House of Representatives
24 May 1956

22nd Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. F. Adermann) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2445

QUESTION

UNEMPLOYED IMMIGRANTS

Dr EVATT:
BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration a question arising from an important message that I have received, sent to me on behalf of the trade unions of Western Australia. I ask the Minister whether the position in “Western Australia is that numbers of immigrants are landing at Fremantle with no jobs to go to, and are becoming immediate applicants for unemployment relief. Will the Minister inquire whether the facts are that a serious unemployment situation is developing in Western Australia, and that although about 1,000 persons receive unemployment benefit in that State, the total unemployment - as I understand it to bo - is approximately 5,000 because of sudden pressure owing to the lack of arrangements for the absorption of immigrants? Will the Minister look into this as a matter of urgency so that the facts oan be ascertained and appropriate action taken ? ‘

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I understand that some statement was made by Mr. Chamberlain in Western Australia. Mr. Chamberlain is, I gather, the federal president of the Australian Labour party, nr holds some high office in it.

Dr Evatt:

– The Minister knows very well what high office he holds in the Australian Labour party.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– Yes, it is acknowledged that he holds some high office in that party.

Dr Evatt:

– He is a member of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, as the Minister knows perfectly well.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– Yes, he is also a member of the Australian Council of Trades Unions interstate executive, and for the reason that he holds these responsible positions, when this statement came to my notice I made immediate inquiries.

As a result, I want to tell the right honorable gentleman, and others who may be interested, that, first, no information had previously reached me from the offices of either of the two departments under my control to the effect that any difficulty was being experienced in the normal placement of immigrants arriving in Western Australia ; and, secondly, that the latest unemployment benefit figures reveal that the total recipients, male and female, of unemployment benefit in Western Australia is 813. There are some 1,400 work vacancies still registered with the department of Labour and National Service waiting to be filled. I think that, having regard to these official facts, it can hardly be claimed justly that there is serious unemployment in Western Australia.

page 2445

QUESTION

MEETINGS OF COMMONWEALTH AND STATE MINISTERS

Mr HULME:
PETRIE, QUEENSLAND

– In view of obviously important matters, including the level of funds for public works and housing, and payments to the States from the proceeds of uniform income tax. which must be considered by the Australian Loan Council and a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, can the Treasurer indicate when meetings with the Premiers will be held? Will be also assure the House that the level of payments to the States will have regard particularly to the Commonwealth’s heavy commitments in respect of loan redemption during the next financial year?

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
Treasurer · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– Dates have not yet been fixed for the requisite meetings of the Australian Loan Council and of the Premiers. The Queensland Cabinet was chosen only to-day. As soon as I am in a position to arrange mutually satisfactory dates for those meetings, they will be held.

page 2445

QUESTION

PURCHASE OF CONVAIR AIRCRAFT

Mr CAIRNS:
YARRA, VICTORIA

– I wish to ask the Minister for Air a question which is supplementary to one asked on the 17th May by the honorable member for Scullin about the reported purchase of two Convair aircraft at a cost of 2,000,000 dollars for the conveyance of very important persons in Australia. Will the Minister comment on the contrast between this transaction and the sale of Convair aircraft by Trans- Australia Airlines because more modern and efficient aircraft are available from the sterling a rea ?

Air. TOWNLEY. - In spite of the fact that I made a public announcement at the time of the purchase of these aircraft, there seems to be abroad a lot of misinformed opinion about the transaction. The Convair aircraft that was sold yesterday, and another which probably will be sold to-day, to Pakistan, are completely different aircraft from those which have come to us from the United States Air Force. The aircraft being sold are more than ten years old, and, in the opinion of the management of Trans-Australia Airlines, an opinion in which I concur, it is time to get rid of them because more economic operations can be maintained with newer types.

Dr Evatt:

– A nice gift to Pakistan!

Mr Costa:

– What will happen to the Pakistanis ?

Mr TOWNLEY:
Minister for Air · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP

– They do not use aircraft nearly as much as we use them in this country. In any event, they are buying them and are getting perfectly good aircraft at a cheap price under modern conditions.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– -What will bo the position if any Pakistanis are killed in them?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! The question will be answered when the House comes to order.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– The two Convair aeroplanes that have been received by the Royal Australian Air Force are the latest type, the Convair 440 Metropolitan, which are currently going into service in the United States Army Air Force and the United States Navy for a variety of uses. This aircraft is most flexible. It can be used, for instance, as a flying hospital for the carriage of 34 stretcher eases. It can be used as a flying classroom, or for the transport of, F think. 50 armed troops, or as a cargo earner. There are two main reasons why the Royal Australian Air Force has obtained these aircraft at the present, time. One reason is that no aircraft of similar type is available from any other source. The second reason is that it was considered that the men of the transport wing of the Air Force should have experience with modern aircraft, particularly some with tricycle undercarriages, pressurization, and other modern features, and that they also should be able to gain experience and knowledge of meteorological conditions in the upper atmosphere, which they cannot get without pressurized aircraft. The cost to us of these aeroplanes is the same as the cost of each aircraft of a package order of some 155 for the United States Government, and is very much lower than the current market price, [f they were sold on the open market, we would make a substantial profit from them.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– Are these newaircraft?

Mr TOWNLEY:

– They are quite new. The two that we have obtained will carry about 27 passengers and the crew, as fitted up on their arrival. They are fitted with several desks and associated equipment, and they could be used as executive transport. But they have not been purchased just for the transport of very important persons. That is the first point. They have been purchased as general-purpose aircraft in order to give to transport crews experience which we hope will be very valuable when the transport wing is eventually re-equipped with modern aircraft. With regard to the availability of aircraft of similar type from sterling sources, I would point out that they simply do not exist. I imagine that the honorable member for Yarra probably has in mind the Viscount aircraft. There is a delay of about three years on the delivery of Viscounts. The delivery line is so busy with orders for commercial firms that even if we wanted Viscount aircraft we could not get them for about three years.

page 2446

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES

Mr TURNER:
BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the Australian people in general, and the ex-servicemen of two world wars in particular, strongly deprecate the abandonment of the characteristic features of the Australian military uniform? Would the honorable gentleman care to make some comment about Government policy in this regard?

Mr CRAMER:
Minister for the Army · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I presume that the honorable member for Bradfield has been reading the morning, press and has seen a sub-leader in the Sydney Morning Herald in relation to the use of the ceremonial uniform in yesterday’s parade in New South Wales. My short career in the Army does not enable me to make very full comments upon these matters. I understand that the ceremonial uniform has been in use for quite a considerable period. There are other articles of uniform that are significant so far as the Australian soldier is concerned, such as the slouch hat and the rising sun badge. I am looking into these matters now, and I shall certainly let the honorable member know what I feel about them after further consideration.

page 2447

QUESTION

PROPOSED VISITS TO AUSTRALIA BY ASIAN LEADERS

Mr DUTHIE:
WILMOT, TASMANIA

– Is it a fact that after the Prime Minister has attended the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, he intends to return to Australia via the United States of America, Japan and the Philippines? If that is so, will the right honorable gentleman give consideration to inviting to Australia the President of the Philippines. Mr. Ramon Magsaysay? Does the Government consider that visits to Australia by Asian Prime Ministers and other Asian and South-East Asian leaders would be a contribution to the winning of the cold war in that vital area ?

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– It is true that, after the conference in London, I propose to return to this country via the United States Panada and -‘span. What other countries I will visit. T have not yet. determined.

Mr Ward:

– Is the right honorable gentleman going to be the GovernorGeneral of Canada?

Mr MENZIES:

– No.

page 2447

QUESTION

WOOL SHIPMENTS

Mr ANDERSON:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service agree that the ban that has been imposed in Sydney on the handling and shipping of so-called black wool could have very dangerous repercussions-? If so, can the Minister inform me of the latest developments in this regard?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– 1 certainly a.gree that a ban on the loading of wool for export from Australia could quite quickly have a most serious effect upon our economy, having regard to the national importance of this product. But the information that I have been able to secure indicates that the ban which was said to have been imposed yesterday has now been lifted and that work on the loading of wool is proceeding normally. I have been advised, further, that although the talks held yesterday in Brisbane between the United Graziers Association and the Australian Workers Union broke down, a compulsory conference will be held before the Queensland Industrial Court to-morrow.

page 2447

QUESTION

SHEEP BRANDING FLUIDS

Mr ERWIN:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: What action is being taken to eliminate the use of unscourable sheep branding fluids, which has been the cause of complaints from overseas users of Australian wool?

Mr McMAHON:
Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Commonwealth has been interested in the problem of preventing the use of unscourable fluids in the branding of sheep. This Government has mar’e recommendations to the Australian Agricultural Council to the effect, that efforts should be made t” prevent such things as sump oil and tar being used. As the honorable gentleman knows, this is a problem that concerns the State governments more than this Government, and we are not in a position to take compelling action. Nonetheless, the matter will be raised at the forthcoming meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, arid I hope that some ‘of the State governments that have so far refused to take action will be induced to do sci in the future.

page 2448

QUESTION

IMPORT LICENSING

Mr LUCHETTI:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise cause an investigation to be made of the alleged trafficking in import licences, which is being carried on to the detriment of the Australian people? Is it a fact that a group of companies trading under the title of Union Smokeries Proprietary Limited, and under other names, has gained a monopoly of the business of importing cape cod into Australia bv buying import licences? Does the Minister know that this group of companies yesterday increased the price of cape eo i to wholesalers by 3s. a 14-lb. box? As the price increase will be passed on to the Australian people, thus increasing the cost of living, will the Minister take action to safeguard the people’s interests in thi* matter and other matters of this kind?

Mr OSBORNE:
Minister for Customs and Excise · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I have done my best to inform honorable members and people outside this House that on the 1st April last responsibility for import licensing policy and the control of the Central Import Licensing Branch passed to the Minister for Trade, who is now represented in this chamber by the Minister for Primary Industry. The Department of Customs and Excise is concerned only with the issue of licences after quotas have been established or the issue of special licences has been approved. I personally made two long statements in this House on the subject of the so-called trafficking in import licences, which, as the honorable member will realize if he heard my statements - and I shall be happy to supply him with copies of the text of them - is an extremely difficult and complex problem. However, I shall certainly see whether the responsibilities of the Department of Customs and Excise extend to the matters that the honorable member has mentioned. I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, has heard the question that should have been addressed to him, and that he will also look into the matter.

page 2448

QUESTION

KINGSFORD-SMITH ELECTORAL OFFICE

Mr CURTIN:
KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that the Kingsford-Smith electoral office, in Alison Hall, Randwick, has been closed down because it was unsafe. Has the office been re-established in premises which were formerly occupied by the Watson electoral office, which are not in the Kingsford-Smith electorate, and the dilapidated condition of which causes the staff much concern, because the working conditions in those premises are becoming intolerable? Is it a fact that the Department of the Interior received an offer from the Minister for Labour and National Service to erect a building on an allotment in Rainbow-street, Kingsford, which would provide an electoral office and also an office of the Commonwealth Employment Service? If so, why was this offer not accepted?

Mr FAIRHALL:
Minister for the Interior · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I am afraid that I have not as much detail in my possession in regard to this matter as the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith has. However, he will be delighted to know that the provision of new office accommodation for the Kingsford-Smith electoral office and for the Commonwealth Employment Service is on the draft works programme for the coming year.

Mr Curtin:

– I have obtained the block of land for you.

Mr FAIRHALL:

– Thank you !

page 2448

QUESTION

TELEPHONE SERVICES

Mr DRURY:
RYAN, QUEENSLAND

– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that telephone operators will not accept bookings for fixed times between Brisbane and southern districts, with consequent inconvenience to callers? If, as I understand, there is still only a limited number of lines between Brisbane and Sydney, will the PostmasterGeneral consider effecting an improvement in the service as soon as -possible?

Mr DAVIDSON:
Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– It is not quite correct to say that the Postal Department will not accept telephone bookings for fixed times. However, a limit is placed on the number of calls for a fixed time which will be accepted. It is thought desirable to reserve some of the available time for urgent calls. Therefore, the calls that may be sent at a fixed time are limited to a certain number within a specified period. I think that I am correct in saying that, in Brisbane, operators may accept only four fixed-time calls for every fifteen-minute period. The second part of the honorable member’s question relates to the availability of trunk lines between Brisbane and Sydney. The honorable member described them as “ limited “. Forty-one lines are at present in service between Brisbane and Sydney and it is expected that by some time in July another eight will have been added to that number. I suggest that then, with almost 50 trunk-lines operating, a very good service will be available. I point out that as a result of the continual development of trunk-lines, telephone services throughout Australia have improved markedly in the last twelve or eighteen months.

page 2449

QUESTION

DUTCH NEW GUINEA

Mr CALWELL:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been drawn to a number of statements made last week in the United States by Dr. Soekarno, the President of Indonesia, seeking support for Indonesia’s preposterous claim to the possession of Dutch New Guinea? If so, will he assure the House that he has been active in presenting to all the member states of the United Nations the view that Australia cannot, does not and will not recognize the claims of Indonesia to the possession of any of the territory of New Guinea whatsoever?

Mr CASEY:
Minister for External Affairs · LP

– It is true that President Soekarno, on the various occasions that were open to him during his visit to the United States, made strong pleas in forwarding his country’s claim to Netherlands Now Guinea. It would have been surprising if President Soekarno had not taken advantage of this opportunity to pursue n claim that he has voiced on a great many previous occasions. Indeed, one cannot take any exception to the fact that hp did so. Nor, indeed, can we be silent in this country. The Australian Government; rejects the claim and repeats, as it has on man’ previous occasions, the fact that it docs not recognize the Indonesian claim to Dutch New Guinea. The United States has. up to the present, adopted an attitude of neutrality in this matter. Indeed, in the last 24 hours, I have seen it reported that the Secretary nf State has repeated America’s attitude of neutrality in this matter. I do not think that it is necessary for me to say more than that in respect of Australia’s attitude. It has been expressed on count less occasions by the Prime Minister, by myself, and by other people in positions of responsibility. However, I welcome the fact that President Soekarno has made this visit to the United States. I think that it will help to clear up misunderstandings about the attitude of Indonesia towards the West. Indeed, President Soekarno has expressed a very friendly attitude to the West and I think that we have all been very glad to see this. The only matter in dispute between ourselves and Indonesia is that of Dutch New Guinea. On all other matters, we have given the most material evidence of our goodwill towards Indonesia and our desire to live on the most friendly relations with them.

page 2449

QUESTION

PAPUA AND NEW GUINEA

Mr SWARTZ:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND

– I address my question to the Minister for Territories. Will the Minister inform the House regarding the subsidy which is being paid by the Commonwealth Government on the transport costs of cattle to New Guinea and Papua ? Has this action assisted the flow of dairy and beef cattle to these areas and what are the future prospects of the expansion of the cattle industry in the Australian territories ?

Mr HASLUCK:
Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I think I can best answer the honorable member’s question by describing briefly the situation with which we are dealing. At the present time the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is importing about £1,500,000 worth of meat and meat products each year, as well as considerable quantities of dairy products. Yet, at the same time, the Territory has many regions that are very well suited to the raising of cattle. When we resumed civil administration at the end of the war, there were only 2,000 head of cattle left in the whole of the Territory. By rather slow and laborious means, that population has been raised to about 10,000 beasts. In order to introduce new and better cattle for the purpose of local breeding, in October last I announced the inauguration of a freight subsidy scheme. This scheme makes provision to ensure that both the quality and type of cattle introduced are fitting for the purpose and also that the properties on to which they go are fit to receive them and can make good use of them. Under those conditions, a subsidy up to the maximum of too a head is paid. As the scheme was only introduced in October last, the number of cattle actually imported has hitherto been small, but the number of applications we have received indicates that it will be of very material assistance in rapidly building up the local cattle population.

page 2450

QUESTION

CURRENCY

Mr CLARK:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES

– In view of the depreciating value of Australian currency and the unwillingness of many people to accept the Australian £5 note because of the large number of spurious notes that are in circulation, will the Treasurer take advantage of the present opportunity to introduce decimal coinage in Australia ?

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
CP

– I am afraid my time is too much occupied at the present moment to give any consideration to decimal points. As far as £5 notes are concerned, the Treasury will accept all it can get.

page 2450

QUESTION

DAILY HANSARD

Mr WENTWORTH:
MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask whether you recall that this is the first anniversary of daily Hansard which was introduced into this House. Would you agree that expressions of gratitude should be conveyed to the staff for the efficient performance of this work? Would you consider also certain other recommendations of the committee which related to the even more expeditious and efficient production of Hansard, and see whether they could be pressed again?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I did not recall that this was the first anniversary of the printing of the daily Hansard. Perhaps honorable members recall that I was the sole opponent of its institution, believing that members spoke too much to the gallery and not sincerely enough on occasions. But I want to commend ihe staff for the excellent production of

Hansard The only regret I have about the whole matter is that members of the staff have inadequate space in which to work competently, and that is a matter for which we must have regard in the future.

page 2450

QUESTION

DEFENCE EXPENDITURE

Mr CREAN:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA

– I desire to address my question to the Minister for Defence, ii view of recent criticisms by the Public Accounts Committee of defence spending, and in view of widespread fears that Australia has not been getting good value for the huge sums spent on defence in recent years, will the Minister have prepared for this House a statement showing the following: - 1. The numbers of men in the regular services now compared with June, 1950. 2. The numbers of men in the Citizen Forces now compared with June, 1 950. 8. The number of nien trained under the national service scheme and the cost of the scheme. 4. The numbers of frontline and reserve aircraft, seagoing and reserve warships, and army fighting and transport vehicles now compared with June, 1950. 5. Comparative figures for now and 1950 for the stocks of major categories of arms? Would the Minister also resist the temptation to withhold any of this information on alleged security grounds, bearing in mind that such information is available in most of the major countries of the world?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! 1 think that is a question for the noticepaper. The Minister for Defence, however, may answer it if he so desires.

Mr Crean:

– i asked whether the Minister would make a statement.

Sir philip Mcbride:

– :i: shall endeavour to obtain the information for which the honorable member asked, and place it before the House.

page 2450

PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– In order to clear up a matter which I fear has been left obscure, I desire to announce that we propose to continue the practice of appointing Parliamentary Secretaries. i use this description because experience has persuaded me that the term “Parliamentary Under-Secretary “ is not appropriate in this Parliament. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Territories, the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, and the honorable member for

Canning (Mr. Hamilton) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works. I will take up with the Standing Orders Committee the matter of the functions which these honorable members will perform in the House. I add, sir, that I do not exclude the possibility of further appointments in appropriate departments as occasion arises.

page 2451

MINISTER I A L ARRANGEMENTS

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– As a part of the rearrangement of functions consequent upon the creation of the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry, I have approved of the assumption of new responsibilities by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). The Minister will take over ministerial oversight of the work of the River Murray Commission. He will replace the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) as president of the commission. Dr. L. F. Loder will remain as deputy commissioner, and the staff of the commission will remain with him.

The second change is the transfer of the national mapping functions from the Department of the Interior to the Department of National Development, which I think is appropriate. These changes will be effective immediately. They will be the subject, in due course, of formal notification in an administrative arrangements order.

page 2451

DOUBLE DISSOLUTION

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– I lay on the table the following paper

Documents relating to the Simultaneous Dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives by His Excellency the Governor-General on 1.0th March, 1951.

I have annexed to the documents a narrative of the events immediately preceding the tendering to His Excellency of the advice which I gave him.

Dr Evatt:

– Does the Prime Minister intend to move that the paper be printed ?

Mr MENZIES:

– No, it has already been printed.

Dr Evatt:

– I know, but in order that the matter may be discussed, if desired, 1 wish to move -

That the paper be printed.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Notice is required of such a motion.

Dr Evatt:

– I ask for leave of the House to give notice of my intention so to move.

Leave granted.

Dr Evatt:

– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move -

That the following paper, laid on the bible of the House on the 24th May, be printed: - Documents relating to the Simultaneous Dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral on 19th March, 1951.

Mr Calwell:

– We shall have au interesting half hour.

Mr Menzies:

– I do not need to tell the honorable member that if there is to be a debate I should like to be in it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order !

page 2451

ECONOMIC SURVEY

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– I lay on the table the following paper: -

Australia, 1950: An Economic Survey

The p,aper is designed to be the first of a series of annual surveys.

Leave granted.

That the following paper, laid on the table of the House on the 24th May, be printed: -

Australia, 1056: An Economic Survey

page 2451

ASSENT TO BILLS

Assent to the following bills reported : -

Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1956. Gold Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1056.’ Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1056.

page 2451

QUESTION

DAY AND HOUR OF MEETING

Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at 2.30 p.m.

Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne

.- Honorable members were informed by the Government that their presence would be required in Canberra on every Friday from and including last Friday until the end of the sitting, and accordingly they made arrangements to stay in Canberra to-morrow. Suddenly, the Ministry has decided, for some reason or other, that to-morrow shall not be a sitting day. I think that, in fairness, the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) should give some reason why the House will not be sitting to-morrow. He should not just take it for granted that honorable members are here to be pushed around and told now to make their own arrangements.

Mr Menzies:

– It is to be a day of mourning. I am going away.

Mr CALWELL:

– Now we know. There is to be a send-off party for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) tomorrow. So, instead of the business of the House being proceeded with, Liberal back-benchers will have an opportunity to attest their confidence in the right honorable gentleman and to express the hope that he will stay away for a considerable time. That suggestion, of course, is probably as well based as are the stories about the Prime Minister being appointed to the House of Lords or about his usurping the appointment that it is suggested was to have been accepted by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), namely, as GovernorGeneral of Canada. Are honorable members to be told why the House will not sit to-morrow, and whether it will meet next Friday and each succeeding Friday until the end of the session, or are they to be informed again next Thursday that their attendance will not be required on Friday and that they might just as well go home? If that is to be the attitude, why not close the Parliament and tell honorable members to stay away permanently?

Mr. LUCHETTI (Macquarie) [3.9”. - Honorable members have every justification for questioning the manner in which the Government has brought forward its business in this House. I think that honorable.members generally feel that they have been greatly let down. We were told, first, that it was necessary to suspend the 11 o’clock rule in order to facilitate the business of the Parliament and, secondly, that in order to deal with the volume of Government business, it would be necessary for the House to meet on each Friday. As a consequence, most honorable members cancelled engagements for Fridays, believing that they would betaking their places in the House. Now we are being informed, at the. eleventh hour as it were, that the House will not meet to-morrow. That arrangement is very unsatisfactory to me, and I am sure,, to honorable members generally. It must be most unsatisfactory to honorable members who represent country constituencies.. I suggest that the Government should make up its mind about the volume of business that it has for this House. Then, if there is a substantial volume of business and it is necessary that we should meet on an additional day during the week, perhaps that additional day might be Monday so that we may be permitted to return to our electorates on the Friday to meet our people, attend engagements, and transact our business with the people whom we represent in this chamber.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

in reply - I wish that honorable members on the other side of the House would really grow up. If one had a look at the transport bookings one would be rather astounded to find that nearly the whole House was booked out immediately the suggestion was made that the House would not sit on Friday. Quite obviously, when the information was given to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that we would not be sitting on Friday, it met with the wholehearted approval of everybody concerned.

Honorable members know that, from time to time, we must adjust the hours of business of this House to conform to the legislative programme. They know that, from time to time, we must have an allnight sitting. They know that, from time to time, we sit on additional days in the week. We take advantage of the forms of the House in order to introduce new business after 11 o’clock. In each case, the procedure that we adopt is dependent on the business before the House. When I proposed that the House should sit on Friday I felt that I had sufficient business to enable the House to continue at full pressure.

When I saw the honorable member for Melbourne and informed him that I was able to give honorable members a welcome break on Friday, I did that out of the fullness of my heart. I decided that honorable members would look much better in the following week if I could give them the week-end in their constituencies. The pressure that has been brought to bear on me from time to time with regard to Friday sittings has been extraordinary. Every member on both sides of the House has said to me, “ Let us get away on Friday. It is our only opportunity to get to our electorates “. Now that they have the opportunity of getting away on Friday to fulfil their duties to their electors, they want to remain in Canberra, so that the electors cannot get at them. [ suggest that they should make up their minds. However, the business of the House is such that I can give honorable members the welcome break of a long week-end.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2453

PARLIAMENTARY ALLOWANCES BILL 1956

Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the allowances of members of each House of the Parliament.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Mr. Menzies and Mr. Harold Holt do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.

page 2453

INCOME TAX AND SOCIAL SERVICES CONTRIBUTION ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 2) 1956

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1986-1955, as amended by the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1956.

Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.

page 2453

AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

by leave - I move - (1.) That a joint committee be appointed to review such aspects of the working of the Constitution as the committee considers it can most profitably consider, and to make recommendations for such amendments of the Constitution as the committee thinks necessary in the light of experier.ee. (2.) That the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives be ex officio members of the committee. (3.) That, in addition, the following members of the House of Representatives, namely, Mr. Calwell, Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Joske, Mr. Pollard, Mr. Ward and Mr. Whitlam, be appointed to serve on the committee. (4.) That the Senate be requested to appoint four members of the Senate to serve on the committee, and to appoint one of those members to be the chairman of the committee. (5.) That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee. (6.) That, in the absence of both the chairman and the deputy chairman from a meeting of the committee, the members present may appoint ore of their number to act as chairman. (7.) That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of four or more of its members, and to refer to any such sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine. (8.) That the committee or any subcommittee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to adjourn from place to place and to sit during ar.y adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament. (9.) That the committee have leave to report from time to time, and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report. (10. 1 That six members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee and two members ai a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the sub-committee. (11.) That, in matters of procedure, the chairman., or person acting as chairman, of the committee, have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman, or person acting as chairman, of the committee have a deliberative vote only. (12.) That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with tuc Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders. (13.) That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

  1. do not want to occupy the time of the House by making a lengthy speech on thi3 matter, because the motion is self explanatory, and I have had the great advantage of discussing its terms, and the general order of reference, with the. Leader of the Opposition (.Dr. Evatt) and with some of his, and my, colleagues.

In respect of paragraph 2 of the motion, I wish to say that neither the Leader of the Opposition nor ] have any desire to be sitting constantly with the committee. Indeed, we should find it very difficult to do so. However, there will be occasions when it would be of value for both the Leader of the Opposition and me to attend sittings of the committee and we have accordingly entered into a mutual arrangement tha.t we shall notify each other when we want to do that. I cannot say that that will occur too frequently, because there are other things to be done.

Mr Calwell:

– It is a non-aggression pact?

Mr MENZIES:

– Well, I do not know about that, but it is mutual, whatever it is. Anyhow, the right honorable gentleman and 1 understand each other on that matter, and we agree tha,t it is desirable that we should be ex officio members of the committee.

In respect of paragraph 4, I may say that it is proposed that the chairman of the committee be the Attorney-General, which is appropriate in a matter of this kind.

In respect of paragraph S, I explain that it is not proposed that this committee should assume the form, or character, of a royal commission. This is not a matter of having a lot of people giving evidence.

It is essentially a matter of thrashing out problems around the table, and, from time to time, of inviting knowledgeable people with particular views and experience to come along and help.

In respect of paragraph 11, honorable members will agree that, in a committee of this kind, it is necessary, in substance, that the Government should have the carriage of the committee - not with a casting vote on matters of substance, but on matters of procedure. I am happy to say that the Leader of the Opposition agrees that that is the right thing to do.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– This proposal has been carefully considered by my colleagues and me, and has, in substance, been approved unanimously by the parliamentary Labour party. As is well known, the Australian Labour party has certain proposals and plans vitally affecting the constitutional system of this country; but, in addition, we feel that progress should bc made in the way proposed in the Prime Minister’s motion, and that members of the two Houses should meet together largely on a basis of equality to see if urgent matters can be agreed upon,’ with a view to putting forward proposals for amending the Constitution, if they can reach substantial agreement on that. T think that other methods have been attempted in the past, some of them successful, but most of them unsuccessful. We now have an opportunity for cooperative work in a field which should be non-partisan. Therefore, we participate readily in the formation of the parliamentary joint committee. I wish to add only that, as the committee will consist of equal numbers of members of this House and of senators, it is right that the chairman should have a casting vote in the deciding of the actual arrangements for proceeding to business, and of purely procedural matters for getting on with the work of the committee. Otherwise, no decision would be made. The Opposition approaches the matter with a determination to make the committee work efficiently and effectively. There is a great deal for it to do, and we shall do our best to co-operate in the interests of all sections of the people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2455

FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Mr CASEY:
Minister for External Affairs · La Trobe · LP

– I move - ( l.) That, until such time as the five vacancies for members of the House of Representatives existing on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs are filled by members of the Opposition, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Failes, Mr. Turner, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Wight be members of the committee. (2.) That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Semite by message.

In simple explanation of this motion, 1 would point out that it is notorious that, since the formation of the Foreign Affairs Committee several years ago, Opposition members have refrained from availing themselves of the opportunity to be represented on it. In consequence, and in the belief that the Opposition’s attitude is unlikely to change in the immediate future, the Government has decided to fill, for the time being, with members of the Government parties from both Houses of the Parliament, the places that could have been occupied - I should like to think profitably - by Opposition members. I should like to make it clear, as is stated in the motion, that these new members of the committee will fill the positions only until the Opposition has a change of heart and Opposition members decide to take advantage of the undoubted opportunities afforded by the committee to increase their knowledge. However hard one searches in one’s mind for an explanation of the Opposition’s attitude, which admittedly has been consistent over the years, one can find no reason for believing other than that, in the Opposition’s view, the business of opposition is best conducted in an atmosphere of ignorance rather than of knowledge.

Although the Government deeply regrets the Opposition’s attitude to this committee, which was formed for the purpose of disseminating, on a non-party basis, confidential information on international affairs, which Opposition, members, through the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), had denied themselves the opportunity to obtain, it has decided, after long consideration, that the vacant places should not be wasted. Therefore, it now proposes that the requisite number of members of the Government parties in both Houses of the Parliament should be appointed to the committee to fill the vacant positions. The motion, of course, deals with the appointment only of members of this House. I expect that, in what I am sure my friend and colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), would call the fullness of time, the members of another place will fill the places available to them, and thereby increase to the full allotment of twenty the number of members of the Parliament who will have the undoubted opportunities provided by the Foreign Affairs Committee for increasing their knowledge of international affairs.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– I should not have spoken to this motion but for the remarks made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), which were quite unnecessary to the motion. If the right honorable gentleman wishes to fill the vacant, places on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he is quite entitled to take the necessary action, but we believe that international affairs is so big a subject, and so much a matter for the Parliament itself, that it should not be dealt with in this way. The Minister talked about a change of heart. What is wanted is a change of heart on the part of the Minister. I do not think it is permissible to have a general debate on international affairs on this motion, but I think I may point out that there are acute differences between the foreign policies of the Government and of the Opposition, especially - in relation to Asia. Those differences are revealed almost daily in the Parliament. The Minister foi1 External Affairs thinks that, by agitating this matter, he can bring life to a committee which so far has made no report, and especially none to cover the recent period. Has the committee met since it was re-appointed ? The chairman is overseas. Is the committee really a live committee? The only information on international affairs that we receive is gleaned from the press of the world. I am enabled to ask questions on international affairs in this House not by information given to the House by the Minister but by careful reading of authoritative newspapers such as the London Times, which publish reports on international affairs.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– Newspapers such an the Tribune.

Dr EVATT:

-I am not clear whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council now speaks as a public servant or as a Minister of the Crown. He is like Mahomet’s coffin - between heaven and earth. Discreet silence would be best for him.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– I know I feel very comfortable.

Dr EVATT:

– I know the right honorable gentleman feels very comfortable. That is all he is - very comfortable. To return to international affairs, it is obvious that the Government’s policy on world affairs differs from that of the Opposition. That being so, let us have matters thrashed out in the Parliament. T asked the Minister for External Affairs the other day to make a state**, it on world affairs. He made his precious statement on the 22nd February last, before he departed on his singularly unsuccessful visit abroad. Every country he visited seemed to turn down his proposals. He went finally to Karachi, where his visit was marred by an acute dispute with India, a nation with which we must remain friendly. The right honorable gentleman tempts me to embark upon a discussion of international affairs, but the real point at issue now is whether the House objects to the making up of the numbers of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the manner proposed so that the Minister may disseminate information. Why not disseminate it to all honorable members? The Minister could do this by circular. I am sure the information we get from the sources available to us in the library is as extensive as the information the Minister would give to the committee.

I have said these things because this is not a matter for a change of heart by the Opposition. There is nothing wrong with our attitude on this subject. A changed attitude of mind on the part of the Minister is required. The Opposition will not oppose the motion, but I think the honorable members who join the committee will gradually become convinced that the best course, and the necessary course, is for this responsible Minis ter for External Affairs to do what is done in the House of Commons, and to give full information to the House from day to day as the occasion arises, instead of only in answer to questions, those with which he deals being principally those asked, by previous arrangement, by Government supporters under circumstances in which the House cannot debate them, and on subjects for which no debate is arranged. I asked the Minister only the other day to arrange a debate on international affairs. Has not the whole world situation changed in the last two or three months? Sir Winston Churchill said, at Aachen, in Germany, the other day, that the cold war seems to be coming to an end. The Minister for External Affairs seems to be terrified lest peace should break out.

Mr Killen:

– Humbug; just humbug.

Dr EVATT:

– In the circumstances, the Australian Labour party wants the Parliament and the country to understand the importance of these matters.

Honorable members interjecting,

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! I ask the House to come to order.

Mr Killen:

– Where did the right honorable gentleman get that from - Molotov ?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-Order! I ask honorable members on both sides of the House to come to order.

Dr EVATT:

– The Opposition’s objective cannot be achieved by taking part in the constitution of a committee which seems likely to afford little assistance at the present time. If the Minister were honest, he would afford facilities on a proper scale for honorable members on both sides of the House to obtain information. Why should a mere twenty members of the Parliament have confidential information that is not available to other honorable members? I think that is a complete answer to the Minister’s arguments from the stand-point of practical procedure. I do not oppose the motion, but the Opposition holds out no hope that Opposition members will serve on the committee.

Mr DOWNER:
Angas

.- I do not think that the observations of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) should go unchallenged this afternoon. I support most enthusiastically the motion proposed by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), because I think that the honorable members whom he has put before the House will, in a variety of ways, be most valuable additions to this already very effective and hardworking committee. The whole gist of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition merely underlines the necessity for the members of the Opposition to think once more about this important question and to reflect upon the enormity of their folly in refusing, year after year, to take advantage of the opportunity which the Government offers to members of the House to enlighten .themselves more fully about these supremely important matters.

The Leader of the Opposition, quite rightly, pointed out that there were important differences of view between the Opposition and the Government parties. If the Labour party is serious in prosecuting those differences, I should have thought that that would be merely an added reason why they should want to join the committee and try, along with members of the Government parties, to work out, in the interests of Australia and of the British Commonwealth, what ought to be the ultimate objective of thisParliament - a bi-partisan foreign policy that will continue for, let us hope, an infinity of time. The reconciliation of opposing views, through patient discussion, consultation, exchange of views and argument - which, in the committee, need not be friendly by any means - would lead to the working out of a policy on which we could commonly agree, in the interests of Australia, and which would be continued irrespective of which political party happened to be in power. I should have thought, in view of the perils with which we are surrounded in the world to-day, that that would be a selfevident proposition that did not need to be canvassed or debated at any length in this chamber.

But we know what has happened. This committee was set up as long ago as 1952. The Government, I do believe, has gone out of its way to try to meet some of the legitimate and, I think, understandable objections of the Opposition to joining the committee, but I have a suspicion that honorable members opposite for some obscure and indefinable reason, have set their minds against co-operating with the Government in any sphere in which they can avoid it. The Opposition is censurable for that. It has been attacked in the country. I believe that public opinion outside this House resents the narrow and partisan attitude of honorable members opposite. I am sorry to say that one is forced to the conclusion that, to members of the Labour party, it seems to be more important that there should be a conflict of views between themselves and the Government on foreign affairs than that they should join with us in evolving a bi-partisan policy. The Leader of the Opposition, by his specious reasoning, has exposed himself and those members of his party who support him - I like to think that his supporters are not unanimously behind him in this respect - to a charge of insincerity in their statements of belief. The right honorable gentleman, in what he has said, has also exposed himself and his immediate followers to the risk that many people who are not necessarily supporters of this Government will believe that the Labour party, in relation to foreign affairs, is more interested in playing party politics than in long-range statesmanship.

Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne

.- The purpose of this motion is to enable the Government to educate twenty of its supporters in foreign affairs. The Opposition has no objection at all to the Government trying to educate its supporters. If they were properly educated, they would not support the Government. So that process should be encouraged. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his provocative speech, chided the members of the Opposition with refusing to join the committee, because, he suggested, they were not interested in foreign affairs. That is completely wrong. The Minister brought down a proposal for the formation of a joint committee on foreign affairs in 1952. The terms of reference were not as wide as those suggested in the first Spender proposal - and the second Spender proposal was even more narrow than the first. The right honorable gentleman has not tried to meet the Opposition in one regard in respect of the terms of reference.

We object, amongst other things, to a committee of this sort not being able to conduct its own inquiries. It is able to conduct inquiries into matters that the Minister refers to it, and into those matters alone. We object to the Minister and his supporters requiring that all members of the committee shall treat all information given to them as being confidential. Why should not the members who serve on this committee and get additional information be able to give it to their colleagues in the party room? Are we going to separate the Parliament into, so to speak, “ TJ “ and “ non-U “ organizations? Are the twenty members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to be, as it were, the upper class of the Parliament, and are the rest of us to be the proletarians, the plebians or the people who cannot be trusted to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances ?

There is a great body of agreement between the Government and the Opposition on foreign affairs. That is undeniable. We wish to maintain the British Commonwealth of Nations. We wish to maintain the United Nations. We want the closest association with the United States of America. We want to promote peace throughout the world. Surely those are planks of a policy to which all Australians can subscribe. We disagree with the Government on many important matters. Therefore, we must reserve our right, whether we serve on the committee or not, to put our point of view forward from time to time. If we joined the committee, we should not be asked to subordinate our point of view to that of the Government, or to agree to a composite view as determined by the committee. But this committee has no power to formulate a general policy on foreign affairs. It can deal only with matters that are referred to it. The right honorable gentleman, in one of his incautious moments, cordially agreed with me that it was only a study circle. Therefore, when its proper designation should be that of a study circle, I am amazed that he continues to call it a foreign affairs committee. It is not a foreign affairs committee in the same way as the foreign affairs committee of the United States of America is. Why use a term similar to that applied to the great body in the United States, which possibly goes too far in its examinations of matters of foreign policy? We have not suggested allowing the public to come in to its hearings or to admitting the press. We have not talked about closed sessions and open sessions. But we do want a body of this sort to have effective powers. We ask the Minister again to consider the objections that we have put forward from time to time. We ask him not to continue, stubbornly and obtusely, to refuse to consider even one of our objections and then come to the Parliament and attack us because we will not agree with him on every item that he lias put forward in a particular plan.

It is not a question of a change of heart on the part of the Opposition. It is a question of a change of heart on the part of the Minister and other members of Cabinet, if they want to make this committee work effectively. We have never said that we refuse to join the committee. We have always said to the Government, in effect, “ Alter the terms of reference, make it a worth-while committee, and we will consider joining it “. The Minister has given our objections 710 consideration at all. We met him on one occasion in his room. At that time. I adopted the attitude of not wanting to help, but not wanting to oppose. Certain suggestions were approved by the Minister tentatively at that stage, but they were never considered later, and they were never brought before this House. Let the Minister look up his files, and see what he agreed upon at that stage, and then let him address the House later and announce amended terms of reference for the committee. The Minister is not helping Australia and its problems in foreign relations if he takes an opportunity now to attack the Opposition and insinuate that we have some sinister or ulterior reason for, or some discreditable purpose in, not joining his Foreign Affairs Committee. When honorable members of the Opposition were discussing their attitude towards the committee, they did not discuss one item of foreign policy, but dealt only with the terms of reference. If the Minister will do the right thing, he will probably find that the Opposition will co-operate with him. But if he adopts the attitude of a. stand-over merchant, threatening to malign us before the public if we do not join the committee, then he will fail and we will not join it.

Mr. DRUMMOND (New England) [3.47 1 . - It is a matter of profound regret to me that honorable members of the Opposition have not seen fit to join the Foreign Affairs Committee. In one of r,he first speeches that I made in this House I suggested that while we might differ upon matters of ordinary politics and contest them fiercely, all honorable members had a common state and, I believe, generally speaking, a common objective, in regard to the basic matters of the defence, security and safety of Australia. Consequently, I welcomed the suggestion to appoint the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I consider that the Government took a step in the right direction when it decided to establish machinery for consultation between members of all parties on matters connected with foreign affairs.

The main objection of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) seems to be that the powers conferred upon the committee by its terms of reference are so narrow and restricted as to prevent it from functioning effectively and assisting in the formulation of policy. Up to a certain point, I have a good deal of sympathy with that point of view. The step that is being taken, however, is an entirely new one, and it should be remembered that, as the years go by, evolutionary changes occur in the techniques and methods of approach to matters considered by a committee dealing with very important subjects. Foreign affairs are entirely different from home affairs. “When discussing home affairs, we can say practically what we like about one another. Such frankness does not always make for peace and harmony, but any repercussions are usually felt only in Australia. But if we say things about neighbouring countries in the same unguarded and sometimes ill-informed fashion, we may start something that we cannot stop. For that reason there was naturally a hestitancy on the part of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), as there would be on the part of any responsible Minister, to allow the committee to consider and be responsible for certain matters, if there was a possibility that the Minister would thereby be embarrassed in the performance of his extremely difficult and delicate duties.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is, I believe, not oblivious of the fact that there is a marked difference between the system of government in the United States of America and the cabinet system that we have inherited directly from the British Mother of Parliaments. Under our system, a Minister has certain responsibilities. He is chosen from among the elected representatives of the people. He cannot sit in this chamber unless he represents one of the political parties - I exclude from my consideration the rare independent - and he cannot be a member of the Government unless he belongs to the party that has a majority in the House. The practice in the United States is very different. The cabinet presided over by the President of the United States is not directly responsible to Congress or even to the Senate. Consequently, the procedure of parliamentary committees in America is very different from the procedure adopted by our committees. I hope that the time is not far distant when the functions of the Foreign Affairs Committee can be made considerably wider. I look for the day when we will have the benefit of the Opposition’s point of view in the formulation of policy on defence and foreign affairs. I believe that such a system would be practicable, because foreign affairs represent a common ground upon which all honorable members can meet. At the same time, the Minister has given to the Foreign Affairs Committee a great deal of his time and energy. He has given us access to much information. He has made it possible for us to meet and entertain leading world figures, and to discuss matters of mutual interest with them and with leading officers in various departments of state, including the armed forces. It is quite true that a considerable volume of the information that we have received might be considered out of date, but every piece of information that we have been given has helped to complete the mosaic and to present a clear picture of world affairs. “While I have some sympathy with the view expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I am not prepared to admit that the committee has been nothing but a study circle. I make no bones about saying that the committee has been hamstrung by the consistent refusal of the Government to send a number of its representatives from time to time into centres of interest from the point of view of world affairs, in order to study events at first hand. One of the cheapest ways of informing honorable members in regard to these matters is to send them on to the spot and allow them to see for themselves. T have given my opinion elsewhere in regard to this matter, and I shall not hedge now. I think that the Government’s policy in this regard is penny wise and pound foolish.

In conclusion, I hope that the time is not far distant when the committee will be empowered to initiate investigations into matters that are closed to it at present. I hope that it will be able to investigate and report directly to Parliament, so that the Minister himself will not have the responsibility of that report. If the committee has to report to the Minister on a certain matter, and discuss it with him, then his administration and his point of view become involved. But if the committee itself initiates investigation, makes conclusions and reports to the House without reference to the Minister, as is the practice with, for instance, the Public Accounts Committee, then it serves a much more useful purpose. Having said that, I recognize that the Minister has had to take this matter step by step and endeavour to see what could be done without interfering with his own, responsibilities as Minister in charge of one of the most difficult and dangerous portfolios of government.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I congratulate the last speaker upon the very-

Motion (by Sir Enid Harrison) agreed . to-

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2460

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL 1956

Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 23rd May (vide page 2428), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Upon which Dr. Evatt had moved by way of amendment -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof : - “ (a) In the opinion of this House . . . (vide page 2388).

Mr MORGAN:
Reid

.- The problem of industrial relations, which we are now considering, should be looked at from the broad perspective of history. In the vanguard of any new phase in the onward and upward sweep of mankind come always the visionaries, the idealists, the men of inventive genius and courage. They press on in the face of strong opposition and even tyranny on the part of traditionalists and others with vested interests in the old order. They are followed by the entrepreneurs, the opportunists and the go-getters, who are quick to see that there is something in the ideas of the pioneers. These late-comers are imbued more with a spirit of greed than with any basic idealism or desire to serve the community as a whole. For them, it is merely an opportunity to cash in on the work and sacrifices of the pioneers. The attainment of the main aim, the benefiting of mankind, is thereby subverted or at least delayed. A Columbus may go forth from the old world and blaze a track into the new world, an Edison may devote his life to the opening up of new vistas in the realm of science, and a Shakespeare may open up new literary channels, but these pioneers and innovators profit little from their enterprise, courage and self sacrifice. Usually, they do not live even long enough to see mankind benefit thereby. They are often disillusioned when they see how their ideals and discoveries are debased by those who are concerned mainly with their own aggrandizement and desire for personal power. This, in turn, leads to an upsurge of other hardy pioneering spirits - men of courage whose aim is to resist the new tyranny and ensure that mankind generally will benefit from the new order. Thus we had the rise of the trade union movement, which was a natural corollary of the rise of modern capitalism.

We should consider in this light the industrial revolution of the last century, which was meant by its originators to be a great boon to mankind. Instead, many have regarded it as a great curse because the aims and ideals of the originators have been frustrated and even prostituted by the greed and rapacity of the entrepreneurs, the industrial barons and the financial imperialists who followed in the wake of the pioneers. The last hundred years has produced many marvellous inventions and scientific discoveries, but instead of being one of the happiest periods in human history as a result of the sharing of the fruits of the discoveries of men like Watt, Stephenson, Edison and a host of others, it has been an era of human degradation and unparalleled suffering.

The first 50 years after the industrial revolution saw degradation, poverty and distress among the masses. The second 50 years - the period that most of us have been through - has brought war and horror eclipsing all previous human disasters. The first 50 years saw the exploitation and sweating of the masses by the few - the industrial barons who supplanted the feudal barons who had formerly held the people in subjection. The people were released from one tyranny only to be oppressed by another even more ruthless. Those who had been swept from their commons and feudal estates were at least able to eke out a modest existence, but with the coming of the industrial revolution, it was a case of starve, languish in the poorhouse, or be accepted in the newly opened factories and mines. Even women and children of tender years were exploited and deprived of the rudiments of education. We had read of children of only four or five years being strapped like animals to the trucks that were used in the mines of those days. The dreadful experience of the masses during this period has been fully recorded and there is no need for me to recapitulate it here. It is little wonder that in those days there was great resent ment and hostility to the captains of industry. Nor is it surprising that some of that bitterness remains.

The financial entrepreneurs, because of the absence of a monetary system that could cope with the new industrialization, were able to pyramid great wealth while the majority of the wage-earners struggled for mere existence. A new form of slavery - wage slavery - took the place of the old. The ideals and intentions of the founders of the industrial revolution were not given effect. Instead, the rapacity of the entrepreneurs and industrial barons ground down the people to the point of insurrection. In some countries there was open revolution. In British-speaking countries such as ours it was only narrowly averted. Those who raised their voices in protest or attempted to organize the workers were victimized and even martyred. We have all read of the seven Tolpuddle martyrs who were transported to this country from Great Britain for attempting to form a trade union.

The turning point of the industrial revolution is well illustrated in “ The Big Change “, a recently published book by Frederick Lewis Allen. A review of this book in the Sydney Morning Herald stated -

Fifty years ago. America was ready for revolution. Andrew Carnegie was earning at least twenty thousand times more than the average American worker and the gap between wealth and poverty seemed likely to widen.

Immigrants were entering New England mills and Chicago factories to earn 200 dollars a year, while Carnegie, already earning 23,000,000 dollars a year was forming the United States steel corporation with J. Pierpont Morgan.

This craving for unlimited power by the first (and last) great American capitalists produced a novo! type of revolution which Mr. Allen calls the “ revolt of the American Conscience “. The revolt might have caused a mere redistribution of wealth; instead, it caused a phenomenal multiplication of wealth.

This idea (the making of a larger pie from which every one, both labour and management, would receive a larger slice) still permeates American industrial philosophy.

In that regard the people of the United States are well in advance of us. The quotation that I have read illustrates the great disparities that were created as a result of unbridled capitalism in the early stages of, and half way through, the industrial revolution, lt was at this point that another hardy band of pioneers and idealists began to assert themselves and resist the new tyranny. I refer to the rise of the early trade unions in British-speaking countries. My own father was inspired to become one of the early trade union leaders because he had been in two mine explosions on the south coast. In one, at the old Bulli mine, 81 human beings were blown to smithereens. In the other, at Mount Kembla, 95 miners were blown into eternity. Things like that inspired him and other pioneers in the trade union movement to try to better the lot of their fellow men. Among those early trade union leaders were two schools of thought. There were the revolutionaries on the one hand and the democratic socialists on the other. There were the Marxists who believed - no doubt quite sincerely - that things were so rotten in the land of capitalism that only direct action and bloody revolution would clean up the mess. We have seen how that, in action, does not solve the problem, and even worsens it. There were the democratic socialists and the early Labour men who believed, with equal sincerity, in the evolutionary approach by constitutional methods and parliamentary action. No doubt, that may be slower, but we believe it is surer in the long run.

We in the Labour party in this House inherited that tradition laid down by those early founders of the Labour movement and the trade union movement. We still stand for it despite many disappointments and many set-backs; despite the constitutional difficulties under the federal system in operation in this country; and despite the entrenchment of monopolistic capitalism with its control of the propaganda channels, which creates great difficulties in educating people as to the need for constitutional changes and reforms by parliamentary action.

It is well for us to bear in mind the experiences of the early pioneers, because the issue now is the same as it was 50 or 100 years ago when the trade union movement was founded. Labour still stands in this House for the mass - the workers generally - while the Government and those representing the antiLabour forces stand for the modern entrepreneurs and the captains of industry. Despite their protests, this measure, as analysed by the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on the Opposition side, is still intended to bolster and preserve the vested interests of the people whom the Government really represents. It offers nothing really worthwhile for the workers generally.

In the early stages of the industrial revolution and at the beginning of the century, Labour plumped wholeheartedly for compulsory arbitration - and we still stand for it - as the only means of bringing recalcitrant employers into line and providing decent wages and conditions for workers. Compulsory arbitration served well in Australia in the early days and is still needed to some extent, especially in regard to standard hours and conditions of employment. But for many workers in industry the minimum wage laid down has become the maximum, and this approach is insufficient to get the best effort out of the workers and create greater productivity, which the Government and its economic advisers are urging and striving to achieve.

All sides agree on the need for this in Australia, and both labour and management have learned much in their industrial, troubles, and realize that in the long run their interests should be mutual. The saner, more progressive and more broad-minded elements on both sides realize that in the past the human factor has been overlooked and that in the light of modern psychology there is another and better way than an incessant form of civil war in industry in order to get greater production, and extract more from the workers. There are intangible psychological factors that are creating a better spirit and more production, and the community - labour and management alike - can benefit.

Some of the methods in this regard, which have been illustrated in the book that I mentioned, are already in operation overseas, notably in the United States and Great Britain, as was ably outlined by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in his address last night. Under those methods, the workers have been treated as human beings, not as just cogs in the machine. ].n those countries, a true co-partnership has been provided between labour and management, and ali mutually share in both the responsibilities and the fruits r>f industry. That is the key to greater productivity, because, as has often been said, man does not live by bread alone, Give the worker an intelligent interest in his work and regard him as part and parcel of the whole concern, and ho will respond.

Unfortunately, many industries ari’ Still very backward in Australia, and i his bill does not profess to grapple with that problem. That is the main difference that we have with the Governmeni. in that connexion. The bill will revive an outmoded system by establishing what has been so aptly described by the Leader of the Opposition as a court of pains and penalties, to deal, as he illustrated, mainly with recalcitrant workers and trade unions instead of educating back- «ard and recalcitrant employers into new channels of thought and operations. The Government has even abandoned section 106 of the principal act, which laid down procedure for the establishment of an office of economic and industrial research. That office was to give out information which was to be collected and collated in the course of research. That information was to be furnished to any person or organization desiring to know the results of the researches. Yet we find that the Government not only has made no attempt to implement that section while it has been in existence, but now intends to repeal it.

Good industrial relations should bc based on a threefold foundation - negotiation, conciliation and arbitration. There should be 95 per cent, negotiation and conciliation and only 5 per cent, arbitration. Arbituation should be used a.« a last resort, and should be confined to. those disputes in industry in which one side is implacable, in which high matters of principle are involved, or where one side will not give way. The Government, in this measure, is laying too much stress on the arbitral powers and penalties. The High Court’s decision in the Boilermakers case, separating the arbitral powers from the penal powers, may be. a blessing in disguise. After all, an arbitrator cannot arbitrate effectively or gain the confidence of those with whom he is dealing if he has a big stick in his hand.

The establishment of a special court to deal exclusively with the question of enforcement and punishment will only accentuate the differences that arise in industry and widen the gulf between labour and management. Even the court itself, to uphold its own prestige, might be tempted to encourage more business to come before it, and that will have the effect of extending this form of civil war which has existed in the past between labour and management. As the Leader of the Opposition has stressed, and as our amendment envisages, the Government should have concentrated more on the elimination of sanctions and restrictions which have caused delays and undue legalisms in the past and which have tended to irritate the workers in industry. They have led to many of the hold-ups that have unfortunately taken place. The retrograde step which the Government proposes to take by derogating to some extent from tHe powers, functions, and prestige of the conciliation commissioners will undermine the good work they have done and the goodwill they have created since they were appointed in accordance with the legislation introduced by the Chifley Government. That is a matter which is not generally appreciated. T have a press report which reads -

The President of the Australian Council oi Employers’ Federations. Mr. Douglas Fell, said yesterday that better relations in industry would be achieved only when all sections were prepared to forego narrow, sectional selfinterests. Mr. Fell was commenting on a statement by the Minister for Navy and Air. Mr. W. McMahon, on Monday, that the Arbitration Court would improve relations between labour and management if it voluntarily relinquished some of its powers. Mr. Fell said the Court could only exercise the power given it by Parliament. The Government could, if it endorsed Mr. McMahon’s suggestion, readily curtail that power. “ The Minister apparently shares the popular but erroneous belief that conciliation plays a very minor role in the settlement of industrial disputes”, Mr. Fell said. “Many differences are settled by conciliation, but because they are settled in this way they tlo not get the same share of publicity as the few that go to arbitration. Thus arbitration is highlighted at the expense of the less glamorous process of discussion and agreement which is true conciliation. A better feeling in industry, the very purpose of the Minister’s suggestions is essential to our ultimate well-being. This feeling does not flow from arbitration, conciliation, conferences, or even relative talents. It will be achieved only when all in industry are prepared to forgo narrow, sectional selfinterests and are spurred to maximum effort by a sense of national responsibility.”

This is the point I desire to stress - “ A change of heart rather than a change of system will ensure industrial cooperation.”.

I submit that more stress should have been placed on conciliation and the prevention of disputes in industry. It has always struck me as very anomalous that the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court cannot be invoked until a disputehas arisen which extends beyond the limits of one State. In that respect, as in respect of defence and other matters, a very narrow, restricted interpretation has been placed on the Constitution. Placitum xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution states that the Commonwealth shall have power in respect of- -

Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.

I could never understand, I say with respect to the learned judges of the High Court, why the view was taken that a dispute must extend beyond one State before the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court can be invoked. The matter of prevention of disputes has been overlooked. The Minister said that the rule that a dispute must extend beyond one State has been more superficial than real, but the fact remains that artificial disputes are created in order to invoke the jurisdiction of the court. That is a dangerous and unnecessary procedure. T remember one occasion when the Prime Minister (Mr.. Menzies), who at that time was a leading King’s Counsel, had to chase the High Court to Perth in order to obtain from it an injunction restraining the Commonwealth Arbitration Court from proceeding to hear the claims of the miners’ federation in New South Wales. This was during the depression years. When the injunction was issued, the federation could not proceed, but it created a dispute among Victorian miners so that its case could again be brought before the court. The act specifically provides, not only for conciliation and arbitration, but also for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. How can one prevent a dispute that has actually started? Its continuance can be prevented, but if it has started it is not a dispute that can be prevented. I contend that that part of the Constitution envisaged that the jurisdiction of the court could be invoked before a dispute takes place, without the necessity for creating an artificial extension to other States. Nowadays, industries extend throughout more than one State, and trade unions likewise operate in many States. Surely that is enough to give the Commonwealth court jurisdiction.

Even though some doubt exists about the court’s jurisdiction, the Commonwealth certainly has some power on the educational side in regard to research and the encouragement of better relations between labour and management. If section 106 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act remained in force and was put into operation, the Government and the judges, conciliators and other officials of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court could do a much more positive job than they are doing at present. The Government is abandoning that provision altogether. One of the reasons why the United States of America has attained such a. high standard of efficiency is that it has treated this matter in a practical way. One hundred colleges and universities in America have a faculty of industrial relations. _ As a matter of fact, a student in America can obtain the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and. Master of Arts in Industrial Relations. Trade unions and industrialists sponsor many young men in these courses, and that is one of the reasons why the United States is so far advanced. Surely to goodness we can profit from the mistakes that were made during the first industrial revolution. The introduction of atomation has been referred to as a second industrial revolution. Entering this new era we may well profit from the mistakes and bitterness of the past. This calls for a change of heart, such as was referred to by Mr. Douglas Fell, but management must give the lead, because it controls the means of production. Workers have no say in the control of the means of production. [Quorum formed.’] I was saying that management must give the lead, because that is the only way in which the initiative can be provided. That fact was emphasized in the following article published in the Sydney Morning Herald some time ago: -

Mr. Tom Dougherty, general secretary oi Australia’s largest and most powerful trade union, the Australian Workers’ Union, 105,000 men strong, has just returned from a six weeks’ tour of the U.S. . .

What he saw of American industrial methods made a deep impression on his mind.

By comparison, he finds a large section of Australian industry “ inefficient, apathetic and irresponsible,” with production held to low levels by “ managerial slackness, old-fashioned time-wasting techniques and a wide-spread neglect of the importance of managementworker relations.”

Mr. Dougherty believes that one way to raise efficiency is to break down antipathy and hostility between management and men - improve human relations, he calls it. “ This is one thing they’ve got in America,” he says. “ And they’ve got it not by blaming the worker for a fall in production, but by making it the responsibility of management to win the workers’ loyalty and co-operation.”

That i3 the key to the whole situation.

Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Lawrence

– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr OPPERMAN:
Corio

.- One feels that, as usual, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) has made a tolerant and well-thought-out speech about the problems dealt with by the bill. I was particularly interested in his remarks about America. Strangely enough, although, as a matter of general policy, honorable members opposite, like the honorable member for Reid, are opposed to the American method of capitalistic control, as they call it, they very often quote American industry as an example of good relations between men and management. To a certain degree, that example goes back to the early days of the Pilgrim Fathers, when cooperation was essential. As time passed, a kind of socialistic outlook developed, but it eventually broke down because of the selfishness of human nature as with all socialist regimes.

Although all bills are of very great importance, it can be claimed that this bill is of outstanding importance, because it affects employment, social services, medical and health benefits, water conservation, irrigation, technical advancement and training, entertainment, roads and transportation. All those things depend, in the main, upon a social system that envisages satisfied, well-paid employees and a reasonable profit to employers, which in turn permits a continuous development of secondary industry and rural pursuits. To obtain that most desirable balance, Australia, over the years, has been searching for a. formula that would provide a liaison between the worker and management - some type of adjustment whereby the provision of goods and services would leave both men and management satisfied that both sides had received a just reward for sweat and labour, responsibility, capital risk, and the foresight and capacity for planning with which the captains of industry are gifted. There is no doubt, that certain persons in the community have a flair for looking ahead, for planning, and for providing the wherewithal to employ men.

Despite any criticism of the bill that may be offered by my parliamentary colleagues on the other side of the House, I wish, before proceeding any further, to extend my congratulations to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) upon the introduction of this legislation. Its clauses are the product of long, tireless, tolerant, thoughtful and co-operative work which, based on his vast experience of industrial matters, has led him to the conclusions that are emphasized in the measure. The bill has been introduced, not to advance the interests of the Liberal party or to handicap those of the Australian Labour party, but in a sincere effort to create a modern outlook towards arbitration - and this is most important - for the benefit of Australia as a nation and therefore of every Australian citizen. Of course, in the natural order of things, there will be differing opinions about the proposals contained in the bill. The fact that honorable members are human and that the bill has been drafted by human beings makes that inevitable; but I point out most emphatically that, if honorable members are fair-minded and not politically parochial, they must realize that there is evidence of the greatest effort to have the interests of all sections represented and to safeguard those interests by the imposition of penalties on offenders.

As we know, industrial disputes have plagued Australia just as boils troubled Job. Unfortunately, on the other side of the world Australia has developed a reputation for being incessantly in industrial turmoil. At the same time, however, it has been developing means to reduce that turmoil. Well before the turn of this century, the need for conciliation and arbitration was realized by very good liberals, as we would now call them, such as Alfred Deakin, Charles Kingston, Henry Higgins and Sir Isaac Isaacs. After many years of fluctuating endeavour, the result of their efforts was first felt in .1004 when an act establishing the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration was passed. As honorable members know, since that rime there have been numerous alterations of the functions and constitution of the court, and amendments of thi; original legislation. In addition, there have been six referendums with a view to extending the Commonwealth’s industrial power. All those things are an indication that members of the Parliament and the public have a respect for the principles that govern the operation of the Arbitration Court.

It should be stressed that the objective of the court has been conciliation rather than arbitration. The pioneers of its workings had in mind a happy state of affairs whereby, in a friendly atmosphere and under the guidance of an impartial chairman, differences could be very satisfactorily adjusted in a spirit of give and take. However, as subsequent events have proved, arbitration has been resorted to much more frequently than has conciliation, despite the appointment in 1926 of conciliation commissioners and, in I92S, of conciliation committees which developed the system of collective bargaining. One of the most important changes occurred in .1 947, when the structure of the court was changed and when conciliation commissioners, as has been mentioned so often during the debate, were given greatly extended powers and authority in an effort to emphasize once more that conciliation was to be pre ferred to arbitration. The commissioners were given completely independent power and status. Although they have served some purpose in reducing the time lag and the backlog of claims, as commissioners, they have not proved to be entirely successful because they have performed a function that has been far more arbitral than one of wise and satisfactory conciliation. However, as the Minister rightly pointed out in his secondreading speech, these various changes do not indicate that the arbitration system has been a failure, but rather that it is well worth preserving and persevering with. The bill now before the House seeks, in the light of all the great experience of the past, and in view of the great power of Australian unionism and industrial development, to make the arbitration system more, applicable to the needs of to-day and the prosperity of the future.

That, to my mind, is the crux of the problem that one faces in solving the industrial situation in Australia. Conciliation must be really true to its name and must be conducted so that each side is well aware of the problems and needs of the other. But it must be emphasized that it can work only if people desire it to work - if they are ready to accept its decisions and to realize that the other fellow has a case as well. It can work only if people are ready to realize that, a man’s employment depends on whether his employer is making a profit - and that if a father wants work to be available for his sons, industry must have the wherewithal to expand and to create new jobs. Therefore, working people, by which I mean men and management, need special and refined conciliation appliances, and this bill is designed specifically to provide them. Perhaps one of the greatest dangers to any good legislation introduced by this Government, and its acceptance, is the interwoven politico-industrial set-up in this country which, as the Minister stated, is the most highly unionized in the world. With the political representatives drawn from the ranks of the unions and attached to them and functioning as a party, it immediately becomes a matter of pure politics for any measure to be opposed on sheer party principles and not on its merits.

During its term of office, this Govern-, ment obviously has been the workers’ best friend. Therefore, under a union formula which was divorced from all parties and which only backed the one that gave them the best deal, union leaders would have advised their rank and file, in recent years, to follow the Menzies Government. Under this politicoindustrial set-up, of course, they are devoting their time to attempts to deprecate its activities on behalf of the employees. If union leaders show any sign of supporting this Government because it is doing good things for the employees, obviously they will be out in the political wilderness for a long time. It must be said in fairness to a number of union members that, despite this resistance from the top - -from where the true and best guidance should be given if union leaders were really loyal to the interests of their members - they have obviously worked things out for themselves and have voted solidly, on four occasions, for the return of this Government.

In many ways, Labour has failed the worker because it has followed the policy that its best political weapon is the neverending preaching of the alleged class distinction between the boss and the employee, and has preferred this policy to one of ready co-operation. I emphasize that this is merely an alleged distinction, and does not, in fact, exist. There is no freer and easier mixing of the people of all classes in any country - if one is to define them as classes - than there is in this country. In adopting this attitude, Labour has overlooked its responsibilities as self-appointed guardian of the employees in the community. Labour has always placed too much stress on money as its standard of success and achievement. Labour has placed extra money- before everything else, irrespective of the effect upon the economy, upon exports, and upon local prices. In the minds of members of the Labour party, the rise in the wage envelope has answered every query as to, what good boys they had been on behalf of the workers, irrespective of how much money had been lost in stoppages arid strikes in obtaining the increase.

It has always been my contention that, Labour owes its adherents far more than that. If Labour has endeavoured to teach the workers to be suspicious of Liberal principles, so much more should it be responsible for good examples, and for the assistance and the education of the unionist in order that he may benefit to the utmost from the extra money that he has received. Due to the conditions which have existed since the war, men have more hours for recreation, more money to spend and more facilities on which to spend it. Opposition members know, or they should know, that in many cases money readily earned is money readily wasted. Yet can they, as a Labour organization, point to one really concrete all-Australian gesture which they have made to counsel and assist their members to place their money to best advantage? No, of course, they cannot! They have moaned and growled and grumbled about the price of goods, about the profits of emporiums, about the price of houses and their scarcity, and about the victimization of the poor old worker. But what have they done about it except to utter dark threats about legislative socialistic action and some magic panacea which would be possible under all-powerful government control ?

Ha ve they ever thought of doing something which they themselves have the power to do ? Have they ever thought of developing an information bureau or some office where process workers and the man on the line, for example - the unskilled labourer with not a business thought in his head but a wadful of notes in the bank - could go for advice on how to place his money to the best advantage? No ! They have simply gone past that type of thing although they could have given trade unionists that assistance in a period in which they have been complaining about inflation.

Honorable members opposite have complained about the hire-purchase system. Have they ever thought of establishing an information bureau from which the unionist could obtain business advice - advice on how rauch he should allocate for his living expenses, how he should buy his home and how far he should go with his hire-purchases? There is not a single example of such a service having been rendered by the Labour movement, despite the fact that it is, ostensibly, the worker’s friend, guide and counsellor. 1 know working people who have gone ro the boss for advice on how they should spend their money. They have gone for assistance to the bank which honorable members opposite assail. Bank managers have given them advice that should have been available from the Labour movement. The union leaders simply sir. back and take their fees and endeavour to fill the worker with the poisonous propaganda of discontent without making a single suggestion for his benefit in the better monetary position in which he. has been placed. Who has put him in that place? The Labour party can claim credit for having done that or the Government parties can claim the credit, but the fact remains that the Labour party has not done a thing to educate the worker in the correct placement of his money.

As I have said before, the Labour party has put the monetary side of the worker’s position before everything else. Labour has 60 per cent, of all Australian workers under its guidance and the Leader of the Opposition said that, in his opinion, everybody should belong to a union. “He said that there should be 100 per cent, union membership and one could infer from his statement that he meant that unionism should be compulsory because that is the way in which 100 per cent, unionism is achieved. As we know, compulsory unionism has been introduced in New South Wales. Its introduction in Victoria was threatened by a previous Labour government. A member in the Victorian Parliament, the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, Mr. Galvin, made the statement, “ Yes. We are going to bring it in here.” That was the intention of the Victorian Labour Government until it became obvious that in New .South Wales it was not regarded as the popular whitehaired boy of the movement, as it had appeared in theory. In practice, compulsory unionism means a one-way traffic. A man can be compelled to pay for service which he does not get, or which he may feel he does not require. Of course, it completely removes the competitive urge on the part of trade union executives truly to sell their services on goodwill, and creates a monopoly over human beings through compulsory grasping of union fees. In any branch of human activity, the inspiration to give a good account of oneself in order to attract custom would be completely eliminated if this principle were applied. That is why compulsory unionism must break down under its own weight.

What has there been in the past to induce confidence that compulsion would bring greater benefits from the administration of the trade unions, as the Leader of the Opposition appears to think that it would? I’ will admit, as every normal thinking person must admit, that the trade union movement and its organization is essential for the welfare of the employee, and for the adequate progress of the country towards higher standards; but, having attained this degree of union membership, Labour’s social service contribution to those who are closest to it has been quite pathetic. Indeed, Labour lias shown itself to be absolutely oblivious to human relations when it comes to dealing with its own. Time and time again, and also during the present debate, honorable members opposite have assailed employers for their alleged deficiencies in relation to their treatment of the workers, and so on. It is admitted that there have been plenty of shortcomings on the part of employers, but it must also be admitted that many of these have been rectified in the course of time. To-day. there are countless illustrations of excellent, up-to-date working conditions, catering and medical facilities, which are provided by employers for employees, whose value to the employees is, in many ways, far above any monetary consideration. Indeed, it is most difficult to estimate the value of those conditions and facilities to the health and mental outlook of the employee. The Labour party here speaks from time to time of the iniquity of employers in their treatment of employees; but it blithely overlooks, when it speaks of the profits of com.panics, the great sums of money which employers plough back into research and expansion. In this scientific age firms have to maintain their own laboratories and testing p.ants, and always have to take the risk of losing such exploratory capital.

Great capital accretions are made up of the investments of thousands of sma shareholders - people who have saved with economy and sacrifice, and who are prepared to show their confidence by the association of their money with efficient executive control and with the capacity of the workers in the undertaking concerned. But what kind of employer is the Labour party when it finds itself in this unusual role? I say unusual, because the Labour party does not look on itself as an employer in the normal way. One would think that, when given the opportunity, it would provide a wonderful example of what a broad-minded, indulgent, generous employer should be. Yet - and note this - right in that citadel of democracy and of the guardian angel of the rights of the worker, right in its own trades hall in Melbourne, the Labour party gave such a shocking example of lack of amenities and of bad working conditions for its cleaning staff - women too, mark you ! - that it drove them to the stage where, in order to obtain redress, they threatened to cease work unless their intolerable circumstances were rectified. I instance this particular happening because it indicates that, as an employer, Labour can have its failings and its deficiencies, and that big businesses and companies, which the Labour party regards as a whipping horse in Australia, are not necessarily alone in respect of any disregard they might show for the workers.

In this debate, honorable members opposite have made many astounding statements which indicate a tremendous ignorance of the factors that enter into the conduct of business undertakings. For instance, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) said that if a business objected to an industrial award it could close down - as though it had a treasure chest into which it could dip in order to continue to pay its shareholders and meet its maintenance costs! Apparently Labour does not realize that all businesses, however prosperous, are worth only as much as the production of their machines. Labour has no conception of the reserves essential for the expansion of solidity of business, of what creates the capital, and where it comes from.

One of the favourite stalking-horses of the Labour party is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which has about 45,000 shareholders and 30,000 employees. Obviously, thousands of those shareholders are small shareholdersworking people who have had the confidence to buy shares in that company. Labour should be pleased to know that they are reaping the reward of their thrift, but apparently success is a crime to Labour.

I saw in the press this morning a report that a New South Wales Minister had threatened to impose prices control on the Holden car, the product of another of Labour’s favourite stalking-horse, General Motors-Hoi den’s Limited. I hold no brief for that company. We build far better cars than the Holden in the electorate of Corio. At the same time, I regard with apprehension the effect on overseas investors, when the penalty for efficient merchandising is to be threatened with a close down or other punitive action by politicians who probably could not market hot dogs at a football match on a cold day if they were supplied with a free stork of them.

The Premier of Victoria is going overseas shortly in order to place Victorian prospects before overseas investors, and it is with apprehension that I note this situation. I can imagine what a reception he will get. After outlining the glowing future for investors in Victoria he will probably be asked, “ What guarantee have we against an intrusion into our idea of efficient marketing and prices ? “. Despite all those things, I still feel that conciliation and arbitration can be successfully applied to narrowing such breaches as exist between employers and employees. I do not believe that the alleged gap between them is as wide as it is held to be. I believe that the average worker wants consistent work, and not frequent stoppages. I believe that he will welcome the existence of conciliators with whom he can discuss his problems and troubles. The average worker wishes to have his troubles straightened out and to get on with the job. In support of that belief I point out that there is a country where these things are realized, where there is a close alliance between worker and management. That country is Switzerland. Somebody, speaking recently of the average Swiss, said -

He is an individualist in the broadest sense of the word, believing that an individual is free only if he submits himself to certain moral laws for the good of mankind, and that these laws protect his own liberty. He believes that no man can succeed at the expense of his fellow man. He believes that the spirit of competition is inherent in all progress, and that this spirit must be upheld and not regimented. Flp believes that all regimentation ends in bureaucracy and that in bureaucracy ends tha freedom of man. He believes that the profit motive must be linked to an altruistic motive to create a work which will endure. He believes that the value of an idea, an object or a regime depends on the time taken to bring it to perfection.

The country in which such a person lives is not a film-maker’s Utopia. It actually exists. As I have said, it is Switzerland, which has lent us £12,000,000 in the last few years. This outlook in Switzerland developed from greater turmoil and differences than we have known in this country. It has developed to its present condition from a background of turmoil and bloodshed. Despite the fact that, at the moment, Labour is showing every sign that, instead of being able to lead its own ranks into the ways of peaceful conciliation, it needs a conciliator or arbitrator to get rid of its own troubles, I believe that, in the years to come, both sides of the Parliament may easily look back on this bill as a turning point in industrial relations and compromise in Australia.

I take little note of the Opposition’s resistance to the measure, because my memory is quite clear on the happenings during the debate on the measure to provide for secret ballots in the election of trade union officials. On that occasion member after member of the Opposition ‘n this House, including the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who is so well versed in arbitration matters, was definite that that measure of tremendous legislative value to the entire community would wreck the trade union movement. I maintain that honorable members opposite are as wrong on the present occasion as time has proved them to have been wrong on that occasion. I commend the bill, and the excellent motives which underlie it; introduction.

Mr CURTIN:
Smith · Kingsford

1 4.55]. - The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) made play on the need for happier relations between management and men. Many years ago, when .1 first went to serve my apprenticeship, I was called into the office of the employer, who said to me, “If you do as you are told, you and I will get on well together “. Despite the pious utterances of Government supporters, this Government does not believe in arbitration and conciliation. This bill is part of a long-range plan to destroy it. It provides machinery for the imposition of penalties which the High Court of Australia, in the Boilermakers case, decided could not be imposed by the present Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Labour and National Service . (Mr. Harold Holt) left in the minds of honorable members no doubt that the Government is determined to continue its attacks upon the workers of Australia, despite the High Court’s decision. Its friends, the captains of industry, want their pound of flesh, of course. They demand it in return for the support they have given the Government in the past, and they have forced the Government to introduce measures to give it to them. Now they want to curb the activities of the trade union movement in its efforts to protect its members from the savage attacks of the employers. As part of this process of streamlined arbitration, the bill provides for a Commonwealth industrial court, which shall consist of a chief judge and not more than two other judges. I ask the workers of Australia to note that it will be a superior court of record. What it will record is a matter for the future. The three judges of this court, of course, will wear wigs. That is a very important concession. The bill provides also for a Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration commission, the presidential members of which will suffer the indignity of not wearing wigs. They will be dewigged. Conciliators, who will be associated with the commission, will exercise conciliation functions. Power to enforce awards will be vested in the Commonwealth industrial court - the court of the three wigged judges. They will decide what shall be done in industry. One of the chief objects of this bill, according to the Minister, is to promote goodwill in industry. Flog them with a whip, and make them like you ! The Minister then calmly set out to explain the measures the Government proposes to implement, and he showed much concern for the strength of the trade union movement. He said -

Australia has become the most highly unionized industrial country in the free world. We have some 60 per cent, of our wage and salary earners, both male and female, members of some appropriate union.

We say that percentage is still not enough. Only 100 per cent, trade unionism will be sufficient in Australia. The Minister continued -

The United Kingdom has only 40 per cent. .

He was happy to comment on that. He added -

Another highly industrialized country, the United States of America, has only 27 per cent, of its workers members of unions.

The Minister would like that here. He wants to reduce the percentage of trade unionism in Australia. The Minister said also -

Therefore, it will be seen that Australia does have this remarkably high degree of union activity and membership.

We can see the weaknesses in his case as he proceeds. The Minister remarked also - . . there is probably more political activity carried on by . . . the organized trade union movement … in this country limn in any other . . .

That makes the Minister really upset. I suggest that this well-learned Minister, who aspires to the high office of the Prime Ministership of Australia, should study the history of the trade union movement in Australia and of the Australian Labour party. If he did so, he would find that the movement and the party had (heir origins in industry. They were born in industry out of struggle, strife mid misery caused by the very forces the Minister represents. Of course, he tried, nv dragging in the old worn-out bogy of communism, to throw a smoke-screen around the real intentions of the Government in its all-out attack on the workers. He said -

We have in Australia a certain strength ot Communist influence in industry.

He proceeded, carefully and cunningly, to remark that he agreed that communism is weak in a political sense, but he covered his tracks, and added that in industry it is particularly strong. I have spent 40 years in industry, and I think I know what I am talking about when I say that nothing could be further from the truth than the Minister’s statement is. Communism cannot compete in the trade unions with the full-blooded policy of the Australian Labour party, which is devoted to raising the living standards of the Australian people. Communism can thrive only in misery, poverty and degradation, and this Government hopes to bring those conditions about. It has been shown conclusively, in other parts of the world, that communism can be fostered only by measures such as this one, which the Minister has introduced in order to bring about the conditions necessary for the fostering of the Communist movement. If the Minister were sincere - we all know he has no sincerity in him - he would withdraw the bill and really promote goodwill in industry and seal the doom of the Australian Communist party once and for all.

The Minister went on to shed crocodile tears because there was no widespread recognition that the welfare of the employer and of the employee go hand in hand. Honorable members will recall my experience as apprentice, of which I have just told them. That indicates the way in which the employer wants to go hand in hand with the employee. He wants to freeze the basic wage and to make extortionate profits out of everything he sells. If the employee cannot go fast enough for the employer, he is dismissed. As the worker grows older, he becomes slower, and he is displaced in favour of the younger and more aggressive man who can go faster. So much for the tripe we hear day by day from the employers who sit on the Government benches - the representatives of the squatters and the big manufacturing interests. They attempt to beguile the workers with propaganda designed to make them believe that we must have these happier relations of which Government supporters speak. Let us consider the relationship between wages and profits. That will give us the answer to their arguments. The Minister said that he would like to see such happier relations. I inform him that that state of affairs will never exist while the present economic position continues.

If this Government were sincere on the point of stability and welfare in industry, it would cease its attacks on the working man and would use every effort to lift up the standard of life of the worker and his children. It would increase his wages to such a degree that he could purchase at least the essentials of life and live at a higher level, free from the present never-ending worry about whether he has security for the future, lt would provide him with the means to get a home, which is the entitlement of all people who work and keep up the high standard of productivity in Australia. We have nothing to thank the employers for in that regard. The high standard of productivity in Australia is being kept up despite the frustrating actions of successive Liberal governments. The Australian worker is loyal to the core. Despite the attacks that are made on him from day to day, he still produces to his fullest capacity. This an ti- Australian Minister, representing this AntiAustralian government-

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Freeth). - Order! The honorable member has been allowed a pretty wide degree of latitude in making his speech, but I must draw his attention now to the fact that Standing Order 78 states that all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members are highly disorderly. I think his last remark comes into that category, and I ask him to be a little more careful in future.

Dr Evatt:

– I rise to order. Is a reference to a government as an antiAustralian government offensive? This is the first time that that has been suggested in a ruling from the Chair. I suggest, sir, that in your occupancy of the chair, you follow the example of your predecessors.

Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! I think it is clearly offensive to impute that a Minister is antiAustralian.

Dr Evatt:

– With respect to you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I point out that honorable members have heard that phrase used to describe members of the present Opposition hundreds of thousands of times.

Mr CURTIN:

– From now on I will not use the term “ anti-Australian Minister “. The Minister went on to say that in the United Kingdom a welldisciplined and rather more responsible trade union leadership had developed. See how he developed his argument! He said that, with a few quite commendable exceptions, the same position did not exist in this country. There again, we see that the Minister made a veiled attack on the trade union movement. Of course, he would like to see in Australia a form of tame-cat union leadership, subservient to his will. In return, he could offer rewards by creating a system of knighthoods for those leaders who did his bidding by selling the members of their unions by the simple process of accepting the conditions and wages laid down by the authorities, without any semblance of opposition. That has been done in England time after time. We saw an example of it in Australia, when we went to the Trades Hall in .Sydney one night, and, being introduced to a certain gentleman, Ave found that we were supposed to address him as “ Sir Vincent “. He was a trade union leader ! I am happy to say that never in my life have I lowered my dignity enough to call a trade union leader “ Sir Vincent “. I can assure the Minister that he will never see in Australia an era of tame-cut union leadership. Australians are made of much sterner material. They are much more rugged, as the Minister will find out in time to come.

The real purpose .of this bill is to establish a system of arbitration and conciliation, with the power of enforcement - that means only one thing - which the present court lost by a decision of eminent judges of the High Court. The Australian Council of Trades Unions is definitely opposed to any penal provisions relating to industrial disputes, and it has consistently condemned the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as well as section 30j and section 30k of the Crimes Act. This condemnation has been directed especially at sections 29, 29.v and 78 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, because experience has confirmed that those provisions have been used as a means to compel acceptance by trade unions of totally unacceptable decisions of the court and other tribunals, and the abandonment of the right to strike. Australian trade unionists - 1 name myself as one of them - will never give up the right to strike. The Minister will learn that that is so. Australian trade unionists will never give up the right to strike or to take other steps to obtain justice in respect of industrial claims. The Minister knows that the unions will never surrender those rights.

The decision of the whole of the trade union movement of Australia is that if an individual union is threatened with penalties by the new court set up by this Government, or by any other court, all other unions will combine to give full support to that union. My union decided that many years ago. I am honoured to be a member of the great Boilermakers Society of Australia, which is prepared at all times to challenge injustice, irrespective of the government responsible for it. If the Minister would confine his efforts to finding a solution of this problem, instead of bolstering the old system with greater powers of enforcement, he would meet with the commendation of all concerned and, surely, would promote goodwill in industry. But he prefers to ignore the great trade union movement. He proceeds, at the whim of the great bunch of lawyers which surrounds him, to stuff more legalistic jargon than ever into the new set-up. That is called streamlining! The Minister’s own experience should tell him that the workers will not have any faith in the new system. One trade union leader very aptly described it as the same old horse under a new rug.

The enormous cost of conciliation and arbitration has caused great concern to various unions, including my own. That is due. of course, to the stubbornness of this Government in insisting on a provision whereby, in most cases, it is necessary to engage very costly counsel - they are paid more than they are worth - to argue points of law. If the Government would prohibit the appearance in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration of any legal man, that prohibition would streamline the processes of arbitration in a proper way, because a great deal of the time of the court is wasted by lawyer? arguing for days about the admissibility or otherwise of certain evidence.

Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1931; ALP from 1936

– That is what this bill will do.

Mr CURTIN:
KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member should look at it more closely. The legalism associated with our present arbitration system causes extreme irritation to the unions concerned, and their members consequently lose faith and become contemptuous of the processes of the court generally. It is found thai, after cases have been before the court for periods of up to two years without any decision having been given upon them, they have had to be withdrawn because the unions cannot afford to continue to pay the legal costs involved. Cases come to mind in which unions have had to foot bills of up to £6,000. and even then their cases have not been resolved. This makes the Arbitration Court a happy hunting ground for lawyers, with the result that most of the unions are on the verge of bankruptcy.

This legislation will allow the court to continue the technique of imposing savage penalties on trade unions in order to destroy their financial strength, on the principle that once the unions are financially weak, they are fair game for any attacks that the employers may make. It is an extraordinary fact that, the racket that has been carried on for years by so-called learned judges nf imposing heavy fines on unions has been illegal. This racket would have been continued had not the Boilermakers Society of Australia, to which I belong, tested the matter in the High Court, which found in favour of the union. What an extraordinary situation is revealed! Legislation that was ultra vires the Constitution has been enacted by the Parliament at the request of this Government for the purpose of confiscating the funds of unions that come under cbe court’s jurisdiction. In some cases, men have been imprisoned because their unions have failed to pay illegal fines. It is to be hoped that the money that has been taken from unions in illegal fines will be refunded to them, and that the men who have been illegally imprisoned will be compensated.

I should like to tell the House the extraordinary circumstances which led up to the case brought by the Boilermakers Society of Australia in the High Court. The ironworkers employed at Morts Dock were on strike because the management tried to force them to erect a stage on which boilermakers could work. The ironworkers wisely refused to do the work. They wanted it done by riggers, who were the men competent to erect the stage. The ironworkers were dismissed for their refusal. At the end of the week, the boilermakers passed the hat around so that sufficient money could be provided to feed the wives and children of the strikers. The court was horrified to think that the children and the wives should get something to eat. The boilermakers were brought before the court for giving their own money away, and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who now sits at the table, evidently wishes to perpetuate a system, which permits that to happen. The boilermakers’ union was fined £500 because it’s members gave away their hardearned cash - and if any honorable member ever worked as a boilermaker he would know how hard it was to earn that money. The union was prepared to spend a bit more in order to test the legality of the fine, and the High Court eventually gave a decision in favour of the -union. That celebrated case caused the Leader of the Opposition to refer to the Arbitration Court, iri his masterful speech on this bill, as a “ court of pains and penalties “. That is a very apt description, which will meet with the approval of all trade unionists, especially those on the basis wage, because the court’s freezing of the basic wage has given those workers a very severe pain in ‘ their pockets, and has constituted a very savage penalty. It is interesting to note that the Government intends to perpetuate those pains and penalties.

The Government should withdraw this bill, and should ensure that the court will consider various matters which it has power to deal with at present. I suggest, first, that it consider the restoration of quarterly adjustments to the basic wage. That matter is three years overdue. The workers have been mulct of millions of pounds because of the action of the Arbitration Court in freezing the basic wage. Of course, the court gave reasons for its action in the fourteen-point statement that it issued. The judges, whose job, of course, is to determine wages and conditions in industry, thought they should break into the economic field and give members of this House instructions as to what they should do in regard to Australia’s economy.

Mi-. Coutts. - Dictators !

Mr CURTIN:

– That is so. They became dictators, as the honorable member for Griffith has said. The court should also review margins that have not been increased since 1947. It should grant long-service leave in industry, and it should consider the conditions of apprentices, who are our future tradesmen. They are struggling along on a percentage of the basic wage, trying to learn a trade so that in the future they can swell the. profits of the employers. Their wages are worked out as a percentage of the basic wage, and I think that any honest judge will agree that the apprentice should receive at least a percentage of the tradesmen’s wage.

I suggest, also, that the Government should consider using its defence powers to force employers to consider the period of military training of an apprentice as time served in his apprenticeship. This is a very important matter, and one that has caused much resentment among the boys concerned. I commend these suggestions to the Minister, and ask him to withdraw the bill. The Government should give immediate consideration to the matter of restoring the quarterly adjustments to the basic wage. Thi’ cold-blooded-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr C F Adermann:
FISHER, QUEENSLAND

– Order!

Mr CURTIN:

- Mr. Deputy Speaker evidently thought that I was about to say that the cold-blooded robbery of employees by employers is to be deplored.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr BOWDEN:
Gippsland

.- I congratulate the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) on a speech on which, I believe, I cannot usefully comment. I think that we are all agreed upon his sincerity and his enthusiasm, and beyond that I shall not comment.

While it may be considered important to discuss, criticize or condemn the merits or demerits of this measure, it is equally, if not more, important to consider what has made such a measure necessary, and to examine the position in order to understand why the Government has had to take action to solve the industrial problem. I think honorable members will discover that those matters are vastly more important than the verbiage of this bill. They are factors which have a sinister aspect to-day, and cause grave concern to people who are interested in a continuance of ordered society. The bill, in itself, is designed to restore something like order out of what is undoubtedly chaos in the industrial field to-day. It is designed, also, to give to the vast majority of Australian workers the right to work for good wages and under good conditions, as well as to protect them against the petty tyranny which is exercised from time to time by a few militant leaders of their organizations. It is also intended to re-assert the sovereign power of elected government, and no longer to permit an unelected militant minority to usurp that power. That state of affairs has been going on for too long. I am sorry to say that it is usually supported by honorable members on my right. The Labour party’s attitude to arbitration is akin to that of the football enthusiast to the umpire. If he gives his team all the free kicks he is a good umpire, but if he gives the other team a. free kick he will need police protection. We have undoubtedly reached the position where we must decide between workable arbitration or no arbitration at all.

Mr Curtin:

– We will agree with the honorable member on that.

Mr BOWDEN:

– I wonder if the honorable member will agree with me on this: The only alternative to ordered arbitration is that which the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) alone among Opposition members has had the courage to advocate - incentive payments, profit sharing and the round-table conference. The’ unions outside of this House do not support such suggestions. I recall that in Victoria, a little while ago, a paper industry began to make incentive payments, but the union refused to allow them. A choice must be made between industrial law and order and the only alternative - anarchy and mob rule. It is apparent, from many of the speeches of Opposition members, that the Labour party comes down heavily on the side of the disrupters of ordered society. I want to give honorable members a reason for this. That attitude is in strict conformity with the provisions of the 1921 manifesto, a Communist-inspired instrument which was adopted by the Labour party in toto. One of the clauses of that manifesto provides for a progressive system of parliamentary sabotage. It reads, “ In order to show the uselessness of Parliament and to institute in its stead a supreme economic council provided from the personnel of trade unions . . . “. That clause has been taken out of one of Lenin’s text-books. Any one who thinks at all will agree that to-day we have those conditions exactly; that we have outside of Parliament unelected juntas which, given the opportunity, could paralyse the whole economy of this country, and then, in the words of the manifesto, by showing the “ uselessness of Parliament “, proceed to set up this supreme economic council. To know this is to appreciate the attitude which is disclosed in every speech from the Opposition. It is an appeal to trade union sentiment whether it is in the interest of the nation or not. The party which is always considered to be aggrieved is the trade union concerned.

I repeat that, to be efficient, the arbitration system must have means of enforcing its decisions. It must have power to penalize for contempt, or the whole system is nothing more than a very costly anachronism. The Leader of the Opposition pretends not to agree to the granting of judicial powers and, in his efforts to influence the less responsible elements in the community, he leaves it to be inferred that Labour is averse to imposing penalties for breaches of the law. It is most unfortunate, for him, that Ilansard records the insertion in certain bills introduced by the Labour party of the most vicious penalties eve.found in a measure brought before this Parliament. A notable example of this is the late lamented Labour banking legislation, which was mentioned the other night by the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes). One clause in the Banking Act of 1947 provided - and let Labour supporters swallow this if they can - for a £1,000 fine, or a year’s imprisonment, or both, in the event of the directors of a bank, or an employee of a bank - the wage plug who earns only a few pounds a week - failing to comply with the provisions of the act. Labour supporters pretend that though vicious provisions such as this are right, it is utterly wrong to be able to cite parties for contempt of an arbitration court award. That vicious penalty was brought in at the instigation of the present Leader of the Opposition, and the pretence that Labour does not believe in enforcing compliance with the terms of an act is a very low form of political chicanery. To-day, we have open defiance of arbitration awards which, until it ceases, will continue to do incalculable damage to the economy of this country. Both sides of the House agree that one of our greatest problems is the balance of payments. One of the most important ways of correcting the balance of payments is by the sale of more wool, yet we find, to-day, a sustained defiance of an award by a union which claims to have no communistic influences from within.

Mr Duthie:

– It has not.

Mr Bird:

– Communists cannot hold office in it.

Mr BOWDEN:

– The shearers could not get away with their strike if they did not co-opt the support of the Communistled unions. If there is not collaboration between the Australian Workers

Union and these. Communist-led unions, how do the waterside workers and the seamen know which wool has been declared black? They could not get that information in any other way. The shearers union may not have Communists as members, but it certainly collaborates with Communist-led unions. That is one of the great menaces facing us. Another is that Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament - the Labour party - supports and agrees with every move of these unions. Members of the Labour party said they agreed with the recent wharf strike and with the shearers’ strike, which is damaging the economy of the country. If the seamen will not let wool get away from the country, Labour members will agree with that. That is the second greatest menace that faces continued good government in this country.

Mr Duthie:

– Does not the honorable member think they arc right in pome cases ?

Mr BOWDEN:

– No, I do not. It does not necessarily mean that the Australian Workers Union is infiltrated with Communist influences; it possibly is not. But how can they get away with this strike, and damage the country’s economy without co-opting the support of those who are Communist-led? Whatever merit the strike had at the beginning, it takes to-day a. more sinister aspect and is undoubtedly aimed at the economy of the country. Labour members know perfectly well that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his economic statement in this House, said that it was necessary to build up overseas reserves, and strike some form of a balance by the end of this financial year. The only way to prevent the Government from doing that is to prevent the export of wool, which would build up that reserve.

But there is one silver lining. I read this morning that because of the strike one ship sailed with a cargo 800 bales of wool short of what it was supposed to take: but later in the day second thoughts had prevailed. That strike is now off and the nien are going on with the work. That is excellent. I hope that that good judgment and good sense will prevail.

Mr Curtin:

– It was scab wool.

Mr BOWDEN:

– The industry is subject to an arbitration award. The honorable member can call it scab wool if he likes. Does he want to have a lawful order obeyed or to have mob rule? I am sorry now that I did not comment on his speech, lt is considered that we should meekly acquiesce in an attempt to sabotage the economy. Any government that docs not bring down legislation of this kind with the idea that law and order must prevail is not worthy of the name of government and should no longer try to continue as a government. But what a horrible prospect there is in front of the country! The alternative government is the Opposition, which agrees with all of these strikes. Of course, Opposition members do not really agree with them. They agree with them while they are in opposition but when they are in power, they do exactly what this Government is doing to-day.

The Opposition support of the shearers’ strike and the action of other associated Communist-led unions is more than interesting and indicates clearly that regardless of the cost to the nation, Labour’s one objective in this debate is to discredit further the present Government if possible, in the hope that such discredit will redound to its own politic! advantage in the future. It does not matter what the cost to the nation or to the individual is. It is surprising to me that Labour members come here - educated men, many of them, knowing perfectly well that what I say is correct and knowing that the strike is getting out of their control - and they will not help others to brine: about that control which will give them a good foundation upon which to make an attempt to govern, if ever the people are foolish enough to entrust them with the reins of government.

The fact that there have been some 80 amendments to the arbitration act since it was inaugurated proves that it is only possible to introduce amendments as the circumstances of the moment demand. Our constitution is a typical example of this. It was admirably suited, possibly, to the conditions that existed 50 years ago, hut I venture to say that if this Parliament had the legislative power to amend the Constitution, it would have been amended 50 times in that period of 50 years. But we have no power to amend the Constitution. Every proposed amendment ha3 to be submitted to the people by way of referendum. When considering a measure such as the Arbitration Act, we must remember that conditions are changing rapidly. Every year something different happens that brings about a different set of causes and effects. Therefore, we must amend the act to meet the new conditions. That is the reason why the act has been amended some-39 times.

This bill is claimed to be something tyrannical, as though it had never been heard of before. Yet existing in almost every measure of a major nature brought down in this Parliament there is a penalty clause. In every bill introduced by the Labour government when it was in power - and I am one of the few who can remember this - there were penalty clauses, and pretty vicious clauses, loo.

Mr FAILES:
LAWSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Penalties are only for the wrong-doer.

Mr BOWDEN:

– The honorable member for Lawson reminds me of the reason for penalties. They are not for the law-abiding citizen, but only for the malefactor. Yet Opposition members are trying to protect him. I have no fear cf any penalty imposed in any act because I have no desire or intention of breaking the law. The only person for whom Opposition members are fighting is the person who intends to break the law. They say that there must not be a penalty. I know perfectly well they do not believe in half of what they say; they are talking because it is the drill. They are told to follow their leader, and they are following him, but many Labour members have their tongues in their cheeks when they are doing so. It is too impossible to believe that there could be such repetition - 50 speeches all of the same type - if it was not well rehearsed and Opposition members were doing exactly as they were told.

Let me return to the bill. One of the pleas put up is that the worker should have the right to strike. Why not? But has he the right to prevent every one else working because it does not suit him? No one objects to a man saying, “ This is no good to me. You can keep the job ; I am off “. But he is not satisfied with that. Very often the person who causes the strike is. not interested in the work at all; he is interested only in causing trouble, because it does not suit him or a little coterie of his fellows. Kor instance, if a loafer gets the sack, that is considered to be a reason why every one else should lose his employment, and all go on strike. That is not what we believe when we say a man has the right to sell his labour in the highest market. He has no right to prevent others from selling their labour for the price they want.

I can remember when times were tough, und there was a sort of blackmail associated with employment. Getting the sack then meant starvation, or very severe conditions. It was held over us -and I was one of them - that if we did not do this, that or the other thing, we would get the sack. There was something terrifying about getting ‘the sack in those days. It is not terrifying to-day. BUt that position was considered to be wrong. It was very wrong; it was unfChristian and inhuman. Now the pendulum has swung to the other side, and what Labour members would agree was wrong in those days they say is correct to-day. That is to say, the union has a perfect right to do it. What utter nonsense it is ! . If it was blackmail then, it. is blackmail to-day, and when a union holds up a job because it thinks it is necessary and urgent in order to force more from the employer, that is a form of blackmail. If it was wrong for the employers so to act, as it was wrong in Those early days, it is equally wrong to-day. I am astonished that men who subscribe to the belief that it was wrong ;ind tyrannous in those days should say ii is all glory to-day. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is one such man. I desire to comment briefly upon the expressed horror of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) at the mere thought of an aggrieved person having the right of appeal against what he considers to be an injustice. Labour is consistent in this regard. Every industrial measure introduced by a Labour government omitted provision for any right of appeal. To-day, Labour supporters describe the appeal procedure as time- wasting. The information conveyed to us the other day proves that description to be correct. However, the right of appeal is one of the most cherished rights in the system of British justice. When Labour introduced a bill which did not contain any right of appeal, I was one of those members who protested. This can be confirmed by reference to Hansard. When this Government assumed office, I was one of those persons who advocated the right of appeal for a person who considered that he was suffering an injustice!. I believe that he should be allowed to appeal to a higher court which would decide whether or not he had been justly treated. Labour opposes the right of appeal. That is a most amazing attitude: on the part of persons who call themselves democratic.

I do not think it is pardonable that a period of up to two years should elapse before a question is resolved. That is inexcusable, and the benefits of appeal are dissipated in the time wasted before a decision is reached. However, that does not detract from the merits of the principle in any degree. We must insist upon the preservation of the right of appeal, which is inherent in the British system of justice. It is un-Christian for the Leader of the Opposition to object to the provision for a right of appeal, and I am astonished that his supporters seem to agree with him. A denial of that principle breeds either serfdom or revolution. That is shown by the history of the world. Honorable gentlemen opposite will agree that it has bred revolution in other countries, but we in this country do not go so far because we are more moderate in temper and more easy-going in disposition. That serfdom can follow a denial of this right has been demonstrated in some countries of the Western world. Serfdom exists in those countries because the people have no rights at all. We must never allow a denial of these rights in this country. I do not contend that the bill is all that, is to be desired. I do not believe that it will solve every problem, but if it goes any distance towards fulfilling the aims of which I have spoken, I support it to the hilt.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Clarey) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from »49 to 8 p.m.

page 2479

PARLIAMENTARY ALLOWANCES BILL 1956

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– That course will be followed.

Second Reading

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

The House will recall that on the 18th April last I tabled the report of the independent committee of inquiry into the salaries and allowances of members of the Commonwealth Parliament. The committee was set up on the 8th August, 1955, with the concurrence of all parties in the Parliament. In September, 1955, I. indicated in the House that, having regard to the economic position, the Government would ask the committee to defer its report until the end of the financial year 1955-56. The purpose of that request was to delay any changes in parliamentary allowances until July,. 1956. However, it proved more convenient for the committee to wind up its inquiry and submit its report, which it did in October last. So farno action has been taken on any aspect of the report.

The Government has decided to adopt the report entirely, and the two bills now before the House give effect to those parts of the recommendations that require legislation. The Amendments will operate from the 1st July, 1956. except in one particular, which I shall now mention. The exception relates to electorate allow ances between the 10th December, 1955, which was polling day, and the 1st July. 1956. Last year, following the Parliament’s approval of the redistribution of electoral boundaries, I asked the Commissioner of Taxation to prepare a classification of electorates taking into account the changes, some of them being alterations and others, as honorable members will recall, being new names for old seats. The House will appreciate that itwas necessary, obviously, to make some provision for the new electorates that had been created and for which there was no provision under the existing legislation. It was appropriate that, at the same time, the Commissioner should also give some thought to the consequence, for allowances purposes, of altered boundaries of other electorates. He made a report and, briefly, his recommendations were these : Of the six new electorates created, he recommended that Scullin, Bonython and Stirling should be classified as group 1; that Hughes and Bruce, which were created from existing group 2 electorates. should be classified as group 2; and that Braddon, which is the new name forthe former electorate of Darwin,should remain as group 3. In addition to his recommendations in relation to new electorates, the Commissioner recommended that certain existing electorates be regrouped. He recommended that the Australian Capital Territory should be transferred from group 1 to group 2, that the electorate of Barker in South Australia should be transferred from group 3 to group 4, and that the electorates of Canning and Moore in Western Australia should be transferred from group 3 to group 4. I emphasize to the House that none of those regroupings involves an adjustment in the rates of electorate allowances. They were merely alterations within the existing grouping. In anticipation of legislation being passed, I authorized payments to be made in relation to the new electorates in accordance with the recommendation of the Commissioner of Taxation so that the members would be in receipt of the appropriate allowance for their electorates. No action was taken in relation to the recommendations for changes in the old electorates.

The bill now before the House provides i.hat the rates for new electorates and the recommended alterations in respect of old electorates be paid from the 10th December, 1955. The Government considered that it was necessary that that should be done, even though it is now proposed that, as from the 1st July, 1956, a new system of classifications will become operative. I pause there to say that, retrospectively, these temporary arrangements had to be made and validated. Clause 8, and the schedule therefor, give effect to the recommendations of the Commissioner of Taxation in respect of the classification of electorates on the ‘old basis for the period between the redistribution of electorates on the 10th December, 1955, and the proposed adoption, to date from the 1st July, 1956, of the new system recommended by the Richardson committee.

T shall now deal with those parts of the bill which come into operation on the 1st July, 1956 - in other words, the recommendations of the independent committee, ft is for the purpose of giving effect to the committee’s recommendations on members’ allowances that this measure is now before the House. The committee recommended, and the bill provides, that the parliamentary allowance paid to each senator and member shall be increased from £1,750 per annum to £2,350 per annum. The committee also recommended, and the bill provides, that the expenses allowance for the great variety of necessary electorate and other parliamentary expenditure of senators and members shall be £600 per annum for city members, £800 for country members, and £700 for senators. The parliamentary allowance paid to senators and members - I refer to the allowance which it is proposed to increase to £2,350 - is already subject to income tax, and will remain so. The expenses allowance, which at present is non-taxable, will now, on the recommendation of the committee, be taken out of the non-taxable category and made subject to the normal income tax provision. Similarly, the special expenses allowance paid to Ministers and office bearers of the Parliament will now become subject to income tax. Provision for these changes is made in the Income

Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1956, to which I have already referred.

One other matter is covered by the bill. The report recommends that a special allowance and an expenses allowance be paid to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Up to the present, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has not been paid any allowance above his normal allowance as a senator. The Government accepts the recommendation, and provision for these payments is made in the bill. Having given to the House this brief resume of the main recommendations of the report, and having indicated the main purposes of the bill, I should like to draw the attention of the House to some aspects of the committee’s work and to some of the views that the committee has expressed. I begin by pointing to the method by which the Government approached this problem in the establishment of a committee of inquiry. A wholly independent committee, made up of three impartial men of ability and experience, was asked to inquire into and report on the salaries and allowances payable to senators and members and to make such recommendations as they believed to be justified. This was an entirely fair approach. None, I suggest, could be more so.

The salaries of Ministers and parliamentary office-bearers were excluded from the terms of reference. This, of course, is not to be taken as indicating a view that ministerial salaries are to be permanently pegged. The immediate effect in relation to Ministers, and also to office-bearers of the House, is of course, that the relationship between their allowances and the allowances of members generally has been upset. In the course of these investigations, the committee interviewed many members. In fact, the report is notable for the fact that the committee has virtually conducted a survey of members, through questionnaires, to analyse the existing conditions, and the members of the committee have obviously put themselves in a position to know their subject well. The committee has referred, in pertinent fashion, to some of the specific features of the occupation of member of Parliament. “Whilst I do not need to acquaint the House with these all-too-well-known facts, I do commend those sections of the report, in particular, to the public generally because, -as the committee pointed out, the general public is often uninformed or, perhaps more accurately, misinformed, on these matters. I will not, during the course of this speech, quote very much from the report, but I should like to illustrate very briefly what I have just been saying by reading some short passages. In paragraph 19 of the report, the committee said -

During the course of our investigations we examined 81% of the Members of both Houses, either by personal interview or by studying their written submissions.

In paragraph 20 it is stated -

There is widespread misconception that members of Parliament devote only a fraction of their time to Parliamentary duties. f do not need to tell honorable members that it is the oldest game in the world to count up the number of hours the House sits and to say, “ That is the only work that a member of Parliament does “. The. committee also said -

From our investigations we are satisfied that 84 per cent, of the members of the present Parliament devote the whole of their time to Parliamentary and electorate duties. Ninety three per cent, of the members devote not less than UO per cent, of their time to their electorate duties.

In paragraph 26 the committee stated -

During the inquiry members generally freely revealed the state of their finances to us anl this showed that, again contrary to popular opinion, there are few people hi the Commonwealth Parliament to-day whose earnings are supplemented hy other income from personal exertion :

In the matter of allowances for parliamentary expenses, known as electorate allowances, the committee has recommended some distinct eba ngos in the system now operating, although it has retained the principle of keeping those nllowanc.pi separate from parliamentary allowances. At the present time, country electorates are erased in four categories and Mir- members receive an electorate allowance varying from £500 to £900 a year, according to the size of the electorate. It is now proposed that there should be one allowance of £800 a year for ali. country electorate members. It is recommended also that metropolitan members should receive £600 per annum in place of the £400 now paid to them for electorate expenses, and that senators who have their individual State responsibilities should receive an amount of £700 a year instead of the current £550. It should be noted at this point that the existing stamp allowance of £72 a year to members is no longer to be paid and that stamp accounts will, therefore, have to be met from within the electorate allowances.

I have said already that, not only the parliamentary allowances, but also the expenses allowances for all senators and members, and also for Ministers and office holders of the Parliament, shall be subject to income tax. If I may pause there, nothing was more misrepresented in respect of the Nicholas report than the unfortunate phrase “ tax-free allowances “. There must be very few businessmen in Australia who have not become accustomed to meeting expenses in connexion with their work, or in having them met by their company or their employer, but it has not occurred to anybody to say that these were “tax-free allowances “.

Mr Calwell:

– What about the journalists ?

Mr MENZIES:

– I am in so much strife already that I would not caro to comment. But no doubt the honorable member is right. As I said, previously the electorate allowances and the special expense allowances paid have been classed as non-taxable items. That provision is now withdrawn by means of the bill before the House and members will be required, in common with other taxpayers, to claim the expenses incurred by them in earning their assessable income, that is, expenses encountered in discharging parliamentary duties. If I may again pause to say this, it seems highly probable that the change now recommended by the committee, so far from being of benefit to every honorable me,n ber. may well turn out to be a marked disadvantage to quite a few.

The House will understand that, apart, from the matters in the committee’s report which require legislative action, there are recommendations which it is appropriate to handle administratively. These include such things as air and rail travel, the abolition of the gold pass, visits to the Australian territories, and travelling allowances. All of those will be dealt with in accordance with the committee’s recommendations. I shall not refer to them in detail except to say, so that it will be understood, that the committee has recommended that the travelling allowance payable to Ministers away from their home base and away from Canberra is to be increased ; and that the President, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, while travelling on parliamentary business, should receive the same travelling allowance as that paid to a Minister. The former allowance to Ministers was £5 5s. a day. It is now to be £7 7s. and. if I may say so with some relief, £10 10s. for the Prime Minister.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– He is lucky.

Mr MENZIES:

– He is not lucky, but lie is less unlucky.

Mr Curtin:

– It is just as well there is only one Prime Minister.

Mr MENZIES:

– I am not the most expensive fellow. I am aware personally, and my Ministers also, and, I venture to say, the President, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition as well, of the inadequacy, under modern circumstances, of the existing rates. In fact, I believe that most people whose duty it is to travel extensively will agree with the committee’s findings on this matter.

I should like, now, to offer some rather more general comments. I believe that most Australians will agree that the committee’s findings are entirely reasonable in all respects. Indeed, I should like to believe that every Australian should be listening to this explanation of what has occurred. I realize that most Australians will want me to explain and justify action, at this particular time, to put the committee’s findings into effect. It is well known and, indeed, I have myself, to-day, laid a paper on the table of the House directed to this very matter, that certain restraints of an economic character are a necessary part of the attack which we are making on’ the current economic problem. But there are three points to which I should like to direct attention. The first is that it is more than four years - indeed, it is practically four and a half years - since there has been any change in the payments, either of salary or allowance to members of the Federal

Parliament. The previous committee of inquiry reported in 1952, and the salaries recommended by it were given effect as from the 1st January, 1952. It will not be said by anybody that an adjustment after a period of more than four years, during which prices and earnings have moved upwards so noticeably, is a hasty adjustment.

But, sir, there is a second and particular aspect of this. I have said that the committee of inquiry was appointed in August of last year, and that it reported in October of last year. It would have been reasonable for the com’mittee’s recommendations to have been put into effect immediately. But what was done ? The Government decided that no action would be taken - no effective action - prior to the 30th June of this year, on the committee’s findings. This decision itself was a direct product of the Government’s appeal to the whole community for restraint.

The third point that I would make is that what is now proposed is not something that has been thought up by the Parliament itself, but is the fully considered recommendation of an independent committee of inquiry, based on what thu committee considers to be proper, having regard to all the circumstances. Sir, the Government is well aware that the present is not the time for extravagances, ‘ and that it is still a time when the Government can be expected to give a lead in the fight against inflation and for the protection and strengthening of our overseas reserves.

But none of this means that parliamentary salaries must remain static as long as there is inflationary pressure, especially in the light of the performances already standing to the credit of members of this Parliament in having done without any adjusted remuneration over a long period of time; and standing to the credit, if I may say so, of Ministers and office bearers who. under this bill, will still be without adjustments on the level of salary determined in 1952.

I add one more comment, sir. Since the report was tabled, which is now some weeks ago, an impression has been created in some quarters that members pf the Commonwealth Parliament are leading the way in a. new race for salary increases.

Nothing could be further from the truth ! The facts establish that quite the contrary has been the case. What are the facts? In 1952, members and senators received modest increases in allowances which brought them more or less into line with general rates. Over the fourandahalf years since then there have been no increases whatsover. Yet, in that time, as the report shows, there has been a substantial increase of the general rate of earnings in Australia. There have been specific and major increases in all salaries and wages affected by the last margins award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Salaries throughout the Commonwealth Public Service have risen and, as a consequence, the salaries of permanent heads of departments have been substantially increased. Salaries in all State public services have increased. Salaries of many officers of public authorities have increased. There has been a substantial rise in the salaries of judges of the High Court and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and there has been a general revision of salaries in at least two State parliaments. There has been a general increase in salaries and wages paid in banks and insurance offices. Then, after all this, comes this recommendation that the allowances paid to members of the Commonwealth Parliament be increased - not an extravagant increase to put them ahead of everybody else but, in my carefully considered opinion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, a very modest increase which brings them into line, once again, to some extent, with the general standard.

Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.

page 2483

INCOME TAX AND SOCIAL SERVICES CONTRIBUTION ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 2) 1956

Second Reading

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

I have already referred to the purpose of this bill, which makes taxable that which was not taxable before, and I therefore do not need to repeat it.

Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.

page 2483

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL 1956

Second Reading

Debate resumed(vide page 2478).

Mr CLAREY:
Bendigo

.- I must frankly admit that I find this bill a disappointing bill. It is the sixth amending measure that has been brought in by the Government in respect of matters affecting industrial relations. The measure seems to me to indicate that the Government is Having the greatest difficulty in finding the correct level on which arbitration should proceed. Before I begin to deal with the bill generally I desire to bring to the notice of the House the objects of the measure, as set out in clause 5, which reads -

Section two of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “2. The chief objects of this Act are -

to promote goodwill in industry;

to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes ;

to provide means for preventing and settling industrial disputes not resolved by amicable agreement, including threatened, impending and probable industrial disputes, with the maximum of expedition and the minimum of legal form and technicality;

So it is clear that the objects of the bill are the promotion of goodwill in industry, the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes by amicable agreement, and the maximum -of expedition in the settlement by other means of disputes not amicably settled. I suggest to the House that we must base our examination of this measure’ on the extent to which its provisions give effect to the very high principles that are stated as its objects.

Let me further remind the House that the power of the Commonwealth in respect of industrial matters is limited to the making of laws with respect to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. I emphasize the word “ prevention “, and I suggest that that provision in the Australian Constitution means not merely conciliation for the prevention of a particular dispute, but conciliation by the enactment of laws that will develop an atmosphere and a spirit that will reduce the likelihood of disputes. In other words, the whole system of conciliation, particularly, and of arbitration, should be so framed as to build up a basis of understanding in’ industry that will prevent disputes in the future. I think it can be said that goodwill means, essentially, good relations, and that good relations are to be sought in a sphere of influence in which conflict is constantly taking place, not only in Australia, but also in all other countries. I refer to the constant conflict between capital and labour, between management and men, over the distribution of the proceeds of industry. From the stand-point of the workers, as technological and scientific improvements in industry occur, greater production results, and so greater quantities of goods and services are available. Obviously, the worker strives to secure his fair share at least of the increased production. It is suggested by Labour and by the trade union movement not that the whole of the proceeds of the increased production should go to the workers, but that they are entitled to strive, in Australia and in other countries, as a section of the community, for their fair share of the increased goods and services that are available.

I put it to the House that the objects of conciliation and arbitration should be better understanding, and, if possible, the laying of permanent foundations of goodwill in industry itself. This is not an easy task; it is difficult. But the mere fact that it is difficult is no reason why it should not be attempted and why the very best efforts to achieve better relations should not be made. The task is not made any easier because the psychology of the men and women engaged in industry varies considerably according to the kind of industry in which they are engaged. For instance, those who are closely associated with the industrial life of the community know that the psychology of the men who go down to the sea in ships is totally different from that of clerical workers. Similarly, coal-miners who risk their lives and brave possible death in their work, in accordance with the long traditions of the coal-mining industry, have a psychology entirely different from that of, say, the men and women employed in clothing factories. Casual workers who are employed, for example, by thehour, such as the waterside workers,, also have a psychology entirely different from that of a person engaged in factory work of the usual kind. I mention these matters to the House because I desire it to appreciate that different industries and occupations have their own peculiar problems, antagonisms and hostilities, which have come from the past to poison industrial relations, and have made it exceedingly difficult to bridge the differences between employer and employee, between capital and labour.

In the mass, and particularly when they have grievances, men and women are impatient. We all know how a source of irritation or annoyance makes any one of us, as an individual, impatient. In the field of industrial production, men and women in the mass become extremely impatient for the settlement and rectification of their grievances. They desire that their grievances shall be dealt with promptly and a solution found without delay. Therefore, with respect to industrial relations, it is essential that we bear in mind that the speedy settlement of industrial disputes will help to prevent further disputes. There must be ample opportunity for the contending parties to discuss the grievances raised, and to seek means to bridge their differences. Therefore, one can say, as I have said in this House on previous occasions, that we can succeed in our efforts to promote conciliation and arbitration only if our legislative machinery is speedy, simple and inexpensive. The question the House must consider is whether this measure will provide machinery with those qualities for the settlement of industrial disputes. As one who has studied the measure carefully, I say frankly that it will not provide a simple, speedy and inexpensive method of settling industrial disputes.

It is true that the bill makes provision for the appointment of conciliators, but it will not be mandatory for the Government to appoint them. It may appoint them. It will have a discretion. The bill should provide that they shall be appointed. One cannot help hut question the Government’s sincerity over the appointment of conciliators, because the bill provides that they shall receive a salary of £250 a year less than will be paid to arbitrators. As one who has had a great deal of experience in industrial disputes, I suggest to the House that a good conciliator is precious beyond price. Responsible and important though the functions of an arbitrator may be, to me the successful conciliator in industry has much greater responsibilities and can accomplish a great deal more good. Also, he requires many more gifts than are needed for a successful arbitrator. For a start, the conciliator must be a man of good personality. He must be a man who can win the confidence of both sides. He must be a man of patience, tact and discretion. He must be a man who is able to make suggestions for overcoming the antagonism existing between the parties to a dispute. He must be able to guide the parties towards an amicable settlement.

I remember, as a very young man in the trade union movement, attending compulsory conferences convened by the late M!r. Justice Higgins, the late Mr. Justice Powers and the late Chief Judge Drake-Brockman - all of whom I regard as great conciliators. I watched the methods by which they induced parties in violent dispute, intensely antagonistic to each other, gradually to appreciate the position of their opponents. I saw those judges, by means of persuasion, suggestion and conferences with the parties separately, gradually bring about amicable settlements of difficult disputes. My first experience, in 1915, was of a case involving two bitterly contending parties. The men were on strike, and the employers had adopted a most intolerant attitude, but Mr. Justice Higgins, by the methods he used as a conciliator, was able to bring about a settlement of the dispute.

So when one “talks of a conciliator, one has in mind a person who is able to bring contending parties together to discuss the matters in dispute, gradually to break down the antagonism that exists between them and, as a result, to secure a settlement. But it seems to me that, although conciliators are proposed in this measure, the rate of remuneration suggested shows that the Government regards them as inferior officers. The rate of remuneration suggested is not likely to attract men of the type whom I believe it is essential to attract if this phase of conciliation and arbitration is to be successful. I remember that the late Chief Judge Drake-Brockman confessed to me that he derived greater pleasure and greater satisfaction from bringing parties together and persuading them to make an agreement than he ever derived from making an award as a judge of the court.

The great advantage of reaching an agreement through collective bargaining - conciliation, when all is said and done, is only bringing the parties together for collective bargaining - is that the agreement that is reached is respected by both sides. We know that there can be, and that there have been, strikes over awards made by the court, but in my long industrial experience, with one exception. I have never known an industrial agreement arrived at by the parties after long discussion and consideration to be repudiated by either side. The exception was the coal agreement, which caused the great coal industry lockout of 1928. In that case, the employers - probably because of adverse economic conditions - decided to close their mines. Then they intimated to the employees that they were prepared to re-open the mines if the employees would accept rates of pay lower than those prescribed in the agreement.

The next weakness of the bill lies in the provisions relating to agreements reached by parties to disputes. When an agreement has been made, it will have to go before the proposed commission to be certified. The clauses relating to the filing and recognition of agreements provide that the commission may, if it considers that it would be in the public interest to do so, refuse to certify an agreement. I believe that that is wrong. It will be a formidable bar to the establishment of an effective system of conciliation. I remember that the Minister stated that one reason for the proposal that the commission shall certify agreements was that the building workers had made an agreement which, because it provided for increased rates of pay, was deemed to be not in the public interest and, therefore, was not certified. I suggest that if an agreement is reached by the parties to an industrial dispute, that agreement settles the dispute and, as a matter of right, it should be certified and become effective law. If that is not done, industrial organizations will ask: What is the use of making agreements? If an agreement is not legalized, the result is that, on the slightest pretext, either of the parties can break away from it.

But, in any case, whatever may De the terms of an agreement which is put into operation, it is never regarded by the court, in considering the making of an award, as a precedent. An agreement affecting one industry and produced in proceedings before the court as a reason for improving wages or working conditions in another industry is always rejected by the court as not being a precedent. There is a further difficulty. If an agreement, is in operation and some people on the fringe of the industry concerned are not prepared to observe the terms of that agreement, immediately further industrial trouble occurs because organizations endeavour to force the noncomplying employers to observe the terms of the agreement. Therefore, I suggest to the House that, if conciliation is to succeed, it is essential that agreements made as a consequence of the court’s activities be legalized immediately, certified by the court and made binding on all the parties concerned.

My third objection to this measure relates to the provisions for references and appeals. Again, I stress the necessity for the machinery to be simple, speedy and inexpensive. But, instead of that, we find that it is proposed that if the parties to a dispute fail to reach agreement and the case finally goes to arbitration, there will be a series of processes that will delay settlement of the dispute, cause friction in the industry and prevent each side from gaining a better understanding of the other. What will happen under the system proposed? A dispute will be referred to the com missioner, and a commision will take charge of it. But, after the commissioner has taken charge of the dispute, it can be referred, on application made by a party, to the commission. That will mean that at least three members of the commission, one of whom will be a deputy president, will have to hear the case. The commission could refer a portion of the dispute back to the commissioner and ask for a report. If that were done, there would be further delay. The process of settlement will not be speedy-, and antagonism between the parties, instead of being reduced, will tend to grow in volume. When a decision has been given, it can become the subject of an appeal. It should be pointed out in connexion with arbitration that decisions of the court on important matters which affect industry vitally - standard hours, the basic wage and longservice leave - are not subject to appeal’. Decisions by the court in respect of those matters affect every section of industry, because such decisions become, as far as that is possible, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the common rule throughout industry. Such decisions are not subject to appeal. I am mot suggesting that they should be. I am trying to point out that decisions on’ important matters that affect everybody are not subject to appeal. Applications which are referred from a commissioner to the commission, consisting of three persons - and no doubt there would be applications on such matters as margins, sick pay or annual leave - are not subject to appeal when a decision is made. But decisions on relatively small matters that are deemed insignificant enough to be dealt with by a single person are subject to appeal. The result will be that further delays will take place in deciding questions that can be regarded, in the general design of the arbitration system, as relatively unimportant. When that occurs, feelings in industry will obviously grow stronger than ever, because the workers will feel that the machinery is designed to make it difficult at every stage to improve their conditions. The major questions will have to be dealt with by three people. Other matters will have to be dealt with by three people. Delays will inevitably occur. When decisions are arrived at on” the smaller matters, the machinery provides for further delays in the settlement of them, and to make it easy to take something away from those who, as a consequence of their persistence, ha ve made some small gains.

It has been pointed out by other speakers in this debate that in its actual operation the provision for” appeals has accomplished nothing. It has resulted in proceedings being delayed and settlements being held up for considerable periods. In cases where the trade union movement has taken advantage of the appeal provision, all its applications have been dismissed, while the great majority of appeals lodged by employers have been upheld in some measure. I give one illustration to indicate how, on the hearing of an appeal, it can be decided in a peremptory manner that principles thai are of great importance to the trade union movement are of no consequence. In the food preserving industry it was common, prior to about 25 years ago, for men and women in their hundreds to hang round a factory door, particularly during dic busy fruit season, seeking a few hours work. As fruit came in a few people would be engaged, and as soon as thai fruit was disposed of they would be dismissed. As a consequence of negotiations with the employers, the union was able to have conditions changed, so that we no longer saw the disgraceful exhibition of men and women standing around the factory doors day after day. The union was able to gain for its members a weekly wage, with as little casual work as possible. The Arbitration Court has always said that those conditions are the best for industry. Recently, a decision was made by a conciliation commissioner which reintroduced casual work in that industry. That appeared to be the prelude to a re-appearance of the conditions thai previously prevailed. An application was made for leave to appeal against that decision. The application came before one of the judges of the Arbitration Court, who refused leave, and the pernicious casual system remained in the award. 1” nui glad to say, however, that as a result of negotiations between the employers and the union, it has been agreed that the casual section of the award shall not operate.

In the limited time still at my disposal, I propose to deal with the matter of penalties. Many Government supporters have expressed the belief that the trade union movement is opposed to penalties. That is not correct. The trade union movement is opposed, however, to the double-barrelled penalties that are pro vided in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act at present. There are now two sets of penalties than can be imposed. The trade union movement does not object to the penalties that may be imposed under section 59 of the existing act, but it does object to the other forms of penalties that were introduced in the Government’s amendment of 1951, and which are additional to the penalties that have operated almost since the day the act was first passed. We strongly object to the provision in the 1951 amendment for the imposition of penalties for Contempt of court, and the harsh and inconsistent manner in which that provision is being applied. The maximum fine that may be imposed under it is £500. Because members of a. union merely assisted perso.ns who were . participating in a strike, a union was fined £500, the maximum penalty, and if the same union tied up the whole metal trades industry of Australia, and paralysed the Australian economy, the maximum fine would be £500. We object to the foolish and harsh manner in which the penalty provisions are being used. I have never known industrial disputes to be settled or prevented by the imposition of penalties. One may study the history of strikes from 1909 onwards, and one will find that even when fines have been imposed and men imprisoned the strikes have continued. The sooner the Government realizes that instead of inducing better industrial relations it is poisoning the industrial atmosphere by imposing penalties, the quicker it will discover the way to industrial peace. I suggest that the Government in 1930 showed wisdom when it removed the penalties for lockouts and strikes, and that this Government might usefully follow its example. By imposing penalties we may succeed in giving expression to our annoyance in respect of a dispute that is causing inconvenience, but that is a short-range policy.

That procedure leaves behind it antagonisms and industrial ulcers, and it destroys for- many years to come the chance of achieving better industrial relations.

I conclude by saying that what small improvements are contained in the bill are vastly overshadowed by its highly undesirable features. The bill does not lay foundations upon which goodwill in industry can be built. It is weak in regard to conciliation, and it is cumbersome and time-wasting in its arbitral machinery. It will poison industrial relations with its penal provisions. Therefore I suggest that the amendment should be carried.

Mr OSBORNE:
Minister for Customs and Excise · Evans · LP

– I have listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), which has not contributed very much, I think, towards enlightening this House with regard to the Opposition’s objections to this reasonable measure. The honorable member first of all told ns something of the psychology of workers. He pointed out the obvious fact that the psychology of. a clerical worker is different from that of a seaman - if there is such a thing as an industrial section in the science of psychology. I’ would ask him what is the special difference between the psychology of a coal-miner in Western Australia and that of a coal-miner on the northern fields of New South Wales. Whether there is any difference, the fact remains that the industrial histories of those two groups of coal-miners are entirely different. What is the difference between the psychology of a waterside worker in Australia and a waterside worker in New Zealand? In New Zealand there has not been a dispute of any consequence on the waterfront for two years, while in this country we have had a mounting series of them.

The next astonishing statement that the honorable member for Bendigo made was that his party did not object to industrial penalties. There was an astonishing distinction, if I may say so, between that statement and the arguments of all his predecessors in this debate. The Opposition’s whole objection has been to two things - the appeal provisions and the penal provisions. However, the honorable member for Bendigo himself seeks to make the fine distinction that Labour objects to the penalties under section 29, but not to those under section 59. In other words, if we examine the history of Labour’s objection, we see that it does not object to penalties which . turn out to be utterly ineffective and unenforceable, but objects strongly to those that can be enforced. L reject Ins argument that the Labour party does not object to penalties because the whole of the Opposition’s argument up to date is to the contrary. More than half nf the speeches of the two principal Labour speakers who preceded him, the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), have been addressed to their objection to the penalties in the bill. The whole purpose of industrial legislation in Australia is to substitute for the law of the jungle, which prevailed in the distant past and to some extent still prevails, the law of order and justice. But humanity has not, yet reached the stage at which law and justice can prevail in the affairs of men unless sanctions are imposed to ensure that the rules shall be observed. Even schoolboys cannot yet play football without a referee. When they can. perhaps the day will have arrived when industrial peace will be possible without sanctions to enforce law and order. That day has not yet come.

The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was directed to an objection to the appeal provisions, to an objection to the sanctions in the law, and to an associated, consistent and underlying attack on the judges and the conciliation commissioners who compose the court. The honorable member for East Sydney treated us to the usual spate of hate. I do not think that it is necessary to attempt to cover his arguments in any sort of detail.

The reasons for this bill are, first, that the federal arbitration law is in need of amendment. We all know that since 1904, when federal arbitration was first introduced, there have been over 30 amendments of our arbitration law, and that this bill will not be the last. This industrial law of ours is a living organism and, like most human affairs, it is imperfect. I am sure that my right honorable friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who introduced the bill, does not believe that this law will continue unamended, or not in need of reform, for very long; but it is a step forward and, as the Minister explained to the House, it is a definite attempt to deal with the five obvious difficulties which have arisen in recent times under the existing law. This step forward has been necessitated and precipitated by the recent decisions of the High Court in the Boilermakers case, that the Arbitration Court can not exercise judicial functions. In order that the system might continue at all, reform and repair became urgently necessary. That is why this bill is being put through now.

I said that the Minister had detailed five matters in our existing law which needed reform. The first was that the division of arbitral functions between judges and commissioners had not worked effectively. The House will recall that this division, or dichotomy, as the judges called it, was brought about in 1947 by amendments of the right honorable member for Barton when Attorney-General in the Chifley Government. A great deal has been said about inflexibility, time, and things of that sort. If ever there was a cause of inflexibility it was the division of power between the court and the conciliation commissioners created by the 1947 legislation. The appeal provisions introduced by this Government in 1952 went some distance towards rectifying this, but the facts simply were that the conciliation commissioners had a group of very important powers, in respect of which their decisions were subject to no 1 appeal. Within his own sphere, each could be guided by his own judgments, paying no regard to what the others were doing. The judges, who are primarily responsible for our industrial affairs, had no control at all over the work of the conciliation commissioners, nor were they able to achieve any degree of uniformity in that work. The Opposition has used, in support of one of its own arguments, the extraordinary illustration afforded when Mr. Commissioner Galvin made a decision on margins in the Metal Trades case. As honorable members know, the metal trades award is taken as a yardstick for most other industrial awards. Mr. Commissioner Galvin decided, for cogent reasons which he enunciated, that he would make no alteration in the metal trades award at that time. Mr. Commissioner Findlay, almost in the same month, heard an application by workers in the Australian Capital Territory and, having a different viewpoint about these matters granted a considerable marginal increase.

Mr Curtin:

– That was justice.

Mr OSBORNE:

– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) says that one decision was justice and the other was not. I was not talking about the justice or otherwise of the decisions; but we know the constant cry of the honorable member that higher wages are always just and that everything else is unjust. He believes that higher wages are just whether or not they can be paid, whether or not they will redound ultimately to the disadvantage of the worker, and whether or not, by pushing up inflation, they will cause his downfall. That is always the parrot cry of the Opposition. In the cases which I have mentioned, one conciliation commissioner had taken one line and another had taken an entirely different line. There was no means’ by which the judges could reconcile those decisions, or lay down any uniform course which should be taken by conciliation commissioners. The judges are next in importance to the government in their responsibility for maintaining the pillars of this country’s economy. The situation which I have mentioned was absolutely ludicrous. To some extent it was remedied by the introduction of an appeal provision in the law but even that was not entirely satisfactory, and the proposed division of powers between the industrial commission, as the arbitral section wi1! be called, and the conciliation commissioners, will remedy it completely.

The next problem was that of coordinating the decisions of those responsible for arbitration. As I have pointed out, hitherto there have been conciliators and judges working separately and, except through the slender mechanism of the appeal provision, there has been no means of co-ordinating their work. Henceforth they will all be members - presidential or lay - of the same body, and it is hoped that the difficulties of co-ordination that have arisen in the past will not be repeated.

The third difficulty that this bill is aimed at overcoming is the difficulty that arises from the fact that at present the conciliator is also the arbitrator. Time does not permit me to go into this argument’ at great length but it is recognized by those who have taken part in, observed, and written about, industrial affairs that the function of conciliation is one thing and that of arbitration is another and that the two cannot be exercised at the same time by the same person. That is so for the very good reason, if for no other, that the parties who appear before a conciliator will not deal with him in complete frankness and open-handedness if they know that when the point of final disagreement has been reached he will become the arbitrator. They fear that he will then accept the furthest point to which each is prepared to go as the position from which he should begin his arbitration. Again I have not the time to go into this matter in detail, but under this bill that difficulty will be overcome. The functions of conciliation and of arbitration will be kept completely separate.

Mr Bruce:

– The bill will create industrial chaos.

Mr OSBORNE:

– I do not think this provision will create any industrial chaos at all, and I believe that if the honorable member reflects for a moment he will agree with me.

The next difficulty that the bill is aimed to cure is the charge that has been levelled again and again by the Labour party and the trade union movement that the system is unduly legalistic. I should prefer to say that it is unduly rigid - and it is in need of flexibility and ease of working. Personally, I do not believe that any good purpose is served by excluding the legal profession from any function that appertains to the law at all. By the very nature of their calling, members of the legal profession are trained to- seek the fundamental issue and to avoid the irrelevancies that surround the argument; and I fear, as was indeed the case in the past, that any exclusion of the profession from legal or quasi-legal functions leads only to further confusion and longer delay. That is my own belief. But there is some concession being made to the trade union viewpoint in this legislation inasmuch as members of the legal profession are not permitted to appear except by leave of the parties or, in special cases, by leave of the commissioner during the first stage of arbitration proceedings under the new system.

The bill will provide also that in its arbitral functions the commission will set aside the usual panoply of the law - the wig and the gown. For my part, I do not attach great importance to that. I’ do not think that the donning of a wig puts greater wisdom into any man’s head or that a better conciliator is made by the putting on of a gown. These things are not of great importance, and if the trade union movement feels happier and more at ease before an arbitration commission that appears in ordinary street dress, then it is a sound decision of the Minister to have made that concession.

Those are the five principal points at which this bill has been aimed. It is true that we are bound in this matter, as in many others, by the constitutional limitations of our federal system and by our history. I do not suppose anybody on either side of the House would suggest that the system which we will have when this bill becomes law is the one at which we would aim if we were starting again from the beginning. As I said, we are bound by our constitutional limitations and so devices have to be adopted, as they have been in this bill, to deal with the constitutional limitations under which this Parliament labours.

Mr Bruce:

– The functions of a judge are to deal with–

Mr Curtin:

– Why not ask the people for more power?

Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Lucock

– Order! The honorable member for Leichhardt may possibly speak in the future. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith has already spoken. I suggest that they remain silent.

Mr OSBORNE:

– Let me turn now to the Opposition’s objections to this bill. As I said, they are, in the main, only two things. If honorable members listened to the speeches of Opposition members, as I did, and in some cases read them again in Hansard, they will know that these two things run through all the speeches. Opposition members object to any appeal to the arbitration commission from a decision of a single commissioner, and they object to the provision that there should be an effective means for the enforcement of the decisions of the arbitration commission. When a group of people put forward an argument or seek to persuade anybody to adopt a course, it is a test of their sincerity to see whether they have acted similarly in the past or in other places. What happens in the State arbitration systems in this country? As the House knows very well, the arbitral functions of government are divided between the Federal Government and State governments, and there is an overlapping of authority. What happens under the State systems with regard to an appeal from the judge, arbitrator or commissioner of first instance ? In New South Wales, where there is an industrial commission - and. it is not altogether dissimilar from the arbitration system that will exist when this bill becomes law - there is an appeal from the decision of a single commissioner to the Full Commission. New South Wales, as we all recall, has had. a Labour government for a good many years.

Mr Davis:

– Too many.

Mr OSBORNE:

– Far too many! 1 agree with my friend, the honorable member for Deakin. What has the trade union movement done in this Labour-governed State of New South Wales? Has it sought to have this appeal provision removed? It may have sought, but it has not succeeded, and a Labour government which has been responsible for the control of arbitration and the making of arbitration laws in New South Wales for a good many years has done nothing to remove the appeals section from the New South Wales law.

Mr Curtin:

– What about long-service leave in the arbitration provisions?

Mr OSBORNE:

– Of course, there is always somebody who, when one is talking about one thing, wants to talk about something else, particularly if he finds the argument inconvenient. I do not intend to be distracted by the cackle on my left. What is the state of affairs in Victoria? The system is not entirely comparable, but there is a system of appeal, as I think the honorable member for Bendigo will acknowledge.

Mr Clarey:

– It is quite different from the New South Wales system.

Mr OSBORNE:

– But the fact is that when Labour governments controlled the State of Victoria, they did not bother to provide that the decision of the arbitrator of first instance should be final. They did not think it advisable or necessary, and I think the honorable member for Bendigo had something to do with that state of affairs. I may be wrong, but I think that is the case. The appeals provision in the Victorian act, I believe, was included on the recommendation of a board of inquiry appointed by the Victorian Government, and a gentleman named Mr. P. J. Clarey, who is now the honorable member for Bendigo, was the chairman. In all his years in the industrial movement, the honorable member for Bendigo, who argues so strongly against the appeal provisions in this federal legislation, has not bothered - or if he has bothered he has not succeeded - to persuade various Labour governments in Victoria to change the Victorian law in that respect.

Mr Clarey:

– It is quite a different system.

Mr OSBORNE:

– Of course it is different.

Mr Clarey:

– But make that clear. It. is a different type of appeal altogether.

Mr OSBORNE:

– I have made that clear. Apparently there is nothing inherently wrong in an appeal from the decision in the first instance. What about the State of South Australia? Of course, the argument is probably less effective in regard to South Australia because that State has had the good fortune to be under a Liberal government for a number of years, so, if

Labour bad sought to force its will in this matter, it might not have succeeded. But Labour did not try very hard, apparently,’ in New South Wales or Victoria, and it did not succeed there, though ir had ample opportunity to do so.

Mr Bruce:

– What about the State of Queensland?

Mr OSBORNE:

– In the State of Queensland there is no appeal from the decision of the arbitrator of first instance. Bui surely it is fairly significant that, in the three principal industrial States of this nation, there is an appeal against the decision of the arbitrator of first instance. I hope that I have made that effectively clear to the House.

Mr Clarey:

– There is no appeal in Tasmania, either.

Mr OSBORNE:

– I did not say there was. I said that there was provision for appeal in three States. It follows, by the process of subtraction, that if I mention those three, the provision does not exist in the others. But the three States in which the provision does exist are the principal industrial States of Australia.

Mr Clarey:

– But it exists only in a very minor form in Victoria.

Mr OSBORNE:

– I shall say a little more about Victoria and this evil system of allowing an appeal against decisions of the arbitrator of first instance. From 1952 until April, 1956, there were 40 appeals. In four years under the Victorian system there were 40 appeals from the decisions of a conciliator of first instance. By cross appeals, that is, appeals instituted by both parties, employers and employees, there were eleven. By employers’ organizations and employers’ representatives on the board together there were fourteen. By employees’ organizations and employees’ representatives on the board there were 25. So it. seems that, whereas the employers’ side exercised the right of appeal on fourteen occasions, the employees’ side exercised it on 25. If there is something inherently evil in this system of appeals, at least the employees do not hesitate to adopt it when they think necessary. I do not want to go on boring the House with statistics, but I hope that I have made it clear that there is a little inconsistency in the attitude of the Australian Labour party in the federal sphere as compared with its attitude in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

Mr Clarey:

– What was the result of the appeals in Victoria?

Mr OSBORNE:

– I have not the statistics showing the results of the appeals. Whatever they were, the point seems to me to be entirely immaterial to my argument. The fact is that the right of appeal exists, and the fact is that it is availed of quite extensively by the employees as well as the employers.

Let us turn now to the Opposition’s only other substantial objection to this bill. It is an objection to the .fact that the arbitration commission should have power, by fine, to enforce its awards. As I said, the whole arbitration system is an attempt to substitute the rule of law for the law of the jungle. There has been a constant and vocal objection from the members of the Opposition in this House to the court’s being given any substantial and effective power to enforce its awards, because the fact it that they want it to be one-sided only. It is in the nature of things that employers have to observe the law. It is not in the nature of things that employees’ organizations have to observe the law, unless in some cases they are compelled to, and it is a fact that the conservative, more .sober-minded and thoughtful trade unionist in Australia to-day welcomes any serious attempt to enforce the arbitration law. I should like to have a little to say about the exercise of those penal powers in the law over the last few years. We have heard a great deal from the Leader of the Opposition, and we heard some more from the member for East Sydney in this debate, about the wicked use of this crushing penal power. What are the facts? From January, 1950 to August, 1955, which is the latest date for which I have the figures - indeed as long as the system ran until the Ironworkers’ judgment - the number of disputes in which any fines were imposed was eight.

Mr Whitlam:

– Does not the Minister mean the Boilermakers’ case?

Mr OSBORNE:

– No, any disputes within the federal jurisdiction. The only disputes in which penal powers were invoked were eight in number. The number of unions fined during that period was six.

Mr Bryant:

– What -was the number of employers fined?

Mr OSBORNE:

– One. As I have said, it is in the nature of things that employers’ organizations have to observe the law. [Quorum formed.] Only six unions were fined, and the total number of fines imposed was sixteen. I do not enjoy boring the House with statistics, but when a lot of nonsense is talked about this matter, only figures can effectively refute it. The number of disputes in Australia in that period was 5,763. Out of 5,763 disputes, only sixteen fines were imposed. It does not seem as though the power is being used too extensively. If one likes to eliminate the two most troublesome spots in our industrial field, the waterfront and the coal-fields, 1,061 disputes occurred and only sixteen fines were imposed. As I said earlier, we can test the sincerity of a person’s argument very often by asking whether he puts it forward in other spheres. I sought to find out how many State industrial arbitration systems involve the use of penal powers to enforce awards. In New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia they do. tn four of the Australian States there are effective powers for the enforcement of awards by fine or other punishment, and the cream of the joke is that in New South Wales the State Labour Government itself has invoked penal powers twice in recent times to enforce awards, in the Homebush Abattoirs case, and in the New South Wales Fire Brigade case. I thought the Leader of the Opposition might talk to his brother and find out the state of affairs in New South Wales. As I have said, we can test the sincerity of an argument by the consistency of the man who advances it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr C F Adermann:

– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.

Mr KEARNEY:
Cunningham

– By virtue of my membership of this Commonwealth Parliament, I follow a great trade unionist, a man amongst men, the late Mr. William Davies. The late Bill Davies came from the coal mines of Wales to the coal pits on the south coast of New South Wales. As a miner, he experienced all the bad conditions of industrialism in the early days, when working conditions as we understand them to-day were unknown. The lata honorable member was an industrial crusader. He entered the Parliament of New South Wales in 1917 and rose to the eminence of a Minister of the Crown. He was Minister for Public Instruction for part of 1927, and from 1930 to 1932 he graced the Labour government of the day as Minister for Education. When the Division of Cunningham was created in 1949, his election to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the electors of that division was automatic. In his elevated capacity as a legislator, first in the Parliament of the Mother State for 32 consecutive years, and later in the Parliament of the Commonwealth for seven years, he assisted greatly in the moulding of the nation’s industrial code and other great measures that contributed to an altered way of life for all in this new world - Australia.

The memory of William Davies will ever be revered. Throughout his life, he never forgot that he was a miner, nor did he forget that he and other miners on the south coast had been forced to fight the coal barons of the day to obtain such a simple amenity as washing facilities to remove the black grime of hard toil from their sweating bodies. Billy Davies and his mates fought to gain many conditions, not only to improve their lot in life, but also to make this world a better place for all workers. The story of their epic, struggles is written in tears, in sweat, even in blood, and in the personal sacrifices of thousands of Australian people. He never forgot the contempt in which the workers of the early era were held by authorities who, on many occasions, on their homeward trip at the end of a hard day’s work in the pits, shunted the miners’ train to a siding so that preference could be given to a cattle train.

While the late Billy Davies and his mates who toiled in the bowels of the’ earth staged their monumental fights for simple industrial rights, the men of Australia’s outback, under the banner of unionism, which eventually expressed itself as the Australian Workers Union, began their historic fight to wrest from Australia’s squattocracy decent working conditions and living standards. Working under nauseating conditions, and as sweated labour, they harvested the golden fleece, thereby making possible the foundations of great wealth in this country for the few. I remind honorable members that the struggles of Australia’s _ bush workers were deep in purpose and wide in scope, and that to-day they are engaged in the fight to prevent the loss of living standards. These pioneers of industrial justice starved and endured great privation on the creek banks of the outback to win a meagre crust for themselves and their families. In the struggles of the nineties, station workers and shearers were threatened, gaoled and even shot by the very people for whom they had worked and by their paid heelers. The authorities of that period gaoled men on flimsy and, measured by to-day’s standards, unthinkable charges in their vicious efforts to wipe out the growth of unionism. For the edification of supporters of the Governnent, and lest they forget, I quite the following excerpt from the historic chronicles of W. G. Spence, which portrays vividly the fight of the men of the ‘nineties for industrial justice -

Men were arrested and gaoled on the slightest pretext. Union Organizer Gilbert Casey was locked up for a fortnight and then released without trial. This was done in order to break up a camp. In March, 1891, seventyfour men were travelling near Lorne when the grass caught fire: twenty-five “ were arrested and charged with rioting. There was no case, and they were discharged, but were at once re-arrested and charged with arson, and thirteen were committed for trial. Only one (J. Macnamara) was tried, and he was dragged about the country for 3,000 miles before the trial. The jury found him not guilty of arson, but said he had aided and abetted, so the judge gave him three years. A man named C. F. Latrielle got a month and some others two months for calling another a “ scab “. A man named Jermyn was tried eleven times, but the police had no evidence, and he got clear every time. To be a Unionist was enough. This incident in the court of St. George is full of meaning-

His worship (to the constable): “Did you search the prisoner ? “ “I did, your Worship.” “What did you find on him?” “I found a Union ticket, your Worship, which I produce in court.”

Under those conditions, the Australian Labour party was born and matured. From, and because of, such vivid history, Australia’s trade unions developed their numbers and strength to fight for, and secure, by painful degrees, the proud position that they occupy to-day. But the fight goes on, and it will go on until industrial and social justice prevails. Out of the struggles of the past, conciliation and arbitration legislation was developed by the combined Labour movement. So we emerge to this day when the Government, which is well aware of the importance of very sound industrial legislation and should also be well aware that the wage-earners of Australia are not prepared to be denied their right to justice, persists in introducing this bill, which does not contain the elements of fair and intelligent dealing and which cannot contribute to industrial peace which is so essential to Australia’s well-being.

The Prime .Minister (Mr. Menzies) summed up his speech by chiding the Labour party, to put it charitably, for its approach to the measure. He hai: failed, or refuses, to grasp the fact that we of the Labour movement regard the future well-being and happiness of our people and the development of Australia as being of basic importance. The determination of industrial justice by intelligent, peaceful and just means is fundamental to the attainment of that objective. In my former capacity as a resident official of the Australian Workers Union at Port Kembla, I gained at first hand day-to-day experience of industrial life in Australia’s most pulsating industrial area, and I deplore the irresponsible statement of the right honorable gentleman that Labour’s opposition to this measure is for the purpose of inflaming the minds of trade unionists against arbitration. Such a statement is fallacious and, in my opinion, the Prime Minister knows that it is. I affirm in this House, with all the force that is possible, that the trade union movement of this country has long since been inflamed with indignation at the failure of our present arbitration system to give workers even a semblance of justice. The following telegram that I received to-day from the South Coast

Trades and Labour Council should confirm the statement that I have just made : -

South Coast Labour Council . request you to acquaint the House of hostility of the workers of this district to the penal clauses and their willingness to fight same

That telegram, which was signed by officials of the council, expresses the opinion of approximately 40 unions on the South Coast, and it can be accepted as being a fair expression of the opinion of organized trade unionism, not only throughout New South- Wales, but also throughout Australia.

It is only the great patience and noble calm characterizing Australian trade unionists which restrained the organized forces of trade unionism against the correction of existing injustices. It cannot be denied that industrial development in Australia has made great strides. Great wealth has been massed by the few. This, 1 remind members of the Government, has only been made possible through the co-operation and intelligence of the workers, lu my experience with industrialists ih Port Kembla, I have seldom seen a dispute arise that had no foundation of merit. The. workers, in the vast majority of eases, are goaded into industrial action on the job because of assaults on their conditions by the subordinate agents of the companies with the approval and urging of the top-line company officers. Tn most cases, it is only after a. period of patient effort to overcome the dispute by conciliatory negotiation that the employees have been finally forced to use the strike weapon to protect themselves against the greed of big business.

Surely the coping-stone to the need for intelligent reform in the field of industrial law in this country was the decision taken by the largest and most influential union of employees in the southern hemisphere, the Australian Workers Union, at its annual conference early this year, when it was decided to submit ‘ to the’ vast membership of that union a proposal that the union should consider divorcing itself from the present, arbitration system. The injustices, the delays and frustrations of the system have been responsible for the divorce of this great Australian union from its traditional support for the arbitration system. No responsible trade union official seeks to have his members plunged into jungle warfare, but, similarly, no trade union official worth his salt will be hesitant in condemning the injustices which reek from the existing arbitration system. There are not many trade unionists who will not clearly state that the strike weapon is the last implement that should be employed in the case of dispute. It is a weapon sacred to the rights of all trade unionists and is intended for use on issues of wide application and high principle. The first sacrifice of a unionist on strike is made by his wife and children, and the worker loves both. At the same time, let us never forget that the right to strike is the only thing which distinguishes a free man from a slave.

There is no fundamental improvement under this bill. Its concilia’tion provisions will prove, in practice, a sham and a fraud. Denied the power to certify an agreement arrived at by conciliation without the approval of the commission, the conciliator will become merely a delaying force to justice. The ruthless profit-making purposes of combines and monopolies will result in the regimentation of the small employer so that he will be prohibited by the commission from conciliating except on terms approved by monopoly interests and endorsed officially by the industrial commission. With the rapid merging of vested interests of practically every description in this country into cartels and the like, the true position is that smaller captains of industry are losing their right to conciliate and to enter into industrial agreements with trade unionists. They are finding that they are controlled and can only move towards agreements and awards as a unit of a combined force, a development which this act not only encourages but enforces. Even- a simple country laundry is now bound to an employers’ federation of some kind which, in ‘turn, is linked at a higher level with a large monopoly.

Under the bill, the Government proposes to retain the existing right of appeal against decisions of conciliators which do not meet with the approval of employers. This means that commissioners will not feel free to make a fair and reasonable decision in cases in which it is felt that the just settlement of the dispute warrants some departure from the cast iron rules laid down by the presidential commission. In other word3, commissioners will be given a nominal authority to arbitrate but, in fact, they will remain nothing more than mere rubber stamps for the judges of the industrial commission. This will mean a perpetuation of the existing system of legal technicalities, exorbitant costs, inordinate delays and industrial unrest. Under the Chifley legislation of 1947, conciliation and arbitration was simple, speedy and effective in award-making at all levels. There were no appeals, and a decision of a commissioner was final and binding on all parties. The fact that Australia was able to pass through those difficult transitionary years in the post-war period is, in itself, a tribute to the efficacy of the Chifley legislation.

It is noteworthy that the Government’s bill gives no right of appeal against the commission’s decisions with respect to the basic wage, standard hours and long service leave. Yet what is it that makes an ordinary commissioner prone to error and a judge infallible? If one were to 1 1 raw a distinction between a commissioner who had practical experience in a particular industry and a judge whose only qualification was a knowledge of legal technicalities, one would be foolish indeed not to choose the practical man to make the decision. Under the bill, however, the very reverse will apply. Sensible arbitration demands that the arbitrator should be a man of the world, prepared to go on the job whenever possible, rather than a person living a life of glorious isolation from the sweat, the heat, the grime and - yes - the filth and the danger, and attempting to determine industrial disputes in the comfort of an air-conditioned mahogany-panelled courtroom. The people of Australia will readily perceive that this set-up is not at all conducive to improvement in industrial law by comparison with Labour’s bill of 1947. In the bill now being considered by this House, originality has been sacrificed in the interests of legalism, and procedural technicalities, all of which have already been tried and found wanting.

Then, towering above all men, industrially speaking, is the ornate Commonwealth Industrial Court, the judicial and punitive body. This court, the only novel feature of the bill, has been forced upon the Government by the decision in the Boilermakers case. Reposing within its authority is the savage power to deal with contempt of court - the power to enforce decisions of the industrial commission to which Labour and the trade unionmovement takes flat-footed objection. Ample evidence has already been given by other Labour members of this House who have proved that there exists no reason at all for acceptance of the viewpoint that the coercion of the trade union* by means of heavy fines and terms of imprisonment, which have been a feature of the past, will not continue to be the role of this court in the future. The weapon of coercion is being used to-day to bludgeon the workers into accepting injustices, just as unemployment and the threat of unemployment were used prior to the establishment by the Labour governments, under the leadership . of the late Ben Chifley, of the Christian policy of full employment. The penal clauses of this bill are designed to cripple effectively, or smash, the trade unions of Australia. I say to this House, and to the. Government’s .wealthy friends, that the Labour movement will fight for its rights as it has done in the past. The power proposed to be given to the court to. fine and imprison free men is repugnant te every Australian worthy of the name. The bill is a decadent document. It confirms rank injustice in the field of industrial legislation. Let me affirm that, in the final analysis, this bill does not protect the wages of the workers from further attack. It does not provide powers to the court to assess impartially the true capacity of industry to pay. It does not attempt to determine in any way what is meant by the term “ public interest “, for the purposes of this legislation. It could be asked, “Who are the public?” The bank balances of big business or the take-home wages of the workers? It does not prevent the gross injustice caused by the freezing of :the basic wage for the past three years at a cost to the wageearners estimated at £50,000,000. It does not protect the interests of the workers from the delay represented by appeals and procedures - probably the greatest of all irritants, the mainspring of much strike action, the very taproot of injustice.

The Opposition’s amendment provides the answer, and Labour speakers have supported and explained its terms. Within the framework of that amendment lies the answer to the problem facing the Australian industrial set-up to-day. The bill contributes nothing of merit to the progress of industrial law in this nation. Above all else, it does not permit justice, and what more can this Parliament do than provide justice to the Australian people?

Mr SNEDDEN:
Bruce

.- It is rather an unusual, and certainly a great, pleasure for me, so soon after I have spoken for the first time in this chamber, to have the opportunity to congratulate another honorable member on his maiden speech. I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) on his speech, and to wish him a long and very happy life in this Parliament.

This bill is a very good measure. It is designed to bring to the industrial and arbitration processes of this nation, in the Commonwealth sphere, some semblance of sanity. It is a credit to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who introduced it. Allow me to remind the House, however, that arbitration, as we think of it in Australia, is a peculiarly Australian concept. It is not merely a employeremployee relationship. There is a third party concerned, a most important third party - the public; and the interest of the public must at all times be preserved in the terms of the arbitration system as we have it to-day.

We all know of the efforts of great men, the founders of the Constitution, Deakin, Higgins, Kingston and Isaacs, and of their attempts to have incorporated in the Constitution provision for arbitration and conciliation in industrial matters. We know of their efforts, and of the efforts that were put in opposition to them, and of the compromise that

  1. – fOO] resulted from a conference, in the adoption of placitum 35 of section 51 of the Constitution.

It has been suggested that the constitutional power of the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with industrial arbitration matters has been extended. I believe that there have been no fewer than six referendums on the point, but on each occasion the people have declined to give the Commonwealth Parliament extended power in the industrial field. I do not propose to say more on that matter, because it may be considered by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform which has been announced to the House.

I mentioned that a third party was vitally concerned in arbitration in Australia - the public - and that the public interest must be considered. That brings me to the speech made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who pointed to what he alleged to be three weaknesses in the bill. The second of those alleged weaknesses was that the bill provides that an agreement reached between the parties shall not be automatically certified by the commission. He said that this meant that there would be no incentive for the parties to reach agreement and that, in consequence, conciliation could be greatly weakened. I am sure that the honorable member, with his wealth of experience in industrial matters, is aware of a very recent occasion in Victoria when an industrial agreement was reached and did not receive certification from the State Wages Board. For a very good reason ! That reason was that, in reaching that industrial agreement, the parties to it had abandoned all thought of the public interest. I feel that, because of the existence of the third partner in arbitration, it is most important to consider the public interest. I welcome, therefore, the provision of the bill that an industrial agreement reached between parties shall not automatically be certified, and that the commission shall have power in the public interest in respect of references and appeals. He

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– What is the public interest ?

Mr SNEDDEN:

– The public interest is that interest served by the commissioner when he says that if an agreement is allowed to become effective as an award it may provide that the employee shall receive more than is reasonable and, because of that, the cost of the manufactured article, whether it be a house or a can of fruit, will be such that the price, as a result of the wage increase agreed to by the parties, will be too much for the public interest to bear. In those circumstances, the decision of the Government to incorporate in the bill the provision I have mentioned is wise and sound.

The third weakness to which the honorable member for Bendigo referred was in respect of references and appeals. He suggested that delay would be caused by references. On that point I am inclined to agree with him. I fear that the provision for reference from a single commissioner, when a matter of public interest is brought to the fore, will contribute to the delay in industrial matters. The bill, as it stands, provides that, if one of the parties raises a matter of public interest, a single commissioner shall refer the matter to the president of the commission for decision as to whether or not the matter shall be heard in part, or in whole, by the single commissioner or shall be heard by a commission composed of three, of whom two shall be presidential members. It seems to me, when such a reference is made, the president should not, or probably will not, of his own volition, and of his own knowledge, decide whether or not a matter of public interest is involved. I believe the president will be inclined to hear argument on the point. It may well be that the parties will appear before the president sitting’ alone, to argue the matter of whether or not the public interest is involved. If the president decides that public interest is involved the matter will then have to be argued again before a commission composed of three members, two of whom will be presidential members. On the other hand, if the president decides, after considering the arguments, that public interest is not involved, he may send the matter back for decision by a single commissioner.

If one of the parties has raised the matter of public interest in the first instance, an award made by the single commissioner after the matter has been referred back will, by its very nature, fail on every point to satisfy one party. It seems likely, as a consequence, that one of the parties will feel aggrieved over some aspect of the award. If he doe.*, he will have the right to appeal from the decision of the single commissioner, provided he shows that public interest is involved. On appeal, the matter may go to the commission constituted by not fewer than three members, of whom at least two shall be presidential members, for argument whether public interest is involved. Whether such a hearing will amount to the hearing of an appeal in itself, I do not know. As this provision is drafted, there may well be two, or even three, hearings of the same matter. Let me hasten to say that I believe provision for appeals is necessary. However, T consider that, if one of the parties to a hearing before a single commissioner raises the matter of public interest, the matter should automatically go immediately^ to the commission constituted by not fewer than three members, of whom at least two shall be presidential members. This would cut out at least one hearing other than the first. The matter having been argued before the commission as constituted for the hearing of an appeal, the award made should be final and conclusive in the terms of the bill. Although I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo on that matter up to a point, I disagree with his proposition that appeals should not be provided for. At least, I should say that the honorable member appeared to suggest that there should be no provision for appeals. I am not quite sure what position he took up, because he seemed to contradict himself on that point.

The honorable member for Bendigo suggested, first, that there was a weakness in the conciliation provisions of this measure. However, he failed to point out the weakness that he alleges to exist. Indeed, the bill, far from being weak, is, in essence, directed towards the promotion of conciliation for the settlement of disputes without the need to resort to arbitration. I welcome the provision for compulsory conferences, including the sound and just provision for heavy and adequate penalties upon any one who defies the request of a presidential member or a commissioner to attend a compulsory conference called so that a settlement may be made without resort to arbitration. However, I consider that the salary of £2,750 proposed to be paid to a conciliator who may be appointed is totally inadequate, l t is less than that proposed to be paid to a commissioner. The role of conciliator requires a man of outstanding character who is held in great respect. He should have the personality and innate capacity to extract from the opposing parties at any conference at which he presides points upon which agreement may be reached. The role of conciliator is extremely important, and the speeding up of arbitration’ procedures and of the making of decisions in industrial matters, which is so fervently desired by Australians of all political views, would be better served if we were able to advertise for conciliators at greater salaries that would attract men of the highest capacity. However, I compliment the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Government on the provision that a conciliator shall not report to the commission unless it is agreed by all parties that he should report.

I fervently hope events will prove me wrong, but I fear that the proposed composition of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, by its very nature, will prevent it from functioning harmoniously. The qualifications required for the two classes- of members are different. A presidential member must be either a judge of the present Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration immediately before this measure becomes law, or alternatively, in the future, a barrister or solicitor of the High Court of Australia or of the Supreme Court of a State, of not less than five years’ standing. A lay commissioner, as I shall describe the nonpresidential members of the commission for convenience, is not required to have specified qualifications, but I have little doubt that the Executive, in its wisdom, will, appoint as commissioners men of suitable capacity. The tenure of office for the two classes of members of the commission also varies. A presidential member shall hold office until he resigns or attains the age of 70 years, or, if he was a judge of the present Commonwealth Arbitration Court, until he resigns or dies. A lay commissioner, on the other hand, shall hold office only until he attains the age of 65 years. The provisions for the removal from office of members also make a distinction. A presidential member shall not be removed from office except by an address to the Governor-General by both Houses of the Parliament, in the same session of the Parliament, on the grounds of proved incapacity. A lay commissioner may be removed from office by the same procedure, but, in addition, he may be suspended by the Governor-General on the grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity.

The greatest distinction occurs in the matter of salary. The president of the commission will receive a salary of £6,500 per annum, and the other presidential members will receive £5,500 per annum, these salaries being the same as those at present paid to the Chief Judge and the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration “Court. The senior lay commissioner will receive £3,500 a year, and the other lay commissioners £3,000. The net result, will be that there will be on the commission one man who will receive more than twice as much a>the ordinary lay commissioners will receive. There is considerable distinction’ made in the qualifications, the tenure of office, the method of removal from office, and the salary provided, but, in many respects, the responsibilities of the two classes of members of the commission’ will be co-extensive. The determination of the basic wage, long service leave, standard hours of work, and female rates is reserved to the commission in presidential session, but the responsibility of all members of the commission in other matters is co-extensive to a great degree.

The bill provides that a single commissioner may refer a matter to the commission, which, for this purpose shall be constituted by not fewer than three members, of whom at least one shall be’ a presidential member, and one shall he. where practicable, the commissioner who referred the matter, but the members other than the presidential members are not specified in proposed section 16g. which provides for the. constitution of the commission for the hearing of appeals. It is provided that when the members of ‘ the commission are evenly divided on an appeal the opinion of the president shall prevail and that, in his absence, the opinion of the senior presidential members shall prevail. But it would not be difficult to imagine a situation when there sat, as an appeal commission, two presidential members, one of whom was the president, and a lay commissioner. The lay commissioner, by allying himself with the junior presidential member, in a majority decision, could reverse the decision proposed by the president. I feel that in this commission, as it is proposed to be established, there is - to take an analogy from a field I know - a combination of the functions of a supreme court and a county court within the same framework. I think that the legislation, which [ believe will be effective, would be even more effective if the roles of the various oommissioners, with their separate characteristics, were more clearly divorced.

I turn to the amendment moved by the Opposition. It is divided into three parts, and the first and second parts are subdivided. The first paragraph of the first part, states -

The bill confirms rank injustice by continuing some of the worst features of the existing legislation, e.g., penalties enforceable by process of contempt of court. These should be eliminated. In practice they have been enforced only against trades unions, their officers and members and have caused grave industrial unrest

I remind the House that those provisions were inserted in the legislation in 1947 by our friends on the other side of the chamber. Sanctions were no strangers then to the present Leader of the Opposition, nor were they strangers to the Prime Minister of that day, the late Mr. Chifley. So, sir, I feel that you must come to the conclusion that the Opposition is attempting only to distract the attention of the people of Australia from the real issues involved here. The same words appear in this amendment as have appeared in others moved by the Opposition. There are. the same old appeals to the masses and the same lack of reality. The second paragraph of the first part of the amendment states -

The bill maintains and extends the present systems of appeal from decisions and reference of matters. These systems have caused frustration, delay and grave injustice to salar and wage earners within federal jurisdiction.

I have already mentioned this matter to-night and, I think, have made by views on it quite clear. But apparently the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has failed to make his views clear to his colleagues, because I distinctly recall that he said he did noi wish it to be thought that he considered that appeals were necessarily wrong.

Earlier in the debate, the honorable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr. Curtin) referred on several occasions to tame-cat union secretaries. Does hp want tame-cat conciliators? Does he want a tame-cat commissioner to be appointed by a future executive when, perhaps, by some fluke or mischance, the honorable gentlemen now on the other side of the House occupy the Government benches? Does he want a tame-cat conciliator who would make awards, such as those suggested by the honorable member for Bendigo, which paid no regard whatever to the public interest? Is that what is wanted by the Labour party? Is this a reasoned amendment, put forward seriously for the consideration of the House? In the third paragraph of the second part of the amendment it is suggested that in all cases where agreement is reached between parties in dispute, whether under the legislation or otherwise, the agreement shall be certified by the appropriate authorities. Honorable gentlemen opposite completely forget the public interest. I believe that all members of this House were elected in the belief that their actions in the Parliament would be motivated only by regard for the public interest. The fact that the members of the Opposition have so flagrantly abandoned that elementary principle astonishes me, and leads me to believe that we should pay no heed to anything contained in their amendment. The amendment also asks for -

The elimination of all unnecessary forms and technical legal formalities, orders for costs and professional legal advocacy.

Let me take this opportunity to refer to the bill. Proposed section 16z (b) reads as follows : -

The Commission is not bound to act in a formal manner and is not bound by any rules of evidence but may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks just.

Can we believe that the paragraph of the amendment that I have just read is intended to be taken seriously, when we know that what is suggested in it is already proposed in the bill ? A reading of proposed section 16z would repay any honorable member. Paragraph (c) of the section states -

The Commission shall act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits nf the case, without regard to technicalities and legal forms.

Do the members of the Opposition suggest that they read the bill before they formulated their amendment? I wonder whether they did read it. They suggest that there should be an abandonment of professional legal advocacy. I could not agree to that. The bill proposes that’ power shall be given to the commission to grant leave for legal representation when it feels that the subject-matter of a case is such that that ought to be done. Lt proposes also that, if all the parties agree, leave for professional advocates to appear may be given by the commission. It may be that the bill might reasonably have gone further and provided that any party should have a right to be legally represented, but on that matter I have not reached a conclusion. However, the bill certainly does propose that legal representation may be permitted, with the consent of the parties, in any case; or, without the consent of all parties, in cases where the subject-matter is such that the commission feels that legal representation should be permitted.

The value of legal representation in cases before tribunals of this nature is shown by reference to the basic wage case of some years ago. From memory, I think that the hearing of that case occupied 172 sitting days. About three, weeks ago, the court concluded another investigation of the basic wage, and a decision is imminent. The time occupied by the hearing of that case was less than 30 days. On that occasion, the parties were all represented by paid legal advocates. So I feel that the capacity of the commission to permit legal representation, allied with power to limit the time taken to present a party’s case, will go a long way towards the attainment of the ideal that is in the minds of all of us - that the machinery of conciliation and arbitration shall function quickly and adequately. The final part of the amendment states -

And, in the further opinion of this House, an essential feature of an adequate and effective Australian industrial arbitration system should be to vest in the Parliament of the Commonwealth full powers both in relation to industrial matters generally and also to just fixation of prices and profits on an Australia-wide basis.

I have never heard a suggestion for the complete unification of Australia and the abandonment of the federal principle so succinctly expressed. But let us consider the amendment as it stands, without bringing in constitutional considerations. Honorable members will recall that in 1954 an election was held. They will recall that the leaders of the parties made policy speeches, and they will recall the policy speech delivered by the Leader of th Opposition, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), in which he suggested that if his party were returned to office the people of Australia would receive a multitude of benefits, not the least of which would be the abolition of the means test. He said that all pensions would be increased, that the maximum advance payable under the War Service Homes Act would be increased to £3,500, and the rate of interest on advances reduced. He said that home building would be encouraged by making available advances to the amount of £3,500, at 3 per cent, interest, repayable over a period of 45 years. In other words, his policy called for the provision of capital to anybody who wanted it, at the lowestinterest rate. During this sessional period, however, the right honorable gentleman has consistently asked the Government where it proposes to get the capital to finance its works and social services programmes. At the time of the 1954 election campaign an assessment was made of the amount of money that would have been required to provide the benefits that the Leader of the Opposition promised to the people of Australia. It was estimated that an amount of £400,000,000 would have been required for that purpose. If this Parliament had the power to legislate regarding prices and profits, imagine the sort of bargaining machinery that would be set. in motion! There is included in the amendment the phrase, “matters generally “, and I have no doubt that that phrase could include the matters of wages and hours. I can also imagine a policy speech in which promises would be made to increase wages by £10, £20 or £100 a week, and to reduce the hours of work. I feel that the error of that way is so obvious that not a single person in Australia is likely to be deluded by such proposals.

There is not one portion of the amendment submitted by the Opposition that warrants careful consideration. The only matters in the amendment that require anything like reasoned consideration have already been adequately provided for in the bill.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) 1 10.23]. - I wish to congratulate the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) on one of the finest maiden speeches that have ever been delivered in this Parliament. He gave this House a very valuable historical account of the great struggle of the trade unions for the right to be recognized as the custodians of the labour that the working class has to sell in order to maintain its living and cultural standards. That account will prove of benefit to every honorable member who heard it.

I was also interested in the speech delivered by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). One would naturally expect him, being a barrister, to try to clutter up the courts with barristers on the bench and at the bar. All lawyers are the same in that regard, and that is the trouble with our present arbitration system. A person may be appointed as a judge only if he has practised for five years as a lawyer in the High Court or a Supreme Court of a State. It flatters a judge, therefore, to have appearing before him men who also are lawyers. He loves to don his wig and gown, fondly believing that when he does so he looks wise, even though his’ judgments prove the contrary. He loves to see, paraded before him at the bar, a host of barristers similarly wigged and gowned, because it appeals to his vanity to think that he is the greatest of the great. He sits in air-conditioned surroundings, as the honorable member for Cunningham has explained, in mahogany panelled rooms, equipped with air conditioning, fluorescent lights and wall-to-wall carpets. Having alighted from his car in his private garage at the basement of the court building he travels the five floors to his chambers in a private elevator, so that he will not be contaminated by contact with the lesser lights who may be using the public elevator. In the glorious isolation of the magnificent court room, and in the glorious serenity of the atmosphere of the court, he proceeds to pontificate on what is good or bad for the people who have only their labour to sell. The speech that we have heard from the lawyer representing the electorate of Bruce is, therefore, only what one would expect. In the same way, tho speech that was delivered by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne), who is also a lawyer, is exactly what on* would expect to hear from that honorable gentleman.

Mr Chaney:

– What about the Opposition’s four amendments?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I shall deal with the amendments. The honorable member mentioned four, but he Wl. be glad to know that a lot more than four will be submitted. For example, we shall, in the committee stage, give the honorable member for Bruce an opportunity to make good his criticism of that part of the bill which provides that the salaries of conciliators shall be only £2,750, while those of the commissioners shall be £3,000 a year. We shall test the honorable member for Bruce on that, and give him the opportunity of voting with us when we move an amendment to the appropriate clause.

I now refer ‘ briefly to the statement made by the honorable member concerning the basic-wage hearing by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Let me remind the House that it is approximately three years since the court heard that case and froze the basic wage, and that there has been no increase in the basic wage since then. The hearing of the case that increased the basic wage occupied about 160 days, and one of the reasons why that length of time was required was that among counsel briefed by the employers was none other than the present

Mr. Justice Wright. It suited Mr. Justice Wright, who was then the solicitor appearing for the employers’ organization, to make the case string out as long as he could, because he knew that it would mean two things-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-Order! The honorable member may not reflect on the judiciary.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I am not reflecting on the judiciary. I am talking about a lawyer named Sid Wright, and [ am not talking about a man who was then a judge. Incidentally, in the debate on this bill, we have a perfect right to deal fully and frankly with the judiciary, because that is one of the very purposes of the bill. I want to deal with the lawyer named Sid Wright who, for purposes that I am about to explain, quite naturally did everything he could to make the case string out as long as possible. The longer the case lasted the more money he received for appearing for the employers. The longer the case lasted, the longer the employers would be spared the expense of paying any increase that might be granted in the basic wage.

This Parliament is now being asked to perpetuate an arbitration system under which the court has kept the basic wage frozen for the last three years. It is a system under which margins have been frozen since 1947, except in the case of a few who were receiving exceptionally high margins in that year. It is a system under which the court has imposed savage penalties on unions under contempt of court provisions in the present Arbitration Act.

Before I leave the honorable member for Bruce, I want to direct attention to the fallacy of his criticism of that part of the Oppositions amendment which states, very rightly, that the Parliament should be vested with full powers to deal with industrial matters - and it means all industrial matters. That is what the amendment means. It means that, if necessary, the Parliament should have the right to determine the basic wage, the standard hours and long service leave. Why should not the Commonwealth Parliament have those powers? Every State, of the Commonwealth already has exactly those powers. If it is correct for every

State Parliament to have the powers specified in paragraph C of the amendment, how can any one say that the Commonwealth Parliament ought not to have them also?

Mr Bowden:

– I say it.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– W e would expect the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) to say it, but no one who represented a. working-class electorate would say that this Parliament should not have the same powers as the State parliaments. Incidentally, 1 remind him that apparently he does not agree with the former Chief Judge of the High Court, Sir John Latham, who, in expressing his views on constitutional reform, repeatedly made it clear that one of the most pressing constitutional reforms was the need for the Commonwealth Parliament to be able to determine industrial matters in relation to wages, hours, long service leave and other matters. The Chief Judge pointed out that it was true that if these powers were conferred upon the Commonwealth Parliament, they could be abused. Of course they could, but it is equally true that the powers that the State governments now enjoy could be abused, but as His Honour pointed out, if a government abused them, it would have to face the electors within three years and could be thrown out of office for having done so. When the court has the sole power to determine these things, no one else has the right to upset its decisions, because the judges are appointed for life. They need not care two hoots about public opinion. We believe that that is entirely wrong.

I want, now, to deal with some aspects of the bill to which we are completely opposed. One part of the new measure will give the court the right, on its own motion, to deal with a particular matter, even though there is no dispute before it. That was done in the basic wage hearing. After the court decided to peg the basic wage in respect of the metal trades award, it proceeded, on its own motion,, and in spite of the opposition of employers and employees, to peg the basic wage in some of the other awards. Honorable members may recall that the Australian Railways Union, in Tasmania, entered into a private agreement with, the Tasmanian Railways Commissioner that the quarterly adjustment of the basic wage should continue, but the court, on its own motion, and without being requested by either the employers or the employees to do so, proceeded to force them to accept a pegged basic wage.

The bill also provides for compulsory conferences, but the clause to which we object is that under which a commissioner “ may “, if in his opinion it is desirable, refer a dispute into compulsory conference. We say that the commissioner ought to be compelled to refer a dispute into compulsory conference whenever he believes that such a method can settle a particular dispute before him. Moreover, the bill provides that conferences may be held either in private or in public according to the opinion of the conciliator or the commissioner. We say that all conferences between disputants should be held in private because when they are held in public, the parties to a dispute have the unhappy knack of playing to the gallery. The press is usually present and, even if it is not, members of the public can attend. I am pleased to note that in the gallery tonight we have Mr. Yelland, one of the leading representatives of the Employers Federation in Australia. I venture to say that he will agree with me when I suggest that one of the most important things in settling industrial disputes is for the disputants to ‘ be called into private conference so that this atmosphere of playing to the gallery will not predominate proceedings.

I wish to refer now to the portion of the bill relating to the powers of the conciliator. The bill says that the conciliator’s job shall be to bring the parties together. But then, it goes on to say that, having persuaded them to reach agreement, such agreement cannot become law and be enforceable unless the commission is of the opinion that it does not contravene public interest. That is entirely wrong and a contradiction of justice. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) gave the show away - I see that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) is nodding his head in agreement with what the honorable member for Bruce said when he said that it is quite all right for the employers to make any profits they like, and charge whatever prices they like for the things that the worker must buy, regardless of public interest.

Mr Hulme:

– Who said that?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The honorable member’s party has repeatedly said it. In 1948, when a referendum was held seeking for Parliament the right to determine, in the public interest, the prices of the goods that the worker has to buy, the honorable member and his party urged the people to reject that proposition. Having rejected the proposition that the public interest ought to be considered in fixing the prices of the commodities which the employer has to sell, they turn around and are so inconsistent as to say that when we fix the price of labour - the only thing that the worker has to sell - it is not only right, but imperative, to take into account the public interest. We are not prepared to agree to that. We say that if the employer is prepared to reach agreement with the employee before a conciliator it is no one else’s business, and no one should poke his nose in and try to prevent that agreement from being given effect. I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) that one of the noteworthy aspects of industrial agreements is that no penal provisions need be included in them to ensure their observance.

Dr Evatt:

– The conciliation that took place on the Snowy River project is an example.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– As the Leader of the Opposition suggests, the Snowy River project is an example. I want to deal with this aspect of conciliation. At present a team of men is engaged in the construction of tunnels at the Snowy River project. They are members of the Australian Workers Union and several other unions, and are working under agreements that have been made as the result of the activities of the New South Wales Industrial Commission. No disputes of any kind have taken place since the present agreement was made. Every one has worked in harmony. Relations between employer and employee have been very good and the men have established world output records. In the negotiations which preceded the making of the agreement, Mr. Joseph Dunovan Jacobs the engineer to the Kaiser- WalshPeriniRaymond project, stated that the world record for the building of a tunnel i 6 feet in diameter, such as that in which the men are now working in the EucumbeneTumut area, was 863 feet a week. That had been achieved at Rock Creek, California. He said that he did not expect the Australian workers to be able to do anything like that under existing conditions, but was prepared to offer a bonus of £6 a foot for all tunnelling in excess of 144 feet a week. What happened? As soon as the new agreement was entered into - in the very first week - tunnelling on this particular job increased from 153 to 270 feet. In the very next week, the distance increased to 300 feet, and for the week ended the 13th May it reached 481 feet. For the second time, the world’s record for tunnelling was broken. That was achieved as a result of the conciliation which applied under the New South Wales Industrial Commission and was the result of common sense applied by both parties.

Dr Evatt:

– What union was involved ?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The Australian Workers Union and some sixteen or seventeen other unions. Under this bill, before an agreement such as that could be entered into, the parties would have to go along to the commission and get permission to have the agreement certified before it would apply. I want to know this: What right has this Government to include in this bill a provision which will take away from the people who are now controlling the industrial conditions of the men and the company concerned the right to settle their own affairs, and to hand it over to the federal arbitration commission? I invite the Minister to pay careful attention now to what I am saying, because I have been authorized by the secretary of the Australian Workers Union this afternoon to state to the House that immediately this bill is passed, the Australian Workers Union will take out a writ in the High Court of Australia challenging the validity of the section.

Mr Turnbull:

– Let them do it.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The honorable member says, “ Let them do it”. The fact remains that we have already taken out one writ in the High Court of Australia against the intervention of Mr. Justice Wright. Although the writ was taken out nearly two years ago, this Government has not been game enough to test the matter before the High Court. Mr. Justice Wright had to retire from the jurisdiction because of the High Court writ taken out against him. If it had not been for the injunction issued on the day after Mr. Justice Taylor made this agreement that led to the settlement of the dispute, the whole of the Snowy Mountains scheme to-day would probably be convulsed in one unending, chaotic industrial dispute.

Dr Evatt:

– That is probably what. Government supporters want.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– That is probably what these people really want. I shall now refer to the clause of the bill that seeks to take away from the unions the right to strike. Under the new act, the industrial court will be empowered to order a union to continue to work. If the union does not continue to work in accordance with an award that it considers to be unjust, then the industrial court will have the power to regard the refusal to obey the order as a contempt and to impose a fine of £500 on the union, a fine of £200 on a union official or twelve months’ imprisonment, and a. fine of £50 on the employees concerned. Let me tell this Parliament that the workers of Australia are not likely to be bludgeoned into submission, as this Government seems to imagine is possible, by the application of the penal clauses of this bill. As the honorable member for Cunningham very rightly stated in his memorable maiden speech, the right to strike is the one thing that differentiates the free man from the slave. The workers of Australia are not likely now to go back to the days when the ruling class was able to call out the military to fire on the workers and force them into submission. What I want honorable members on the Government side to remember is that a working man has only one thing to sell - that is his labour power. He has as much right to combine with his fellow workers in order to get the maximum amount of wages for his labour as the wool barons have to withhold their wool from the market when r.hey cannot get enough money for it.

Mr Anderson:

– Has not the worker the right to work, too?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– He has the right to work, and the right to refuse to work. If he has not the right to refuse to work, then he is no different from a slave. Those are the conditions that this Government is seeking to fasten on to the workers through the medium of this bill. i warn members of the Government of this fact, that they must not fool themselves that they can coerce the working class of this country into submission, as they seem to think they can. The working class of Australia is now organized into one of the most powerful political bodies in this country. Nearly 2,250,000 workers to-day are organized behind their trade unions, and this Government will enforce the provisions of this bill at its peril. I warn it that the unions are not prepared to accept the bill.

Mr Turnbull:

– You are trying to intimidate the Government.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– It is not intimidation; it is a promise. I am speaking as a responsible official of the Australian Workers Union. I am the chief executive officer of the Australian Workers Union in South Australia. Supporters of the Government talk about the shearers. Let me tell the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who is always squawking about the shearers, that the Australian Workers Union intends to stand solidly behind them in their struggle for wage justice. What happened in this case? A commissioner heard the employers’ side, heard onequarter of the union’s side and then made an interim award granting the employers’ application. He said to the union, in effect, “ If you would like me to continue the hearing, I will give a decision later “. The union is not prepared to accept arbitration on that basis. Arbitration is dead in Australia. It is dead because it is not the kind of arbitration that the Labour movement thought it was contracting into in 1904 and the years that followed. It is not the kind of arbitration that we got from the 1947 Chifley act, and it is to the eternal credit of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that he was the architect of the greatest and most effective arbitration system that the world has yet seen. Thi.Government, a government of tyros and of make-believes, upset an act that worked admirably during the most difficult transitional period that this country ha* passed through - the time when the country was changing from a war-time to a peace-time economy, when men were coming out of the armed forces and were trying to adapt themselves to peace-time occupations. During that time, more disputes were occurring, but more dispute:were settled, than at any time in th>history of the Commonwealth. The number of disputes was five times greater than it is to-day, but the number of disputes unsettled then was not onetwentieth of the number of unsettled disputes to-day.

That part of the bill which gives to the employers the right to ask the court to force a union to allow some scab to join its membership has not yet been referred to in this debate. I have no doubt whatever that when the Stevedoring Industry Bill is introduced, we will see in it a similar provision. It will be ‘ a provision that will not only give the employee the right to go to the court seeking admission to membership of a union, but also give the employer tinright to go to the court and seek to force the union to accept as a member some scab who has broken down every union condition for which it had fought. Thi*Government says that it has decided to do away with some of the legalisms in the system, because it proposes in the bill to prohibit the appearance of legal representatives unless it is with the approval of the employee and of the employer.

Mr Bowden:

– That is fair.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– That sounds fair, but if one reads a little further, one finds that the bill contains these words, “ or by permission of the commission “. What can happen is thai one of the parties to the dispute can say. “ I object to counsel appearing in this case”. The commission can then say, “ Yes, we know that a part of the act gives you the right to object, but you have forgotten the other part which gives us the right to override the objection. Since we are lawyers, we like to see lawyers appearing at our bar; it appeals to our ego and flatters our vanity to think we are listening to lawyers and not to ordinary common laymen”. Having decided to allow the lawyer to appear - a Queen’s counsel, or a host of Queen’s counsel - the court, after the case has been concluded, then says, “Well, I am very impressed with the legal technicalities put forward by the eight Queen’s counsel who are appearing for the employers, and I have decided, on the technicalities that have been advanced, that the union should be non-suited, because there is some tiny section of the act which I think you must have overlooked and which the Queen’s counsel have pointed out. Therefore, you are out of court. I order the whole of the costs of the Queen’s counsel to be paid by the union. The case is dismissed.”

Mr Davis:

– Hear, hear !

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) says, “ Hear, hear ! “ Does he believe in that kind of arbitration? If he does, then it is no wonder that his party has failed tounderstand the mentality of the working people. It is of no use this Government thinking that all it has to do is to bring a piece of legislation into this Parliament and pass it, and that the workers will go into submission and humbly accept everything the Government tries to ram down their throats.

I tell this Government that it is dealing with a very powerful body of public opinion when it is dealing with the organized might of the trade unions. That organized might of the trade unions will be used to defeat the Government in relation to this legislation if it attempts to use the contempt powers against the unions as they have been used in the past. I venture to say that there is only one thing that saved this Government from being thrown out of office as a result of probably one of the most serious industrial upheavals in the history of the Commonwealth - the recent waterside workers dis pute - and that was the decision of the Australian Council of Trades Unions to withdraw from the dispute. That dispute should have proved to the Government that no government, even with allthepower of the Army and all the force of the law, can stand against a rebellious trade union movement that can speak for 2,500,000 people and their families.

Government supporters interjecting,

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– It is all very well for honorable members opposite to shout, but I remind them that governments that were more strongly entrenched than the one they support have been overthrown by the combined strength of the trade union movement in other parts of the world. If this Government wants to bring about industrial chaos and industrial revolution, I suggest that it should continue to act as it is acting now.It will find that the things for which i; stands will be thrown overboard just as surely as they were thrown overboard in other days and other places.

I give this warning to the Government Give serious thought to this matter before you go any further. The trade union movement is supporting the Labour party in its opposition to the bill, and at the committee stage we shall indicate in detail the parts of the bill which we believe must be altered before the measure can give any semblance of justice. Even then,I say that if all the amendments that we propose were accepted they would not give us what a model act ought to provide. because the only real answer to the trouble with which we are trying to deal is the adoption-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Drummond) adjourned.

page 2507

ADJOURNMENT

Roy al Australian AIR Force.

Motion (by Mr. Cramer) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr POLLARD:
Lalor

.- Last night, I raised a matter of considerable importance, particularly to serving members of the Royal Australian Air Force. I received no answer from any member of the Government, no promise of investigation, and no indication of a weakening of the attitude that had been adopted by the Minister in regard to the matter. It is of urgent importance, and whenever an honorable member, regardless of the party to which he belongs, raises a matter of considerable importance, at least some indication should be given by the Government whether it proposes to investigate the subject-matter of the complaint or whether it rejects the suggestion that something further should be done. Some information should be furnished.

Mr Cramer:

– When did the honorable member speak of this matter?

Mr POLLARD:

– Last night.

Mr Cramer:

– I do not know anything about it.

Mr POLLARD:

– Of course, the Minister knows nothing about it. However, I have no doubt that the staff of the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) last night directed his attention to it.

Mr Davis:

– All the supporters of the honorable member’s party have left the chamber.

Mr POLLARD:

– It is a pity that the honorable member for Deakin. would not go out. He would not be missed.

Mr Failes:

– Then the honorable member for Lalor would be left on his own.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order!

Mr POLLARD:

– The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), who hopes that I shall be left on my own, hopes in vain. Some time ago, I raised the case of a serving airman, in which his wife and children are concerned. He has been posted to Darwin, where no accommodation is available for his wife and children after they have been evicted from the quarters which they now occupy in the vicinity of Melbourne. He is being sent to Darwin for a prolonged period of service. The honorable member who Laughs and considers this to be a matter of no importance may have to account for his laughter and his attitude at some future period. This is not a matter for laughter, but one which calls for the serious consideration of all honorable members. This airman is due to leave Melbourne on the 27th of this month; and to-day is the 24th. As I pointed out last night, some indication of the attitude of the Minister and the Government should be furnished.

I do not know what the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is at the table, is prepared to do. Where is his colleague ?

Mr Cramer:

– Why did not the honorable member ask the Minister for Air about it to-day?

Mr POLLARD:

– I put the case before the House last night. Surely, the Minister does not mean to tell me that the members of the Government are so lax in carrying out their duties that they do not refer to the happenings on the motion for the adjournment of the House on the preceding evening.

Mr Cramer:

– Surely, the honorable member knows better than that.

Mr POLLARD:

– I challenge the Minister in charge of the House to point to an instance, during the period that I was a Minister, of a problem being put to me concerning an urgent matter when I did not furnish an answer at the earliest practicable moment and, if the matter were raised on the motion for the adjournment, promise an investigation. Yet, I received no promise of investigation last night, and, as I say, I have had no indication of the attitude of the Government. I want to know what the Government proposes to do about this matter.

Mr Hulme:

– The honorable member did not sound serious last night.

Mr POLLARD:

– Apparently, because the matter does not affect the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) or his wife and children, this is a matter of no consequence to him. It is certainly of consequence to me.

Mr Cramer:

– What is the honorable member’s problem?

Mr POLLARD:

– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is in the House, is a more reasonable Minister to deal with and has some sense of responsibility. It is obvious that the Minister for the Army is quite irresponsible. If the Minister for Labour and National Service wants the story repeated, I shall do so, because it is worth repeating.

Here is the case of a young airman, with a wife and two children, who is at present serving at an air force station about 20 miles from Melbourne. Approximately a fortnight or three weeks ago, he was notified that he had been posted r.o Darwin and that there was no accommodation there for his wife and children who, at the moment, are accommodated at the station where he is serving. His wife and children have to vacate the quarters they now occupy. Obviously, if there is no accommodation at Darwin for his wife and family, he cannot take them there. I want to know, from any Minister in the House, where that unfortunate woman and her children can hope to find accommodation at a reasonable price, on short notice, in Melbourne to-day. I pointed out last night that every member of the Government is responsible in this matter. The Government looks after men who are serving Australia thousands of miles from this country - and so they should be looked after; but I suggest that the Government should provide accommodation not only for the forces in Malaya, or wherever they may have gone, but also for their wives and families, so that they may accompany them. This airman to whom I have referred might just as well he sent to Malaya, because if he were sent there at least his wife and children would be able to accompany him.

I stated last night that the Minister had intimated to me in a letter-

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– Let the Minister answer.

Mr POLLARD:

– I should like the Minister for Air to give me some intimation of what he proposes to do.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– Then give him a chance to answer.

Mr Townley:

– Let the honorable member carry on, and then I shall tell him something of the facts.

Mr POLLARD:

– I wrote to the Minister about this case and he told me what the regulations were. He told me he was sorry. What is the good of being sorry? We want action. One of two things is required. Either accommodation should be. provided at Darwin, or this man’s posting should be cancelled. Perhaps a single man, or somebody else, should go to Darwin, but in the meantime something should be done to see that no injustice is inflicted on this man or any other man in similar circumstances. I think the Minister will admit that on previous occasions when I have raised in this House the matter of injustice to returned soldiers he pooh-poohed the idea.

Mr Townley:

– Who did?

Mr POLLARD:

– You did.

Mr Townley:

– That is completely untrue. 1 will answer you.

Mr POLLARD:

– You say it is com;pletely untrue. Did I not raise in this Parliament the matter of the war service homes at Glenroy?

Mr Townley:

– You went there and stirred up strife.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order I

Mr POLLARD:

– There was no strife about it. That is a lie. Did you not pooh-pooh it? Were you not backed by some returned soldiers, and when you same to Glenroy you brought seven men with you to blow me out, but 120 servicemen blew you out on the spot.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr POLLARD:

– It is true that, later, the Minister was decent enough - of course, he had no alternative - to rectify the injustice that was being inflicted on these men. I do not raise frivolous questions in this Parliament. I ask the Minister to do the right thing now, as he did the right thing on that occasion.

Mr TOWNLEY:
Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation - [11.1]. - I shall say just a few words in regard to this case. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard · Denison · LP

raised it last night. If he had been sincerely interested in this case he might have come to me.

Mr Pollard:

– I rise to order. Is the Minister questioning my sincerity on this issue ?

Mr TOWNLEY:

– Yes.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! No point of order is involved.

Mr Pollard:

– I object to the Minister’s statement, anyway.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– If the honorable member objects, I shall withdraw it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member claims that he has been misrepresented, he knows the remedy at his disposal. He may not object now.

Mr Pollard:

– If the Minister has to resort to these tactics, that indicates that he is a weak man.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order 1 The honorable member will obey the Chair. His remarks were more objectionable than were those used by the Minister, and I remind him of that fact.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– The facts are quite plain. When the honorable member for Lalor raised the question with me, after [ had examined the matter and ascertained the Air Force procedure I wrote to him and gave him the facts. My point was that if he had come to me instead of seeking publicity by raising the matter on the motion for the adjournment last night, I could have given him facts which would have helped him. These are the facts: Fct five years the honorable member was a Minister in the previous Government, and during the whole of that period that Government did not. provide in the Royal Australian Air Force married quarters for one single family.

Mr Pollard:

– Deal with this case. I invite the Minister to deal with the case I have raised.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor will remain silent.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– Since this Government has been in office it has already provided 622 houses for married Air Force personnel at a cost of £2,500,000, in an endeavour to overtake the lag that existed because the Government of which the honorable member was a Minister fell down on the job and did nothing.

Mr Pollard:

– What are you going to do in this case?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor must give the Minister a chance to speak. He has already spoken and he is now refusing the Minister a. reasonable chance to reply.

Mr Pollard:

– The Minister is evading the issue.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– 1 am not evading the issue at all. The issue is simple and plain, as I will indicate in about one minute, if I can get a fair hearing for that time. At present we are doing everything possible to overtake the housing lag which we inherited from the previous Government. I shall not waste time giving a lot of facts and figures to reinforce and emphasize the case that I am making. I shall confine my remarks to the case of the airman involved. When he was posted to Darwin and the Air Force realized that he was in trouble about housing, his posting was deferred.

Mr Pollard:

– For how long? Fo> about a month?

Mp. TOWNLEY.- The deferment continued for a little while and special privileges were then given to him to get a house.

Mr Pollard:

– You know he cannot get one.

Mr TOWNLEY:

– He got a house. He was given leave from the Air Force to move into it, and he has moved into it. He is not without a house and his wife is not without a house. His posting will take effect now, after the Air Force has given him every opportunity to get accommodation for his family.

Mr Pollard:

– When did he get th, house? You will hear more of this.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr Pollard:

– Why did you not tell me that in your letter?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr TOWNLEY:

– Why did you not see me yesterday before you sought publicity by raising the matter in the House ?

Opposition members interrupting and continuing to interrupt,’ Mr. Deputy Speaker, under Standing Order 304, left the chair.

House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.

page 2511

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

The followinganswers to questions were circulated: -

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister. upon notice - 1.Is ita fact that, ona n umber of occasions,he has promised to table all the papers having reference to the double dissolution of the Parliament in 1951? 2.Is it a fact that, to date, be has failed to do so?

  1. Is he anxious to delay, or prevent. the tabling of the documents; if so, why?
  2. Does he intend, in accordance withhislatest promise, totable the documents before his contemplated departure for overseas at the endofthis month? 5.If so, is he ableto give a precise date as to when he proposes to make these historic documents available?
Mr Menzies:
LP

-The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 to 5. As the honorable member isaware, these papers have now been tabled.

Mr Curtin:

n asked the Prime Minister. upon notice -

Onhow many occasions has each member of the present Government gone overseas since the Government came into office in 1949?

Mr Menzies:
LP

– I refer the honorable member to my reply on this subject to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) which appears in Hansard for the 31st May, 1955.

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister. upon notice - 1.Is itthe practicefor honours tobe conferred upon residents of Australiaon the recommendation of either thePrime Minister or the Premier of a State? 2.Is it the practice torecommend the cancellation of such an honour if.subsequently , the recipient is convicted ofa serious offence against the law of the country concerned or if, forany other reason, the person is deemed to be unworthy? 3.Is it a fact that Sir Eugene Goosens received his honour on therecommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia?

  1. If so, is it the intention of the Prime Minister to recommend the cancellation of the award in the case of Sir Eugene Goosens in view of his conviction and fine for aserious breach of the Customs Regulations?

Mr-. Menzies. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are afollows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. I understand thatawards to recipientsof orders may be cancelled in certain circum stances, but it is not the practiceto cancel Knight Bachelorships.
  3. Yes. 4.No.
Mr Bryant:

askedthe Ministerfor the Army, upon notice -

  1. What sum was paid for the siteof Watsonia military camp, Victoria, when it, was first occupied ?
  2. What sum was paid for later acquisitions, and to whom was it paid?
  3. What is the present area?
  4. Bow much has been spent on works on the property, exclusive of routine maintenance, since the10th December, 1949?
  5. What is the camp’s present function?
Mr Cramer:
LP

r. - The answers tothe honorable member’s questions areas? follows : -

  1. £6,8786s.11d.
  2. £91,9435s. 7d. was paid for the pro perty previously owned by Dr. A. D. Meares
  3. The present area comprises 494 acres.
  4. £23,877.
  5. The camp is used extensively inthe training of the Citizen Military Forces, including national servicemen. Three poten tial officer and non-commissioned officer courses are conducted annually for national service trainees, each comprising 250 per sonnel. Tactical exercises are conducted for Citizen Military Forces officers and noncommissioned officers and rifle shooting is car ried outon two 30-yard rangesrecently completed. In addition, coaching classes are hold at Watson ia for examination and pro motion within the Citizen Military Forces.
Mr Hamilton:
CANNING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. Did the Chief of the Naval Staff, in a statement published in Perth on the 26th July, 1955, say that the Navy had accepted as a factthe increased strategic importance of Western Australia andthat this increasing importance was being taken into account in a complete re-assessment of strategy now being made in relation to the whole of Australia and South Fast Asia?
  2. If so, will the Minister state whether the Chief of the Naval Staff expressed the opinion of the Government?
  3. Did the Minister for the Army, when in Western Australia recently, say that the Commonwealth Government would increase the defence of Western Australia and that the Western Australian coast was vital in any plan to defend Australia because of its closeness to the trouble spots of theEast
  4. If so, did the Minister reflect the opinion of the Government?
  5. In view of these comments and the grave possibility of the Commonwealth of Nations losing the usefulness of the Trincomalee naval base in Ceylon and the Singapore navalbase, and. more particularly, as the entrance to Cockburn Sound is now much improved by the dredging of the channel through the

Success and Parmelia banks, is it proposed to construct any naval establishment on the Western Australian coast?

Sir PHILIP McBRIDE:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The Chief of the Naval Staff expressed the currentNaval Staff views. In this regard Kwinana oil refinery in Cockburn Sound and its associated oil tanker traffic have naturally increased the importance of the area and this change must be taken into account by the Naval Staff in planning the defence of sea communications in Australian home waters. 3 and 4.I am advised that the Minister for the Army did not make such a statement.
  3. Defence policy and the related programmes are continuously under review by the Government. The advantages of additional naval facilities in the Western Australian area are fully appreciated, but they are not of sufficient priority in the naval programme to be undertaken at present.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 May 1956, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560524_reps_22_hor10/>.