the conditions of the seamen in those days were deplorable. Seamen were a forgotten section of the community. They had no rights; nothing was done to protect them. As science advanced, and ships became bigger and faster, there was still little done to protect the rights of the men who kept the ships going, and provide decent living and working conditions for them. Unquestionably, the maritime industry was a depressed industry. Seamen worked under conditions that were a disgrace in a modern civilized community. They had to suffer the hardship of being separated from their families for considerable periods; they had little home life. The living condi tions which they had to endure, and the food that they were given, reflected little credit upon the people responsible.
The Navigation Act, which was passed in 1912, was an important and necessary piece of legislation that prescribed certain minimum standards for seamen who operated ships round the Australian coast. Everybody will agree that the maritime industry is of great importance to Australia. This is an island continent. Our whole economic life depends upon the goods which we send from this country and the goods which we bring into it. We send our wool, wheat and metals away in ships, and bring into the country the raw materials which we need for our secondary industries, and other goods that are necessary to maintain our standard of living. We have this overseas trade, which is so vital to our economic wellbeing, and the interstate trade, which is of great importance, because our capital cities are scattered around the coastline at considerable distances from one another. During World War II., our railway systems were greatly overstrained, and now are generally run down. Aircraft, although they are able to help in an emergency, cannot lift great quantities of goods. Consequently, we are dependent to a considerable degree upon sea-going traffic to keep our economy functioning and maintain the living standards of our people.
Previous speakers have referred to the importance of the mercantile marine in defence. It plays an absolutely essential and vital part in that respect. The men who manned the ships which carried necessary supplies to various theatres of war were exposed to great dangers, and endured great hardships. I confess that I was astonished when- the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Kekwick), who served in the Navy during the war, did not see fit to pay a tribute to the wonderful work performed by the men of the mercantile marine in the period 1939-45. Bather, he spoke about the necessity for the strongest possible disciplinary action. He paid no tribute to, and did not recognize, the really fine and outstanding work which was performed by those men during the war.
This bill proposes the first modifications of this important Navigation Act for many years. “When we examine the legislation, we see that it proposes big changes, mainly in the sphere of industrial relations in the maritime industry. But it is interesting to note that most of the changes will affect only one section of the people who are concerned with the industry. That section is the seamen - the men who actually keep the ships going. But the seamen are not l y any. means the only people who are concerned in the industry. In the first place, there are the passengers who travel on the ships. They arc not dealt with in any way by this legislation, except indirectly, in one respect. There are previsions in the bill which have been commented on at length by previous speakers, and 1 do not propose to discuss them, other than to point out that, in certain circumstances, the master is entitled to take a ship to sea with only four-fifths of the normal complement of the crew. In other words, a ship, the normal complement of which is 50 men, may, in certain circumstances, lie legally and properly taken to sea by the master with only 40 men. Honorable members opposite say that certain precautions are provided, and claim that the safety of the passengers will not be endangered, but I consider that we are entitled to point out that the absence of one-fifth of the crew must raise some doubt in our minds regarding the safety of the passengers. Even if the safety of one ship were imperilled by that provision, it could mean the lives of many hundreds of passengers. Opposition members regard that provision with great concern.
In the second place, there are the shipowners and the persons who charter the ships. They have a vital part to play in the conduct of this industry. But I find that their rights and responsibilities, and the penalties that may be imposed upon them for breaches of the act will hardly be affected by the bill. The activities of the people who own the big shipping lines, which bring goods to our country and take other goods away from it, could well be investigated, because they impose a severe financial burden upon the people of Australia. During the great wool boom not so long ago, we exported our wool and received high prices for it. But it is not generally realized how much we were deprived of the benefit which should have come to us from those high prices, because the shipping freights which we paid were increased considerably at the same time. If 1 remember rightly, Australia paid in shipping freights, in the last financial year, more than £100,000,000.
– I think that the figure was £149,500,000.
– That is a. tremendous drain upon the financial resources of the country, and drags down the overseas balances which we need so urgently in order to keep our economy stable. All that money was paid out, and we got little in return for it. The overseas shipping combines increased their charges outrageously, without any justification, and we had no redress. No protest against the increases was made in this Parliament. I suggest that when such a comprehensive measure as the Navigation Act is ‘under discussion, it is proper and appropriate for us to consider the important matter of excessive shipping freights, which extort money from the. people of Australia, and impose a heavy burden upon our economy. A curb should be placed upon the rapacious shipping monopoly which has undoubtedly been bleeding this country white, particularly in the last few years, when our exports have been earning such bit; returns. But this bill does not deal with the shipping monopoly. It is confined to the men who keep the ships going.
One of the main purposes of the legislation is to abolish the Maritime Industry Commission. That body was established in 1942, during the war years, under national security regulations. It is still in operation, and will continue to operate, on the basis of the national security regulations, until this bill becomes law. The Government has not given us any substantial reasons for its decision to abolish the commission. Government supporters have talked at length about communism, and Mr. E. V. Elliott, but have not given any convincing reason why the mere change in the machinery of control will automatically mean that the evils in the industry will disappear. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) has put forward what he claims is a reason why the commission should be abolished. He considers that a grave doubt exists about its constitutional validity, because it is operating on the basis of national security regulations. That submission reminds me of the argument put forward by the Government when it decided to sell its interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. On that occasion, its excuse was that it had certain legal opinions, which it refused to lay on the table of the House, to the effect that a doubt existed about the constitutional validity of the continued association of the Government with that enterprise. A similar proposition is put forward for the abolition of the Maritime Industry Commission. The Government claims that a constitutional doubt exists as to whether the commission can legally continue to function.
When we examine the position, we see that the National Parliament has full constitutional power to deal with matters appertaining to overseas trade, interstate trade, subject to section 92, and maritime activities between the territories of the Commonwealth. The only gap in its power to deal with all aspects of the maritime industry is in the sphere of intrastate trade. It is only in that single sphere that reliance upon the defence power to support the validity of the continued operation of the commission could be questioned. It appears, then, that this constitutional difficulty is by no means as great as Government supporters would have us believe. If there is a constitutional difficulty in respect of a small portion of the activities of the commission, the matter could be rectified by discussions with the States. At least, an effort could be made to rectify the position without going to the extreme length of abolishing the commission.
As a matter of fact, the Government has not given the House its real reasons for its decision to abolish the commission. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), in his second-reading speech, did not criticize that body, or point out that he had not approved of some of its actions. He actually paid a tribute to its work. He said -
The commission in the post-war years has had a range of functions relating to the employment of seamen. A tribute is due tothe commission for its work in this field. Aswill be seen, this bill proposes to preserve much of what the commission has done.
The Minister admits that the commission, has done good work. Why, then, has not the Government considered strengthening that authority, if any weakness hasbecome apparent? If the Government objected to one member of the Maritime Industry Commission it could have altered the constitution of the commission. Therefore, it seems that the case made out by the Government for the abolition of the Maritime Industry Commission is very weak and, indeed,, no real reason has been put before the House to justify its very hasty action in the last hours of this sessional period. The bill proposes to set up a new arbitral body to deal with the industrial problems of the maritime industry. A single judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration will be appointed to exercise the functions now exercised by a conciliation commissioner, and as the honorable member for Bendigo pointed out with convincing logic, the setting up of such a single judge to deal with industrial disturbances in this industry will cause delays in the settlement of disputes. The lengthy and complicated system of appeals, that we discussed some months ago when the Government proposed to alter the general arbitration system, will apply. After a decision has been given by the judge, the parties may appeal to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The judge himself may refer matters of law to the Full Court, and so on. That system will involve continual delays in the hearing of appeals.
This measure proposes to alter the general code of discipline in the maritime industry. It provides that a seaman who has had three bad discharges within five years shall be excluded from the industry. In proposed new section 45a the legislation provides that a seaman who deserts - . . shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be a seaman in respect of whom a master has, on the date of the desertion, delivered a report under section sixtyseven of this Act showing the conduct or character of that seaman as “ bad “.
I mention this important matter of desertion because it was referred to several times by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Kekwick), who said that desertion was one of the most serious offences that a seaman could commit. He said that a deserter endangered his ship and his fellow seamen and that the penalties for desertion should be made heavier. Under the Navigation Act, desertion may cause the issue of a bad discharge to a seaman, and if he is given three bad discharges within five years he may be not allowed to continue in the industry. The vital point about this matter is not the nature of the penalties that may be inflicted, or whether desertion is a serious offence - because I agree that it is - the vital point is what constitutes desertion. When we consider that point, to which the honorable member for Bass did not direct his attention, we find that this legislation has radically altered the definition of “ desertion “. Desertion is defined in the Navigation Act as - “ Desertion “ means the absence of a seaman or apprentice from his ship, without lawful cause or excuse, with the intention of not returning thereto.
The essential ingredient of the crime of desertion is the intention not to return. That definition has remained in the Navigation Act for 40 years, but this legislation will alter it quite markedly. The new definition of “ desertion “ in the bill is-
the absence of a seaman or apprentice from his ship with the intention of not returning to his ship; or
In the second part of the new definition of desertion, if a man is absent from his ship for a continuous period exceeding 48 hours it is not required that he should have the intention of not returning to the ship. There appears to be a deliberate exclusion of the ingredient of intention. There is an essential difference, which should have been apparent to the honorable member for Bass who claimed that he had been a member of the Royal Aus tralian Navy, between absence with the intention of returning and absence without leave with an intention to return. Absence without leave is an unauthorized absence which may continue for more than 4S hours, but it need not involve an intention to desert. The definition of “ desertion “ in paragraph (b) of subsection (c) of the proposed amendments to section six of the principal act is merely a definition of absence without leave, but it carries with it a very heavy penalty.
– Does not the honorable member consider that it is high time that some discipline was put into the maritime industry?
– Let us consider the case of a man whose offence comes within the proposed amendment. Supposing that a man were called off his ship by union officials. In those circumstances he would go ashore “without leave “ and “ without lawful cause “. Would it be regarded as leaving his ship with “ reasonable excuse “ ? I take it, in view of the desire of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) to have discipline in the industry, that such absence by the seaman would not be considered to be absence with reasonable excuse. If that seaman were off his ship for 48 hours, under instructions from his union, he would be guilty of desertion and subject to the penalty contained in the legislation before the House. Therefore, a man, acting under instructions from his union, would be guilty, not of mere absence without leave, but of the crime of desertion.
Other portions of the bill give ample ground for objection. For instance, there is the matter of crew accommodation, which has caused most of the disputes that have occurred in the maritime industry. The Government is here making one of its dangerous departures from established practice and should be vigorously criticized. It is the type of departure that is too much in evidence nowadays. The bill provides that the minimum standards of accommodation on a ship shall be prescribed by regulation. The Governor-General may make regulations prescribing the accommodation to be provided for the master, officers and crew of a ship. The measure sets out certain provisions about the minimum amount of space for each person, the maximum number of persons to be accommodated in any part of a ship and the part of a ship in which the accommodation is to be provided, its furnishings, equipment and so on. The Opposition draws attention to this departure from established practice and democratic principles. We say that minimum standards should be set out in the legislation, and that it should not be left to the Governor-General in Council - in effect the Minister - to make these regulations. If those matters were embodied in this legislation then honorable members who are the representatives of the people could discuss them and determine their suitability or otherwise.
Proposed new section 138 provides that the Minister may appoint a committee to be known as the Crew Accommodation Committee. It provides further that the committee shall consist of representatives of the shipowners and the union, and shall make recommendations regarding accommodation. There is a. further weakness in the legislation here, about which we feel concerned. I do not know if there is any significance in it but we should certainly feel concerned about it. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) said -
The Governmenthas therefore felt it desirable to provide for the establishment of a crew accommodation committee on which shipownersand unions directly concerned will be represented, assisted by the expert advice of governmental shipping and ship-building ollivers.
There are two distinct parts to that statement.
M r. SPEAKER. - Order ! The honorab!e member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth) a d j o u r n e d .
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill 1952.
Mr. W. M. Bourke.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1952.
Trading with the Enemy Bill 1952.
Without requests -
Excise Tariff Bill 1952.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1952.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference)! Bill 1952.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1952.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1952.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate with requests.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Postal purposes - Maxwell, New South Wales.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority purposes - Cooma, New Sou th Wales.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1952-
No. 49 - Suppression of Hansen’s
No.60 - Sago (Papua).
No.61 - Pure Food.
No.62 - Town Planning.
No.63 - Ordinances Interpretation.
No.64 - Medical.
No.65 - Pharmacy.
No.67 - Evidence Act (Commonwealth) Application.
No.68 - Police Offences (New Guinea).
No.69 - Ordinances Revision (Administrative Districts and Towns).
No. 70 - Papua and New Guinea Copra Marketing Board.
No. 71 - Administration Employees’ Compensation.
No. 72 - Firearms.
No. 73 - Arms, Liquor and Opium Prohibition (New Guinea).
No. 74 - Land (New Guinea).
No. 75 - Native Land Registration.
No. 76 - Arbitration (Public Service).
No. 77 - Native Apprenticeship.
No. 78 - Mines and Works Regulation (New Guinea ) .
Public Service’ Act - Appointments - Attorney-General’s Department - B. W. Norman, E. Smith.
House adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Z asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister acting for thu Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied me with the following information : - 1 and 2. Air Navigation Regulation ‘No. 219 (2.) reads: “In addition to being responsible for the operation’ and safety of the aircraft during flight, the pilot in command shall be responsible for the safety of persons and cargo carried amd for the conduct and safety of members of the crew”; No. 210 (3.) reads:
The pilot in command Shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while he is in command, and for the maintenance of discipline by all persons on board “.
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon nol ice -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon, notice -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The following are the district employment offices in the metropolitan ami suburban areas of Sydney together with the numbers who at the time of registration indicated they were unemployed and were recorded as unplaced as at the 20th September, 1952: -
Statistics of unemployment benefit recipients are not available separately for each employment district in the metropolitan area. There were 11,402 males and 2,0S2 females receiving benefit in the Sydney area at the 20th September, 1952. The numbers of perso shown a* registered for employment and recorded asunplaced include those receiving unemployment benefit.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollows : -
At the 23rd December, 1949, vacancies for 202 males and 242 females were registered! at the Wagga District Employment Office. At the Albury District Employment Office 328 vacancies were registered for males and 164 for females.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, The following are the numbers registered for employment at the Newtown and Mascot employment offices at the 26th September, 1952, who at the time of registration indicated they were unemployed: -
2 and 3. The following are the numbers of persons so registered for employment as building and metal tradesmen in these offices at the 26th September: -
Apart from the problem of defining a tradesman in other occupations, the statistics available do not give a detailed analysis of workers in other occupations who might be regarded as tradesmen.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. There are forty-six District Employment Offices in New South Wales. The addresses of these offices are -
Albury - 612 Dean-street, Albury. Post Office Box 66.
Armidale - 201 Beardy-street, Armidale. Post Office Box 28.
Bankstown - 318 South-terrace, Bankstown.
Bathurst - Exchange Buildings, Cnr. William and Church streets, Bathurst. Post Office Box 47.
Bega - 157 Carp-street, Bega. Post Office Box 22.
Belmore - 18 Bridge-road, Belmore.
Bondi - Cnr. Botany-road and Landaff- street, Bondi Junction.
Broken Hill - 121-123 Argent-street, Broken Hill. Post Office Box 272.
Canberra - Prices Building, Barton, A.C.T. Post Office Box 19.
Cessnock - 142-144 Vincent-street, Cesnock.
Cowra - 69 Macquarie-street, Cowra. Post Office Box 128.
Dubbo - Cnr. Wingewarra and Macquarie streets, Dubbo. Post Office Box 35.
Gladesville - 142 Victoria-street, Gladesville.
Goulburn - A.M.P. Building, 191 Auburnstreet, Goulburn. Post Office Box 203.
Grafton - 13 Prince-street, Grafton. Post Office Box 121.
Granville - 62-66 South-street, Granville.
Homebush - 94 Parramatta-road, Homebush.
Hornsby - Reads Building, 3 Florencestreet, Hornsby.
Katoomba - 1 18-120 Katoomba-street, Katoomba. Post Office Box 7.
Kempsey - Colonial Mutual Building, 64 Smith-street, Kempsey. Post Office Box 113.
Kogarah - School of Arts Hall, cnr. Queenstreet and Bowen-road, Kogarah.
Leeton - 78 Pine-avenue, Leeton. Post Office Box 23.
Leichhardt - 363 Parramatta-road, Leichhardt.
Lismore -Cnr. Woodlark and Molesworth streets, Lismore. Post Office Box 25.
Lithgow - 203 a Main-street, Lithgow. Post Office Box 71.
Liverpool - 218 Hume Highway, Liverpool.
Manly - 35 The Corso, Manly.
Maitland - 3-5 Elgin-street, Maitland. Post Office Box 40.
Mascot - 1263 Botany-road, Mascot.
Murwillumbah - Tweed Arcade, Queenstreet, Murwillumbah. Post Office Box 88.
Narrabri - 118 Maitland-street, Narrabri. Post Office Box 110.
Newcastle - 2-4 Pacific-street, Newcastle. Post Office Box 448.
Newtown - United Friendly Societies Dispensary Hall, cnr. Enmore-road and Reiby-street, Newtown.
North Sydney - 266a Pacific Highway, Crows Nest.
Orange - 310 Summer-street, Orange. Post Office Box 320.
Paddington - 207 Albion-street, Darlinghurst.
Parkes - 259 Clarinda-street, Parkes.
Parramatta - 100 Macquarie-street, Parramatta.
Penrith - 505 High-street, Penrith. Post Office Box 4.
Sydney (Females) - Ocean House, 34 Martin-place, Sydney.
Sydney (Males) - Grace Building, cnr. York and King streets, Sydney.
Tam worth - 119Marius-street, Tamworth.
Post Office Box 207.
Taree - Cnr. Manning and Victoria streets, Taree.
Wagga Wagga - 35 Fitzmaurice-strcet, Wagga Wagga. Post Office Box 52.
Windsor - 135 George-street, Windsor.
Wollongong - 103 Crown-street, Wollongong. Post Office Box 155.
In addition, part-time offices are maintained at Inverell, Griffith and Woy Woy. There are special sections to handle the Physically Handicapped and Higher Appointments at Grace Building, York-street, and Waterfront Employ ment Office at 211 Kent-street, Sydney. There are in addition some 250 local agents of the Common wealth Employment Service in the smaller towns throughout the State.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information : - 1. (a) War pension of £7 to £816s. a fortnight, according to the rank of the member for which he was paid at the time of the occurrence of the event that resulted in his death, plus an allowance of £3 4s. a fortnight in cases where the widow has attained the age of 50 years, or is, in the opinion of the Commission, permanently unemployable. (b) War pension of £7 to £8 16s. a fortnight according to the rank of the member for which he was paid at the time of the occurrence or event that resulted in his death, plus an allowance of £3 4s. a fortnight equals £10 4s. to £12 a fortnight. In addition, pension is paid at £2 13s. a fortnight for the first child and at £1 17s. a fortnight for each subsequent child. Education allowance in respect of children is paid as follows: - 12 years to 14 years, 23s. a fortnight; and 14 years to 10 years, 30s. a fortnight. During primary education, assistance is given to meet the cost of books, material and fares.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 October 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19521023_reps_20_220/>.