House of Representatives
20 March 1958

22nd Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 491


Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– Honorable members will recall that, on the appointment of the Honorable Howard Beale to the post of Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, the Minister for Immigration, the Honorable Athol Townley, was appointed to be Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production while continuing to be Minister for Immigration. It was not, of course, intended that he should continue to administer these three portfolios indefinitely, and he has to-day, by arrangement, resigned the portfolio of Minister for Immigration. His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has concurred in the appointment of the honorable member for Angas to this portfolio, and he will be sworn in as Minister by the Governor-General at a later hour to-day. Mr. Townley will continue as Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production. As soon as arrangements for the amalgamation of these two departments have been completed, he will administer the new joint department.

page 491




– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the Child Welfare Department of Western Australia is giving financial assistance to approximately 3,000 unemployed persons, many of whom have been refused assistance by the Commonwealth Employment Office. Also, is it a fact that there is an erroneous idea that all an unemployed person has to do is to register at the Commonwealth Employment Office and, if no work is available, he will automatically receive unemployment benefit? Is it not correct to say that assistance is being refused on certain grounds, the main ones being that loss of earnings cannot be proved, that the work history of the person indicates that he was not previously in full employment and that the person is not considered employable? Will the Minister relax this rigid interpretation of the law relating to-unemployed persons so that they can become eligible for unemployment benefit, and so that we can obtain some true indication of the unemployment figures throughout Australia?


– The honorable gentleman has rather complicated his question by the addition of some comments, but I shall attempt to dissect it. In answer to the first part of his question, I inform the honorable member that 1 am not personally aware of any special provision made by the State department to which he referred in relation to unemployed persons in Western Australia. I will have some inquiries made through my department and ascertain whether I can give him any facts on that matter. As to the conditions of eligibility for unemployment benefit provided by this Parliament, I point out that, apart from increases in the rate made by this Government during its term of office, as far as I know the present conditions of eligibility are identical with those that obtained when the honorable gentleman’s party was in office some years ago. However, I will check those points. I am quite certain that no restrictions have been imposed beyond those which existed then; it is possible that there has been some liberalization. The honorable member asks whether, in the way he suggests, we can get a more accurate indication of unemployment throughout Australia. As I have previously said in this place, I believe that out own methods are as comprehensive as any that can be reasonably devised to indicate employment trends and. indeed, to give a fairly accurate indication of the actual level of unemployment at any time. If these methods can be improved, I will be glad to examine any suggestions to that end. I have already invited the trade union movement to co-operate with me in devising a better method if it can suggest one.

page 491




– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question closely associated with the subject raised by the honorable member for Phillip yesterday. Last month I referred to an incident in Sydney in which the general secretary of the Seamen’s Union was arrested and charged with drunkenness, and was found to have tucked in his shirt the sum of £1,125, which he claimed was part of union funds.

Mr Curtin:

– He .hit the jackpot.


– The members of his union all thought he had plenty of sting in him. I asked the Minister whether rankandfile unionists were being protected by the proper keeping of accounts and whether these provisions were being observed; also whether it was possible to have these books of account audited by .the Commonwealth Auditor-General. The right honorable gentleman replied that he would study the position and give the House his views later. I ask “him if he can now give further details on this matter.


– As the honorable member .has indicated, I said that I would ascertain the facts on such safeguards ;as might exist at present in relation to trade union accounts. I have the details now; J think they are of general interest and I will give them.

Mr Ward:

– This is a “ Dorothy Dix”.


– There is no question of a “Dorothy Dix “.. The .honorable member asked dme whether i would :get the information and 1 said I would. He has now asked me whether 1 have it. I have it, and I propose to give it. Honorable members will be interested to know that section 152 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act requires ^organizations registered with .the Conciliation and Arbitration ‘Commission to keep an account, in a proper form, of the receipts, payments, .funds .and effects of the organization and of each branch of the organization. Sub-section .(4) of that section requires the organization ft© file with (the Registrar, once in each year, at such time as is prescribed, a copy of the records mentioned above, certified by a statutory declaration by the secretary .or other prescribed officer of the organization, to be a correct statement of the information contained therein.

Regulation J 32 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Regulations requires an account of the receipts, and so on, to -he filed with the Registrar within three months after the final audit in each year of the accounts of the organization or branch. Section 154 of the act requires every organization and every branch of an organization to appoint annually a competent person as its auditor and to make provision in that audit to have full and complete access to its books and documents. Section 143 <L) (>f) ‘makes it a ground for cancellation of registration of an organization if its accounts have not been duly audited or the accounts of the organization or ie auditor do not disclose the true financial position of the organization.

Section 157 (7) - ibis is .an important provision - provides that all .documents .filed with the Registrar under this section shall be available for inspection at the office of the Registrar.

In relation to the question of whether these provisions are being observed and enforced ‘by the Commonwealth Government, the answer is that the Industrial Registrar, who is primarily responsible for seeing that ‘the provisions referred to above are observed, has :been scrupulous in seeing that organizations under the act do comply with their obligations. “My understanding is that only one organization is currently in default and it ‘has been given notice to comply -with the legislation. It will Tse seen from these facts that there are quite rigid requirements which ‘are being closely observed.

page 492




– I ask the Minister for Trade whether Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has sought a licence to import from the United States of America the ‘Lockheed Electra aircraft about which the company has made many announcements. If so, has a licence been granted and ‘how many dollars are involved? I also ask him whether Trans-Australia Airlines has sought a licence to import aircraft other than Viscounts and Friendships. If !so, has Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited made any representations in the matter, and ‘has the licence been granted, deferred or refused?

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– I think it would not be a -proper .exercise of ministerial authority to disclose the individual applications of business people in this country for import licences, and I would not undertake to answer a question designed to gain information with .regard to a particular import licence. I think that the honorable member should direct his question to my colleague in another place for any information that he requires in this matter.

page 493




– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the 7th Infantry Brigade, with some attached units, is at present in camp in Queensland and will, during next week, spend five days in field training exercises under jungle conditions? Will the Minister have an opportunity during next week of visiting the brigade group while these exercises are being carried out, so that he can see the high standard of training that has been reached by the brigade and inspect in the field the position with regard to supplies and equipment?

Minister for the Army · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to see these exercises. I think it is the duty of a Minister for the Army to be present on such occasions whenever possible. Indeed, I always enjoy -visits and inspections of this character. Unfortunately, it will be impossible for me to visit the brigade next week. I may mention that in May the new soldiers’ club at Canungra will be opened. I propose to attend the ceremony and open the club, and, knowing the honorable member’s keen interest in Army matters, I suggest that he accompany me on that occasion.

page 493




– Is the Treasurer aware that a statement has been made to the effect that the Bank of New South Wales proposes to increase loans for housing, through its savings bank division, to the extent of £700,000 a month, and that during the current year it is expected that loans for housing from the Bank of New South Wales will total approximately £17,000,000? I ask the Tight honorable gentleman, first, whether these loans will be granted in the various States or whether they will be confined to New South Wales, and, secondly, whether they will be made to individuals under the Credit Foncier system or whether the whole amount will be allocated to building societies. At the present time, housing loans granted by the Commonwealth Trading Bank out of Commonwealth Savings Bank moneys are generally given under the Credit Foncier system to individuals, and I am, therefore, anxious to know what will be the position with regard to the money that is to be granted by the Bank of New South Wales. If money is allocated to building societies, the time for repayment of indivi dual loans may be much less than would be the case if loans were granted on the long-term Credit Foncier system.


– The question concerns the policy and administration of the Bank of New South Wales, particularly with regard to its savings bank department. It is a matter entirely for the Bank of New South Wales as to how the available money is allocated between the various States.

page 493




– Does the Minister for Social Services know that the special aim of the Apex clubs of Australia this year is to secure better conditions for civilian widows? Have representations been made by these clubs to the Minister asking for his sympathetic interest in this worthy object? Will the Minister fully investigate the pension rate of civilian widows and the allowances to their children with a view to ascertaining the significance of the Apex clubs’ selecting the civilian widows’ case as a special project?

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I am aware of the interest manifested by the Apex clubs of Australia in the welfare of civilian widows. Indeed, the Government is fully informed of the humanitarian motives of the Apex clubs and expresses satisfaction that such an important organization should devote much of its time to social welfare work of this description. My department has rendered what assistance it can to the Apex clubs of Australia in this particular project and in other projects. I have had cause to remind the Apex clubs that the social service benefits paid to civilian widows have been increased by this Government six times in the last eight budgets. I have had cause to remind the public generally that, in 1949, the best that the socialist government could do for the civilian widow was confined within the limit of £2 7s. 6d. a week. Since then the benefit has increased, as I have said, budget by budget, until, to-day, it is £4 12s. 6d. a week. That, of course, is an increase of 94.7 per cent. But, in addition to that, and for the first time in the social services history of our country, this Government has made provision at the rate of 10s. a week for every additional child after the first. In addition to that, the means test, both with respect to property and income, has been liberalized from time to time. So the civilian widows’ position, relatively, is immeasurably better than it has ever been before.

page 494




– I wish to ask the Minister for Defence, in the absence of the Minister for Supply, a question in relation to the Scott report on St. Mary’s which contained some critical comments on the administration of St. Mary’s. A copy of that document was removed from the Library. Will the honorable gentleman lay it on the table of the House or otherwise make it available?

Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I am sorry if I did not convey my intention clearly to the right honorable gentleman when I said, yesterday, that I would undertake to find out why the document was removed from the Library and that, if possible, I would have it replaced in the Library.

Dr Evatt:

– Will you do it urgently?


– Yes.

page 494




– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence whether the area around the Monte Bello Islands is still a prohibited area. If so, what is the reason for that? Will the Minister examine the possibility of removing restrictions on movement in that area?


– Last year, the prohibited area around the Monte Bello Islands was substantially reduced and it is proposed that, as soon as we can be sure that there is no danger of radiation to visitors to that place, the whole of the prohibition will be lifted. In accordance with our general practice of taking every care against radiation affecting human beings, I think we are completely satisfied that the present prohibition will have to stand. As soon as we are satisfied that the prohibition is no longer necessary, it will be removed.

page 494




– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. Persons in receipt of social service pensions frequently receive from the Department of Social Services questionnaires which they are requested to complete and post back to the department. Will the Minister consider a proposal to include with the questionnaire a reply-paid envelope in order to relieve the pensioner of the cost of postage entailed in providing the required information? Is it a fact that this practice already operates when the pension is first applied for?


– The questionnaires that are sent out from time to time by the Department of Social Services are constantly under review. They have been, I hope, improved from time to time, and I hope that that process will continue. The prepayment of postage has already been considered, but I give the honorable member an undertaking that I am prepared to consider it again.

page 494




– My question, which is directed to the Treasurer, concerns the remission of the sales tax on wigs. The right honorable gentleman will recall that, last year, I asked him whether he would favour the remission of the sales tax on wigs. He said that he would consider the matter when the next Budget was being prepared. I now remind the Treasurer of the promise that he gave last year, and ask him whether he will be good enough to consider removing this tax from the heads of the people who are least able to bear it.


– I can assure the honorable member that this matter has been listed for consideration in conjunction with the preparation of the forthcoming Budget.

page 494




– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service, who, a few minutes ago, told us about the provisions of the law that require organizations of employees to disclose the sources of their funds, and to have their accounts audited for almost public purposes. What provisions of the law apply similarly to organizations of employers? If there is some differentiation between organizations of employers and those of employees concerning the examination of accounts, and the like, will the Minister take steps to have this differentiation removed?


– The provisions of the law to which I referred relate to organizations registered with the registry of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I am not aware of any provision of substance applying to an employee organization that does not apply to an employer organization. I will confirm the point for the honorable gentleman.

Dr Evatt:

– Are the provisions applicable to both sides policed in the same way? That is the point.


– So far as I am aware, they are policed in the same way.

page 495




– I ask the Minister for Trade a question concerning the importation of frozen fish. I preface my question by saying that numerous representatives of the Australian fishing industry have seen me and expressed great concern about the importation of frozen fish from cheaplabour areas such as Hong Kong, China, and Japan. I ask the Minister whether he would refer the matter to the Tariff Board if the Australian fishing industry asked for a Tariff Board inquiry in order to protect it against imported frozen fish.


– The honorable member for Richmond has displayed a constant and sympathetic interest in the problems of the Australian fishing industry, especially in his own electorate. On the facts that the honorable member has presented in relation to current quotations which, I understand, are applicable to a substantial volume of imports of frozen and filleted fish, I can assure the honorable gentleman that an application made by the industry for a Tariff Board inquiry would be acceded to by me, and I would refer the matter to the board.


– My question to the Minister for Trade is on a similar subject to that raised by the honorable member for Richmond. Does the Minister know that there are coming from Japan vast quantities of canned salmon, which is saleable in Australia at about half the price of Australianproduced tuna? Will the Minister do the same thing in regard to that commodity as he has promised to do in connexion with the frozen fish to which the honorable member for Richmond referred?


– The question asked by the honorable member for Scullin brings out very clearly the fact that whilst the honorable member for Richmond keeps in close touch with the interests of the fishing industry the honorable member for Scullin apparently takes an interest in that industry only ai question time. I say so because there has been an inquiry, and a published report, by the advisory authority on the Japanese Trade Agreement, Mr. McCarthy, no longer than a fortnight ago, on the very subject-matter that the honorable member for Scullin has raised.

page 495




– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. I ask him: Has his attention been directed to the report on defence presented to the House of Commons by the Minister of Defence by command of Her Majesty last month? Has his attention been directed, in particular, to the paragraph in relation to civil defence in the White Paper, which I now propose to quote? That paragraph reads -

Civil defence remains an integral part of the defence plan. The framework of the local civil defence services and of the regional organization is being maintained. Provision will continue to be made for training schools and training equipment; and additional orders are being placed for instruments to measure radio-activity. It is the Government’s policy to encourage the recruitment and training of the Industrial Civil Defence Service, which contributes some 200,000 volunteers towards the total of well over half a million men and women now enrolled in civil defence. Improvements continue to be made in the warning and monitoring system and in communications.

Will the Minister prepare for the House a statement showing the parallel achievements of the Australian Government in this most important field which, in the words of the United Kingdom Defence Minister, is an integral part of any defence plan?


– I have seen the White Paper, and have read and studied the passage which the honorable member has quoted, but I should like to point out that what may be appropriate to England is not necessarily appropriate to this country. The question of civil defence is now under close study in the Department of Defence and, I hope, will be the subject of a submission to the Government. If that takes place an announcement will be made.’

page 495




– I direct to the Minister for Trade a question on the same subject about which I inquired last week. Is the

Minister, or the Department of Trade, prepared to assist in restoring the Tasmanian potato trade with New Caledonia, a trade that was suddenly terminated by France, along with trade in other commodities? I should like to stress to the Minister the fact that the potato trade is worth £40,000 annually to Tasmania, the loss of which is a big blow to potato farmers in Tasmania.


– The Department of Trade is, of course, prepared at any time to take an active interest in safeguarding and developing Australian trade. If the Tasmanian potato industry or the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board should approach the Department of Trade on the point that the honorable member has raised I undertake that the department’s services will be directed to seeing what can be done to strengthen trade opportunities.

page 496




– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to statements which have been made from time to time that dargs - as they are called - are placed upon the amount of work which may be done in a working day in certain trades? It is said that the number of bricks that may be laid by a bricklayer has been fixed at from 300 to 350 a day, whereas originally an able-bodied man was expected to lay from 700 to 800 a day, and many bricklayers were capable of laying a far greater number. In view of the serious impact of this practice, if adopted, upon the cost of housing, and as costs have been consistently mentioned in debates in this House, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether he or his officers have been in touch with the trade union authorities, through the Australian Council of Trade Unions, with a view to ascertaining whether these statements are true, and, if they are true, what can be done to prevent the lower-income group in the community from being without houses, living in flimsy houses, or obtaining houses only at excessive cost?


– It is undoubtedly a fact that in certain sections of industry employees do adopt the practice of imposing what is known as a darg, or a restriction of output in a period of time. That has been a quite notable and, I suggest, very unhappy feature of what has gone on in the coal industry, on. the waterfront,, in some sections of the meat industry,, and in the bricklaying trade, which, the honorable gentleman has mentioned. In most of these instances,. I believe, it is within the capacity of the employers concerned to approach the appropriate industrial tribunal, in either the Federal or the State sphere, for some award determination as to a reasonable level of output or the rates of pay that should apply. In relation to bricklaying, of course, many employers have overcome the problem by letting on a contract basis the work of laying bricks. Much of the home building in Australia in recent years has been done in this way,, frequently by bricklayers who work for regular employers during the week and do contract bricklaying over the weekend.

As to the co-operation which might be secured from the trade union movement in reducing building costs - and undoubtedly inefficient methods in the building industry have imposed heavier burdens upon Australian unionists and. others who have purchased homes in recent years - we have taken up with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, not only this important issue,, but also the general issue of improved productivity. A standing committee of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council was constituted and has been doing very useful work on productivity. I am hopeful that the recent decision of the A.C.T.U. to withdraw from the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council does not necessarily carry with it a decision to withdraw from the standing committee on productivity, which was securing such valuable consultation.

page 496




– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade concerning the present tragic situation in Indonesia. Will the Minister inform the House whether the circumstances which are at present prevailing in that country are causing any loss in our export trade to Indonesia, particularly with respect to exports from Western Australia which is geographically the natural supplier of goods to Indonesia, particularly products such as flour? Is the Government taking any action to secure the interests of our industries which are interested in exports to Indonesia? Can the Minister state what action the Government is taking in that connexion, particularly as the Department of Trade has established very valuable initial trade contacts with Indonesia which are capable of development and are too valuable to be lost?


– The honorable member keeps closely in touch with these matters and, therefore, I am sure he will know that there is an Australian Trade Commissioner’s office in Indonesia which has been active and, I think I can say, successful; but at present, of course, the Indonesian Government, as is well known, is in trouble with overseas exchange. This is resulting in a curtailment of external trade by Indonesia, and Australia is suffering as a result. Nevertheless, there has been some measurable trade in recent months in flour, particularly out of Western Australia to Indonesia. The honorable member can be assured that the Government and the Department of Trade are keeping, closely in touch with this matter especially as we understand the significance of the long established trade between Western Australia and Indonesia. No opportunity will be lost to revive that trade and extend it.

page 497




– Will the Minister for Health inform the House whether it is a fact that members of approved medical benefit societies do not receive a benefit if they are referred to an eye specialist for treatment and glasses are prescribed? If that is a fact, will the Minister state the reasons for this decision, and will he undertake to give immediate consideration to the payment of benefits in such cases?


– It is a fact that, where consultation with an ophthalmologist results in the provision of spectacles, no benefit is payable. This matter has been examined on many occasions, and it is not proposed to review it again.

page 497




– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service supplementary to the question that was asked earlier regarding bricklayers’ dargs. In addition to the inquiries that the Minister has in hand regarding a suggested darg on bricklayers, will the Minister make arrangements for the investigation to cover the prices master builders are quoting for building to ascertain whether it is a fact that the great majority of master builders are quoting for home building on the basis of 350 bricks being laid a day before even one brick is laid? Is there any way in which the Government can institute inquiries into the profits that are being made on home building by master builders in order to ascertain whether it is true that they are making up to £1,000 profit on each home by quoting on the basis of the laying of 350 bricks a day - that they are letting contracts and making great profits as a result of the darg which is being set by the master builders themselves?


– The productivity committee, to which I referred earlier, could quite usefully examine the sort of question raised by the honorable member if it continues with the examinations that it has been able to make in the past. But while I agree with the honorable member’s implication that a good deal of inefficiency exists on both sides of this industry - that costs have been, and no doubt remain, unreasonably high - I find it a little hard to believe that building, employers are able at the present time to make exorbitant profits, if the state of the building trade is as honorable members opposite have suggested. The House has been told by honorable members opposite that there is a bad slump in the building trade and that plenty of labour is available for builders, who are not able to get enough jobs. If that is the case, undoubtedly competition will prune their profits to the narrowest of margins. I gather that there has been some reduction noticeable already in the cost of buildings for which tenders have been let by housing commission authorities and others. I would welcome the support of the honorable member in the kind of tripartite approach to this problem that the Government has been making in the past, where appropriate officials of government, management, and trade unions have been looking into matters such as this. I find it all the more difficult to understand in these circumstances why the honorable member has supported the withdrawal by the Australian Council of Trade Unions from the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council.

page 498




– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. In view of the lack of information coming from Indonesia - which is understandable in view of the confused situation in that country at present - and in view of the importance of this area to Australia, will the Minister consider collating all the information in his possession with regard to Indonesia and presenting it to the House?


– I have examined the information received by the Government with regard to Indonesia, but it does not appear to me that it gives any more real information than can be gleaned from the daily press. I shall continue to examine all information coming to my notice, and if I feel that there is something that the House should be told, I shall certainly make a statement on the situation.

page 498




– I ask the Minister for Health whether he is aware of the statement made by Dr. F. W. Clements at the Australian Medical Congress, held in Hobart recently, in which he suggested that cows fed on a certain type of weed were the main cause of endemic goitre. In view of the alarming facts contained in this statement, will the Minister direct the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to undertake research work on this problem to see whether it is possible to formulate a serum to combat the incidence of this malicious disease? Further, will the Minister take up this matter with the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization with a view to having that body investigate the possibility of finding a method to eradicate the weeds that are reported to be the prime cause of endemic goitre, which is so prevalent among the youth of Tasmania principally, but which also occurs in New South Wales and Queensland?


– It is true that Dr. Clements, who is an officer of the Department of Health, did make a statement at the recent medical congress in Hobart to the effect that the probable cause of endemic goitre was to be found in milk from cattle which fed upon a certain stock food - not a weed, a stock food.

Dr Evatt:

– It might come from the soil.


– The right honorable gentleman may be well informed on this matter. It would not be of any value to refer this matter to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, because it should not be thought that disease of this nature can be controlled by some preventive vaccine or serum. Those measures are used against infectious diseases. Endemic goitre is a disease of a completely different type. Quite a lot is known about the cause of this disease, and apparently Dr. Clements has now made available to the medical profession further knowledge on the subject.

Adequate measures to combat this disease will not be found in the laboratory; they will be largely administrative measures and, of course, largely measures to be taken by State governments.

Mr Barnard:

– Will you refer the question to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?


– The C.S.I. R.O. has already done quite a large amount of work on this matter.

page 498




– I ask the Minister for Health whether he is aware of the danger to Australian sheep flocks from the spread of blue tongue disease. This disease has spread widely throughout the world. Will the Minister take reasonable steps to prevent the disease from being introduced into Australia?


– Blue tongue is a very serious disease in sheep. A great deal of knowledge is now available in this country about it. Recommendations were made at the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council about the measures necessary in this country to prevent its entry and thus to prevent any damage to the Australian sheep industry. These recommendations are being closely studied by the department, and it is expected that effective action will shortly be taken.

page 498



– I wish to make a personal explanation.


– Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?


– Yes. Last night the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) claimed to have heard a rumour concerning myself. May 1 say that such a rumour would be false and wholly contrary to the facts?

Mr Hasluck:

– I rise to order. We often have the spectacle in this House of honorable members making most serious reflections on other honorable members.I seek your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on whether, when the reflection is denied, the honorable member who made the original statement should be asked to withdraw it or, ifhe is not willing to withdraw it, whether he should subject himself to investigation and punishment by the House, if his statement is proved to be false.


– There has been no breach of order. Are there any ministerial statements?

Mr Hasluck:

– I ask most respectfully, Mr. Speaker, for your ruling on the point of order. What is the procedure of this House to be if an honorable member makes a most serious reflection on another honorable member and if the honorable member against whom the allegation is made denies it? Should the honorable member who made the charge withdraw it or, if he will not withdraw it, subject himself to an investigation and punishment if he cannot prove his allegation?


– Order! If the allegation reflects on the character of an honorable member, imputes an improper motive, contravenes the Standing Orders and so on, it is dealt with within the limited authority of the Speaker. On the question of privilege, an honorable member has the right to rise on any occasion and take precedence over all business before the House. I am not in a position to judge whether irresponsible statements that could be made by an honorable member in regard to a person’s character and so on are accurate or not.

Mr Menzies:

– I assume, Mr. Speaker, that that operates both ways.

page 499


Trade Unions and Immigration - Telephone Services - Communist China - Aluminium - Democratic Socialism - Pastoral Industry - Pensions - Civil Defence

Question proposed -

That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.

Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I wish to take advantage of the opportunity provided by this motion to raise what seems to me to be a very large issue, although perhaps this is not the most suitable medium for what I have to say. In the time available to me, I can do little more than open up the issue, but I want to put some facts before the House and invite the thoughtful consideration of honorable members on both sides and, indeed, of leaders of the trade union movement, industrialists generally, and all thoughtful members of the general public. I am prompted to raise this matter because of the proposal which emanated from the Labour caucus, apparently at the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), on 12th March last, that a conference be held with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers Union and officials of the Australian Labour party, with representative participation from the federal Labour caucus.

Mr Edmonds:

– There is nothing wrong with that.


– I shall proceed to examine the proposal, if the honorable gentleman will give me the opportunity. I believe that this proposal raises a major issue regarding the functions and responsibilities of Australian trade unions in relation to the national political situation, and should be carefully examined. I do not wish to discuss this matter in a heated fashion; I wish to do it quite calmly and objectively, if I can. I put it to honorable gentlemen opposite that this proposal contains many implications. I have no doubt that some precedents exist forwhat has been suggested, and I do not by any means overlook the historical justification which honorable gentlemen opposite would find for making some such proposal.

It is common knowledge that the Australian Labour party evolved from the trade union movement. It was formed by the trade union movement and, indeed, was formed following the trade union congress of 1884. At that time, there being no Labour movement which could be said to be directly representative of the trade unions, the trade unions decided to form their own political party. The Jink between the Australian Labour party and the trade union movement has been of long duration; that is acknowledged. However, what I put to the House is that modern developments, I believe, make the kind of practice and association that has existed over so many years not only quite unrealistic in relation to our present situation but, indeed, highly undesirable. The modern developments are principally these: First, the proportion of the Australian workers and of the Australian community in the trade unions has grown enormously. Membership of trade unions has been encouraged by all sections of politics and by all governments. As early as May, 1950, after we had taken office, I went publicly on record on behalf of the Government in expressing our belief that trade unionism in Australia should be supported and that men who enter a particular occupation should, in general, join the union appropriate to that occupation. They are the exact words I used at that time.

Dr Evatt:

– When was that said?


– In May, 1950.

Dr Evatt:

– Publicly?


– Yes, publicly. As n matter of fact, what I was doing at that time - I have done this on many occasions - was to encourage immigrants to this country to join the appropriate trade unions. Over .recent years, all governments, whatever their political persuasion, have lent their support to the trade union movement. Under this Government, trade unions have flourished, have grown in numbers, have grown in authority and prestige and have been given opportunities to participate in consultations at the highest level on government policy formation. We have encouraged workers to join the unions which are appropriate to their calling. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him that they must face up to the facts of the modern situation. First of all, Australia, of all countries, now has the highest proportion of its work force in trade unions. In some unions there is virtually 100 per cent, representation. Over the whole field, taking every type of worker, there is more than 63 per cent, of trade union participation in Australia, compared with 44 per cent, in the United Kingdom and 25 per cent, in the United States of America and Canada. The first point I want the House to notice is that as a result of these modern pro cesses a very much bigger proportion of the community is now included in trade union membership. Indeed, the policies of the trade unions themselves-


– I rise to order. 1 ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker. On the motion, “ That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair “, which is designed to bring on what is known as the “ Grievance Day “ debate so that back-bench members may bring to the notice of the Government matters affecting the constituencies, is it in order for a Minister to take the opportunity to make a statement of this kind?

Dr Evatt:

– I rise to order. The matter which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has raised is an important one and should be debated on an appropriate occasion. I shall gladly - welcome discussion and criticism in respect of it and will readily give complete justification for the point of view of the Opposition on the subject However, I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that “ Grievance Day “ is not an appropriate occasion for such a debate. I know that several of my colleagues wish to deal with local matters. The subject which the Minister has introduced could be better treated separately, and the Opposition would be willing to give him leave to make a statement, either later to-day or early next week. We could then state our point of view. This is a big subject and we want to discuss it; we feel that there are many points which should be answered. I ask, however, that the matter be discussed on another occasion. I am quite ready to discuss it immediately, but rather than do so I ask the Leader of the House that he agree to my suggestion.

Mr Morgan:

– On the same subject, I wish to add my protest.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has raised the point whether the Minister for Labour and National Service is now in order in raising any matter other than parish pump affairs. The Minister is completely within his rights in doing so. He has the call and is allowed ten minutes in which to make his statement.


– It is quite obvious that, as the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has indicated, the rime available is not adequate for this matter to he presented fully. When I began my remarks I suggested that I did not wish to do more, at this stage, than open the subject. What I would propose, having regard to what me Leader of the Opposition has said, is to have a statement prepared. I think thissubject should be debated because it raises issues of great consequence to honorable members opposite, and, I believe, to the community generally. No political party, in these days, can claim to have a monopoly of tradeunion support.

Mr Ward:

– Is not that a matter for the unions themselves to decide?


– I have pointed out previously that the policy of compulsory unionism, and that of preference to unionists which the trade unions are now pressing, tend to bring a bigger proportion of workers into trade union membership. That is not necessarily a bad thing. This Government has supported the trade unions, and the effect of that attitude has been reflected in election results as well as gallup poll figures. These indications make it quite clear that no one political party enjoys a monopoly of trade union support. This Government would not be in office unless the trade unionists had put us here. The Australian Democratic Labour party also receives support from some trade unionists.


– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.

Motion (by Dr. Donald Cameron) proposed -

That the Minister for Labour and ‘National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) be granted an extension oftime. (The bells havingbeen rung) -


– I think it might suit the convenience of the House if a course which I now wish to propose is adopted. I am quite willing not to pursue my remarks further at this point if it is understood that I shall be given leave later to make a general statement on which debate can proceed.

Dr Evatt:

– Nothing can stop the Minister from asking for leave to make a statement on some future occasion, and the Opposition would not refuse leave. We want this matter to be discussed. I wish to say something immediately, however, in reply to what the Minister has just said. Ido not want his remarks to go unanswered.


– Order! The motion has not been withdrawn; the division will proceed.

Question put. The House divided. (Mr.. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)

AYES: 54

NOES: 36

Majority . . , . 18



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

I wish to state only one or two more facts for the information of the House, and I shall then look forward to the opportunity which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has suggested as being more suitable for a wider discussion of the issue that I have raised. I was making the point that no one political party can claim a monopoly of trade union support. This was clearly revealed at the last general election, and it has been confirmed by gallup polls that have been taken more recently. At the last general election more than 4,500,000 ballot-papers were issued. At that time there were just on 1,800,000 members of trade unions. If one assumes that each trade unionist has, on the average, one dependant of voting age, it can be deduced that two-thirds of the votes cast at the election were the votes of trade unionists and those dependent upon them. Quite clearly, having regard to the numbers of votes cast for the various parties - the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, the Australian Labour party and the Democratic Labour party - each of those parties received some trade union support. The point that I am making is that in attempting to form a common political front - which is the purpose of the conference with which the right honorable gentleman is proceeding - he is trying to bring behind that common front literally tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of persons who do not share the political views of honorable members opposite. Under modern conditions, in which trade unionism has spread, and has been encouraged by all governments to spread, no one party can justify an attempt to regiment the political strength and support of the whole trade union membership behind that one party, because so many union members have political allegiances in other directions.

There is another factor that must be borne in mind. In modern circumstances, with our great national objectives of development and full employment, all governments, both Commonwealth and State, need the collaboration of the trade union movement. Irrespective of their political colour, they are democratically elected governments, and, whether in the national or the State sphere, they are entitled to the collaboration of bodies which also claim to be democratically elected, such as the trade unions.

Since the trade unions include in their membership persons with such diverse political views, I say that it is doing a disservice to the country in following the improper course of regimenting trade union strength and support behind any one particular party. I do not deny the historical basis, or the link that has always existed, but I do say that in modern conditions, with the spread of unionism and the trend towards either compulsory unionism or preference to unionists, and with collaboration becoming so essential to the business of modern government, the picture has been transformed. If we are to have, as has been seen recently in the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, a collaborating body which, apparently, is to be sabotaged every time an election comes along, the work of years being destroyed and co-operation jettisoned until the election is over, then I say that we cannot run our country on that basis. A recent episode in Hobart has demonstrated how trade union power can be exerted for purely political purposes.

Mr. Bowden

– Order! The Minister’s extended time has expired.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– I suggested earlier a different course of procedure. The Minister would not accept it, so I shall come directly to his points. He has the effrontery to suggest that this conference of labour organizations, between the political side and the industrial side of the Australian Labour movement, should not take place. Has any more absurd demand been made in the history of this country? We have had reactionary politicians in the past, but not even the most reactionary anti-Labour politicians have ever suggested anything such as this. Of course, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) suggested some years ago that the trade unions should have nothing to do with political activity. He suggested that they should follow the example of some unions in the

United States of America. He seems to think that the unions should be, in the words of the late Mr. Chifley in his last speech to the Labour organizations of Australia, nice tame-cat unions that do everything the employers want them to do.


– Is that your opinion of the industrial unions of America?


– The industrial unions of America have never done anything in the way of political help to the people, as the unions have done in. this country. Of course, the point is that the right honorable gentleman wants other trade unions to be formed in this country, dissociated from the Labour party. That is the issue behind the struggle that is going on, and there can be only one result. Of course this conference will go on. There have been many conferences of this character, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, with the Australian Workers Union and, of course, with the Labour political executive. All we are doing is getting together. I quite agree that election matters will be discussed. At every election the A.C.T.U. has helped us in some way or other. Their objectives are identical with ours, as Mr. Monk and Mr. Evans have explained.

Mr Falkinder:

– Not recently!


– I say that Mr. Monk and Mr. Evans emphasized the fact, at the recent annual demonstration in the Melbourne Town Hall, that the objectives of the A.C.T.U. are identical with those of the Australian Labour party. Although there may be sometimes differences of opinion, as there are, naturally, on such occasions, the meeting will go on. This attempt to stop it is so silly that I suggest the unionists of Australia should be warned by it. When the right honorable member wants to stop it, you can be pretty sure that something good for the trade unionists will emerge from it. The living standards and conditions of trade unionists have worsened since the right honorable gentleman has been Minister. What has he done? He has done everything to support breakaway movements in the trade unions, and within the Labour party. (Honorable members interjecting) -


Order! I am going to ask for silence in the House while the right honorable gentle man is speaking. Honorable members on both sides must remain silent. There are far too many interjections.


– I say that the right honorable member and the powerful financial and industrial interests of this country all share a fear of the unity of the trade union movement with the ordinary people of this country. Australia’s industrial history completely negatives the suggestions of the Minister. He speaks as though the capitalist groups of this country are friendly with the trade unions. Of course, they are not, and the right honorable member acts in the interests of the capitalist groups.

In the 1890’s, to which the Minister has referred, force was used to prevent trade unions from being formed. They were not allowed by law to exist in those days, and many unions had to fight for their existence in the courts. Many instances of this occurred in New South Wales and Queensland. Later on, a more subtle method of opposition to them was adopted. Instead of open hostility to the trade unions, we saw the formation of bogus unions, which were, in effect, employer or company unions. That has been going on in this country, as it has occurred in the U.S.A. It is being encouraged by this Government and the Minister. He must know personally - and I am sure he does know- the steps that were taken before the last election, when a splinter” party was formed to oppose the Labour party. I think- he knows all about it. I suggest that the object at that time was to destroy the trade unions, to form rival unions and then to destroy the political party. He is not going to get away with it. It will be fought to the death. Therefore, it is an extraordinary thing that he does it at all; but to come on “ Grievance Day “ and do it, of course, is unreasonable.

I do not mind it being debated fully. Honorable members on this side of the House who have been active in the various industries know the history of these matters, and they should be allowed f.o speak on them. The fact that the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Minister necessarily have relationships over matters in dispute is no reason why he should try to embrace the American philosophy of trade unions, which are regarded by the most powerful capitalistic interests in the world as inimical to their interests. The American practice is being’ tried in this country and it is being tried with the active support of the right honorable gentleman. I assure him that he will have great difficulty in getting the Australian people to swallow it.

The Minister said that, in 1950, he advised immigrants to join the trade unions. He does not advise them to do that now.


– Of course we do.


– You do not. Why do you not tell them that they should join trade unions? It is part of Labour policy that immigrants should join the trade unions and participate in the rights that they have won for themselves, and their members, including immigrants. Immigrants, will understand, from the words of the Minister, that this Government is no friend of trade unionism. That means that the Government is no friend of a movement without which there would be no liberty of expression in this country. The trade union movement has been the very basis of liberty of expression. The trade union movement has comprised people who have sacrificed themselves for their fellow workers. I refer to the Tolpuddle martyrs from. Britain and to those who came from Ireland and other countries and formed the trade unions here. They were the pioneers of the trade union movement. Some of them formed the Australian Workers Union in the 1890’s.. Those men are correctly regarded as the progenitors of the Labour movement.. The members of the Australian Labour party are trustees for them, for the trade unions, and for the people of Australia. I assure the Minister that, whatever he says, we shall discharge our duty in order to carry out our duties.


.- If we wanted a lively illustration of man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority, his glassy essence like an angry ape, playing, such fantastic tricks before high Heaven as make the angels weep, we have had it this morning. I have long suspected that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) suffers from a grievous form of political delusion and. he has sufficiently demonstrated that this morning. He seems to be possessed with the idea that the Australian

Labour party, under his leadership, has something in the nature of a proprietary right to the support of every member of the trade union movement in Australia. The simple truth of the matter was given in the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) when he declared that the Government would not be here to-day if it did not command the support of many tens of thousands of trade unionists throughout Australia.

If the Leader of the Opposition is so convinced, in his own mind, that he has at his instant command and direction the support of the trade union movement, why is he fleeing from Barton to Hunter - into what 1 believe will turn out to be the “ Hunter ejection seat”, not the “ Hunter electoral seat “. He pursued the characteristic Marxist lie by trying to exacerbate feeling between capital and labour. This Government, particularly in the sphere of its activity occupied by the Minister forLabour and National Service, has steadfastly pursued a course of bringing capital’ and labour together in a co-operative movement. The Leader of the Opposition set out to divide, not to bring together, those two essential ingredients of modern society;

That was not the main reason that prompted me to rise this morning, although I should welcome the opportunity of pursuing the right honorable gentleman’s argument. I rose to grieve on behalf of some several, millions, I believe, of Australians. It has been announced by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) that it is the intention of his department to delete letters from telephone numbers in the metropolitan areas throughout Australia. That, is a. dreadful decision.. I appeal to the Postmaster-General, this morning, earnestly to reconsider the full implications of the proposal. The letters in a telephone number break the monotony of remembering a particular number. I suppose it would, not be regarded as an. extraordinary feat if any member of this. House could recite half a dozen telephone numbers without any difficulty. But if the: telephone numbers are to appear, in future, simply as numbers, without letters to break the monotony, I believe that it will contribute immensely to the revenue of the PostmasterGeneral and that it will create agreat deal of confusion.

I understand that one of the psychology tests known as the Binet-Stanford test has it that a superior adult can, without difficulty, remember and recite eight numbers. An average adult can remember and recite seven numbers. One correct out of two is considered a pass in remembering and reciting the numbers in the Binet-Stanford test. In other words, 50 per cent, is a pass in the test. I want to ask the PostmasterGeneral, if he believes, and if his department believes, that the deletion of letters from the telephone numbers will not cause any confusion, to put the members of this House to a test. I suggest that he should ask honorable gentlemen to put their hands behind their backs and to recite to the House three seven-digit telephone numbers. I venture to suggest to the honorable) gentleman that when he collects the exercises he will get some extraordinary results. I think that he will be somewhat surprised at the average of success achieved by honorable gentlemen.

The last matter to which I want to refer, perforce in a hurry, is this: I understand that the Department of Immigration is currently considering granting a visa to a Chinese Communist organizer by the name of An Tse “Wen, who has been invited to Australia by the Australian Communist party to address the eighth congress of the party at Easter. I do not know what decision the Department of Immigration and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) will make on this matter. I hope that the decision will be one of firmness against admitting this particular red ant into Australia.

A few short weeks ago a distinguished and, I suppose, to some people, a provocative thinker, Lord Lindsay, was refused admission to Communist China. I believe that for that distinguished Australian to be refused admission to Communist China and for this country to grant this red ant a visa to come into this country and pollute it further with Communist ideas would be the height of nonsense. I hope the department will firmly decline the application to grant to this An Tse Wen and his interpreter a visa to visit Australia. A few months ago I raised in this House the question of forced labour in China. I referred to a report by the Secretarygeneral of the United Nations and the

Director-General of the International Labour Office that there were 25,000,000 slave labourers in China.

Mr Curtin:

– That is mad.


– The honorable gentleman says that is mad, but I have yet to hear either from the leader of the delegation, including members of the Opposition, that went to China, or from Communist China itself, any answer to this question. There has been no answer at all. At the close of the last sessional period, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) endeavoured to answer the various charges that I had made against the rulers of Communist China, but he signally failed to do so. He fiddled with the figures, and tried to create the impression that the lucubrations of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Office all were calculated and designed to whip up a form of hysteria, and that they were essentially of a propaganda nature. Be that as it may, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the charges have been made, and they have not been denied. On 3rd December last, I referred to the members of the delegation that was to go to China an excerpt from the “ Regulations Enacted in the People’s Republic of China Governing Reform through Labour “, and I shall now quote the same passage again. It reads -

By the continuous and systematic use of such methods as collective instruction, private conversations, study documents and organised discussion, the prisoners shall be trained to confess their guilt . . .

What new element of jurisprudence is this - that prisoners shall be trained to confess their guilt? When the honorable member for Parkes, at the close of the last sessional period, feebly endeavoured to refute the charges that I had made, he did not make even so much as a passing reference to these “ Regulations Enacted in the People’s Republic of China Governing Reform through Labour “. I may be unduly sensitive, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, but I sincerely hope that if there were made against my country a charge that it held within its borders millions of slave labourers I would find sufficient temper to prove to the conscience of the world that such a charge was a malicious and wicked lie. But, in this instance, there has been no denial.

I appeal to the Government to instruct Australia’s representatives at the United Nations - the highest assembly and the highest consortium in the world - to place before the United Nations General Assembly a demand that the United Nations solicit from the Communist Chinese authorities a denial, to be proved in substantial form, that the charges made by the two gentlemen to whom I have referred are completely false. I believe that the world must make up its mind, quite firmly, that what is going on in China to-day is characteristic of a pattern determined more than a century ago in order to achieve one form of domination in this world, in the mould of serfdom.


.- Of the Speech just concluded by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), I shall say only that, to me and other Opposition members, it is perfectly obvious that the honorable member - and I suppose this observation may be applicable also to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) - fears the future where the trade union movement is concerned. They fear the co-operation between that movement and the Australian Labour party. I wish merely to point out to the honorable member for Moreton that, regardless of the views of himself and the Minister for Labour and National Service, there will always be a close association between the Australian Labour party and the Australian trade union movement.

Having made that observation, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I want to address myself to a matter of national development, and to discuss briefly what I hope will be the future development of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s works at Bell Bay, in Tasmania. I suppose that all honorable members know that this £12,500,000 project has now reached the production stage. It is, in my opinion, an industrial undertaking of which Australia may well be proud, lt is functioning smoothly and successfully, and is producing aluminium, although the production is as yet limited. I am not prepared, now, of course, to argue about which government originally conceived the idea of producing aluminium in Australia. I do not believe that to be important. What I do believe to be important at present is the completely unrealistic and unsympathetic attitude of the present Government towards the extension of this essential Australian industry, as indicated by various Ministers who have held the Supply portfolio. The undertaking is controlled by a management and staff which co-operate wholeheartedly to ensure its success.

This industry should be regarded by all Australians as being equally as important as any other industry established by this Government, or by a Labour government, in order to meet defence requirements. The general attitude of the present Government, since the official opening of the Bell Bay undertaking in October, 1955, has always been that the establishment has been completed structurally, that it is producing aluminium - admittedly, in limited quantities - and that the matter ends there. The original enabling bill which was introduced in 1944 proposed the establishment of an industry that would produce approximately 25.000,000 tons of alumina annually, this quantity being reducible to about 12,000 tons of aluminium ingot, and that stage has now been reached. As a consequence, Australia’s dollar expenditure has been reduced by approximately 7,000,000 dollars a year - a most important and significant economic trend, which, so far as I am aware, has not been acknowledged by the present Government. 1 did not, of course, rise merely to discuss past developments at Bell Bay. On the contrary, I want to make it perfectly clear that I and a great many other people in this country who appreciate the value of this great industry consider that the time has arrived when the Government should give immediate and urgent consideration to plans for further development. But, as I pointed out only a moment ago, in recent years the Government’s attitude has been that the matter is concluded. Industrially, the Bell Bay establishment has proved to be a major step forward in Australia’s development. Strategically, it is so far removed from other centres of heavy industry as to make attacks by either warships or aircraft economically unsound and virtually impossible. Therefore, further development can be planned in the knowledge that the security of this productive enterprise is established. Even if we were to double the present output of the works, it would do no more than meet

Australia’s existing requirements of aluminium ingot. If, as now appears likely, we have unlimited supplies of bauxite in northern Australia, surely the logical thing for Australia to do is to develop those resources to the full by planning for three or four times the present output of aluminium ingot, if necessary, not only to meet our own needs, but also to enter into overseas markets.

One cannot help but wonder at this Government’s policy on aluminium production. Last year, I sought from senior Ministers in the Cabinet various items of information about aluminium supplies in this country. In the first instance, I sought from the former Minister for Supply, Mr. Howard Beale, information about exports of aluminium. I was told that, during 1956-57, aluminium to the value of £250,000 had been exported to India and Japan. At the same time, I received from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) information concerning imports of aluminium. In fairness to the Government, I shall state the figures only for the years after 1955, because, prior to 1956, Bell Bay establishment was not producing aluminium. In 1956, licences were issued for the import of aluminium to the value of £2,722,093, mainly from countries in the dollar area. In 1957, about 9,866 tons of aluminium, of a total value of some £2,600,000, were imported, mainly from the dollar area, with a consequent drain on our valuable dollar reserves. Since 1954, we have imported aluminium to the value of £10,800,000. So here we are, both exporting and importing aluminium.

I suggest that the Government should give immediate consideration to developing the aluminium industry at Bell Bay, doubling the plant to provide for an annual output of 26,000 tons of aluminium ingot, which is only equal to our peace-time requirements. The Government should also consider immediately extending the industry to provide for the production of sheet, strip and foil. It might also consider installing extrusion equipment, because most of the commodities which that equipment would produce are essential in aircraft production and, therefore, should be regarded as essential for defence. The Bell Bay plant should definitely be extended; but, instead, we have responsible Ministers saying that if it suited the Government’s purpose this plant would be disposed of to private interests. The Government should have only one objective in mind - to extend that industry along the lines I have suggested. It should give immediate attention to planning for that.

Australia’s aluminium requirements will increase to about 35,000 tons in 1965. In the last fifteen years, the world’s aluminium requirements have increased by 1,200 per cent., yet we are producing only 12,000 tons of aluminium ingot annually. Very little additional capital would be needed to extend the industry along the lines I suggest, and I appeal to the responsible Minister to get on with the job. After all, if the attitude of the former Minister for Supply was that as the industry was producing aluminium in some quantity there the matter should end, there is no reason why the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is now the responsible Minister, should adopt that same unrealistic attitude.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- When the Labour party was in office, I often took objection to certain actions, to which I have referred in this House recently. One of those was the taking up of time by Ministers on “ Grievance Day “. To-day, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) spoke first, and I want to say that I am no more favorably inclined towards such a practice now than I was when Labour was in office, because I believe that, as members of the Opposition have said, “ Grievance Day “ is set aside chiefly to enable backbench members to bring forward matters regarding their constituents which they have little opportunity to air on other occasions. I know that there is no rule to prevent a Minister from speaking on “ Grievance Day “. The Minister having got the call, the granting of an extension of time to him, in favour of which I voted, was a minor matter. But I believe that Ministers should not try to set the terms of reference, as it were, of a debate on “ Grievance Day “. I am not going to allow any Minister or anybody else to influence my remarks or even to suggest what I shall say on “ Grievance Day “.

I am most fearful, on behalf of my con:stituents, about Labour’s, socialist policythe so-called democratic socialism. What is Labour’s policy of democratic socialism? I challenge the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who no doubt will get the call later, to define Labour’s socialist policy for us. He may call a quorum now in an attempt to avoid my challenging him further. We all know his tactics. He is looking round the House now, counting the number of members present, probably with the intention of directing, the attention of the Chair to the state: of the House, because he does not like these attacks: on a policy the success of which is his cherished ambition - the socialization of the means of industry, production, distribution and exchange. What is Labour’s policy of democratic socialism? The only democratic socialism1 possible is socialism brought into force by constitutional means - by a vote of the people. If the people are asked in a straightforward question whether they want socialism, and a majority of them vote in favour of having socialism, then we would have democratic socialism following on the implementation of the policy desired by the people. But Habour wants to bring socialism in by the back door. However, as we are approaching the time when a general election is to be held, we are hearing less about Labour’s socialist policy. That is why I challenge the honorable member for East Sydney to tell us this morning exactly what the policy is. What a different party Labour is just before an election from Labour after an election. I shall tell a short story to illustrate that point.

A young man went to a great painter and said, “T would like you to paint a portrait of my father”. The painter said, “ It will be very expensive - 500 guineas “. The young man said that he did not mind because he had the money, and the painter then said, “ Send your father along to sit for me “. The young man’s answer to that was, “I can’t. He’s dead”. The painter said that that was a complication, but finally suggested that the young man himself sit with him for as long as was necessary, and should describe his father, so that the painter could paint the father according to the description. That process took two months, and at the end of the time, when the painter unveiled the portrait, the young, man said, “ It’s- father all right, but. how he has changed! “

That is what the Labour party is like. Near election time it is the same Labour party, but how it has changed! At election time it. is difficult to recognize the Labour party as the same Labour party we see in this House when an election is far away. So I challenge the members of the Labour party to fell us what their policy is. We have heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) say that Labour would socialize only those industries that are exploiting the people. Who will decide what those industries are? The people? No! The Labour party will decide that. We know from the statements of members of the Opposition in this House what industries the Labour party will select - the industries that are vital to Australia. We know that if Labour gained office it would attempt to tax out of existence the companies that are the main providers of employment in Australia. If a Labour government succeeded in doing that, how would it replace the revenue lost in company tax? If a Labour government succeeded in taxing such companies and producers out of existence we would have the perfect socialist State. Labour would be happy, Australia, would be bankrupt. But the nearer a general election comes the more the Labour party will soft-pedal its socialist policy. Opposition members will have nothing to say about socialism as the election nears. They will do their best to avoid the subject altogether.

Now I wish to point out one of the great inconsistencies1 displayed by honorable members opposite. When the prices of primary products were rising, honorable members opposite were always asking for industrial awards providing for higher rates of pay, and pastoral awards and higher rates of pay for shearers. Now that the prices of primary products are falling Labour is still adhering to its policy of keeping wages and conditions at their present high rates, which were based on high prices for primary products. In these conditions’ a pastoralist employing, for instance, three men, finds himself unable to pay the high wages asked and is forced to dismiss one man. Surely fair-minded people know that wool-growers, whose income has suffered a reduction, of 30 per cent, to 40 per cent., or perhaps, more, are unable to pay employees the same high, wages as they paid them when wool was at its peak price.

The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has a great reputation as an industrial advocate. His method was to try to get wages and conditions to their highest point and then to ask for a little more, using the ground won as the starting point for new negotiations. That was a very good thing for those whom he represented, and I compliment him on. it; but it was a damaging thing for the Australian economy. Everybody here should know that when primary production prospers the whole economy is sound. But if one section of the community - the primary producers - is to be made to pay at a rate applicable to their highest income years, the disadvantage to that section in the employment of people and. the production of the goods that are so necessary to. our prosperity and progress, Strikes a severe blow at economic stability. It is not in the best interests of Australia and I believe it will react on the Australian Labour party. Every time that a pastoral award comes before conciliation’ commissioners or other industrial tribunals, Labour advocates that rates of pay remain at the existing level, whereas common sense surely dictates that if prices of the industry’s product have fallen the award rates should be reduced.

Mr Curtin:

– Things are not so good after all!


– Labour is all the time saying that the primary producer has any amount of money. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith now says, “ Things are not so good after all! “’ Everybody should know that prices for primary products have fallen and that in some parts of the country the seasons have not been good. But. apart altogether from the seasons not being good, the- world price for primary products has fallen, and the only way that primary producers can carry on satisfactorily is to have a reduction in the award rates prescribed for- labour, so that they may employ man-power, purchase machinery at a reasonable rate and continue to be a great bulwark for Australia, uplifting the economy and the prosperity and progress of the people.

West. Sydney

– I have the honour to represent part of the second-Iargest and, possibly, the wealthiest city in the British Commonwealth of Nations, but I regret to say that in that City of Sydney exist more poverty and homeless people than exist in any other city of the British Commonwealth. I came to this Parliament three weeks ago to hear the Governor-General’s Speech and to find whether it contained anything that would help those unfortunate people. Since then I have heard speeches by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and other honorable members opposite, and we are back to where we were three or four weeks ago. We have to deal with Ministers, who are not able to give to the poor people anything beyond what is prescribed in present acts of Parliament.

In West Sydney there are possibly 3,500 pensioners. I would listen to. any honorable member opposite who- could show me that a pensioner can pay a rent of £2 a week and live on the balance of his pension. Over the last nine years, we have experienced the greatest prosperity that this country has ever known. Wool has been 17s., 18s. and 20s. per lb. The prices of wheat and every other commodity we sell have been high. We are subsidizing the sale, of butter on. the English market at 2s. per lb., while the pensioner has to pay 4s. or 4s.. 6d. per lb. for his butter here,, and correspondingly high prices for everything else.. The. greatest scandal that has ever been perpetrated is. the treatment of these poor people by the Menzies-Fadden Government.

I have in my hand a letter which is only one of many that I have received. If “ Grievance Day “ were to continue till ten o’clock to-night, I could speak for three hours on the grievances that are brought to me day after day. I. say to the people, “ What is. the use of writing to the Menzies.Fadden Government? You might as well write to Rookwood: - you would get the same answer.” This letter reads -

I am writing- this letter to see. if you can- help me in any way.

I am a widow and have two young children, one four and a half years and the other only two months old. I have been told that owing to my- income of £3’ 12s. 6di per week that I am not entitled to- the pensioner’s free medical card. I feel very disheartened about this as I can’t give my job up as that is all I’ have to keep the three of us on, as the pension goes out in instalments for my home which works out £4 per week and the rest goes towards my late husband’s funeral which I have arranged to pay off weekly.

My baby is in Karitane baby’s hospital at the moment which is £7 7s. per week. 1 have just found out that the hospital fund covers some of that, but not all of it, which means that I will have a bill coming from there. If you can help me in any way, Mr. Minogue, I would be very grateful and if it is not possible to get a card to cover the three of us could you do your best for the kids.

This Government’s attitude is in no way elastic in regard to these matters. One cannot gain a single concession, no matter what the merits of the case may be. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) spoke about a man’s picture being painted after his death. During this Government’s term of office, the family of a pensioner who dies is allowed a paltry £10 for his funeral. Time and time again I have brought the inadequacy of that amount to the notice of this House. If an ambulance takes a pensioner to hospital, an account is rendered. We have asked this Government to include provision for meeting such an account in the social services legislation, but nothing of the kind has been done.

The housing position has been discussed in this House during the last three months. 1 was one of those who were foolish enough to think that no Australian, let alone the Prime Minister, who controls the purse of this country, would deny the people homes to live in. Six months ago the Australian Labour party brought before the Parliament evidence that bricks were lying at grass, that 30 or 40 timber mills in the north of Australia had closed down, and that people were walking the streets looking for jobs. Yet it is not until just prior to an election that the Menzies-Fadden Government does anything about releasing credit - and very little credit at that.

I was one who compaigned in the Parramatta by-election to bring into this chamber another “ Dan “ to help the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) and me to do something on behalf of these people. While we did not succeed in that campaign, we reduced the Government’s majority by 5,000 or 6.000. Does any one believe that if the opportunity comes to the people of Australia within the next five or six months, the Menzies-Fadden Government will not be defeated because of the way it has treated the pioneers of this country? I have tried again and again to influence the Government to do something. I am not fighting for votes. I have a majority of 20,000 voters, and irrespective of what the Liberals think about it that majority will remain at that level, if not increase. But I say to the Government to-day that” it should do something. Were it not for the “ meals on wheels “ service provided by the Sydney City Council, these poor people would be in a desperate position now. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) has not seen fit to tell the House that at Randwick, in his electorate, there is the home of the Little Sisters of the Poor which contains 300 aged people, and that there are 300 others on the waiting list. The St. Vincent de Paul Society has to provide thousands of meals for the needy while this Government talks in millions of pounds. The Government can find £200,000,000 in peace-time for war and defence, and it can find huge sums for other purposes, but it cannot provide money to keep the pioneers.

Until seven or eight years ago, many of them lived on a basic wage of £3 or £4. In 1949, the basic wage was only between £5 and £6. How could anybody expect the people who were living on those wages and trying to rear families to find enough spare money to buy a home? Yet the sons of those people went over overseas to fight for our homes. What do we do in return? Every year the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) suggest that the means test should be abolished in the case of pensioners who reach 70 years of age.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- First, I wish to correct an erroneous statement that was made by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue), who has just resumed his seat. I suggest that one complaint he made should be directed to his own colleagues, because the Little Sisters of the Poor, at Randwick, are not in my electorate. They are in either the electorate of East Sydney or the electorate of Watson, and if the honorable member has any complaint about their requirements, he should make it to the honorable member who represents the relevant electorate.

I have not risen to-day to try to lull the trade unionists of Australia into some sense of false security as the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has done in claiming that he and the Australian Labor party are the champions and the trustees of the trade unionists.I warn the trade unionists about an impending danger that is quite apparent to any serious-thinking Australian. We, in Australia, pride ourselves on believing in the Four Freedoms. Much play on that belief has come from members of the Opposition. There have been references to the United Nations Charter and we have heard talk of civil liberties, academic freedom and so on. I must say that I believe in those principles, and I believe that all members of this Parliament believe in the Four Freedoms; but we have learned from incidents in Europe recently that democracy is more easily lost than won.

It is alarming to find that the rights of Australians are being interfered with in Communist-controlled unions which are denying to certain persons the right to choose their employment, and the right to work, as well as the right to free assembly. This is serious, and it deserves some serious thought, because these denials are foreign to our way of life. We are proud of our way of life; we must not fool about with such a heritage. Over a period of years there has been a deliberate and planned campaign of white anting within the trade union movement by Communists to gain control of it. Recently, the Australian Council of Trade Unions was captured by members of the Communist party.

Mr Bryant:

– Oh!


– That cannot be denied. At this stage, it should be made clear that honorable members on the Government side do not decry the trade union movement, as members of the Opposition would have the people believe. We believe that the Australian trade union movement should, and does, play an important part in the lives of our citizens. But is it fair or right that any person’s right to work should be taken from him because, although he is a member of a trade union, he does not believe in some political activity or refuses to pay a levy that might be imposed to assist something in which he does not believe?

I direct the attention of honorable members to certain New South Wales industrial legislation, because a Labor government which has been in office in that State for some sixteen years subscribes to this legislation and has made no effort to remove it from the statute-book. The act to which I shall refer should be taken into consideration not only by this Government but also by other State governments that may not have similar provisions in their legislation. I refer to the Industrial Arbitration Act No. 2, 1940, which provides that a trade union shall have power to apply and use its moneys and other property for certain purposes. The act provides, inter alia, that a union may - provide for the application of its money and property to the furtherance of political objects so long as rules of the union are in force providing -

  1. that any payments in the furtherance of such objects are to be made out of a separate fund;
  2. that contribution to such separate fund shall not be a condition of admission to or membership of the said union;
  3. that a member who does not contribute to such separate fund shall not be excluded from any benefits of the union or placed under any disability or at any disadvantage as compared with other members of the union by reason of his failure to so contribute.

That does not deny a trade unionist his moral right to work or to choose. But have we heard any honorable member opposite raise his voice in protest against the treatment that is being meted out to certain members of a trade union because they have elected ‘to exercise the right to choose and the right to work at a job in which they are skilled and are registered with a trade union to perform? We have not heard any protest from the Opposition, but to-day the Leader of the Opposition has risen and tried to lull the trade union movement into thinking that the Australian Labour party and those who sit behind him are the trustees of the Australian trade union movement. How can his statements be reconciled with the treatment that is being meted out to Australian unionists? How can they be reconciled with attempts to impose compulsory unionism? How can they be reconciled with the opposition of the right honorable member for Barton and his followers to the secret ballot legislation? The secret ballot legislation was designed to allow the free expres- sion of will by members of trade unions; but honorable members opposite, who have been talking about liberty of expression, would deny liberty .of expression through the secret ballot. -One might be pardoned for questioning the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition; and, indeed, the Australian trade union movement must be sceptical of has claims to be its champion.

We find that it does not take a great deal of prodding to make the Leader of the Opposition spring up and defend the so-called academic freedom in the Orr case, but when .it comes to freedom for members of the trade union movement, whom he professes to represent, we hear no word of protest whatever from the right honorable gentleman or those who sit behind him. How can the people of this country, including those who belong to trade unions - two-thirds of whom vote at Commonwealth elections - have any faith in a man who is only a ghost of a representative? The people must awaken to the fact that their civil Tights and liberties are being stealthily taken away. A lot has been said in this House about the liberties and rights -of the people, but when the reputed champion of these rights does nothing to protect them, the people are justified in being suspicious.

In Australia to-day no party can possibly be elected to office unless it has the support of members of the (trade union movement. To gain that support a political party must believe :in the trade union movement. It is the duty of any government -to see that ul C people .enjoy the best living standards possible, and that is what this Government has done.


.- I should like to lodge my protest at the intrusion by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.. .Harold Holt) into this “ Grievance Day “ debate, which is intended to give private members an opportunity to raise matters that they could not otherwise air. The right honorable gentleman introduced a controversial political debate, and private members were not able to deal with matters about which they wanted to speak. It seems to me that the election to this House of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Garfield Barwick) has caused a stir in the dovecote, a flutter among frontbench members of the Government. A campaign seems to be under way for the future leadership of the Government. At question time we have the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in answer to various “ Dorothy Dix “ questions, going into long drawn out statements and intruding on the time of honorable members. Now we have the Minister for Labour and National Service dealing with something during the “ Grievance Day “ debate that could have been dealt with in the Government’s time simply by obtaining leave to make a statement. Rank-and-file members have important matters that they wish to deal with. These are not simply parish pump matters, but matters affecting the nation as a whole.

I want to refer to civil defence, and to the fact that nothing was said about civil defence in the Governor-General’s Speech. Also, in his statement to the House yesterday, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made no mention of civil defence. The answer to-day by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) to a question asked by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) shows that the Government has no real plans for civil defence during the present financial -year. In >the Estimates for this financial year there is a substantial reduction in the vote for civil defence.

Civil defence is a serious matter. It is all very well for the Minister for Defence to say that conditions in this country differ from those in Great Britain, but most enlightened countries are giving some consideration to civil defence and the possibility of “war. Australia cannot overlook that possibility in view .of the ominous signs in our near north, about which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has recently expressed concern. We must be prepared for any eventuality. It is all very well for the defence chiefs to give the opinion that Australia is not liable to atomic attack in the foreseeable future. That is the only assumption that I can come to, because the Prime Minister has said from time to time that in matters of this kind the Government relies on the advice of the defence chiefs. How can such advice be proffered in existing international circumstances?

The Government has established a training school at Mount Macedon, Victoria. Together with other honorable members

I visited the school a little over a year ago. and I was amazed at some of the things I saw and heard there. Why has the Government established this school if it does not intend to organize any civil defence? Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, because our population is concentrated in six capital cities on or near the coastline. The great bulk of our population is in these cities, and any atomic attack on this country would have calamatous results.

At the Mount Macedon training school the effect of an atomic war was brought home to us in no uncertain terms. We were told that an atom bomb of the type dropped on Japan had an explosive effect similar to 10,000 tons of T.N.T. But the hydrogen bomb is 500 times as powerful as the old atom bomb. In the case of a hydrogen bomb explosion, the result would be total destruction over a radius of to 3 miles. There would be substantial damage for a radius of 12 to 15 miles, and partial damage up to 30 miles. There would be some effect from radio-active fall-out up to 200 miles from the scene of the explosion.

Even if this country never had need for civil defence, the morale of the people would be raised if they were given some training in civil defence. At Mount Macedon we were told that a first-aid booklet had been recommended by the medical officer in charge of civil defence training. This officer pointed out that a booklet on first-aid had been prepared and submitted to the Minister in charge of civil defence. It is more than twelve months since that recommendation was made. I raised the matter in this House more than once, and in the first instance the Minister dealing with civil defence did not seem to know anything about the subject. Later, he said that it was being considered. To date nothing has been done. I understand that £10,000 has been placed on the Estimates for a publication that was intended to go into every household throughout the country. Such a publication would have given the people some knowledge of first-aid. Quite apart from its use in war-time, it would have been helpful had any other emergency, such as fire or accident, arisen. The people would have had some little instruction in first-aid. The Government must give some serious consideration to civil defence. We must not return to the old “ Brisbane line “ philosophy.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order 291.

Question resolved in the negative.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

page 513


Message recommending appropriation reported. [Quorum formed.]

In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):

Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the purpose of additional financial assistance to the States.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Sir Arthur Fadden and Sir Philip McBride do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.

Second Reading

McPhersonTreasurer · CP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to seek approval of Parliament for the payment of an additional £5,000,000 to the States in the financial year 1957-58. It will be recalled that in the Budget for this year provision was made for tax reimbursements and supplementary grants to the States of £190,000,000, which was approximately £16,000,000 greater than the comparable payments in 1956-57. Notwithstanding this large increase in the grants, most of the States budgeted for deficits in 1957-58; in the aggregate, their estimated deficits exceeded £9,000,000.

There was a meeting of the Australian Loan Council in February last, and the States sought to have the total borrowing programmes for 1957-58 increased. However, it should be remembered that the governmental borrowing programme for the year was fixed by the Loan Council last June at £200,000,000, which was £8,000,000 greater than the programme for 1956-57. Furthermore, the semi-governmental and local authority borrowings programme approved were, at £89,000,000, £7,000,000 greater than in 1956-57. The Commonwealth undertook at the time to make monthly advances to the States at the annual rate of £200,000,000 pending a review of the position early in the New Year, by which time it would be in a better position to decide upon the amount of special assistance which it could provide. As Parliament was informed at the time of the Budget, support of a programme of £200,000,000 would clearly necessitate a very large amount of assistance from Commonwealth resources to the State government programmes.

In the light of these facts the Commonwealth, while it undertook to continue making advances for the remainder of the financial year to complete the original programme, found itself unable to agree to an increase in the programme, the effect of which would have been simply to increase the amount of supplementary aid which it will have to find. It did, however, agree that a useful purpose would be served by increasing the borrowing programmes for the year in the local government field, and in the upshot the Loan Council agreed on a £3,000,000 increase. However, since it was apparent that some further support should be given at this juncture to the overall financial position of the State governments, the Commonwealth offered to make an additional £5,000,000 available to them during the remainder of the financial year.

The Commonwealth proposed that the amount of £5,000,000 should be allocated on the basis that £4,000,000 be distributed according to the tax reimbursement formula and £1,000,000 be divided equally between New South Wales and Queensland, these being the States that were most severely affected by the drought and in which the recent increase in the numbers of unem ployed had mainly occurred. In detail the proposed allocation is as follows: -

In offering to make this additional £5,000,000 available, the Commonwealth was concerned that it should be used to give most help in those areas which had been affected by adverse conditions. The Commonwealth also had in mind that the grant could assist the States to take measures which would stimulate home-building activity. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.

page 514


Motion (by Sir Philip McBride) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Diplomatic Immunities Act 1952.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

Second Reading

WakefieldMinister for Defence · LP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Diplomatic Immunities Act 1952 to ensure that the representatives in Australia of the Federation of Malaya and of Ghana, together with the families and staffs of such representatives, are accorded by law all the immunities to which diplomatic personnel from other countries are entitled. Honorable members will be aware that both the Federation of Malaya and Ghana have recently acquired independent status within the Commonwealth of Nations and that high commissioners have been exchanged between Kuala Lumpur and Canberra. While an Australian high commissioner has been appointed to Accra, there is not yet a representative from Ghana established in Canberra, but when the Government of Ghana feels able to make such an appointment it will be welcomed.

The immunities which the bill will confer are defined in the 1952 act, namely, immunity from suit and legal process, inviolability of residence, official premises and official archives. Foreign diplomatic personnel have these immunities by the operation of long-established rules of international law which have been absorbed into the general law of Australia, but legal doubt existed prior to the 1952 act as to whether representatives of Commonwealth countries could claim these immunities.

At the time the 1952 bill was before this House honorable members will recall that the motivating need for the legislation was that the constitutional developments within the Commonwealth of Nations and the increased number of independent members thereof had made it clear that high commissioners should enjoy privileges and immunities similar to those enjoyed by the diplomatic representatives of other countries. On this basis the United Kingdom Parliament - after other Commonwealth members, including Australia, had been consulted - passed an act to extend to high commissioners the same immunity from suit and legal process, and the inviolability of residence, official premises and archives as were accorded to foreign envoys. Other member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations did likewise. A major feature of such legislation was that there should be reciprocity between the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth members. Malaya has already taken action to grant the immunities mentioned above to the Australian High Commissioner, members of his staff and their families in Kuala Lumpur, and it is now necessary for Australia to take reciprocal action to ensure that Malayan representatives in Australia are similarly covered. This requires an amendment of the act.

As it stands, the principal act is capable of being extended by regulation to cover the representatives of countries which form part of the Queen’s dominions. The

Federation of Malaya, however, is a monarchical system and is not a part of the Queen’s dominions, although it has remained within the Commonwealth of Nations with the warm agreement of other members. Since it is not technically part of the Queen’s dominions, representatives of the Federation of Malaya in Australia cannot therefore be covered by the act unless it is amended. It technically would be possible to extend the act by regulation to cover the representatives of Ghana, since that country is a part of the Queen’s dominions, but in so far as an amendment is necessary in respect of Malaya it is thought fitting specifically to mention Ghana as well as Malaya in the bill.

It will be obvious to honorable members, from what I have said, that the development and growth of the Commonwealth of Nations has extended not only to an increase in the number of independent member countries, but also to the constitutional forms of government of such members. India and Pakistan are republics and Malaya a monarchy, all with their own heads of state. Although these three countries are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, they do not recognize Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second as Head of State, and therefore do not legally form part of the Queen’s dominions. It is impossible to foresee how far this constitutional development will continue and accordingly, in order to avoid the need for the passage of legislation in any future case, where a Commonwealth member is not a “ part of the Queen’s dominions “ the bill will enable the extension of the act by regulation to cover any future representatives of newly independent member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations no matter what their particular form of constitutional government may be.

The main provisions of the bill will be found in clause 4 (c). The other clauses of the bill are concerned with questions of drafting. In short, the present bill confirms the provisions of the principal act and merely amends it to bring it into conformity with present-day conditions. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.

page 516


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 18th March (vide page 391), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -

That the bill be now read a second time.

East Sydney

.- Normally a bill such as this and its cognate measure, the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill, now before the House, would be regarded as noncontentious. But honorable members heard an extraordinary second-reading speech from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) which can only be attributed to his generally peculiar attitude since the arrival in this chamber of the new honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Garfield Barwick). He seized the opportunity to display again the hostility of this Government, and of himself in particular, to the trade union movement in this country. This morning the Minister appeared in a different role and spoke about the Government’s encouragement of trade unions and how it was helping immigrants to obtain membership in trade unions. He also expressed great surprise that the trade union movement generally was supporting the Labour party. Is there any need to go beyond the Minister’s extraordinary speech on these bills to understand that the great bulk of trade unionists in this country are supporting the Labour movement because they know in which quarter their best interests lie?

Let us examine what the Minister endeavoured to do. I think he set the pattern of the Government’s efforts to win the next election, and I warn all trade unionists of what I regard as the Liberal-Australian Country party Government’s plot to raise an election issue, whenever the election takes place, whether it is soon or at the end of this year. It is quite obvious that the Government parties are looking toward the next election and are seeking an election issue. They know that on this occasion it is no good trying to pull one of those crooked stunts such as they pulled at the last election, referred to as the Petrov incident - which they hope that everybody, by now, has forgotten. They know that they cannot pull the same trick so soon after having pulled it previously. Consequently, they have to look for something else.

I will tell honorable members what I think Government supporters have determined upon. They will fight the next election on a law-and-order issue. They will provoke the trade unions to take some industrial action, if they possibly can, to try to tie up important industries in this country, and then use that event as their election issue. I sincerely hope that the trade unionists of Australia will have sufficient good sense not to fall into the trap- They may have to put up with some additional ill treatment at the hands of this Government between now and the next election, but in my opinion they ought not to play into the hands of this Government and be provoked into a general stoppage.

What is the purpose of the measures that we are discussing? I do not know why the Minister made such an extraordinary second-reading speech, attacking the waterside workers. What do the bills propose? I am certain that not one member on the Opposition side of the House would oppose them, because all that they will do will be to increase the levy which is now placed upon the stevedoring industry to provide attendance money, sick leave, statutory holidays and all the other privileges generally enjoyed by workers in industry.

Because of the casual nature of waterfront employment, special procedures are necessary. There has to be some collecting agency, responsible for the payments to be made, because a waterside worker does, of course, work for a number of employers. But the Government miscalculated. I do not suggest that it made a miscalculation in the sense of forecasting what was going to happen, but it now appears that attendance money is up by approximately £500,000 because of factors that I will mention in a moment, and the income derived from the levy on the industry is down by £200,000. It was, therefore, necessary to increase the charge per manhour levied upon the industry.

The Minister admits that imports are down and that exports are not at the expected level. He admits also that fewer man-hours have been worked because there has been an improvement in stevedoring performance. I should like honorable members to remember what the Minister said in this regard, because if there has been an improvement in stevedoring performance, have not the waterside workers themselves been largely responsible for it? This improvement in stevedoring performance has resulted in fewer man-hours being worked, which obviously means that revenue from the levy has been reduced.

The Minister also said that one of the other factors that has led to an increase in the payment of attendance money and a reduction in the revenue derived from the levy has been a continued decline in interstate cargoes. Why have interstate shipping cargoes continued to decline? Certainly it has not been because of a slowing up in the turn-round of ships, because the Minister has admitted that there has been an improvement in stevedoring performance. One of the reasons why interstate shipping cargoes have declined is the decision of the High Court with regard to the imposition of road tax. As a result of that decision, Toad hauliers are in a much more favorable position, as compared with the interstate shipping lines, than they were before. The difficulty in this regard should be adjusted by the Government by whatever means are available to it.

Let us now consider the matter of industrial disputes, because one would naturally have imagined, from the Minister’s speech, that industrial disputes are more prevalent on the waterfront to-day than they have been for some time. In actual fact, however, in 1955-56 according to the Minister, 3,350,000 man-hours were lost because of industrial disputes - but ‘not, in fact, always as a result of holdups caused by industrial disputes. In 1956-57, the number of manhours lost from such causes was 1,280,000. Even accepting the Minister’s figures, it can be seen that between the two years I have mentioned the time lost from industrial disputes has been cut in half. As a matter of fact, more time was lost on the Australian waterfront because of work interruptions caused by rain than was lost from industrial disputes. The Waterside Workers’ Federation and the Australian Labour party have, for a number of years, been agitating for some positive action to be taken by the shipping and stevedoring companies to protect workers against rain, so that these frequent cessations because of rain would not be necessary. The employers, of course, have done nothing about that matter.

The Minister has admitted that more work has been done, and that it has been done more expeditiously and with fewer workers. What reward are the waterside workers to receive because they have speeded up work on the waterfront? Many of them are facing the prospect of being added to the 100,000 unemployed that we already have in Australia. I remember, as do other honorable members, that the waterside workers were castigated - and not so very long .ago - by anti-Labour representatives and by the shipowners because they would not keep the numbers of men registered in each port at the levels determined by the quotas laid down for those ports. The waterside workers believed that the quotas had been fixed at too high a level, while the shipowners said there was insufficient labour. Within a year or two, however, we find that because the amounts paid in attendance money have risen to the level I have indicated, both the shipowners and the Government are suggesting that there are too many men on the waterfront. They want to have the quotas reduced. Will they provide that those who are displaced as a result of a reduction of quotas will be given other suitable employment? Not at all! Those unfortunate persons will be added to the 100,000 who are at present on the labour market.

The Minister has said that there has been an improvement in cargo handling rates, and more efficient methods of handling cargoes, including increased mechanization and the pre-sling’ing of cargoes, have been adopted, ls it not obvious, if we accept the Minister’s statement, that conditions on the Australian waterfront to-day are not in the chaotic state that he would attempt to :imply? The quota of members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation in the Port of Sydney has been reduced, during the last twelve months, from 6,820 to 5,900, and in Melbourne it has been reduced from 5,380 to 4,900. Is it not obvious that the wastage apparent from those figures - because there has been no recruitment of labour on the waterfront in recent times - is helping to correct this condition, which involves, according -to the Minister, a surplus of labour on the waterfront?

Referring to the interstate shipping industry, the Minister said that undoubtedly it could attract a great deal more business if cargo rates were favorable and competitive with those charged by the various forms of land transport. Why have not shipping freight rates been reduced? Why are they not more competitive with rates for road and rail transport? The fact is that the Government has refused to do anything to have an effective examination made of the profits earned by the shipping companies, in order to ascertain whether reductions of freight rates are practicable and could be made while still leaving the companies with a reasonable profit rate. 1 well recollect that when the Government established a committee of inquiry a year or two ago, the Labour Opposition insisted that the terms of reference of that committee should require an examination of the profits of shipping and stevedoring companies. But what happened? No information has ever been submitted to the committee or to this House in that regard. We have had the report and the admission of the Minister to the effect that the stevedoring and shipping companies refused to supply the committee with the information. They would not co-operate. They did not answer the questionnaire. As a result, the committee of inquiry got nowhere at all with regard to that aspect of the matter.

Having regard to the fact that the waterside workers, as the Minister admits, have made a remarkable contribution to bringing down handling costs on the Australian coast, I am of the opinion that it is about time the Government did something to see that interstate shipping companies reduced their freight rates. The Minister thought it rather remarkable that there had been no increase in overseas freight rates since the first quarter of 1957, and that interstate shipping rates had not been increased since October, 1956. In his speech he complimented the shipping companies because freight rates had not been increased. The Minister failed to tell us, however, whether the existing freight rates are reasonable, and whether, if properly examined, they should not be regarded as exorbitant at the present time.

Let me turn once more to the matter of industrial disputes on the waterfront, because the Minister gave much attention to this aspect. He admitted that between the two years I mentioned the number of man-hours lost because of industrial disputes had been practically cut in half. Then he spoke of the fact that, having in mind the conditions that prevailed in other years, there has been comparative industrial peace on the waterfront. He then devoted a good deal of time to attacking the Waterside Workers’ Federation and the union officials because of what he described as a spate of unauthorized stoppages of work in various ports for the holding of meetings that the authority had not sanctioned.

I do not blame the waterside workers. Everybody knows that they do not work regular hours. They have men on night work and men on day work, and the Minister for Labour and National Service admits that there has been a great deal more shift work in the last twelve months than previously. Is it not quite obvious that the only way in which the Waterside Workers Federation can get a properly constituted meeting of its members in order to discuss their various grievances is to stop work and hold up the port for some time? The Minister should examine what caused the union to find it necessary to hold up the waterfront to hold this meeting. Why does he not go into the causes of that action? He will find that on many occasions, due to provocation by the stevedoring companies, the private shipping companies, and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and its officers, the unions have had no alternative but to hold these meetings so that they can discuss their grievances.

The Minister then said that there had been a wave of sordid and, he suggested, entirely disgraceful incidents in the port of Hobart over the Hursey issue. I do not propose to discuss that in detail, because everybody knows that it is at present before the court. I shall merely reply to what the Minister said and shall say nothing more. It seems to me to be completely unseemly conduct for a Minister of the Crown, knowing that this matter is before the court, to come into this House and try to influence the court by referring to “ sordid “ and “ disgraceful “ episodes in the port of Hobart over the Hursey issue. As a matter of fact nobody imagines for a moment that the two men involved in this dispute are acting without promises of support from the private shipping companies and from this

Government. There is no doubt that the Government itself has been trying to provoke this particular dispute.

When the Minister for Labour and National Service was dealing with the report of the committee of inquiry into the stevedoring industry he said, referring to the shipowners, that they were the worst group of employers with whom he had ever had anything to do. Yet he now tries to defend them and place all the blame on the waterside workers! The Minister found them to be the worst set of employers that he had ever had anything to do with, and that is the opinion of the waterside workers themselves. Undoubtedly the waterside workers have to deal with a bad section of employers in their everyday affairs.

Let us see what has caused this spate of industrial upheavals. The Ashburner interim award has been made. What is the Ashburner interim award? It is an award made by Mr. Justice Ashburner dealing with certain industrial conditions on the waterfront which are of vital concern to the men who are employed there. What did that award do? The award handed to the shipowners and stevedoring companies the right to determine the sling loads for the various cargoes handled at ports. In case somebody has the opinion that the waterside workers were asking for the right to fix the sling load, I inform honorable members that this is not the case. The Waterside Workers’ Federation invited the judge to review the determination in regard to sling loads, but the judge brushed aside the request and left the matter entirely in the hands of the shipping company officials, and the representatives of the stevedoring companies.

This does not merely involve a question of working conditions in the ordinary sense. It is a question of the safety of the lives of the men employed on the waterfront. I invite the Minister for Labour and National Service to produce in this House the figures in regard to industrial accidents on the waterfront since this new order was made. There has been a remarkable increase in industrial accidents and loss of time. The union regards this very seriously.

At this point I want to tell honorable members about a serious situation which has now arisen on the waterfront in regard to industrial accidents. For 30 or more years, in this country, it has been recognized that the employer had to take responsibility for the negligence of his employees. That was the belief of everybody. I have spoken to legal men in the Government’s ranks and they have admitted that that has been the accepted principle in regard to workers’ compensation in this country for 30 years or more. In the port of Sydney, approximately twelve months ago, a waterside worker met with an accident. He was obliged to go to hospital for a period. He suffered serious injuries and a claim was made for the payment of workers’ compensation.

The company admitted negligence and an order was made in favour of the employee. But some one had a brain-wave and decided that there was a weakness in the act or the regulations. An appeal was made to the High Court. Although the Workers’ Compensation Commission had made an order in favour of the employee, the High Court upset the decision of the commission on the basis that the negligence that had caused the injury of this worker had not been the negligence of the company but of its officer. Therefore, if he wants to receive compensation, the worker will have to take action against the foreman, stevedore who is considered to be responsible, and, probably, the foreman is as poor as the man who would be taking the action.

The very basis of compensation for industrial accidents on the waterfront of Australia will be destroyed unless the principle that was believed to have applied previously is restored. What is the position? The number of men in the gangs on the waterfront has been reduced. It must be obvious to honorable members that the waterside workers have had any amount of provocation, because industrial practices that have been built up and proved satisfactory over the years have now been destroyed.

Why are the waterside workers being attacked? If honorable members will go back through the industrial history of this country they will find that on every occasion on which unemployment has increased in this country under an anti-Labour government there has been an attack on the waterside workers. Anti-Labour governments always require a pool of unemployed in order to make an attack on industrial conditions and the waterside workers always take the brunt of the first, attack. That is what is happening to-day. Honorable members will remember that a. recommendation for an amendment of the legislation affecting the waterside workers was. made by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which is the creation of this Government. The authority directed the Government’s attention, not once but several times, to the fact that one of the great causes of discontent on the Australian waterfront is the fact that the authority has disciplinary powers over the waterside workers, but does not. have, disciplinary power over the employers. Necessarily, that leads to industrial unrest. The authority has pointed that out to the Government and has invited the Government to correct this situation. The authority has declared that in its opinion, for the smooth working of the waterfront, the authority should have power to discipline the employers.

Honorable members will remember the Krespi case in. which case this issue of discipline arose. The Minister and those who were associated with him tried to introduce extraneous matter..

Mc Harold Holt. - I rise to order. I point out that the Krespi case is currently under investigation by Mr: Justice Ashburner.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

If that. is. so I ask the honorable member to avoid any reference.- to it.


– I’ have merely mentioned, the point in order to refresh, the memory of honorable members on this question of discipline. I say to the Minister for Labour and National’ Service, who claims that the Government is favorably disposed, to the trade unions, that we want more than speeches and statements in this House. We want some action on the part of the Government to demonstrate that it is favorably disposed to the trade unions. But on every occasion when there is a dispute between employers and. employees the anti-Labour Government lines up on the side of the employers. The Government never approaches these matters in an impartial manner, displaying no favour to one side or the other. It always goes to the rescue of the employers when it considers that course to be necessary. This Government stands condemned for not having, taken the advice of its own organization and given the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority disciplinary powers over the employers as well as over the employees.

The Minister for Labour and National. Service has not mentioned what action the Government proposes to take about the excessive profits being made by stevedoring companies and the private shipping companies. I have mentioned the report of the committee of inquiry. It is a well-known fact that the shipping companies are able to hide from, the public gaze the excessive profits made by stevedoring companies. This is done, in a very simple way by a system of rebates given by the stevedoring companies to the shipping companies. The effect is to hide the profits made by the stevedoring- companies, and to put them into the coffers of the private shippingcompanies, which refuse to answer any inquiries about their financial operations. As> a. consequence, we have seen the sabotaging of the Commonwealth shipping line, which is dependent on private stevedoring companies for the loading and; unloading of its vessels. The stevedoring companies pile the costs on to the Commonwealth ships. The companies do not care how much the operations of the government-owned vessels are delayed, because the companies work on a cost-plus basis, and1 any additional costs are passed on to the community. By conducting highly profitable operations with respect to the vessels of the government line, the stevedoring companies can reduce the charges made in respect of the vessels of the private shipping companies, which really own the. stevedoring companies and absorb their profits. I repeat that, in my opinion, this Government, is deliberately setting out for a head-on collision with the trade union movement.


– Oh!


– The Minister has made that perfectly clear. There was no occasion for the provocative speech that he made on this innocuous measure in order to attack the waterside workers and the union officials. He criticized the waterside workers for not co-operating sufficiently with the Government and their employers. The Minister appeared to- be worried this morning about what he said was a lack of unity in the Australian Labour party. He did not agree that there ought to be a conference between representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers’ Union, the caucus of the Parliamentary Labour party, and the executive officers of the .Australian Labour party.. Despite what he says about modern trends in trade unionism, the great majority of Australian unionists are solid supporters of the Australian Labour party. We are the one movement. There is no such thing as the A.C.T.U., or the Australian Workers’ Union, separate and apart. They are component parts of the one great Australian Labour party.

What is the situation? Any one would imagine, in view of what the Minister says, that trade unionists have no say in the formulation of the policy of the Australian Labour party. The party’s policy is formulated at .annual .conferences, and 80 per cent, of the representatives at any Labour conference would be members of the trade union movement. Therefore, the policy determined is not the policy merely of the parliamentary political wing of the Australian Labour party. It is the policy of the Labour movement as a whole - a policy that trade unionists themselves play a great part in formulating. In view of that, does the Minister think it is strange that the workers rally behind the Australian Labour party? By contrast, who determines the policy of the Government parties? It is the private bankers, the great financial interests, and the great monopolists of this country, with whom the Government parties are continually :in secret conference. That is how the policy of the Government parties is determined. When Government supporters continually utter this rubbish about complete harmony and peace between capital and labour, and avaricious interests make exorbitant profits out of the labour of those they employ, and take every mean advantage that they can gain by whittling down industrial conditions, is it to be wondered at that the workers rally to the Australian Labour party, as they are doing in increasing numbers? We have never contended that every trade unionist in Australia votes for the Australian Labour party, but we do contend that most of them vote for Labour. And they are -now rallying to Labour in increasing numbers.

The Minister for Labour and National Service talked about -what he had done for the trade union movement. He said that, in 1950, he had encouraged immigrants to join the trade unions. But why did he encourage them? Was it because Ke wanted to strengthen the trade unions? Not at all! It was because he knows that prospective immigrants are screened politically. Great attention is paid to any trade union activity that they have undertaken in their country of origin. If the Government can discover that intending immigrants have been active in trade unions, they are not permitted to enter Australia. As a consequence, the Minister naturally assumes that immigrants will be anti-Labour and opposed to trade unions. He encouraged immigrants to join trade unions, because he thought that, when they did so, they would be destructive to the unions and would join with those elements that work against the Labour movement. The Government has largely failed :in this objective. Many good trade unionists have come to Australia from other lands, and have joined trade unions here and become active .in them. Immediately they acquire a knowledge of our language, and are able to read for themselves about their problems, they can think for themselves, and .they rally to the Australian Labour party, as they are now doing in increasing numbers.

In conclusion, I assure the Minister that if the Government is attempting to provoke a head-on collision with the trade union movement, it will find itself up against a Labour movement united both politically and industrially. There can be only one result - the destruction of this Government.


– The honorable member for East ‘Sydney (Mr. Ward) has just implied that this Government is looking for a head-on collision with the trade union movement. If such a collision occurs, it will be the result of the continuation of certain happenings in the trade union movement itself. It looks as if the Communists will gain control of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. If they do, T shall not be at all surprised if there is a head-on collision between the Government and the trade unions under that Communist domination. I should like honorable members to consider that prospect very carefully - and fearfully, if they have the interests of trade unionism really at heart. If they have those interests at heart, they should look with exceeding care at what is happening to the A.C.T.U. now and what is likely to happen to it within the next couple o( years. If the “ corns “ want a head-on collision, they will get it from this Government.

The honorable member for East Sydney made several comments about the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is now at the table of the House. I think that all sincere and thinking Opposition members, as well as all Government supporters in this House, realize that the Minister is one of the most moderate men who has taken part in Australian politics for many years. He has done much to bring about true co-operation between workers and employers. That is admitted by most thinking and decentminded Labour supporters. The accusation that the Minister is a stooge for the shipping companies is completely false. As is well known to honorable members, no one has had to put up with more criticism from the shipping companies than the Minister has been subjected to in the course of his work.

I think that the first thing to consider with respect to the proposal in this bill to increase levies on the waterfront is the question of whether the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is a necessary body. I do not think that we need give the matter much thought to come to the conclusion that it is necessary. Some of my earliest memories are of occasions when I watched wharfies at work in Sydney, Newcastle, and other ports of the world.

I saw the conditions under which they were working at that time, and I consider them to have been shocking. I do not in any way blame the waterfront workers for fighting hard to improve these conditions. During the war period, they succeeded in gaining most of the things for which they had been fighting, but I think that they are now going to extremes. I believe that they are being deliberately led to those extremes by the Communist leadership that undoubtedly exists in the Waterside Workers’ Federation of Australia. Some honorable members may well say, “ Well, when Jim Healy comes up here you have been known to have a beer with him “. Yes, I have been known to have a beer with him; but I am completely and utterly opposed to Healy’s politics. I believe that it is our job, as members of Parliament and as human beings, to differ with each other on questions of policy, but that is no reason why we should dislike the individual in the process.

The Waterside Workers’ Federation is at present undoubtedly under Communist influence and domination. Let us look at some of the causes of the conditions that exist, and which make necessary the additional levy provided for in the measure. There is not the same volume of export and import trade that there was; there is also greater efficiency in the stevedoring industry. The honorable member for East Sydney takes that to mean that the wharfies are working harder. I was always under the impression that the wharfies claimed before the improvement in turn-round that they were already doing their best; so how could they work any harder? Perhaps they could, but I do not think that that is the real reason for the improvement. 1 think that the reason is the increase of wharfage facilities and the increase in mechanization, which is by no means at its top level yet.

Another reason is the fact, mentioned by the Minister, that there has undoubtedly been a falling off in shipping freight movements, particularly in the interstate trade, because of the inroads on shipping custom made by the railways and road transport, which, for one reason or another, have been able to give a faster and more reliable service than was to be had around the coast. People in one State can order goods from another State with reasonable certainty that the goods will arrive in a specified time by road or rail; but in recent years there has been a certain amount of uncertainty about the arrival of interstate cargoes by sea. Sometimes they were held up by waterfront stoppages, sometimes they could not be unloaded because of industrial trouble, and were carried back and forth along the coast before being unloaded. Not unnaturally, people have turned to the more reliable service provided by road and rail.

One of the direct causes of the instability that has accompanied shipment of freight by sea around our coast has been the laedership of the Waterside Workers’ Federation. The tactics adopted by the leaders of the waterside workers, the way in which they have led their men, have resulted in an excess of labour on the waterfront at present.

Another factor which has helped to produce an excess of labour available on the waterfront is mechanization, as in the sugar industry. That is a direct result of the troubles and stoppages on the waterfront caused by the leadership of the Waterside Workers’ Federation which, over a period of time, has carried out a policy, which may well be accelerating now, which has restricted the demand for waterfront labour. The leadership of the Waterside Workers’ Federation has, in fact, followed a policy that has restricted work opportunities for waterside workers. 1 remember that long ago Mr. Lang suggested the piggy-back system of rail transport of freight, which is now being adopted more and more. Under that system the goods are run in the lorry that carries them onto flat rail trucks and run off at their destination. That is a good idea, and the only way in which the shipping services will be able to compete with it is to adapt the system to use with ships. They could have specially designed carriages or containers which could be run into the holds of ships with the aid of a prime mover on rails, and run out at the port of destination. The adoption of such a system would, of course, also mean less employment on the waterfront.

Modern developments and other factors have led to very real problems in an industry which the Minister has described as “ unstable “. I do not know what can be done to solve the problem which is, to a large part, connected with the age of the people working on the waterside. I know that suggestions have been made from time to time that the older employees should have some form of pensions scheme which would allow them to retire with more than the age pension and would consequently reduce the pressure for work opportunities in the stevedoring industry. I do not know whether or not that is practicable, but I firmly believe that if it were practicable the waterside worker would have to contribute more to the financing of the scheme than workers in other industries have to do in the financing of similar schemes covering them. The cost of the scheme would be very great and would have to be borne by the very board we are talking about in this debate in order for it to be practicable. 1 have seen men in their middle seventies who were physically incapable of working on the hot, sweaty holds of ships working on the wharfs in northern Queensland. The result was that the younger men had to work in the holds while the older men worked on deck. The constitutions of the young men simply could not stand up to that continued hard work in those tropical conditions, and this led to a disinclination on the part of some of the younger men to work in northern ports at the very times when their work was most necessary for the sugar industry. This age factor has had a real influence on the position on the waterfront. I do not know what the solution to the problem is, but I feel that the Waterside Workers’ Federation, with its very considerable funds, could do a lot in helping to solve it.

I should like now to make a brief reference to a matter mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney. He spoke, as the Minister also spoke, about the decrease of industrial disturbances on the waterfront during the last few years. I think the attention of the House should be directed to the fact that when stoppages occurred in Sydney and Melbourne recently, stop-work meetings called for the early morning, probably starting at about 8 a.m. and finishing at lunch-time, prevented work from being resumed until 8 o’clock the following morning. If the stop-work meetings were held on a Friday work was not resumed until the following Monday. This meant that the wharfies were, in effect, having their wages docked by their leaders, because they were not receiving the overtime rates they would have earned had work continued over the week-end. Because of the stoppages some of them were not getting attendance money, so they were receiving no income at all for those days.

The deliberate policy of the Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers’ Federation is to cause unrest within their own union, to do all they can to cause trouble for Australia as a whole, instead of working in the best interests of their members.

These are matters which I believe honorable members must bear in mind. I am firmly convinced that, many of the good, decent waterside workers whom I know personally do not like some of the things that are being done by their leaders. On occasions they have had very genuine complaints’. Even now, at times, they still have genuine cause for complaint. I must say, as I have said before in this House, that in the overall picture I do not hold a brief for the shipowners in their attitude, in many instances, to events on the waterfront. It is for that reason that, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is essential, in my opinion. As it is essential and as it has to have money to carry on its work, funds have to be found. I do. not think that anybody in this House will really disagree with the principles and ideas embodied in this bill.

Mr. THOMPSON (Port Adelaide) T3.16]. - I was very pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr- Ward). They certainly showed the members of this House, and others who may read those remarks, that he knows what the position is. At the commencement, he stated that we on this side would not offer any opposition to the bill. My reason for speaking to the bill does not stem from its provisions but from what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) said. I say very definitely to the Minister that if fie takes every opportunity, when he rises, to speak on any matter connected with the stevedoring industry,, to keep on lamming the waterside workers, he will, not get very far in solving our difficulties.


– You know that their rate of lost time is; 40 times that of the. average Australian worker.


– I am glad that the Minister mentioned that. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) spoke about difficulties”, saying; “I do not know how we are going to solve them “. Right throughout, that has been the position of the waterside industry.. Difficulties are there, and nobody on the Government side knows how to solve them.

Mr Wight:

– Nobody on your side was able to solve them when you were in office.


– Honorable members opposite tell us that they are very much cleverer than we are. They are always telling us, that we are practically ignorant people, but. I am rather surprised at their wanting us to solve the difficulties when they have not. been able to do so- The Minister said that waterside workers lose 40 times as many hours as do other unionists. In his speech, he referred to the lost time during the last couple of years, and mentioned Briefly the incidents relating to Krespi in Sydney and the Hurseys in. Hobart. I do not want to deal with those cases, but that incident in Sydney caused the greatest loss of work for some time. I do not altogether blame the men or the Government for it, but I do think that, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has not measured up to its responsibilities.

The Minister said that the problem facing us at the moment was whether the number of men in the waterfront industry should be decreased. The right honorable gentleman referred to: quotas. Every time we have dealt, with legislation of this type, I have rather castigated the Government on the question of quotas. The Minister and other honorable members will recall reading reports on the stevedoring industry which gave the quotas for Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, and other places, and stated that the number of men employed was considerably lower than the quotas. As a result, the Waterside Workers Federation was bitterly attacked for not admitting more men and filling the quotas. When I, and others, defended the waterside workers in- relation to this matter, a threat was made. The Minister may recollect suggesting that the quota difficulty could be overcome by giving to employers’ the night to register men and bring the number available up to the quota. I warned the- Minister that, he was setting, out on a course which would not bring peace or harmony to the waterfront but would create a greater upheaval than ever. I was very pleased that the Minister never gave effect to that proposal but realized that it was not the way to deal with, the matter.

The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which is composed of people who should know what is required, complained that the waterside workers wouldnot bring their numbers up to the quotas fixed. In this House we stated, on behalf of the men, their contention that the quotas were so’ high that when employment dropped slightly there would not be sufficient work to go round. But we were not listened to. Honorable members opposite went on complaining about these quotas not being filled. I think that the waterside worker’s attitude has been vindicated because to-day on the waterfront there is a far greater force of men than the industry can carry.

What are we to do? The Minister said, in effect, “ Let it drift on for a time. We shall pay this extra amount up to 30th June next year and, if the situation has not been altered by other legislation before then, we shall see whether we shall reduce it by 6d. from 3s. to 2s. 6d. an hour.” That shows the Minister’s outlook on the matter. Why is he prepared to let the position go on till 30th June next year? He said that the authority would show a loss of £600,000 or £700,000 by 30th June if the proposed adjustments were not made. No doubt this increase will not clear all of that loss. He has not said that it will, but I take it that it will clear some of it and that during the following twelve months the balance will be cleared. He wants the parties concerned to solve this difficulty. He said that the quotas were gradually diminishing. The honorable member for East Sydney gave the figures for Sydney,, which is nearly 1,000 down, and for Melbourne, which is 700 down. No doubt the position at other ports is the same.

There is tremendous wastage in the waterfront industry. Many men who enter the industry find, after being engaged in it for a little while, that it is nothing like it has been made out to be by the newspapers and many Government supporters. It has been represented as being a home from home, with big money for very little work. Quite a number of men, who believe what they are told, very soon find out that that is not so, and they drift away from the industry. In normal times it has been difficult to keep the numbers even approximating the quotas. One waterside worker of years’ standing told me some two or three years ago that the industry was continually taking in new men. He said it was amazing how some of these chaps came to the waterfront, believing statements they had read about the big money and the easy time. Some of them were dressed in a manner nothing like that which was required for the work. After a couple of days of trying to do the work they were found to be missing. The continual statements of this kind by people who do not understand the work are not borne out in actual fact.

I am glad that the Government does not intend to try to reduce the number of men on the waterfront. If that were done, I do not know where those who were displaced would get work. Years ago, before attendance money and the registration system were introduced, the men went to wool stores and to other casual work when there were no ships in port, but the position is different to-day. I have had men come to me and tell me that they cannot get work. They might have been promised two days’ work at the wool stores in a week or so. They are casual workers and their labour is linked with the waterfront. Very little work is available for them, and if this bill were to be rejected, something would have to be done to help them.

Reference was made to the Krespi affair in Sydney. A statement was made by somebody that the Krespi case cost the shipowners about £1,000,000. I thought the Minister made that statement in his speech, but I cannot find it there. If it is a fact that an authority or a tribunal which is set up to settle differences is prepared to take action when it believes a man is in the wrong, and will persist in that action until the shipowners have lost £1,000,000, I can understand why freights are so high. The shipowners do not pay for such incidents out of accummulated profits. If they pay out £1,000,000, they collect it from somewhere. We have been told that the shipping industry has absorbed the increase of 10s. a week in wages and other higher charges and has not increased freights. If the industry has been able to absorb such increases without losing anything, it must have been making a pretty big profit before. The question is whether the freight rates were justified before the increases were introduced.

As to the case that is being considered in Sydney to-day, I know that it is before the court and I shall not deal with the rights or the wrongs of the case, but it appears that £1,000,000 has been spent and the matter is now before the court. It is possible that the judge might decide in favour of the man concerned. I do not know what evidence is to be presented or anything else about the case, but if the judge should decide in favour of the man concerned, and if he should find that the man was justified in his action and should be restored to his job, the action that has been taken by the waterside workers will be endorsed. They will be able to say that the man had been wronged and that they were correct in trying to get justice for him and in seeking to prevent such an injustice being done to others even though it cost the shipowners £1,000,000.

If the court’s decision goes the other way and it finds that the tribunal was justified in cancelling the man’s registration, the shipowners will have spent £1,000,000 outside to decide an issue that should have been decided by a court or in some other way before the expenditure of £1,000,000 was incurred. When I think of these matters, knowing that the waterside workers realize the implications, I can understand their feeling that the Stevedoring Industry Authority is not doing everything in the best possible way. I am not here to make an attack on the industry. 1 am referring to the statements that have been made by the Minister for Labour and National Service. I am very concerned about the future of the men who work on the waterfront.

Reference has been made to new methods of driving cargo on to the ships’ decks. The honorable member for Bowman has referred to that matter. Honorable members have said that the railways could take freight away from sea transport because of high shipping freights, uncertainty about loading and unloading and the length of time involved. If there is a standard railway gauge of 4 ft. 8i in. between Melbourne and Sydney, the delivery of freight by rail will be hastened. It might be possible to load goods on a train in Sydney in the morning and unload it in Melbourne next day. The Government believes in such an arrangement, and I do not pretend that it is not good policy, but if we want to solve this problem, it is of no use to blame freights or to consider only the relative speed of rail transport compared with shipping.

I agree with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that the decision of the courts on the taxation of transport using interstate roads increased the difficulties of the shipping industry. Some reference has been made to the relative costs which must be met by those engaged in various forms of transport. If a ship enters port on Saturday morning and is only partly discharged by noon, it has to pay port dues over the week-end. That cost is added to the freight. But if a big road transport travelling between Melbourne and Sydney draws up on the side of the road on an area that has been improved by the municipal council and stays there all night, the truck operator does not have to pay a penny. That gives road transport a distinct advantage. However, we are not here to discuss road transport.

I merely mention these matters to show that we cannot expect either rail or shipping transport to compete with other services when they have to pay for every service that is rendered. If a ship goes up a river to Port Adelaide or passes through the Sydney Heads it has to meet dues to cover the cost of lights and other facilities which are provided by some authority whether it is Commonwealth, State or municipal. Naturally the ships are at a disadvantage with a competitor who does not have to meet such costs. Railwaytracks have to be built and maintained. Ships have to use harbours and pay for facilities.

Ever since I became a member of this Parliament, I have been concerned about the situation on the waterfront. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) chided the Opposition because he said the Labour government was not able to solve these problems. I admit that we could not solve all of them when we were in office, but we did a better job in many respects than this Government has done. I remember that when we were in office as the Government, members of the Opposition of that day took every opportunity to attack the waterside workers. They criticized the results that were obtained by waterside labour, the man-hours worked in a day and the number of men who were engaged. Time and time again the Government is blamed for not doing something effective. The waterside workers are constantly attacked for not giving a sufficiently high return per man-hour.

I was reared in a seaport town, and 1 speak on these matters from practical knowledge. I have not just stood aside and watched the work on the wharfs. Although not working as a waterside worker, I have been engaged in taking the goods to them, seeing them unloaded and put into the ship. I know that present-day conditions cannot be compared with conditions that prevailed on the waterfront 40 or 50 years ago. In the same way the conditions of a member of Parliament to-day cannot be compared with conditions of 40 or 50 years ago. When I entered the South Australian Parliament, I received £400, and at one stage as little as £360, a year, with no other benefits. My plight was worse than that of a man working in industry. I could have earned more money outside Parliament. But the position has changed. The electors say that I am now getting a fair deal and enjoying reasonable conditions.

The honorable member for Bowman spoke about retiring waterside workers on a pension. Honorable members can arrange pensions for themselves merely by voting on the issue, but waterside workers cannot have a meeting and decide to pay so much a week so that upon retirement they will receive what they have paid into the fund, plus an amount subscribed by the Government. Is it any wonder that these men sometimes kick over the traces in order to call attention to their needs?

The honorable member for Bowman spoke about unauthorized stop-work meetings. The regulations recognize that it would be impossible to have a proper meeting of waterside workers if it had to be held while work was being carried on. For many years they met at night. That is the usual procedure with some other unions to-day, but the Stevedoring Industry Authority said that it could not have men stopping work, say, on Monday night to go to a meeting. Ships might need to be worked on Monday night. So it was decided that the best thing to do was to give the waterside workers the right to hold a stop-work meeting once a month from 8 o’clock to 12 o’clock. The Stevedoring Industry Authority recognized the necessity to hold a monthly stop-work meeting, and said that in special circumstances permission may be given to hold additional stop-work meetings.

But sometimes a crisis arises unexpectedly. A man may be sacked and his fellow workers may think that he has been harshly treated. What redress have they got? Must they see that man stood down and wait until their monthly stop-work meeting before doing anything about it? No, they decide to hold a stop-work meeting at once.

I am not happy about the situation. I realize that it costs a lot of money for every hour that ships are tied up in port. I know that this money has to be paid by somebody, but it is not paid by the shipowner or shareholders in the shipping companies. The sum involved is added to the overhead charges, and sooner or later will be added to the freight charges. Yet the Minister for Labour and National Service has claimed that the time lost on the waterfront was 40 times that lost in any other industry. If the waterside workers stop work for four hours, attendance money is not payable. In those circumstances they feel that they are entitled to penalize the employers to some extent also, although they are well aware that the employers will pass on their charges to the consumers. A spirit of retaliation arises.

In this country to-day the two greatest industrial trouble spots are the waterfront and the coal mines.

Mr Anderson:

– Where the “ Commos “ are.


– The honorable member for Hume has brought up his old favorite - the “ Commos “. The union held an election recently in Port Adelaide, and 2,000-odd members voted. Fourteen positions were vacant, and thirteen were filled by Australian Labour party supporters and one by a Communist.

Mr Anderson:

– How do you know?


– How do I know anything? How do I know that the honorable member for Hume is sitting in the House? Because I can see him! How do I know that the honorable member belongs to the Australian Country party? Because of his utterances! How do I know that these men were not Communists? Because of their utterances! Although these men will support Australian Labour party candidates in their own executive, when it comes to a vote for the federal executive Jim Healy obtains a big majority. Why is that? It is not because he is a “ Commo “. It is not because the men want “ Commo “ control. If they wanted “ Commos “, they would elect them to their own executive. The one Communist who was elected to their own executive was a man who had shown that he could do the job better than other men. The waterside workers do all in their power to assist me during elections. They do not support the Communists. If they wanted Communists, why would they assist my campaign?

If a member of Parliament had exceptional ability would honorable members inquire as to his religion? No, they would not. I abhor communism and its tenets are completely contrary to my beliefs. I claim that I am a democrat. I feel that if I am a real democrat, I cannot deny the Communist his right to express his beliefs. Honorable members should not forget that if the Communist puts forward a suggestion that the people think is better than other suggestions put forward, the people will accept that suggestion. Take the case of a union appearing before the Arbitration Court. It might have one of the cleverest barristers in the land appearing for it, but he might be a member of the Liberal party. The rank-and-file unionist might ask why he is appearing for the union rather than some other lawyer who is a Labour man. The reason is that in this case the Labour lawyer is not as clever as the Liberal party barrister, and the union wants the cleverest man it can get for the job. The union looks to the man whom it believes is best able to prosecute the case.

I wish that we could get away from this continual cry, “ He is a Communist “, and keep strictly to the merits of the case. We should consider whether the men have any justification for the action that they take and, if they have any justification, we should try to make them realize that their claims will be considered without the need for extreme action. We may have a tough job to convince the waterside workers that this will be done, but we must remember that old wounds last a long time. A man who was wounded in the 1914-18 war may still suffer at times from his wound. In the same way, these workers may still suffer from old wounds caused in the past by what they considered to be wrongful treatment accorded to them. Those wounds cannot be simply wiped out, but we must try to help the men.


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

Debate (on motion by Mr. Dean) adjourned.

page 528


Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1); Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 1); Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 1); Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Amendment (No. 1); Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 1)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Minister for Air · Evans · LP

– I move-

Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1)

  1. That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1957 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1957 as so amended.
  2. That, without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 1 of these Proposals, the Governor-General may, from time to time, by Proclamation declare that, from a time and date specified in the Proclamation, the British Preferential Tariff shall apply to such goods as are specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of a British country, being a British non-self-governing colony or a part of the Queen’s dominions which was, on the fifteenth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, a British non-self-governing colony, specified in that Proclamation in relation to those goods.
  3. That on and after the time and date specified in a Proclamation issued in accordance with the last preceding paragraph, the British Preferential Tariff shall apply to such goods specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of a country specified in that Proclamation.
  4. That any Proclamation issued in accordance with paragraph 2 of these Proposals may, from time to time, be revoked or varied by a further Proclamation, and upon the revocation or variation of the Proclamation, the British Preferential Tariff shall cease to apply to the goods specified in the Proclamation so revoked, or, as the case may be, the application of the British Preferential Tariff to the goods specified in the Proclamation so varied, shall be varied accordingly.
  5. That, without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 1 of these Proposals, the Governor-General may, from time to time, by Proclamation declare that, from a time and date specified in the Proclamation, the Intermediate Tariff shall apply to such goods specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of any British or foreign country specified in the Proclamation.
  6. That on and after the time and date specified in a Proclamation issued in accordance with the last preceding paragraph, the Intermediate Tariff shall apply to such goods specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of a British or foreign country specified in that Proclamation.
  7. That any Proclamation issued in accordance with paragraph S of these Proposals may, from time to time, be revoked or varied by a further Proclamation, and upon the revocation or variation of the Proclamation, the Intermediate Tariff shall cease to apply to the goods specified in the Proclamation so revoked, or, as the case may be, the application of the Intermediate Tariff to the goods specified in the Proclamation so varied, shall be varied accordingly.
  8. That in these Proposals, unless the contrary intention appears - “ British non-self-governing colony “ include British Protectorates, the Trust Territory of Tanganyika and so much of the Trust Territories of the Cameroons and Togoland as is administered by Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom; “ Proclamation “ mean a Proclamation by the Governor-General, or the person for the time being administering the government of the Commonwealth, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, and published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette; “ the British Preferential Tariff “ mean the rates of duty set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, in the column headed “ British Preferential Tariff “, in respect of goods in relation to which the expression is used; “ the Intermediate Tariff “ mean the rates of duty set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, in the column headed “ Intermediate Tariff”, in respect of goods in relation to which the expression is used.

Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 1)

That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1957 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff (Nen Zealand Preference) 1933-1957 as so amended. {:#subdebate-27-4} #### Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 1) That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1956 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1956 as so amended. {:#subdebate-27-5} #### Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Amendment (No. 1) That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) 1956 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) 1956 as so amended. {:#subdebate-27-6} #### Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 1) That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1957 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at five o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Excise be collected in pursuance of the Excise Tariff 1921-1957 as so amended. **Mr. Chairman,** the five Tariff Proposals which I have just introduced relate to proposed amendments to the Schedules to the Customs Tariff 1933-1957; the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933- 1957; the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1956; the Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) 1956; and the Excise Tariff 1921-1957. Where not already in operation the proposed amendments will operate as from to-morrow morning. Customs Tariff Proposals No. I embody a re-introduction of the proposed amendments which were introduced in this committee on 4th December, 1957. These reintroduced amendments relate principally to passionfruit juice and pulp, hats, caps and bonnets, rotary cultivators, electric household ironing machines, electrically operated floor polishers, cathode ray tubes, tyres and tubes, various papers and paper products, and re-imported goods. They have, of course, been in operation from 5th December, 1957. Their inclusion in the present proposals is a machinery measure to facilitate debate by honorable members at the appropriate time. Amendments included for the first time are confined almost wholly to those which stem from adoption by the Government of the recommendations by the Tariff Board in a detailed and lengthy report on the Australian motor vehicle industry. I shall, at a later stage, table the board's report. I shall at the same time table three other reports by the Tariff Board. {: #subdebate-27-6-s0 .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr OSBORNE:
LP -- With or without comments. The recommendations contained in these latter reports have been adopted by the Government, but no legislative action is called for. The motor vehicle amendments provide a new tariff structure for self-propelled vehicles such as passenger cars and trucks, and for their components and spare parts. They are, where appropriate, designed to accord reasonable and adequate protection to the production and assembly of motor vehicles in Australia and, as I have already indicated, they are based on recommendations made by the Tariff Board. They will, in addition, remove many of the difficulties which in the past have beset both importers and the Customs Department in the clearance of vehicles and parts through hte customs. The task which faced the Tariff Board in evolving the new tariff structure was an extremely difficult one. It is best demonstrated when I remind honorable members that at present there is no single set of duties in our Customs Tariff which covers a motor vehicle as such. Actually, the duty payable on a complete vehicle consists of the sum of the duties payable on its various components such as chassis, body, tyres, batteries, bumper bars, spark plugs, and so on. As many as 30 different tariff items could be involved, some carrying specific rates, per lb. or each, some ad valorem, some alternative, depending on which rate returns the higher duty, some with primage duty and some exempt from primage duty. All this has, as honorable members will readily appreciate, imposed a considerable burden on the Australian importer, the overseas supplier and the customs administration. Not only have problems of tariff classification arisen when new models have been introduced to the Australian market but the different bases on which the duties are levied require a detailed dissection of invoice values and verification of the weights of various components. Moreover, new techniques developed in the production of the modern motor vehicle have, in many instances, outmoded the existing tariff structure. Accordingly, it is proposed as from to-morrow to provide for motor vehicles, their components and spare parts, under three broad groups in the Customs Tariff. I should, perhaps, explain that " components " are items imported for inclusion in vehicles manufactured or assembled in Australia; " parts " are parts of vehicles imported for sale as replacement parts. Complete or substantially complete motor vehicles with self-contained power, when not exceeding ten tons gross vehicle weight, will be admitted under proposed tariff item 360(d)(2) at rates of duty of 25 per cent. British preferential tariff and 35 per cent, otherwise. In respect of the incomplete vehicles, provision is made for a reduction in the duties to minima of 224 per cent. British preferential tariff and 324 per cent, otherwise if certain determined parts - for example, batteries, bumper bars, tyres and tubes, windscreen wipers and so on - are not supplied by the overseas manu facturer. This provides an incentive to the importer to obtain these parts locally. Vehicles exceeding ten tons gross weight, when complete or substantially complete, will be admitted under proposed by-law item 360 (d) (1) at rates of duty of 124 per cent. British preferential tariff and 224 per cent, otherwise. This, for all practical purposes, will apply to heavy duty trucks and the like. The reason is that ten tons clearly exceeds the size of any truck manufactured in Australia. The present maximum is seven tons. Original equipment components, other than a few specified exceptions such as tyres and tubes, batteries, radios and spark plugs, when for use in the manufacture or assembly of vehicles of the types covered by proposed item 360 (d), which covers complete cars, are provided for in four separate sections to proposed item 359 (d), which covers original equipment components, at rates of duty ranging from 35 per cent. British preferential tariff and 424 per cent, otherwise to free of duty from all countries. The specified exceptions that I mentioned earlier - tyres and tubes, batteries, radios and spark plugs - will continue to be dutiable under their appropriate items in the customs tariff. The original equipment components provided for in proposed item 359 (p) - that is components - when of a kind being supplied in commercial quantities by an Australian industry, will in the main be subject to protective duties of 274 per cent. British preferential tariff and 35 per cent, otherwise. A small but important range of components namely, electrical warning devices capable of giving an audible warning and parts therefor - what most of us call " horns " - propellor shaft assemblies of the needle roller type - there are, apparently, other types - usable with vehicles of less than ten tons gross vehicle weight and parts therefor; shock absorbers and parts therefor; and windscreen wipers and parts therefor, will, however, be dutiable at the higher rates of 35 per cent. British preferential tariff and 424 per cent, otherwise. Many components for which Australian industry is not yet in a position to meet the reasonable needs of the market will be admitted free of duty from the United Kingdom and at *li* per cent, otherwise, but if these components are not reasonably available from the United Kingdom they will be admitted free of duty from any source. Vehicle replacement parts are in the main now provided for under proposed items 359 (e) and (f). With the exception of tyres and tubes, batteries, sparking plugs and other parts more specifically provided for in the Customs Tariff 1933-1957, those replacement parts which are reasonably available from Australian sources of supply will be dutiable under item 359 (f) at rates of 27i per cent, under the British Preferential Tariff and 37i per cent, otherwise. Parts not reasonably available from local sources will be admitted free of duty" from the United Kingdom and at 7± per cent, otherwise. If, however, these replacement parts are not available from the United Kingdom they will be admitted free of duty from all sources. What I have said does not, as honorable members will readily appreciate, purport to cover in detail the changes relating to motor vehicles which emerge from this new tariff structure. At the most I have merely given a broad outline. The position is, however, set out more fully in the " summaries of alterations " which have already been circulated to honorable members. It is also proposed that the most-favoured-nation tariff on flexible tubes and metal-cased tubes and pipes not further manufactured than plated, polished or decorated, covered by non-protective item 151 (a) shall be reduced from its existing rate of 12± per cent, to 7i per cent. This action is complementary to that taken in the tariff proposals of May last year when the preference margins on a wide variety of producer goods were similarly reduced consequent on the signing of the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement. Flexible metal tubes are mostly toothpaste tubes. They are the things principally covered by thar item. Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 1 are complementary to the proposed variations made in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1. The principal amendments are those relating to motor vehicles, components and spare parts. In the main the proposed amendments provide for a preferential tariff margin of *li* per cent. lower than the proposed mostfavourednation duties set out in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1. The remaining amendment relates to rotary cultivators, hoes and tillers - it is reintroduced from the earlier Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals which were introduced in this committee on 4th December, 1957. No new matter is included in Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 1. They are a reintroduction of the proposals introduced on 4th December. 1957, and they maintain our commitment to accord to New Zealand a rate of duty of *22i* per cent, on various hats, caps and bonnets upon their importation into Australia. Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Proposals No. 1 are complementary to Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1. Their sole purpose is to honour our obligations to the Federation to grant British preferential tariff treatment on certain fruit juices imported into Australia which at the time the treaty was negotiated were admissible under tariff item 16 (b). Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 are a reintroduction of the proposals tabled in this committee on 4th December, 1957. They provide for the payment of an excise duty of £6 each on cathode ray tubes as used in television receiving sets. I hope that an opportunity will present itself for all these proposals to be debated during the course of the present parliamentary sitting. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 540 {:#debate-28} ### TARIFF BOARD {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Reports {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr OSBORNE:
LP -- I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: - >Automotive industry. > >Metal working shaping machines. {:#subdebate-28-1} #### Plywood Textile dyeing, bleaching and finishing. The reports on the last three subjects do not call for any legislative action. The board's recommendations in each instance have been adopted by the Government. Motion (by **Mr. Osborne)** proposed - >That the reports be printed. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Clarey)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 541 {:#debate-29} ### STEVEDORING INDUSTRY CHARGE BILL 1958 {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed (vide page 528). {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-LLW} ##### Mr DEAN:
Robertson .- This bill increases from 2s. to 2s. 6d. a man hour, the stevedoring industry charge, on a continuing basis, and adds a temporary surcharge of 6d. a man hour to operate until June, 1959. These increases are to take effect as from 1st April next. I think that most honorable members are aware that the charge is the amount added, by way of levy, according to the man-hours worked by waterside workers engaged by stevedores, and the proceeds finance the operations of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. These operations include, among others, the payment of attendance money. It is because of the need to have a larger amount of money available for this purpose that these charges have been increased. This has come about in several ways. I think it is well to direct the attention of the House to the statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr, Harold Holt)** in his second-reading speech that in no way is it suggested that there has been bad budgeting by the authority. As I have already stated, a number of factors have made this increase in charge necessary, some of which I want to discuss. First of all, however, I should like to reply to some of the arguments which have been advanced by the two honorable members of the Opposition who have spoken to-day. The honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson),** who preceded me, said, just before he concluded his speech, that he wished we could get away from this constant charge of associating Communists with the Waterside Workers Federation. "Let us get away from calling them Commos ". I think was the honorable member's phrase. I agree to a large extent with what the honorable member said on that matter because, like him, I have had considerable experience, both before, during and after the last war, with shipping and the activities and working of waterside workers on the Australian waterfront. I know of the peculiar problems associated with that industry which do not occur in other industries and therefore of the different treatment that this industry requires. Unfortunately, there has been a long and unhappy history of industrial unrest for many years on the "waterfront. But the fac remains that, although I agree with the honorable member for Port Adelaide that the great majority of those engaged on the waterfront are not Communists themselves or pro-Communist, they are controlled from the top by a Communist group. As has been pointed out, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation in no way denies that he is a Communist; and the members of the Waterside Workers Federation continue to elect him as their general secretary. They continue to elect him because, from their point of view, he does a good job as union secretary. While I recognize this gentleman's ability in that position. I think it is time the waterside workers considered the more important question of whether they should be controlled by a wellknown and active Communist, because he has, in his direction of the union, done it a great deal of harm. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** said that the Minister had made a most provocative speech when introducing the bill, a speech in no way calculated to win the confidence of the waterside workers. As is the case with many statements made by the honorable member for East Sydney, that was a gross exaggeration. Let us consider for a moment what the Minister said. He said, amongst other things, that waterside workers differed from employees in other industries in that they have various employers. He referred to the history of industrial unrest in the industry, and he said that on many occasions - . . a customer who has been in the habit of shipping his goods around the coast decides that the game is not worth the candle, and that, even if it costs a little more, there is a greater return, in terms of promptness and reliability of delivery, in sending his goods by rail or road transport. We have seen this process going on all over Australia. The waterfront employers find that it pays them to mechanize more if they cannot rely upon the human factor to do the job for them regularly and efficiently. So, here is this sick industry which, by its own course of conduct, is making its cure all the more difficult. I suggest that those remarks are in no way provocative. The Minister was merely giving the House the facts of the situation. To take the argument a little further, let me cite some figures relating to the cargoes that have been shipped around the Australian coast in the last few years. In 1954-55, 10,213,000 tons-weight of bulk cargo was shipped. In 1955-56, the amount was 11,632,000, and in 1956-57, it was 11,899,000 tons-weight. It is seen that, with regard to tons-weight of bulk cargo, there has been a gradual increase during that period. When we look at the figures with regard to tons-measurement of cargo, however, we find that in 1954-55 the amount shipped was 1,472,000 tonsmeasurement; in 1955-56 it was 1,315,000, and in 1956-57, the figure was 1,288,000 tons-measurement. These figures show a gradual decline. It is interesting to note that the cargo included in the tons-weight figures is mainly bulk cargo, such as coal and iron ore. These cargoes are handled mechanically and, in nearly every case, are loaded into the ships by mechanical means. The tonsmeasurement cargo, however, is the general cargo, including that which is sent in cases or other packages, such as motor bodies or vehicles. That is the kind of cargo handled by members of the Waterside Workers Federation. The gradual reduction in the amount of cargo handled by waterside workers has meant, of course, that there has been less work available on the waterfront, and, consequently, attendance money payments have increased. In case it is believed that honorable members on this side of the House are biased when they say that a great deal of the trouble in the industry is self-inflicted let me read portion of an article which appeared this morning in the " Sydney Morning Herald ", which could not. at least in recent times, be described as a proGovernment journal. Referring to these self-inflicted cuts that have been wounding the waterside industry for so long, the editorial says - >The truth of this statement is self-evident. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to impress the watersiders with their Communist-dominated leadership. If they ignore it, however, they can expect little sympathy from the community. **Mr. Holt** has mentioned other disturbing factors - the decline in export cargoes, and the fact that import cargoes have not increased as much as expected. It is true that, in the next year, this position is not likely to grow worse, and may even slightly im prove. Nevertheless, the watersiders, if they want to retain their jobs right into the indefinite future, should keep down the number of their selfinflicted cuts, and beware of the thousandth - the one that cuts their own throats. That is a sound summary of the position as it has existed, unfortunately, and as it exists in the industry to-day. Let me complete that part of the argument by saying once again that I believe it is time the waterside workers had a look at their problems, not from the point of view of the efficiency of this union secretary or that officer, but with the thought in mind that if a union official is a professed Communist and an active one, and is not working for the good of the Australian nation as a whole, he should not be elected to the position. Although their cuts are self-inflicted and. initially, wound only themselves, they eventually have much wider results and constitute a great disaster for the Australian economy. The Minister mentioned a reduction in cargoes exported from Australia. It is, unfortunately, true that there has been such a reduction, particularly in the export of our primary products. We rely to a great extent on income derived from the sale of our primary products abroad. We have sufficient problems associated with the marketing of those products, without the additional problem of waterfront difficulties. I remember that in 1949 I took out a series of figures with regard to the port of Newcastle, showing that it took three times as long to turn a ship round in 1948-49 as it had taken in 1938-39. The slow turnround of shipping constitutes a great problem in itself and adds to the difficulties of marketing our products abroad. Those markets are sufficiently competitive without Australian products being saddled with additional costs as a result of slow turnround of ships. It must be remembered that most of our products are sold in the United Kingdom and nearby European countries, and we must pay higher freight charges than most other countries to send our goods to those markets. Quite a number of products with which we have to compete come from European countries. Others come from Africa and Canada. They have a much quicker journey, the freight is less and, fortunately for them, the turn-round of their ships while in port is much quicker than it is in Australian ports. If we are unable to continue the competitive selling of these primary products abroad it will have a disastrous effect upon the economy of Australia. The speech which the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** made this afternoon was the type of speech that we have heard him deliver in this House before. It was designed to keep alive the class war and class hatred that existed between certain groups of employers and employees but which, I am glad to say, has been disappearing from the Australian industrial community of late. A contribution such as we heard from the honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon will not in any way help in obtaining industrial peace. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- He gave the facts. {: .speaker-LLW} ##### Mr DEAN: -- It is a complete exaggeration to say that the honorable member for East Sydney gave us the facts. Thumping the table, he said with great gusto that Australian Labour was one movement. Is that a fact? There is the Democratic Labour party, the anti-Communist Labour party, the Queensland Labour party, and several parties within the one sitting opposite us at the present time. This illustrates the reliability of the alleged facts given to us by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable member for East Sydney also said that this wicked Commonwealth Government was controlled by outside monopolies. Amongst others, he cited the private banks. On previous occasions he has cited such institutions as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and has linked them together as capitalist monopolies. Every member of this House knows that that is not a fact because the capital of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is divided amongst a great number of shareholders and a large proportion of those people have only a small shareholding. The shareholdings are divided among all sections of the community. When I was speaking to the banking legislation I gave an illustration and cited figures concerning the large number of shareholders who hold shares in the trading banks. So, it is completely wrong to say that such institutions are capitalist monopolies. It is a well-known fact that the Government represents, to the best of its ability, all sections of the community and does not claim to be sectional in its interests as honorable members opposite are. I can say with confidence that if it were not for the support of a large number of trade union members I would not be representing the electorate of Robertson. A few years ago it was necessary for me to get approximately one-third of the votes from mining towns such as Swansea, Catherine Hill Bay and Boolaroo in order to retain my seat. I am happy to remind honorable members that I was able to do that. I think that this proves that Government supporters receive votes from a large section of the trade union movement. I also received a reasonable percentage of votes from members of the miners' federation, which has been linked, from time to time, with the Waterside Workers Federation as being completely against this Government. I know a number of members of the Waterside Workers Federation quite well, especially those in the Port of Newcastle. I had the honour of serving with a number of them during the war and I know that they have the welfare of their country at heart as much as any other Australian citizen. But the time has arrived for them to divorce themselves entirely from the Communist domination and leadership of their federation which has done so much damage to this Australian nation. {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-K58} ##### Mr O'CONNOR:
Dalley .- After listening to the speeches of some Government supporters, I think I could be excused if I made the mistake of thinking that, instead of speaking to the bill before the House, Government supporters were making an election appeal to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In my opinion, the contribution of the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** to this debate was marked, first of all, by his failure to make any reasonable or worth-while suggestions for improvements in the industry, notwithstanding the widespread criticisms of it. It was also marked by an indiscriminate attack on the Waterside Workers Federation. Finally, the Minister failed to give the House any assurance that any increased costs would be borne by the shipowners. It is interesting to refer to the Minister's observations about the part that rain plays in stoppages that occur in this industry. Listening to supporters of the Government, one would come to the conclusion that the only reason for industrial stoppages on the waterfront in this country were industrial reasons. But the figures given by the Minister himself were quite significant and I think that they are of sufficient importance to warrant my repeating them. The Minister informed the House that 3,350,000 man-hours were lost through industrial stoppages in 1955-56, and that 2,040,000 hours were lost through rain. In 1956-57, 1,280,000 hours were lost for industrial reasons and 1,450,000 hours were lost through rain. In the first half of 1957-58, 760,000 hours were lost through industrial stoppages and 690,000 hours were lost through rain. In view of the fact that rain causes such a widespread disturbance in this industry and was responsible, in the year 1956-57, for more than half the time lost in stoppages, one would imagine that the Minister for Labour and National Service might have turned his attention to bringing about some improvement in this matter. One would imagine from his attitude, that this is something that has to be contended with - that no improvement is required. While the Minister is attacking the trade unions on industrial grounds, here we have a condition in the makeup of the industry which the Minister has, so far, made no attempt to tackle. The union has been aware of the part that rain has played in the stoppages in this industry. To my knowledge, the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, time and again in recent years, has brought this matter under the notice of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Labour and National Service, but they have not yet faced up to the problem. In-other parts of the world, the problem of eliminating some of the loss of time caused by rain has been tackled. We in Australia should learn from the experience of other nations, which have adopted certain improvements and made a substantial saving in lost time caused by rain. But this Government adopts a " come day, go day " attitude. When it attacks the union on industrial grounds, and leaves untouched this important factor that is responsible for 50 per cent, of the lost time in this industry, is it any wonder that one questions the Government's bona fides? The Minister attacked the union over stoppages of work, and other Government speakers followed the same line. Apart from stop-work meetings and the like, other factors have contributed to the slow turnround of ships, and to delays not only in Sydney but also in other Australian ports. This is made clear in the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1957. At page 36, under the heading, " Stevedoring Delays Due to Non-observance of Safe Working Provisions ", there is an important comment, which I should like to bring to the attention of the House. The report states - >The Authority is concerned at the number of cases of non-observance of safety provisions, mainly on overseas vessels, which cause delays to stevedoring operations and frequently, industrial disputes. > >Quite a number of vessels have been delayed and disputes have occurred because hatch beams have been left unbolted or insecurely fastened, cargo gear has been defective or inefficiently rigged, winches have been defective or not properly lagged, hatch covers have been missing, or in a bad state of repair. > >Some of these vessels are registered in countries where the high standard of safety required in Australian ports is not demanded, and being on their first visit to this country take the stevedoring company by surprise when, on inspection, their cargo gear is found to be well below Australian standards of safety. However, many of the delays and disputes arise on vessels which are regular traders to Australia. These delays and disputes are unnecessary and avoidable, because not only are the Australian requirements as to safety known to the companies concerned, but similar safety regulations apply in the majority of the ports to which they regularly trade. > >It should be a matter of concern to stevedoring companies, that many paid hours of labour are lost due to this failure to ensure that gear and equipment on vessels arriving on the Australian coast comply with regulations covering safety. This applies in particular to the bolting or securely fastening of hatch beams. > >The question of bolting hatch beams that remain in place whilst cargo is being worked should be given the same degree of attention and priority as the other items of cargo gear that are subject to periodical inspection and certification. I believe that if some of these things received the attention of people who should attend to them, a lot of the lost time on the waterfront in Sydney and other Australian ports would be avoided, and the turn-round of ships would be accelerated. I take to task those Government supporters who have criticized the turn-round of ships in Australia. If they inquire, they will find that, in the last two or three years, there has been a decided improvement. Many of the factors that contribute to the slow turn-round of ships by lengthening their stay in port are not attributable to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In many instances, those factors are attributable to the stevedoring companies. Yet, whatever goes wrong on the waterfront, members of the federation always get the blame and the criticism. The statement of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority's- income and expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1957, at page 64 of the report to which I have referred, indicates that, during 1955-56, the authority spent approximately £49,513 on amenities for waterside workers, and that, in 1956-57, it spent about £64,182. I think it is admitted that the authority has done a particularly fine job in providing amenities, but it has barely scratched the surface. When the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, which was the forerunner of the present authority, took over the provision of amenities a few years ago, the standard of amenities was deplorable, as some Government supporters have admitted. Although much has been done, there is still a long way to go, and I suggest that the authority could spend a bigger proportion of its income than it has spent, or proposes to spend, on the provision of amenities for the men. Total expenditure for the financial year 1956-57 was £3,315,158, of which, as I have pointed out, some £64,182, or approximately 2 per cent., was spent on amenities. The authority can and should do much better than that. I was struck by the concluding paragraph of the reference to amenities, at page 23 of the report, which states - >Expenditure by the Authority on capital items has been limited by direction of the Government to £75,000 for each of the years 1956/57 and 1957/58. Within these limits everything possible will be done to improve the position. The Government puts abroad the impression that bodies such as this are free and unfettered, and that they will not be subject to interference by Government direction. Speaker after speaker from the ranks of Government supporters has tried to give that impression, not only in relation to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, but also in relation to other Government instrumentalities. Yet, here, we have the authority admitting in its report that, although it has done a certain amount in the field of amenities, and would like to do much more - and a great deal remains to be done - the amount that it may spend for this purpose is limited by. Government direction. How do Government supporters justify this unwarranted interference in the administration of the authority? It is idle for them to say that there is no ministerial interference, in view of that statement in the authority's report that it is being told how much it may spend on amenities. The Minister for Labour and National Service said that the shipowners absorbed the recent wage increase of 10s. .a week due to the increase in the cost of living, and he made great play on the fact that an increase of 5d. a man-hour in the levy made to finance the authority had been absorbed by the shipowners. That statement was completely misleading. I recall that, when the levy was reduced by this Parliament not very long ago, the shipowners refused to make a corresponding reduction in their charges. When the levy was increased, the shipowners raised their charges correspondingly, but when the levy was reduced, the shipowners refused to reduce their charges correspondingly. The Minister has given no undertaking to the House that this increased cost will not be reflected in increased freights. I believe that the shipowners should carry this increased cost. They are in a position to do so. If they pass this increase on, the position of Australian industry generally will become more difficult. I refer, in conclusion, to the attitude of the Minister in dealing with the Krespi issue. I do not propose to discuss the Krespi dispute because it is already before **Mr. Justice** Ashburner; but I well remember that when this incident first broke the Minister made a very inflammatory speech in the House. A week later, he made a more reasonable speech to us on this matter. I think that the Minister was provocative in the first instance and his speech in no way contributed to any settlement of this issue. I do not know whether he was badly advised, whether the people who prepared his brief were sadly astray; but when he made that first statement in the House he did himself very little credit. If he is attempting to achieve better conditions, more understanding and better feeling on the waterfront, if he is so keen to be understood by the trade union movement, he might be a bit more reasonable in his approach to the trade union movement than he was initially in regard to this Krespi dispute. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr ANDERSON:
Hume .- It is quite refreshing to listen to the. Opposition making a reasonable contribution to the debate, because it so seldom happens. The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. O'Connor)** is known to be a reasonable man like my friend, the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson).** He has dealt with a very notorious problem. When one thinks of the southern American states one thinks of revolution. When one thinks of Ceylon one thinks of coco-nuts. When people overseas think of Australia they think of trouble on the waterfront. There is no denying that our waterfront has suffered from great disturbances in the past, but as the honorable member for Dalley said, there are signs of considerable improvement now. When the stevedoring industry legislation was being amended on a previous occasion **Mr. Healy,** the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, sat on a chair in the gallery and listened attentively to the debate. It is extraordinary that on that occasion Labour speaker after speaker said that the legislation would lead only to disaster. There was not one honorable member opposite, not even that reasonable man, the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Clarey),** who did not predict disaster as a result of the amendments to the legislation. {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr Clarey: -- I do not think I spoke on that measure. {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr ANDERSON: -- Well, if it was not you, it was some one like you. The Opposition has in this connexion been proved just as wrong as it has been proved in connexion with other contentious matters, such as unemployment and housing. It is for us in the Parliament, realizing the tremendous effect that the waterfront position has on the national economy, to do all we can towards improving the position. My own views on the matter are based on my army associations. If one goes round a town and sees troops with certain colours in their hats who are misbehaving the thing to do is to see what is wrong with the officer, who is generally responsible for the laxity that occurs. In the same way, I think it is the leaders of the waterfront industry, on both sides, who are responsible for the trouble on the waterfront. I recently visited the Sydney waterfront, because I am taking a great interest in waterfront conditions, as I represent a rural electorate. Rural production is the main bastion of our economy, and when country people are faced with falling markets for their products they must be interested in seeing that channels for the export of these commodities are kept unclogged. After all, a very great deal of the employment of Australians generally depends on the efforts of the rural industries. It is rural production which provides us with the sinews of war in the form of trade balances, and the waterfront plays an important part in the prosperity of the rural industries. I have seen many waterside workers at work, and 1 have formed a very favorable impression of them. I saw one man unloading a wheat ship who said to the engineer in charge, " We are doing very well ". I think they were unloading about 25 tons an hour. He was very proud of the achievement, but I am quite confident that he would not have dared to make such a statement to **Mr. Healy.** He could make it to an outsider, but had he said to **Mr. Healy** that work was going well I am quite certain he would have got into trouble. Whatever I may say in favour of the waterside worker I have a vast contempt for his folly in returning Communists to official positions in the Waterside Workers Federation, because if the watersider does not know that these men are not there for the benefit of waterside workers, but are there for the furtherance of Communist policy, it is time he woke up. For a solution of the waterfront problem we must look to the leaders on both sides of the industry - the leaders of labour and the leaders of management. Report after report makes scathing attacks on the stevedoring companies, which are accused of inefficiency. There is ample evidence to support that contention. I do not know what the reason is, whether it is the casual nature of the employment which makes them indifferent to their employees, or whether it is the attitude of the trade union; but, whatever it is, there is no denying that until recently the stevedoring industry has been inefficient. The leaders in that industry have a responsibility to the nation. Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in to-day's " Grievance Day " debate. As honorable members know, I have very strong views about the conduct of trade unions in Australia. Whatever the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** may say, political use is made of trade unions in Australia, and it is that political trade unionism which will ultimately destroy our way of life. Everybody knows that the Communists use trade unions for their political purposes. An examination of the report of the Victorian Royal Commission on Communism and of every known Communist text-book, will show that the Communists advise the infiltration of trade unions by Communists, and their use for Communist political purposes. In the same way, the Labour party uses the trade unions for its 'political purposes. That is not a guess on my part. Honorable members opposite have admitted it to-day. Indeed, the Minister for Labour and National Serivce **(Mr. Harold Holt)** was chided to-day by the Leader of the Opposition on the ground that he encouraged the growth of splinter parties. But was it not a fight for political control of the trade unions that caused the Leader of the Opposition to bring about the great schism in the Labour movement?. If it is right for the Australian Labour party to seize control of the trade unions, why is it not right for the Communist party, or the Democratic Labour party to do so? Why should all trade unions be controlled by the Australian Labour party? That brings me to the point I want to make. Is it right that trade unions should have poliical affiliations? Honorable members opposite, who interject on almost every occasion on which I speak in this House, are strangely silent now. They know that what I say is true. They know that the great schism in the Labour movement was caused by the fight between the Democratic Labour party, as it now is called, and the Australian Labour party over control of the trade unions. It is this schism which will destroy the Labour party, because it has lost all its political nous, and its members are fighting among themselves. The Labour party will never regain office until it is again the decent party it was when I became a member of this Parliament. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- You did not say that when you came here first. {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr ANDERSON: -- That may be. To my mind, the point is that in our way of life governments must be neutral. Under the capitalist system we must have the two forces, labour and management, evenly balanced. When management is too strong, we suffer all the troubles that that causes. Conversely, when labour is too strong, we also have trouble. We on this side, of course, are told that we are big business; we are the people who support management. Yet there are no greater critics of us in Australia to-day than the chambers of manufactures and the chambers of commerce. Day after day we are asked, " Have you read the ' Herald ' or the ' Daily Telegraph '. Look what the Chamber of Commerce says about you ". Why do the trade unions not talk about the Labour party and say how badly it is working? The Labour party controls honorable members opposite but nobody controls us. The newspapers criticize us, and the people whom we are supposed to represent are our severest critics. If they controlled us and we wanted to persist in government, would we go on, in the face of their criticism, without giving them what they wanted? In every newspaper one reads criticism of the Government because of the signing of the Japanese Trade Agreement, or because of this or that. This Government is neutral, and the decent Labour men know that. That is the only way in which our system can survive. The Americans have the same system. Honorable members opposite should hear what **Mr. Meany** says about the Labour party in Australia. The honorable member for Lyne **(Mr. Lucock)** will tell honorable members opposite what **Mr. Meany** said about them. Recently, **Mr. Alan** Reid made an investigation of the waterfront here. I do not altogether agree with what he wrote. He raised the matter of political racketeering on the waterfront and he quoted from a speech made by the president of the Communist party, Richard Dixon* After posing the question, "What has happened on. the waterfront to weaken unity? ", **Mr. Dixon** said - >Working class unity is built up on the struggle against the boss. All the time there is the struggle against the boss, in this instance the struggle of the waterside workers against the boss. How can we survive as a nation if class warfare is to be engaged in? Recently, as a result of legislation introduced by the Minister for Labour and National Service, an improvement in waterfront control has been shown. The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. O'Connor)** remarked that this was so. Conditions are improving, and the Communists are now feeling that they are losing their grip. That is why, every now and then, there is a flare-up of trouble on the waterfront. Recently the turn-round' of ships has improved enormously. What has been the cause of it? Was it due to the absence overseas of **Mr. Healy?** It is curious that as soon as he came back there was a flareup. The only way that the Communists can" survive is by creating chaos. Communism breeds from chaos-. Who pays for the strikes and stoppages? Somebody has to pay for them. The situation is not confined to a struggle between labour and management. There is also a struggle between union and union. Honorable members will recall' the recent serious hold-up on the waterfront in Brisbane in regard to the unloading of ships carrying wheat. The struggle there was between the Australian Workers- Union and the Waterside Workers Federation as- to who should stack the wheat in the storage shed. There was a demarcation issue affecting about eight or nine unions. The Waterside workers broke into the room where the subsequent inquiry was being conducted and tried to create a disturbance. There was no question there of wicked management. It was purely a demarcation dispute. The community provides the wharfie with work and by legislative action he is given security in his work, Under the arbitration system he is given the best that we can possibly devise in the light of experience. He has a job; but what is he doing to justify it? He has to earn it. People like ourselves, men on the land and manufacturers, supply him with work. He has a contract with the shipper to load or unload a ship, but when something narks him and a disturbance is created, he is absolutely indifferent to the contract under which he is engaged. The resulting cost to the shipping company may be £5,000 or £50,000. It may cost the farmer a great deal, but the waterside worker is absolutely indifferent. On some minor issue he will break his contract and strike. Yet in this chamber we are asked to give sympathy to him! On the other side of the contract, the bargain is kept. Weprovide him with commodities to ship, but he does not keep his side of the- bargain. It is time that both- the waterside worker and the stevedoring industry realized that work is provided for them by the national effort and that they in their turn should perform their part of the contract. Who suffers a loss when there is a carryover? Recently £30,000 worth of freight was carried back to England and then back to Australia because of some trivial row on the waterfront which resulted in something being declared black. What kind of observance of a contract is that? What is the position when a small farmer consigns sheep- to the Homebush abattoir and there is a strike? What happens to him? If the pay of a waterside worker were stopped; there would be agonized howls from honorable members opposite. They would rise in their places and say, "Look at those capitalist brutes who stop the pay of the unfortunate worker". Apparently the farmer's return for' his labour is immaterial. It is said that he is a rich man, but is he a rich man? He has had to slave for his existence. There is- too much loose thinking in. the whole business. I do not blame only the waterside worker. The stevedoring industry is equally culpable because of its inefficiency. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- What do you think of the 4.0- hour week? {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr ANDERSON: -- I believe in the 40- hours week. The honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson)** showed the usual concern for his side of politics which he calls the Labour movement. He was very much concerned about future employment on the wharfs. That is as it should be because he represents many wharf labourers. He said that the decision of the High Court of Australia in regard to road tax gravely jeopardized employment on the waterfront. That is quite true, because the competition from road transport affects sea traffic and consequently there is a fall in the demand for labour in an area in which he is personally interested. He is also concerned about the proposal to use the driveondriveoff system as a means of cheapening sea transport. He is very concerned, too, about rail standardization. All of these developments are important, and the only answer to them is an increase in the competitive value of sea transport. That is the problem. The nation looks for the cheapest form of transport. Cheap transport results in lower cost, which in turn enables us to compete on the world's markets. That is a matter that we must keep in mind when we are thinking of the problems of the waterfront and of every other industry. The honorable member is only concerned about the loss of work on the wharfs. The only way that that work can be maintained is by making sea transport competitive with other forms of transport. It is said that this will result in another man being done out of his job. Tn the coal-mining industry to-day more and more men are being dismissed because of mechanization. Honorable members opposite say that that is bad and that rather than put men off the industry should reduce the daily hours to seven, or six. Let us examine that proposition. John L. Lewis, the great leader of the soft-coal miners in America did not care two hoots how many men lost their jobs on the coalfields. He was concerned with ensuring that the men who remained in the industry had secure jobs which paid handsomely. Consequently, the American miner is, a favoured man, but in return he works hard. He delivers coal in competition with European miners on a much lower standard of living. John L. Lewis's philosophy was that the number of men leaving the industry was immaterial as long as the industry was efficient, thereby providing cheap fuel to create jobs for more men. So the men who were lost to the coal-mining industry had jobs created for them because of the cheapness of fuel produced by the coal industry. I have great sympathy for those people who have to change their jobs. But that is a natural condition that pertains to modern life. It is hard for them when they have no work to do; but you cannot keep jobs open for men at the expense of the national economy, because we are living in a competitive world. I have great sympathy with a large number of men who are losing their jobs on the coal-fields. The more cheaply the miners can produce coal, the more jobs they will make for themselves and other men. If we could keep down the price of our coal - and prices are falling - and if we could find markets overseas for hundreds of thousands of tons of coal, employment would be provided for men in industries, and new jobs would be created for those who lose their employment. But if we reduce hours of work and increase the cost of coal the men will lose their jobs, because coal will be outside the competitive full market. What happened when the price of coal went up? The coal-miners, under Communist leadership, were forcing prices so high that consumers turned to oil. The coal mines have never recovered the local market they lost then. In Victoria, production of brown coal was expanded and South Australia developed its own deposits. That was brought about by Communist influence. So also was the trouble about which the honorable member for Port Adelaide has been worrying. The problems of sea traffic were brought about by the seamen's union under Communist control. They have created such a situation and sea transport is so unreliable that men are losing their jobs. Anybody who is interested in labour problems should study the simple laws of life. If there is to be a strong national economy, labour and management must cooperate. It always pays in the long run. I believe in fighting as hard as you like for a hard bargain. The workers have done that in the United States of America, but once the unions have made their bargain they must play ball and produce. The honorable member for Port Adelaide tried to. justify stop-work meetings. He asked, " How can the men meet if they are at work? " The mines, and the ships must be kept operating. Why should the men have to stop work and meet? If they had reasonable leaders, could not those leaders, selected by the men themselves, negotiate with the employers direct on any problem that was worrying them? Must they have stop-work meetings and allow a few that are boneheads to get together to argue the point? {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- They are not boneheads. {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr ANDERSON: -- Some of them are. Why should they have to meet to argue matters when these matters could be settled quickly in conference? So long as there is class hostility and this antagonistic feeling against the boss, these troubles will continue. Who gets the ulcers? Not the worker, but the boss. He has to worry. He has to create employment, find markets, keep his part of the bargain and observe his contracts. All this conflict on the waterfront is connected with unions which are controlled by Communists, yet millions of workers in other industries have no trouble at all with their bosses. Why is that? We do not hear of unrest in the rural industries except when the trade unions concerned are used for political purposes. That was shown recently in the shearers' strike. That was a case where a trade union was used, and force was employed, for political purposes. Once you use an economic force for a political purpose, there is trouble; and the shearers in north Queensland are suffering severely because their union was used for political purposes. The honorable member for Robertson **(Mr. Dean)** answered very well the contribution of the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward),** who sought to poison relations between management and labour and further the class war. The pamphlets that are distributed on occasion on the waterfront by the Waterside Workers Federation are typical examples of the class war. They make reference to " flunkeys of wealthy shipowners ", " despots and their hirelings " and " pirates plundering the Australian people". That is typical of class warfare jargon and slogans. Anybody who lives on slogans has very little basis for his contentions. I believe that the situation on the waterfront is improving, but so long as the men keep returning Communist leaders to office in the Waterside Workers Federation there will never be peace on the waterfront. Things are improving a great deal and I believe that there is a feeling abroad, with the increased competition in the world, that the only way to survive is by co-operation in industry, a little hard work and the removal of constant friction between management and labour. They must work together if we are to succeed. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY:
Bendigo .- The bill before the House clearly has the approval of honorable members on both sides of the chamber, but because of unfortunate remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt),** who introduced the bill, a debate has ensued, and a measure that could easily have been passed in twenty minutes has been discussed for the best part of three hours. I disagree with some of the statements that were made by the Minister. He attacked the Waterside Workers Federation, and the words he used were better left unsaid. As to the provisions of the bill, everybody agrees with them. The measure provides for an increase in the levy that is paid by the stevedoring authorities in connexion with the loading and discharging of vessels. The levy is designed for a specific purpose which has the approval of honorable members on both sides of the House; but one feels that some answer must be given to the extraordinary statements that have been made, first of all by the Minister himself and then successively by the honorable members for Bowman **(Mr. McColm),** Robertson **(Mr. Dean)** and Hume **(Mr. Anderson).** Let us consider, for example, the statement that was made by the honorable member for Bowman - apparently believing it to be correct - that the Australian Council of Trade. Unions was now coming under the control of the Communist party and that, within a year or two, it would be completely under the control of the Communist party. I simply point out that in making that statement the honorable member had no idea of the constitution of the A.C.T.U. or the manner in which it was founded. It is true that at the biennial conference in Sydney last year two additional members of the Communist party became members of the federal executive of the A.C.T.U. In an executive of sixteen, there are four persons who are members of the Communist party. As I pointed out on a previous occasion to the House, away back in 1945 half of the members of the federal executive of the A.C.T.U. were either Communists or " fellow travellers ", but since that time there has been a marked change in its control. One does not like to bear statements, like that of the honorable member for Bowman, made in the halls of legislature, because they tend to mislead people and give a false conception of an important part of the organization of Australian industrial life. In any case, as the executive of the A.C.T.U. is elected every two years, I do not know how the position can change in the next two years. Honorable members opposite have said that we are having a spate of trouble on the waterfront because the Waterside Workers Federation is led by Communists. If one goes over the history of the Waterside Workers Federation, he will find that what is taking place on the waterfront now occurred in the 'nineties of the last century and in the early decades of this century; it has been taking place throughout the history of that organization. It was the 1893 maritime dispute, and the conditions that were imposed upon waterside workers in the ports of Melbourne and Sydney, that led to the creation of the Australian Labour party. Can honorable members remember the 1917 waterfront dispute? I know what that dispute meant to the people of Australia. Can honorable members remember the 1928 waterfront dispute, which resulted in the formation of what was known as the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, a splinter union that caused a good deal of trouble on the waterfront until recent years? When one looks back over the history of the Waterside Workers Federation, one finds that it is similar to that of the miners' federation. Throughout the history of the trade union movement, two organizations have always been the centre of industrial unrest and turmoil. They are the miners' federation and the Waterside Workers Federation. The men who are working in the bowels of the earth have a different psychology from those who are working in the sunshine and fresh air. Similarly, the men who are working on the waterfront, casual employees who very rarely know what their income will be from day to day or from week to week, men who are subject to varying types of employment, are bound to have a different psychology from other workers. It must be realized that a man who is a casual worker has a different attitude and a different outlook to work compared with the man who is employed regularly on a weekly wage. Unless those things are realized, the psychology of the casual worker cannot be understood. If that man has a grievance, he wants it settled; and unless it is settled on the spot he will be off that job and on some other job. So, when a difficult situation arises on the waterfront, the psychology of the men, their mateship and their loyalty to one another, causes them to stand together and demand that the condition to which they object shall be rectified then and there, That is not a peculiarity of to-day. It has existed on the waterfront since the 1890's. It has existed since Joe Morris and Arthur Turley held the position of secretary of this union, right up to the present day, when Jim Healy is secretary. If honorable members do not accept my word, let them refer to the reports on the industrial disputes that have taken place in Australia since statistics have been recorded. They will find that the two industries where disputes have been constant - in some cases prolonged - are the coal-mining industry and the waterfront industry. To suggest that these things have occurred, as the honorable member for Hume **(Mr. Anderson)** suggested, because of a struggle for political unionism is quite misleading and entirely contrary to the facts. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** stated that the trade union movement created the Australian Labour party. That is correct, but the trade union movement, as a movement, is entirely distinct and separate from the A.L.P. It is true that in this country individual unions are affiliated with the A.L.P., but the trades hall councils of Sydney, Brisbane and other capital cities are distinct entities, with no relationship whatever to the A.L.P. The Australian Council of Trade Unions is entirely divorced from the A.L.P. as an entity. It is simply a combination of trade unions, either in the capital cities or throughout the country as a whole, and its function is to deal with the problems of trade unionism, the problems that are common to every trade union throughout Australia. As my colleagues opposite can verify, on more than one occasion the policy of the trade union movement with respect to the attainment of its rights and desires has conflicted with the policy of the A.L.P. Such things are unavoidable. They must take place when men are organized to improve their industrial conditions. So, to attribute the conditions on the wharfs of this country to the A.L.P., or to political activity, is wrong. It is also wrong to say that a condition of affairs exists in Australia that has no parallel in the United States of America. In 1944, I co-operated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations with regard to political activities in the United States of America at that time. The Congress of Industrial Organizations includes organizations that are politically active and which, in the mam, give their support to the Democratic party. The organizations affiliated with the American Federation of Labour are endeavouring to keep aloof from political activities, although individual unions associated with the American Federation of Labour do give assistance to particular candidates whom they believe will support their cause. But to say that the political affiliations of trade unions will effect the destruction of the trade union movement, or will bring grave economic peril to the people of Australia, is wrong, because the same type of affiliation as we have in Australia operates in New Zealand. It also operates in Great Britain, and one finds political parties associated with the great trade union movements that are scattered throughout Europe. The workers have discovered that if they desire to create a state of society that they believe is in the interests of the great masses of the people, the trade unions cannot do it by trade union action alone. They appreciate that there are many things that can only be brought into being as a result of legislative action. For that reason trade unions are political, because they believe that the great problem of society is to see that the national product is distributed in such a manner as to give the greatest measure of security and contentment to the whole of the people. Those are the views held by the trade union movement. They are the views that animate their decisions. The desire of the trade unions is to see security, happiness and contentment spread evenly throughout the whole of the community. When one takes those things into consideration, one fails to understand the very restricted viewpoint that has been expressed in this debate, and the attack that has been made on the Waterside Workers Federation merely because it has elected some officials who are members of the Communist party. I do not desire to go over the ground that has been covered so eloquently by other speakers, but obviously, when men are selecting officers for the express purpose of protecting their industrial conditions and securing, as far as is possible, the very best conditions from those who employ them, they naturally vote for the man who has done a good job. Nobody can deny that, so far as negotiations to improve the conditions of employment on the waterfront are concerned, Jim Healy has done a good job. If Healy had not done a good job, he would have ceased to be the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation long, long ago. To attack the organization merely because it has one or two Communist officials, although in many places the waterside workers have elected persons who are non-Communists and who are doing a very good job also for the federation, is, I think, entirely wrong. I agree with my friend, the honorable member for Hume, that the better the industrial relations we have, the better it will be for Australia as a whole, but we will not get better industrial relations by attacking the people whom we desire to see working with one another. One of the things I objected to in the Minister's speech was the use of words that indicated hostility to the Waterside Workers Federation. That is bound to create in the minds of the rankandfile members of the Waterside Workers Federation a feeling that the Government is against them, that it is backing the employers against them. That will only strengthen their resistance to a section of employerdom which they already believe is not prepared to give them a fair go. We do not get better industrial relations by making bitter attacks one upon the other. We do not get good personal relations if we have bitter attacks one upon the other. But if we are prepared to recognize each other's weaknesses, if we are prepared to make allowances for the fact that everybody cannot be right all the time, possibly we can achieve better industrial relations. I felt that I ought to express myself on this matter. I have spoken, perhaps, somewhat forcibly and with some emotion, but as one who has striven in the trade union movement to bring about better industrial relations, I hate to see a principle which I believe to be good destroyed by statements made in a political discussion in the halls of the legislature. Some of us do not appreciate the extent to which our utterances here can create feelings outside which are not good for industry, for production or for the people of Australia. Having said that, I want to deal with some of the other things that have been mentioned in this debate. I desire particularly to refer to the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service that interstate sea trade was being lost because of stoppages on the waterfront. I am sorry that the Minister has not given greater attention to the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. Had he done so, he would have discovered the remarkable fact that more time is being lost on the waterfront to-day as a result of rain than is being lost as a consequence of stoppages. If the amount of time devoted to attacking the Waterside Workers Federation were devoted to finding ways and means to improve our wharf facilities so as to avoid stoppages due to rain, something substantial might be done to bring about a reduction of the cost of transport by sea. The suggestion has been made that it is because of stoppages on the waterfront that the cost of sea carriage has increased, and that it is as a result of that increase that the carriage of goods by sea between the States has declined. The information available in this report on the decline in interstate sea traffic shows how foolish it is to suggest that waterfront stoppages, which during the last financial year amounted to 3.7 per cent, of the total man-hours worked, could have any bearing whatever on that decline. Before I quote from the report, let me say that the amount of cargo moved interstate by sea has been increasing year by year. The latest figures available show that more cargo was carried by sea last year than the year before. In fact, the latest figures indicate that a record was created last year. What is meant by the statements that have been made is that the carriage of general cargo by sea declined. The fact is that the total cargo carried has increased. When 1 mention the freight, rates, honorable members will understand why the carriage of general cargo has declined. They will appreciate straight away that, even if the waterside workers had worked every hour they possibly could, and in addition had had their earnings reduced considerably, it still would have been impossible to recover the interstate trade that has been lost. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- It is mostly light, bulky cargo. {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY: -- That is so. On page 19 of the report we read that the cost of transporting motor tyres from Melbourne to Adelaide on a door-to-door basis is £8 a ton by rail and £42 10s. 5d. a ton by sea. You cannot tell me that the time lost due to stoppages by waterside workers is responsible for that tremendous difference between freight rates. Take the example of light cartons. The rail door-to-door rate is £6 10s. a ton, the road door-to-door rate £7 15s. a ton and the sea rate £21 12s. 9d. a ton. In the case of motor-bodies, the figures are £13 15s., £12 and £24 17s. lid. respectively. I do not want to weary honorable members by reading all the figures. I suggest that they obtain this document and examine it. They will see that there are extraordinary variations in the rates charged for road, rail1 and sea transport. That is why people prefer to send their goods by road or rail, rather than by sea. What is the reason for the great difference between road and sea freights? It is a simple one. The capacity of the roads to take heavier traffic and accommodate longer vehicles has increased tremendously during the last few years. Although our roads are still narrow, they are able to handle heavy traffic between the capital cities. The capital cost and the running cost of a lorry are not very great, and depreciation is not a big: item. On the other hand, under modern conditions the cost of an interstate vessel runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds, and possibly into millions of pounds. Because of the difference in capital expenditure alone, road freights must be lower than sea freights, so the light traffic will be diverted from the sea to the roads. Let me point out the great mistakes that have been made in regard to the quota system. I do not say they were made intentionally, I believe they were made in good faith. One section of the report indicates that the employers in Hobart wanted the quota increased because they felt that the trend was for trade to improve The quota was increased, but the employers' expectations were not realized, with the result that the port had too many men. In consequence, more attendance money had to be paid. Perhaps the most important fact one ought to point out is that although wages have been increased by 10s. a week on two occasions during the last two years, the average earnings of the waterside workers have not kept pace with the increases. Actually their earnings are starting to decline. Page 52 of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority's report discloses that in 1953-54 the average wage for all ports was £16 6s. 3d. In 1954-55, it was £17 16s. 9d.; in 1955-56, it had fallen to £17 ls. and remained at £17 ls. in 1956-57. The wages of workers in industry in the last two years increased by £1 a week, but the average earnings of waterside workers fell from £17 16s. 9d. to £17 ls., according to this report. {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr Anderson: -- Yet they say Healy is a good man {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY: -- What does it result from? {: .speaker-JLU} ##### Mr Anderson: -- Healy! {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY: -- It results from the fact that this industry, like the coal-mining industry, is being mechanized. Honorable members opposite may speak as they do about the leaders of the waterside workers, but I point out to them that, although the coal-mining industry fought strenuously against mechanization, the waterside workers did not do so. They appreciated that changes must take place on the waterfront. Mechanization is coming in and bulk cargoes are being handled in this manner, and handled very satisfactorily. As time goes on, we will see better appliances and better management on the waterfront. We will see that the conditions of 1951-52, when ships could not be turned round because of chaotic port conditions, are disappearing forever. I agree with the honorable member for Hume that the general efficiency of the waterfront will increase in the future. However, that means a lessening of employment on the waterfront. Unless there is better organization than there is at present and quotas are chosen with a great deal more accuracy than they have been during the past two or three years, we will probably find that the men on the waterfront will receive less than a reasonable rate of pay, with constant trouble so far as the Australian shipping industry is concerned. I point out once again that it is wrong for this Parliament to be used as a forum in which the workers and the organized trade unionists can be attacked. They are performing very important and essential work. They are the biggest organized sections of the Australian people. They are doing an exceedingly good job, and, when one looks at the production figures that are published from time to time, one finds that Australian production is continually increasing. Increased production can be achieved only if the men and women engaged in industry play their part. They are playing their part. They should be receiving approval and not condemnation. I hope that future debates of this kind will not be used as a means to attack the trade union movement. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-0095J} ##### Mr HOWSON:
Fawkner .- I wish that the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Clarey)** had not devoted so much of the early part of his speech to the general question of the relations between management and labour. When he moved away from that point and dealt with the matter to which this bill really refers, he spoke of extremely important subjects. I wish that he had been able to spend longer on that part of his speech, because in the last ten minutes he touched on the really important matters arising in this debate. I hope that on another occasion he will be able to spend more time on these matters. The honorable member for Bendigo said that the trade unions were the biggest organized element in our community to-day. I agree with that, and I hope that the trade unions will in the future, as they have in the last year or two, accept the responsibility that goes with such organization. Recently, " The Economist ", an English journal, published a series of articles dealing with the rights and responsibilities that grow from large organizations and mentioned that the trade unions in England must to-day face the responsibilities that come from their size. I hope that the trade unions in Australia during this election year will realize their responsibilities and not use the single element of size against the security and welfare of the community as a whole. The honorable member said that, because of costs, goods are now moved by rail rather than by sea and that, whatever happens, that process cannot be altered. It is on that premise that I think the whole argument now arises. I do not believe that the move from sea to rail for the carriage of general cargo is permanent. With new methods, sea freights for general cargo can be reduced and made competitive with rail freights, even between Melbourne and Adelaide or Melbourne and Sydney. {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr Clarey: -- I think road transport is the great problem. {: .speaker-0095J} ##### Mr HOWSON: -- I believe that sea freights could become competitive with the cost of moving goods by road. Possibly, the operators of road transports will have to pay more for road maintenance than they have in the past, in the same way as the shipping companies had to pay their share of the cost of new methods on the wharfs, lighthouses and so on. I hope that the bill which, I understand, is likely to be introduced in the New South Wales Parliament in the next few days, imposing a levy of one-third of a penny a ton-mile, will receive the reception that it deserves and will become law. In that way, those who cause the damage to the roads will be made to pay their share of the cost of upkeep. If that happens, and if the people who use the various transport facilities bear their share of the cost, then in the next few years it should be possible for general cargo to be carried by sea at rates competitive with those charged for general cargo carried by rail or road. I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo that, at the moment, costs are very wide of the mark. However, it is first necessary for the consignors of cargo by sea to feel that shipping is reliable. They must feel that each time they are told that a ship will sail from one port to another, it has a reasonable chance of sailing on the specified date. I agree with the honorable member that the number of stoppages on the waterfront was reduced last year and that it is now getting down to a very reasonable margin. However, with the history of waterfront disputes, the feeling still exists that the movement may be unreliable. If we can engender a feeling of reliability, and if we can foster a spirit of co-operation between the waterside workers and the shipping and stevedoring companies, we will have taken the first step towards increasing the amount of general cargo carried by sea. First of all, therefore, there is the need for shipping services to be reliable, that is, to maintain their schedules. Secondly, there is the question of the attitude of the waterside workers to new methods. I wish I were as certain as is the honorable member for Bendigo that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are as keen as he says they are to see new methods introduced into stevedoring operations. I do not feel that in the whole history of this industry there has been that facing up to change which is so necessary to-day if we are to have shipping freights comparable with those of other forms of transport. I certainly agree with the honorable member for Bendigo that **Mr. Healy** has done a good job in the past for the waterside workers, but I still think that, due to the fact that there has been turbulence in this industry, and because there has not been the attitude towards change that there should be, he is not doing as good a job to-day for the waterside workers as he has done in the past. Are the present leaders of the waterside workers facing the problems of 1958, or are they still trying to deal with the problems of 1938, which no longer exist? There are new problems arising in the industry, and each of those responsible for the efficiency of the industry must play his part In facing up to them. I have dealt for a few moments with the matters raised by the honorable member for Bendigo. They are important, but I do think that the waterside workers must play their part in this question of attitude to change. I think also that the shipping companies must play their part. Certainly the port authorities, which in most cases are the governments of the various States, must also accept their share of responsibility to bring about change in order to make operations on the waterfront efficient. I shall come back to that point later, because I want to deal now with the actual effect this bill will have and to show why I think that in due course, if the three groups pull together, there can be such a change in shipping freights that sea transport will become once again the most efficient means of moving not only bulk cargo but also certain forms of general cargo round the Australian coast. Certain points have been well made in this debate already. What should be the alms of stevedoring legislation, of which this bill will become part? Above all others, the first aim must be to ensure as rapid a turn-round of ships in port as can be achieved. I think honorable members on both sides of the House know that during the past twelve months the rate of turn-round has been improved tremendously, but to a greater extent in certain ports than in others. To-day, ships are turned round in the port of Melbourne as fast as in many other ports throughout the Western world. For instance, the turn-round of ships in Melbourne is more rapid than at Liverpool or Glasgow, but it is still not as rapid as at Hamburg, Marseilles or Genoa, but we are certainly getting up to world standards. Unfortunately, the position is not the same in Sydney, and it is even worse at north Queensland ports. Some of the fault for this lies with the port authorities, some with the stevedoring companies, but some must also be attributed to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. It is here that I join issue with the honorable member for Bendigo. I admit that we can say that during the last two or three years the turn-round of ships has been improved. If only a similar rate of improvement can be achieved in 1958 and 1959, we shall see Australia attaining world class in stevedoring operations. And whatever the cost involved, that must be done! The second aim of the Government's stevedoring legislation must be to improve the amenities for waterside workers on the waterfront. I am glad to say that here again we can point to a record of improvement in the last three or four years, and, once more, we must look primarily to the port of Melbourne which, as it has done for many years past, has led the way in this direction. The medical services provided for waterside workers in Melbourne are an example that could well be followed at all the other Australian ports. Further, the shower and change-room facilities have improved. It is a pity that the waterside workers do not use the shower, change-room and canteen services as much as they could. Any one who cares to make an inspection will notice that the facilities which have been provided on the Melbourne waterfront over the last two or three years are seldom used, but the point is that they are there available to the men and I hope that in due course the waterside workers will be encouraged to use them'. Thirdly, there are the amenities provided by the press and radio pick-up system which makes the life of the waterside worker se much easier these days in that he does not have to waste a great deal of time at the pick-up centre hanging round for a job; he learns, upon listening to the radio in the morning, exactly where he has to go, and he goes there as rapidly as possible. This improvement was effected first at the ports of .Melbourne and Newcastle and it is now spreading rapidly throughout the Commonwealth. So we can say that while there is still a long way to go, especially in the port of Sydney, in the improvement of amenities for waterside workers, at least tremendous progress has been made in the last two or three years. That being .so, the second aim of legislation relating to this industry is being achieved, and to the extent that the Government has entered into this field, it must be given credit for that achievement. Next we must consider the question of the improvement of productivity in the industry. This can be achieved mainly by increased mechanization on the waterfront. There has been an improvement in the mechanization of ports during the last two or three years, and, happily, that rate of change is accelerating. Once again Melbourne has probably led all the other ports of Australia in this activity. Improved mechanization has been carried out in the port of Sydney over the past two years by the stevedoring companies. I believe that the report brought down by this Government about eighteen months ago has improved the attitude of stevedoring companies to the whole problem of mechanization, for those companies can now feel that some rewards will accrue to themselves and the waterside workers from the spending of money on the mechanization of their various activities. This brings me back to the question of attitude towards change. It is absolutely vital that the stevedoring companies should be encouraged to invest more in mechanical contrivances on the wharfs, and that the Waterside Workers Federation should improve its attitude in :respect of the use of those contrivances and generally aid in the raising of productivity. 'Such action will .certainly involve consequences of the kind referred to by the honorable member for Port Adelaide earlier this afternoon, and redundancy will inevitably be one of them. We know that the people who are chiefly affected to-day by the mechanization that took place last year are the older workers in the industry. Most of the mechanization has taken place on the wharf rather than in the ship's hold, and usually the older men work on the wharfs, whilst the younger men work in the ship. If this process of mechanization continues, a number of older workers will no longer be required. Already, there is a very large number of men over the age of 65 working on the waterfront. In the rest of industry to-day the proportion df men who aTe 65 years of age, or women who are 60 years of age, is very small. I should say that the proportion of men over the age of 65 is higher on .the waterfront than in any other industry. The honorable member for Bendigo 'may be able to correct me on that point if I am wrong. The time has surely come when we have to achieve the same proportion of age groups in this industry as in any other. As mechanization increases, older people should realize that the time has come for them to retire. I hope that this matter will be faced in the very near future. Unless it is, the stevedoring companies will no longer be encouraged to invest more money on the waterfront and so raise productivity and reduce costs. I hope that in spite of his remarks the honorable member for Port Adelaide will realize that this is a matter that must be faced. Unless it is, it will not be a matter of a few people suffering; the workers on the waterfront will, as a whole, find themselves largely priced out of a job. I come back to the theme with which I started; our aim must be to reduce costs on the waterfront, the cost of transporting goods by sea. Every person connected with this industry must seek to achieve this aim, otherwise they will all find that they have priced themselves out of the market. The Waterside Workers Federation is no longer comprised of a casual force, as was suggested by the honorable member for Bendigo. The members of that organization now enjoy many rights that are usually accorded workers in permanent employment. They have holiday and sick pay benefits, and the number of persons who can engage in their industry is controlled. Generally, they can rely on attendance money and funds provided by the charge which is the subject of this bill; and they receive a fair average rate of pay. Having achieved the rights of semi-permanent employment, they surely have to face up to the duties and responsibilities that devolve upon workers in permanent employment. I hope that within the next five years this industry will revert to the system under which the waterside worker was employed by a private company .and spent his time working with the same foreman. I should like .to see restored on the waterfront employer-employee relationships -which are a feature of every other industry in Australia to-day and which would help to surmount many of the problems mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo. If a feeling of common enterprise could be created between the stevedoring companies and the waterside worker, many of the difficulties mentioned during this debate would cease to exist. I agree that the time has come when the shipping companies and the stevedoring companies must face -up to new methods. In that respect I am glad to see that a change has been taking place during the last few years. I hope that change will be accelerated. There is a new feeling of confidence in certain stevedoring and shipping companies. Particularly has this been demonstrated by the Australian National Line which is taking up the challenge by laying down new ships which will be able to handle roll-on, roll-off, or lift-on, liftoff types of cargo, and load and discharge bulk cargoes, such as wheat. The Australian National Line faces with confidence the challenge being provided by rail and road transport to-day. It believes that, with new methods, it can get its freight costs down, even for general cargo between Melbourne and Sydney, and be able to compete with rail and road costs. I hope that the Government will give this company every encouragement to carry out the changes that will be involved in order to help it succeed in this great enterprise. I hope that other shipping companies operating on the Australian coast will also take up this challenge. If they face it realistically, I believe they will be able to meet it and that the volume of general cargo carried by sea will once again start to increase instead of decreasing as has been the case over the last five years. The port authorities must also play their part. Certainly, there has been an improvement in Melbourne; but even there they are short of money. How much greater must be the shortage in the ports of Sydney, Gladstone, Townsville and Cairns, where, as a result, freight costs are high? I wish the Government could devise means whereby it could direct money to port authorities to ensure its expenditure on improvements on the wharfs. To-day, much of the money provided to assist the industry finds its way indirectly into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Government of New South Wales. If more money were spent on the ports, we should see the third of the three parties in this industry carry out the duties required of it. Finally, returning to the main object of this bill, which is to increase the charge levied on the stevedoring industry, I hope and pray that it will be possible by June, 1959, for the charge to be reduced from 3s. to 2s. 6d. It is certain, however, that many things must be done, not only by the port authorities, but also by the stevedoring companies and the waterside workers, before there will be any hope of such a reduction. There will have to be continued change on the waterfront in the next twelve months. I hope that this change will take place and that all the people concerned in this industry will play their part, so that freights for the carriage of goods by sea can be reduced in the near future. Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-JSS} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Leichhardt **.- Mr. Speaker,** any stranger who walked into the gallery when the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** was delivering his second-reading speech would have thought that we were dealing with a body of Australians whose very existence was inimical to the welfare of Australia. I refer, of course, to the waterside workers. A quite unfair attitude of mind has been adopted towards these people. They are average run-of-the-mill Australians who have their families and homes, and who take their place in society. Some of them have been numbered among the greatest footballers that we have had in Australia. Some have represented their own State and some have represented Australia as well. But not very many of them are good cricketers, because a job on the waterfront is not very conducive to practising that game. This attitude towards waterside workers to which I have referred largely flows from the fact that passengers on luxury overseas and coastal liners leave the ship when it arrives in port and. have a look round the port without having any idea that during the time they have been absent the ship has been unloaded and reloaded. They see a few men putting on the hatches or standing around and they say, " Look at those loafers." Waterside workers are philosophic, and they have a sense of humour. Some of them have studied the works of Bobbie Burns, and doubtless the following words come to their minds - >O wad some power the giftie gie us, > >To see oursels as others see us! I have met tourists and, when a couple of my waterside worker friends have walked along, I have introduced them to the tourists. Those friends have listened to the tourists saying what bad men waterside workers were and have even spurred on the tourists with a view to getting a little more information from them. Then, when my waterside worker friends have gone away more in sorrow than in anger, those tourists have said to me, " What fine fellows they are. What do they do?" It has been my great pleasure to say, " They are waterside workers." They are the people whom honorable members opposite have been criticizing. In eve.., port of any size, waterside workers levy themselves - I hope the Minister will not interfere with this levy - every year to give a picnic to every child in the town irrespective of who that child is. It might be good for some members of the Parlia- ment to note that, not only do they levy themselves for that picnic, but also on that day their wives do not do a tap of work. The waterside workers themselves do all the catering and all the caring of the children on that day. The speeches of Government supporters express the thought that, because there are a few communists amongst these men, they all are bad men. 1 can understand honorable members opposite adopting that attitude, because they have been on these luxury cruises and, when in port, have gone around the town without knowing that in the meantime work had continued on the waterfront. Let us consider the turn-round of ships. The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. O'Connor)** produced figures which showed that more than 50 per cent, of the time that is lost on the waterfront is lost through bad weather. There are other factors as well which are not the result of the action of the waterside workers. I have been in a port when it was so full of shipping that the total number of watersiders available in the port could not handle the work without doing it in rotation. That, of course, was the result of the action of the shipping companies. I have seen vessels, particularly the Yarra class vessels which belong to the Commonwealth Government, tie up to a wharf for six months at a time and not move to another port. That delay was not caused by waterside workers. On the other hand, I have seen one or two small boats come in and there has been no work for the gangs. Difficulties are bound to occur in any industry. Let me give the House an example. The Utah - let me say - muck-shifting company had a contract at Mount Isa, but its services were dispensed with because it could not carry out the contract. Then it got a contract on the St. Mary's project. To put it in another way, the Utah company was quite useless to an uo-to-date organization like Mount Isa Mines Limited, but it was accepted at St. Mary's. Certain people will not completely condemn the Utah company because it fell down on the job at Mount Isa. So why should the watersiders be completely condemned when there is a bit of a hold-up in a certain port? if those supporters of the Government who are so keen about examining figures were *to* examine the relevant figures they would discover that the amount of money lost in the turn-round of ships was a mere bagatelle when compared with what is paid by primary producers in increased freight rates. If honorable members opposite think they have a right to attack waterside workers because of certain hold-ups, why do we never hear them attack shipping companies for forcing increased freight rates on the primary producer? The primary producer has no option but to pay. But not one word of protest comes from him. He adopts the attitude, " It is the big boy who is taking the money. He is quite entitled to rob us." But the waterside worker must not hold up a ship for 24 hours! That attitude is quite wrong. When the Minister introduced the measure, he seemed to forget about explaining it clearly to us and he seemed to become obsessed with this idea about waterside workers to which I have referred, and with the fact that from time to time they mix with a few Communists. As I said earlier, that approach makes it seem that waterside workers are inimical to the welfare of Australia. That is ari attitude which should not be adopted or encouraged by any one in this House. If any honorable member cares to study a representative cross-section of the people of Australia he will find they are very fine people, and, as I have said before, the waterside workers represent a cross-section of the Australian people. I have many friends amongst waterside workers. I have been associated with them for years, and, despite what people may say, I have never met a really bad man among the waterside workers. As a matter of fact, I have never met a really bad man throughout my life, amongst all the men with whom I have mixed. They have all had some good points. Frankly, it hurts me to hear such a personal attack on a body of workers as we heard this afternoon. It is something that we should not tolerate. We should not be guilty of such attacks. In fact, we should not be capable of them in this country in which every one has an equal chance. The Minister took some exception to the association of industrial unions with the parliamentary Labour party. Speaking of my own State of Queensland, there was a time when Labour had no political representation. The gentle employers of those days tried to employ Chinese on the shearing boards, and the men went on strike. This occurred in 1891. Men were thrown into gaol without charges being preferred against them. Special police were sworn in who were allowed to baton the workers as they pleased. When an appeal was made to the government of the day for protection, the answer was, " You have no political representation; you are entitled to no protection ". That started the Labour movement in Queensland. The men who were being persecuted got together and, one by one, their representatives were returned to Parliament, until in 1915 a Labour government took office. From that time until quite recently - with the exception of one term of three years - a Labour government has been in office in Queensland. There are very few honorable members on the Opposition side in this Parliament, and very few men on the Labour side in the Parliaments of the States, who did not come from industrial unions. They are men who worked in the industries covered by those unions and who know the conditions under which employees work. Not only are they acquainted with the actual work that is done, but they also know the outlook of the employees and the type of men they are. The industrial unions have a great deal to be thankful for in having these men in Parliament to watch over their interests. Likewise, Labour members of Parliament have a great deal for which to thank the unions, the members of which send them here to represent them. Let me impress on honorable members that the trade unionists represent a crosssection of the Australian people, and that they are a fine class of people. I am proud of the fact that I worked in industry before I ever entered this Parliament or the State Parliament of which I was a member before I came here. I am proud of my association with the thousands of trade unionists I have known, and with whom I will associate even after I have retired from this Parliament. I know that there are difficulties associated with the waterfront problem. There are difficulties connected with any matter involving large bodies of men. Let me suggest that the difficulties will not be overcome by appointing some commission or other authority composed of men who know nothing about the workers and their conditions, and who will look at the matter solely from the point of view of the shipowners, having no regard to the waterside workers' point of view. The Government should look for men with fair minds, who will contribute something worth while, both for the employers and the employees. The Australian worker is by no means unwilling to work under reasonable conditions. Of course, we can not expect a worker not to look for better conditions all the time. I know of no man in Australia who is not looking for better conditions all the time, and the workers should not be denied the right to do so. As Australia advances, our standards of living must improve. They have improved, it is true, but unfortunately the growth of the hire-purchase system has meant that the workers are all up to their necks in debt. We should be able to raise the standard of living without requiring the workers to mortgage their homes and other possessions and the future of coming generations. Let us consider the attitude of the primary producers, whose representatives in the Australian Country party are seeking to interject. Do they not consider that they should have better conditions? Have they not many grievances? Of course they have. There is no reason why they should not secure better conditions, but why should they deny to another section of the community the right to improved conditions? Without booming our country in the American fashion, I can say that Australia is probably one of the richest countries in the world. With a proper economic policy, we should be able to provide full and plenty, not only for those who own their land - as many people do in a large part of Victoria - but for those who work for the men who own the land, and for those in the various industries that produce our manufactured goods. Let me remind honorable members that in order to bring our primary products to a market, money is just as essential as is a railway line. At present we find that the banks have millions of pounds tied up, and that this money is not being used in a manner beneficial to Australia. It should be used for the purpose of bringing the goods that are produced on the land to the merchants, so that those merchants may then pay their employees, thus enabling the employees to buy the merchants' goods. In this way the economic cycle is maintained. The economic policy of Australia should be based on the principle of security and a decent standard of living for all men. There can be no equivocation about that. There are people who, because of ill health or for other reasons, are unable to work, but any fit and able-bodied man that I have seen in Australia has been quite willing and happy to work. There are people also who, through old age, have had to retire. They should be provided for as well as those who are able to continue at work. We in this House hear some amazing proposals put forward by the Government in the hope of remedying this position. Many of the proposals obviously will not serve the purpose they are supposed to serve and a great deal more consideration should be given to our requirements. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity of speaking on this bill, because I am a close friend of hundreds, if not thousands, of waterside workers. I know that they are men of fine type and, irrespective of any differences that may arise in regard to wages and conditions, I hope honorable members lose the attitude, almost of animosity, which has been obvious during the debate to-day. There is no necessity for it. Honorable members can state their views without exhibiting personal bias against the workers. Many of these people fortunately have their own homes; many have wives and families. They did their courting in much the same way as Government supporters did. The human element runs through the whole body of the people. The flesh and blood of honorable members is no different from the flesh and blood of the workers. We came on this earth the same as they did - with nothing; but many honorable members will leave it with a great deal more than the majority of the workers. No Government supporter should be hardhearted enough to forget that we all came into the world the same way, irrespective of whether we are waterside workers, farmers or businessmen. Our common humanity should create a link between the people of the world, and particularly people of all classes in Australia. There was a time when I visualized Australia as the centre of the British Empire. We had the original stock, being descended from a wonderful group of pioneers, and a country with potentialities that would have suited it to that role. I am afraid, however, that the old pioneering spirit is disappearing. We are not helping one another as our forebears did in the early days, irrespective of their station in life. This is my farewell to a body of men, the waterside workers, for whom I have the highest respect and amongst whom I have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends. **Mr. MAKIN** (Bonython) 18.23].- One feels a great sense of appreciation towards a gentleman of the calibre of the honorable member for Leichhardt **(Mr. Bruce),** who has acknowledged the part that men, whose station in life identifies them with causes common to his own, have contributed towards the affairs of public life, in accordance with the opportunities afforded them to render service to the people of Australia. I pay my tribute to the honorable gentleman. We shall long remember the very good offices he has .rendered, not only in this House, but also to the Labour movement, and particularly his loyalty to the great union principles which he has espoused throughout his life. Many waterside workers reside in my constituency. For a long period of the time that I have been a member of this Parliament, I had the privilege of representing the seaport and environs of Adelaide that to-day come within the electorate of the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson).** I have always found exhibited by these men a great and intense loyalty for the principle of regard for the common good. Whilst they have, at times, found it necessary to offend, possibly, the law, or what may be the custom governing their trade and calling, it cannot be denied that they have rendered invaluable service to the people in many aspects of our community life. I had the privilege of being the Minister for the Navy for the greater part of the war period. The association of waterside workers with many phases of our naval work was of great assistance to the war effort. No body of men more genuinely aided and supported the war effort than the waterside workers. Not only did many of them offer for active service in the forces - there is a very substantial proportion of ex-servicemen amongst the waterside workers - but, beyond that, they helped to train others to serve the nation in its hour of need. That being so, I feel that the uncomplimentary references to these men that so many members on the other side seem to delight in making are totally unwarranted and do not justify the attitude of Government supporters towards them. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holt),** it is alleged, wishes to compose the differences that exist in order to make possible good understanding and the development of those conditions that will help to bring contentment in the affairs of the industry. But the form of statement that he made in introducing this legislation destroys the effect of any such endeavour on his part. With slighting references to,' and criticisms of, these men, the Minister sought to give a wrong impression to the public of the quality of work that these men have been doing. I hope that, in the future, honorable members opposite will show a little more generosity and justice in their attitude towards those fellow Australians who seek to do their part, just as men here and in all other walks of life seek to do their part, on behalf of the country in which we are all mutually associated. As a unionist, I know exactly the kind of attitude that is adopted by honorable gentlemen opposite, and others whom they represent, towards men who seek to unite for the betterment of their class and to provide their wives and families with the security that they are entitled to expect in return for the services that these men render to the community. During my lifetime there seems to have been a desire always to deprive men of those reasonable conditions that ought to prevail in employment. Back in the days when I had to undertake work in factories, dire conditions, which called for some form of legal intervention, prevailed in many situations. I have been subjected to black-balling. 1 have suffered unemployment because I have been black-listed for giving expression to my beliefs as a Labour man and for identifying myself with Labour men who sought election to this Parliament. I was subjected to the ill will of those who employed me, and I was subjected to threats and intimidation. That is the kind of treatment that was given to men who were identified with trade union affairs. It was for that very reason that trade unionism actually came into existence, lt was because of the vile conditions that prevailed that men had to participate in some united effort to improve many of the ' unfortunate circumstances associated with their working conditions. Honorable gentlemen opposite often display a smirking, sneering manner towards men of the working class. To-night, Opposition members offer some observations that will give encouragement to a body of men who )ave given great service to the community. Instead of being despised and criticized and threatened by honorable gentlemen opposite, these men should be afforded an expression of our appreciation for services rendered on the waterfront of our country where they play such an important part in our commercial life. 1 feel that, in identifying myself with the attitude of members on this side of the House, and in paying my tribute to these men and to others in the great trade union movement, I am identifying myself with men who have done more in the development of this country, possibly, than most other sections of the community. I hope that members of the Parliament, in future, will be prepared to judge a little more justly the service given by working men who are required to labour, sometimes in the face of great difficulties and danger, and under extremely onerous circumstances. They undertake those services so that the well-being of others can be safeguarded and so that the life of the nation can continue. That being so, I, along with my colleagues, express a very warm appreciation of the opportunity to pay a tribute to this great body of men and the pioneers before them. They have all formed a great part of the movement to which honorable members on this side belong. That movement will afford to the peoples of this country a new and a better life and will so determine the future of this country that its destiny will be worthy of the best that can be provided. **Mr. KEARNEY** (Cunningham) [8.391. - May I be permitted to approach this important and contentious issue by paying a tribute to the honorable member for Leichhardt **(Mr. Bruce)** who, in what he stated to be his final plea to Parliamentarians, has seen fit to pay a tribute at the end of his long and fruitful career, to the men of a turbulent, militant union in this country. The honorable member for Leichhardt himself travelled the hard path through the back blocks of Queensland prior to entering parliamentary life. Indeed, he gained membership of the Queensland Parliament by virtue of the great service that he had rendered to the working class of this country, and he continued that work as an honorable member of this Parliament. I think it is fitting that we all should heed the remarks that he has made to-night. I, as a younger member of this Parliament, trust that 1 and many others will be able to terminate their careers on a similar note. This issue that is before us is a contentious one. It has been made contentious not because of the clauses of the bill itself but because of the way, and the manner, in which it was introduced into this Parliament by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt).** It was not only done in a scandalous way; it was a provocative attack made upon a section of the trade union movement which has given great service to this nation both in peace and in war. The Minister, when introducing this measure, displayed the amazing venom that he usually displays in his approach to the waterfront problems of this country. His casualness to these matters has been repeatedly evidenced in this House by the episodes to which he has referred and by the language that he has used in describing them. His language has been most intemperate and could not be calculated in any way as likely to induce or bring about a settlement of the affairs on the waterfront of this country. His second-reading speech on this measure is recorded in " Hansard " for anybody to read. I shall quote excerpts from it. Of course, those honorable .members who do not want to see through the Minister's remarks will see no harm in them. The members of the Australian Country party, in particular, have a certain mission in this Parliament. It is to down every unionist in all circumstances at all times. The Minister said - >First, there have been fewer interruptions to work by industrial disputes and rain. This may seem strange to honorable gentlemen, who read only too frequently of the industrial disputes occurring in this industry. That, in a nutshell, typifies what the Minister has in his mind. He comes here and tells us that less time was lost last year through industrial disputes than through rain and then he puts his boots on and kicks the waterside workers to death. He tells the public, in a moment of emotion on his part, that it is strange that there have been fewer interruptions to work through industrial disputes than because of rain, in view of the headlines that appear continuously in the press of this country reporting every disturbance that occurs on the waterfront, whether or not they are justified. The great majority of disputes on the Australian waterfront are justified because of the injustice that exists in regard to the industrial conditions that apply to most of the waterside workers in this country. Honorable members opposite who are inclined to sneer at that statement indicate that they know nothing whatever about the Australian waterfront. Let us look at the matter first from the point of view of the loss of man-hours caused by disputes. The number of man-hours lost through industrial causes has been almost halved in the last twelve months. The figures for this year, when they are available, will show that there has been a further falling off in the total of. man-hours lost because of industrial disputes. Coming to the question of the loss of man-hours due to rain, I point out that the stevedoring companies are in no way compelled by legislation to protect the workers on the waterfront from rain. The companies, because of their unwillingness to spend the money, are not prepared to do the decent thing and provide canopies, &c, to protect the waterside workers in wet weather. If such shelters were provided the time lost due to rain would be minimized, if not eliminated. In that regard, it is important that the public should be well aware of the published figures. The figures that I shall cite appear in the Report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1957. The position, in a nutshell, is that 4.2 per cent, of the time lost on the Australian waterfront was due to rain, and that 3.7 per cent, only of the time lost was due to industrial disputes. Those figures show conclusively, in a sharp fashion, the true situation in regard to the Australian waterfront. Then we must have a look at the figure relating to industrial disputes. The figure includes all manner of stoppages that occurred for reasons other than for rain. The question that immediately comes to mind is whether any of these stoppages were justified. Were any of them reasonable? Did the men have a proper cause to cease work for any portion of their working time? Let us have a look at the report. On page 31 it is stated that at Port Kembla, in my electorate, in March - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . a dispute occurred because waterside workers refused to make up sling loads of 48 bars of zinc. Some 3,344 man hours were lost. Of course, the waterside workers are entitled to stand up and refuse to risk life and limb when there are shortcomings on the managerial side. The men are justified in stating their viewpoint; they do not need Communist leadership to do this. It is only what the average Australian would do. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Bonython **(Mr. Makin)** to the service that was rendered by this section of the community during the war. Apart from making humanitarian contributions to every social activity in every port of this country, the waterside workers played their part actively during both world wars. I defy anybody to point a finger at that section of .the Australian community and say that it did not serve loyally and well in both of the world wars. Let us cast our mind back to the bombing of Darwin. Amongst the Australian casualties that occurred in the raids on Darwin by Japanese bombers were many Australian waterside workers. They performed their jobs then at risk to life and limb, and many paid the supreme sacrifice just as if they were on a battlefield in any part of the world. Yet the spokesman of the Government would have us believe that they are a race apart, something subnormal, something anti-social, something easily misled and easily brought into conflict with law and order. They are not easily brought into conflict. I count many of the waterside workers at Port Kembla as my friends, and I take my hat off to them for their sane judgment as Australian workers. There is no difference between the man who works on the waterfront, the man who works in the steel industry and other manufacturing industries and the man who is the paid servant in a rural enterprise. They have a proper, sane approach to life. Most of them have families to feed and care for. They are responsible members of the community who are doing their jobs nobly and well. No member of this House can point to any section of the community that honours its obligations to the country in a better manner than do the waterside workers. As I have said, at Port Kembla some 3,344 man-hours were lost in March when waterside workers failed to report for work in protest against the suspension of certain of their number. What happens is often attributable to the actions of some foremen - not all of them - of the stevedoring companies in the exercise of their responsibilities, in the hour-to-hour control of the men in their jobs. We have had amplification of that in regard to the Krespi case, when the facts were related in this Parliament. There are men who bend their knees to their masters on the job and who are prepared to impose hardship and make most vicious decisions against their fellow-men on the waterfront. It is only proper and just that the men should reject those decisions. The justification for the defiance of the orders of some of those authorities will be borne out by further extracts that I shall quote from the report. Turning to page 34, I find a section dealing with the discipline of employers. Although that is the heading, the employers, of course, are not disciplined on the waterfront, and the cases to which reference is made do not indicate that convictions or penalties were recorded. The instances that I shall mention reveal neglect in managerial control and absolute contempt by management for the physical welfare of the workers on our ships handling important cargoes. These instances are recurring. The report states - >On or about the 10th September, 1956, at Port Kembla, a Navigation Inspector inspected the vessel " Nimaris " and instructed the Master ' of the vessel and the stevedore, that before loading commenced in the 'tween decks, it would be necessary for the hatch boards to be repaired and replaced. Here we have the spectacle of some minion of the stevedoring companies instructing the men to go down into the hold and work in such circumstances. The reference in the report of the authority continues - >On Friday, 21st September, the stevedore requested the Master of the vessel to have the tween deck hatch boards placed in position for the purposes of repair and replacement where necessary. Is not that a commentary on a callous and coldly calculating attitude towards the safety of the workers? What was the purpose of that request? It was merely to put a little more profit into the pockets of the stevedoring companies. The report states further - lt was the intention to effect these repairs- I direct attention to the words " the intention ". {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- The stevedoring companies are the shipowners. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY:
CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES -- That is true. They are identified completely with the shipowners. The report states - lt was the intention to effect these repairs and replacements over the week-end when the vessel was not working. They would not knock off for an hour or two to have the job done. They would not hinder profit-making! Their attitude was that they would reap the profits while they could, and the men would suffer, if it was their bad luck to suffer. Whatever happened, the stevedoring company would wait for the week-end, and then have a look at what had to be done. In the words of the report - >The Master of the vessel, however, objected to this arrangement and repairs were not effected until the 26th September. So, for sixteen days, conditions were allowed to remain highly unsatisfactory, although they had been brought to the notice of the relevant authorities. The report continues - >On the midnight shift that day, a number of waterside workers were instructed to ship hatch boards in the 'tween decks but they refused to do so on the ground that the boards were unsafe. They were dismissed. That is a typical industrial dispute, and the man-hours lost in that episode are included in the figures that I gave earlier. Under those conditions, men are entitled to refuse to work. But if they do, they suffer the supreme penalty that a worker always suffers when he is dismissed. His dismissal deprives him of the wherewithal that he must have in order to live. Under the conditions of the Australian economy, no worker is so well off financially that he can withstand periods of unemployment without suffering severely. The average wages of waterfront workers are not so high that they and their families can easily stand the loss of a day's pay. I have reached the point at which the men were dismissed. The reference in the report continues - >The Local Representative inspected hatches Nos. 1, 2 and 4 that morning, and his inspection revealed a number of unsafe boards. Labour ordered for the day shift that day for these hatches was unable to commence work until the hatch boards were repaired and/or replaced. So, for sixteen days, the conditions that had been pointed out to the master of the vessel by the properly constituted authority were neglected, until the men themselves were provoked into action and decided not to continue work. Then- and then only - was action taken by the stevedoring company. Let us have a look at another case, which is dealt with in the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in the following terms: - >On the 11th October, 1956, at Fremantle, the wire runner on the midship derrick of the vessel " Koolinda " broke, causing a pallet of 30 cwt. of cement to fall into the No. 1 hatch of the vessel. No one was injured. A Navigation Inspector was called, and he ruled that the runner, which was a new one, was incapable of lifting a load of 30 cwt. He then restricted the safe working load of the runner .to 20 cwt., but later raised it to 25 cwt. That, **Mr. Speaker,** is a clear-cut illustration of managerial neglect on the waterfront. These people who have been given properly constituted authority to control men are so neglectful and incompetent in their administration that a government body finds it necessary to mention these things in an official report. The report deals with another incident in the following words: - >On the 10th November 1956, at Fremantle, on the same vessel, three crates of asbestos sheeting, slung with two rope slings, were being loaded into the vessel when the slings carried away. The crates fell into the hold, where six men were working, but no one was injured. Evidently, fate was protecting the men on that occasion. The reference continues - >The crates were unmarked as to weight - That is another instance of inefficient management somewhere along the way, but we do not hear those responsible for it being attacked by the Minister and Government supporters in this House. The report adds - but a ' Navigation Inspector was called and he ruled that the weight of the lift was far in excess of the safe working load of the gear. The recital of these incidents, **Mr. Speaker,** clearly illustrates the adverse conditions under which the waterfront worker is. forced to labour for his daily bread. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the industry is, as the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** has termed it, a turbulent industry? Of course it is turbulent. It is turbulent because of the injustice of the industrial conditions and the poor amenities that have always prevailed on the Australian waterfront. The sluggishness of the progress made in improving these conditions has been shameful. Indeed, these working conditions are completely unworthy of a country in which, in other industries, so much has been won in the way of improvements in working conditions. We must never overlook the background to these things. If we pick up the " screamer " to-morrow morning and see that a stoppage has occurred somewhere on the waterfront, let us not be too prone to condemn the waterside workers as a body of loafers who allow themselves to be led by the nose by some official more clever than themselves. That is not the position at all. The waterside worker decides his own fate. Allusions to Communist control of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia have been made. It is true that some of the leading personalities of the Australian Communist party are in controlling positions in the union - positions to which they were elected by the rankandfile members. It must be remembered that in this union, as in any other, the decisive action taken by the union is determined, not by one man who holds the office of secretary of the union, but by a management committee of union members or the members themselves. The great majority of the members of the various management committees of the Waterside Workers Federation are not Communists, despite this sneer that the Government tries to put across. The members of these committees are average Australian workers chosen from among the rank-and-file membership. The Minister knows these things perfectly well, although some Government back-benchers apparently do not know them. {: .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr George Lawson: -- The officers of the union are elected by ballot. {: .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY: -- That is true. They are elected by a free ballot. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- Many of them are members of the Australian Labour party. {: .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY: -- The great majority of the members of the management committees of the union are not Communists. Many are members of the Australian Labour party. Therefore, we throw back in the teeth of government supporters this lie that the union is completely Communist-led, and that everything that happens on the Australian waterfront is a consequence of a Communist conspiracy. It gives me a great deal of pleasure, at this stage, to direct the attention of the House to the words used by Ben Chifley in his final important public speech, which he made on Sunday, 10th January, 195 i. I ask all level-headed people in the community to ponder these words. Any one who considers them carefully will realize what is behind this deliberate press barrage that is daily aimed at a militant union, and what is behind the innuendoes, smears, and deliberate distortions that are hurled across this chamber by Government supporters in their attacks on the Waterside Workers Federation and other trade unions. {: .speaker-KIF} ##### Mr Hulme: -- Opposition members use **Mr. Chifley's** name only when they want to, and they forget him readily when they want to forget him. {: .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY: -- We do not forget him. We understand him, but Government supporters do not. We understand what Ben Chifley's intentions were and what prompted his thoughts. Government supporters do not understand any Opposition member whom they do not wish to understand - particularly those who have come to this place from the ranks of the trade union movement. **Mr. Chifley** said - 1 want to touch on the present action of the Menzies Government. The Government hits trade unions and everything associated with them. Vested interests which stand behind the Government want to see unions destroyed. I do not say that of all employers. But the majority of them do not want to see labour fully employed. They want to see a surplus of labour so that they can hit trade unions and trade unions' officials. That, **Mr. Speaker,** is exactly what the employers are doing to-day. They are pitting worker against worker - and especially immigrant worker against Australian worker - outside the gates of Australia's great factories. **Mr. Chifley** continued - >The policy of the Menzies Government is to produce " tamecat " unions; not unions that will fight for the workers, irrespective of the consequences. I might ask Government supporters why we have trade unions at all? Why were they ever created, if not to enable the worker to protect himself by cohesion of numbers? Any one who becomes an official in a trade union accepts great responsibilities. The Government wants trade unions to discuss- {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- On a point of order, I hesitate to interrupt this splendid piece of Domain oratory, but when will the honorable gentleman turn to the bill before us? {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the matter before the House. {: .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY: -- What I have said may be very easily linked with the bill. As the late Ben Chifley pointed out, the trade union officials are there to fight for their members. Government supporters do not like to admit these things. Apparently neither the Australian Workers Union nor any other union can fight for its rights without incurring the enmity of the people who are represented here by the Menzies-Fadden Administration. That has always been true, and it will remain true as long as this Government stays in office. The Minister is using the bill to attempt to escape criticism, but he will not. succeed. He refers to the deficiencies of the stevedoring industry. They are indeed lamentable. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- The Basten report pointed them out, but the Government has done nothing. {: .speaker-KE7} ##### Mr KEARNEY: -- The Basten report emphasized the shortcomings of the stevedoring industry, and its findings are confirmed by what we see about us from day to day. At Port Kembla, most ancient methods of handling cargo are employed. The physical conditions under which the watersiders work are absurd from the point of view of the efficient management of cargoes. I do not imagine that ours is the most efficient port in the world - or even in this country. Mechanical devices are beginning to creep into the industry and - as the Minister has pointed out - the number of people for whom work is available has dropped off and will probably decrease further with the increased use of these devices. On practically every day of the year approximately one-third of the work force on the Australian waterfront is unemployed. What action is the Government taking to absorb the surplus labour created by the introduction of new mechanical devices? I have in mind what has happened at Mackay. The Government invited the displaced waterfront workers - as it invited the displaced miners on . the northern coalfields - to pack their bags and beat it to some other part of the country. It did not care how they got there or how well off they were when they arrived. That is the utterly contemptuous and rotten attitude being adopted towards the people of this nation, and Government supporters may be sure that when we go to the polls later this year it will not be forgotten. Happenings such as I have described sear the very souls of men. No government ought to break up families, and divide husbands from their loved ones merely because of some little economic change. This Government is apparently not big enough to do anything to improve the position. Wherever work opportunities are destroyed by increased mechanization and automation we must think automatically of how we can find alternative employment for the people displaced. We must, if necessary, move them from one point to another and ensure that they automatically enjoy acceptable conditions and good homes. The Minister's speech reeks of the bias with which he approaches this situation. He said further - >In 1957, the waterside worker averaged 40 times the loss of working time through industrial disputes that obtained in industry generally throughout Australia. *I* have explained why that is so. The Minister continued - >There has been a spate of unauthorized stoppages of work in various ports for the holding of meetings which the authority has not sanctioned. If it were left to any administrative authority concerned with the welfare of the employer class, no trade union would ever have a meeting. As the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** has explained, these men, who are scattered over a number of ships and on alternative shifts should surely be entitled to meet in conclave to discuss their problems. Every other organization in the country escapes this barrage of criticism when it attempts to hold a meeting. How many business executives find time to leave their office desks in order to hold surreptitious conferences - depending on others to carry on their work? Are they subjected to criticism? They are immune to it, but whenever the worker on the waterfront, or a unionist elsewhere, decides that there is an issue of importance which warrants combined consideration the Government is prepared to say that he is committing an industrial offence by engaging in a stoppage of work. Let me touch, in conclusion, on the position in Tasmania, and in general on the question of a union levy. The Waterside Workers Union rule - registered in the Arbitration Court - provides that, certain machinery requirements having been complied with, the union may at a combined meeting strike a levy for various purposes. The practice is not new. It has been going on continually, and is not likely to end now. The important thing is that apparently some workers are being incited - possibly goaded- into defying the decision of their union. The same kind of thing might equally be applicable to some one in the rural industries, or in a factory or on the waterfront. The levy is an integral part of the union framework, and always has been. The trade union movement, as a whole, lends its active financial support to the Australian Labour party. This has been very fully explained by the right honorable member for Barton **(Dr. Evatt)** and other honorable members from this side of the House during the present debate. The trade union movement forms the base of our party. We in Parliament and the Australian Labour party are merely a development of it - its political wing. The two sections are integrated, and Government supporters need not think for one moment that they will be able to drive a wedge between them. The great bulk of the people of this nation - those who cast their votes for the Australian Labour party in both the Federal and State spheres - are members of trade unions. It will ever be so, because the unions share in the development of our daytoday activities, and of Labour's policy. It is their policy also - the unions forge it. Those of us who are in this Parliament are merely the mouthpiece of the trade union movement. We need not attempt to excuse or evade that fact, and the Minister understands that position perfectly well. The proposed increases in the charges are - on the Minister's own statement - necessary to balance rising costs. As my colleagues and I have pointed out, a portion of the increased cost is attributable to the shortcomings of the controlling authority - in this case the Commonwealth Government. What action has it taken to correct the present state of affairs? It has done nothing salient. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-JLR} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Adermann:
FISHER, QUEENSLAND -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee .- I listened with some interest to the honorable member for Leichhardt **(Mr. Bruce)** because, although I do not agree with him on many subjects, the speech he made was a genuine and sincere speech- It was easy to understand what he meant. But the tirade we have just heard from the honorable member for Cunningham **(Mr. Kearney)** was hard to follow. Honorable members need not worry that I shall take long to reply to him, because I will not, the simple reason being that his main theme was an attack on the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt).** The honorable member for Cunningham quoted something that **Mr. Chifley** said away back in 1951. I wonder what **Mr. Chifley** would say to-day had he the opportunity to examine the records, which show that since the present Minister for Labour and National Service has been in office we have had the greatest freedom from industrial unrest on the waterfront in the history of this country. That is the perfect answer to people like the honorable member for Cunningham. If the Minister for Labour and National Service were as bad as members of the Opposition say, there would have been upheavals on the waterfront and unrest generally in the years since he has been Minister. The Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** is interjecting now because he does not like this sort of talk. He does not like me to point out the great peace we have had on the waterfront. Peace on the waterfront is what I, as a representative here of the primary producers, want to see. The rural industries want industrial peace in that area so that they can be sure of getting their wool and other primary products off to markets overseas and earn the overseas funds that are needed to buy equipment for primary production. I wish to pay a tribute to the Minister for the great work he has done in keeping peace on the waterfront, and in doing so I shall reply to the speech made by the honorable member for Bonython **(Mr. Makin).** I was not at all pleased with the honorable member's speech, and I say so more in sorrow than in anger, because I do not think he knew what he was talking about when he said that no body of men did more for the war effort than the waterside workers. I have his statement written here. I took a note of it. No body of men did more for the war effort than the waterside workers! In all the years I have been in this House I have not said much about what I want to touch on very briefly now. There were a few secret wireless sets in the prisonerofwar camps in Malaya and Singapore in which the Japanese held Australian troops. Two men looked after the one in the camp in which I was imprisoned. On one occasion the wireless set was found and the men looking after it were never seen again. Operating these wirelesses was a great risk. The set was hidden in a hole in the ground under a hinged piece of turf, and was hard to find. One night we heard a news broadcast from Australia with the report that the waterside workers in Sydney had demanded war risk pay. Does the honorable member for Bonython realize what that news meant to men who were dying in far Singapore? I wish he could have heard what they said on that occasion about this great body of men who were demanding war risk pay. War risk! In Australia there were many men, including primary producers up and down the country, who helped the war effort. Did they ask for war risk pay? Of course, they did not! The very government of which the honorable member for Bonython was a member refused even an investigation committee into the question of paying these former prisoners of war sustenance pay for the period of their imprisonment. Yet, we have the honorable member saying that the waterside workers were responsible for a great war effort. They got full pay and war risk pay. Why should they not have done the job they were paid to do? {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- What did MacArthur say? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I am not- concerned with what MacArthur said. I am dealing with what really happened. When the honorable member for Bonython made the statement to which I have just referred, I got up and walked out, after I had made a note of it. We hear these things from the Opposition because they do not know what really went on. I pay a tribute to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I think he has done an excellent job. The honorable member for Leichhardt got somewhat poetical and quoted Robert Burns. I really liked his speech because in it he paid a tribute to all men. The waterside workers are all right with me, but the executive of their trade union is the seat of all the trouble. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- You are squaring off now. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I shall answer the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, who always says I am squaring off. Have I said anything against the waterside workers? I have dealt only with the statements made by the honorable member for Bonython, who spoke of the great effort the waterside workers made during the war. Watersiders are all right as far as I am concerned. Like the honorable member for Leichhardt, I believe that there are good, bad and indifferent people everywhere in the world. I suppose there are men among the watersiders who are as good as any other men in Australia. I am prepared to say that. But their leaders, the executive that controls them, are the trouble. Indeed, that is the trouble in most trade unions. It is not the men who work out on the job who make the unrest in industry, but their leaders, the executives of their trade unions, who are aided and abetted in this Parliament by the Australian Labour party. Is there anything that would do more to bring about industrial unrest on the waterfront than the statements made tonight by the honorable member for Cunningham? He made a rabble-rousing speech, and waterside workers who were quite satisfied with their jobs would think, after hearing his statements, that they had a grievance. If we could only get the Leader of the Opposition into this debate the cycle would be complete and the waterside workers would feel that they had been done grievous harm. I do not think the Labour party will vote against this bill. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- Of course it will not! {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- " Of course not", says the Leader of the Opposition. So all this talk to-night is going for nothing. A speaker from the Opposition side said earlier that the debate would take about twenty minutes, but it is taking three or four hours, so I shall not keep the House very long. I believe that this Government is a government that gives a fair deal, and I believe that those Labour men who have followed events closely and have the pluck to speak their minds will admit that it would be impossible to get a fairer deal than the unions and the community generally have had from the Government. As I pay my tribute to the Minister, I know that in their hearts the members of the Opposition agree with me, because never before in the history of this country have we had such a peaceful period; not only on the waterfront, but in all Australian industry. {: #subdebate-29-0-s10 .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE:
Wilmot .- I wish to refer to statements made by the honorable member for Mallee **(Mr. Turnbull).** In about a week's time we will be going into recess for a fortnight, so we have a perfect right to speak for four hours on a subject of this nature. That is a democratic right that even the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** has not taken away from us to-night. The honorable member for Mallee referred to the war risk pay for which waterside workers asked during the war. Merchant Navy men got war risk pay and, as the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard)** said in an interjection during the honorable member for Mallee's speech, during the war the farmers asked for subsidies on many kinds of farm produce, and got them. Yet the honorable member for Mallee criticizes one section of the community for seeking payment on account of extra risk. This bill proposes to increase to 3s. a man-hour the levy collected to finance certain payments and amenities connected with the waterfront industry. A paragraph on page 37 of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority's report sums the measure up in the following words: - >The salient feature in the Authority's finances in the period under review has been the increase of £2,200,020 in total expenditure. This has been caused largely by an increase of £2,155,795 in payments to or for waterside workers, while administrative costs increased by £44,225. The total expenditure of £3,315,158 was £1,383,122 in excess of revenue. The authority therefore had to go to the Commonwealth Bank for an overdraft to finalize its payments for the year. Payments to watersiders were increased because of the 50 per cent, rise in attendance money and the awarding of payment for sick leave and public holidays not worked. We approve those improvements in conditions. They are a fitting reward for years and years of battling by the Waterside Workers Federation for humane treatment of this kind. Men have been working in this noman'sland for from 50 to 100 years. They are casual workers, without guaranteed employment. Rain accounted for a loss of time of 4.7 per cent, in the last twelve months, while disputes on the waterfront accounted for a loss of only 3.7 per cent. Therefore, rain caused the loss of more time than did disputes. These men deserve to have the security enjoyed by all of us in this Parliament and by the people listening in, who work in other employment. I have just been reminded that our security is not very great, in that it may last for only three years. Waterside workers, who have suffered years and years of soulless tyranny deserve some security. As the honorable member for Leichhardt **(Mr. Bruce)** said, these men are human beings. They are Australians like the rest of us and they deserve all that they have been given up to date and even more. For instance, I believe that they should be paid the basic wage as a minimum. That may eventually come to pass. Because of a decrease in the cargoes being carried, and the high quotas prevailing, many men are not earning nearly the basic wage. If they were paid the basic wage as a minimum they would have a primary security. They have to pay the same prices as we do for their bread, meat and groceries, yet they are denied the minimum basic wage because of the casual nature of their employment! {: .speaker-KIE} ##### Mr Luck: -- Would you put them on permanent employment? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- Why not? We could probably work that out, too. Jambed between the waterside workers and the shipowners are the stevedoring companies. Some time in the future the Waterside Workers Federation may form a cooperative stevedoring organization. That would wipe out at one blow much of the present criticism and many of the obstacles to peace on the waterfront. Let the waterside workers have their own co-operative stevedoring companies. We have co-operatives in the housing field and in other fields. This is a suggestion for the future, aimed at putting the industry on a solid and secure basis. I have another interesting point to make. Although **Mr. Healy** is secretary of this waterfront organization and was elected by democratic, secret ballot, many persons interested in cargo handling are quite determined to have nothing whatever to do with him. Therefore we have such fantastic situations as that which recently prevailed in Melbourne. A group of men was discussing the export to the mainland of Tasmanian potatoes. Amongst them was a representative of the Potato Marketing Board. The representative of a big shipping organization who was present told the conference that if Jim Healy walked in through one doorway, he would leave the conference and immediately walk out through the other doorway. How can any sort of co-operation be obtained when there is that kind of bitter prejudice against Healy? On another occasion we planned to form an independent shipping line to operate between Tasmania and the mainland. I bought £10 worth of shares in it, as did the honorable member for Bass **(Mr. Barnard),** because we had faith in the line of three ships that was to be established for the purpose. Men who were independent of the shipping companies organized this company, which had no connexion whatever with the shipping combines of Australia. When these men met in Sydney, they decided to call in the heads of the Waterside Workers Federation to ascertain their attitude to this new shipping organization. When Jim Healy came into the room and sat down amongst the directors of this company, at their invitation, he told them that it was the first time in his lifelong experience of the waterfront that he had ever been invited to a board meeting. As long as we have, on one side, bull-headed business men, shipowners who are absolutely determined to have nothing to do with Healy or his organization, we shall have fights on the waterfront. Incidentally, the independent company was not formed because not sufficient money came forward and our money was returned. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP; NCP from May 1975 -- What about the Hurseys? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- You will hear about the Hurseys directly. I will not run away from that or anything else. We are always hearing criticism of the monsters on the waterfront who delay the turn-round of ships. At times, the Minister has given them due credit, and on one blue-ribbon occasion he even had the temerity to criticize the shipowners. He said they were the worst employers of labour in Australia. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Where did he say that? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- You said that once. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Where? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- I cannot remember where. Now I know that the Minister said it in an unconscious moment, because he does not remember it. To show that the fault is not always on the side of the waterside workers, here are two illustrations from Devonport, in Tasmania. {: .speaker-L19} ##### Mr Leslie: -- Are these as false as your accusation against the Minister, when you stated he said something that he did not say? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- He did say it. Recently - I think it was in January - ,a ship at Devonport was loading Tasmanian potatoes for Sydney. The ship had come round from Bell Bay with a cargo of aluminium ingots. When the hatches were opened and the waterside workers saw all these silvery ingots, they said, " We will not put potatoes on top of that". The shipping agents refused to put anything over the top of this cargo. The waterside workers then said to the shipping agents, " We will not load one bag of potatoes into this ship until you put dunnage on top of that cargo to protect the potatoes ". The men were determined that the shipping agents would not get away with that type of loading and refused to work until something was done to protect the potatoes. When dunnage was put over the cargo, the men willingly loaded thousands of bags of potatoes. Had the waterside workers not taken that stand, the farmers of Tasmania would have suffered terrific loss through damage to bags and potatoes by the time the ship was unloaded at Sydney. I mention that as an illustration of what the waterside workers are prepared to do to help the farmers of this country. Just recently, the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board decided to try a more modern method of putting up potatoes. It decided to reduce the weight of a bag of potatoes from 150 lb. to 75 lb. and wanted to load a trial shipment for Sydney. Incidentally, as a result of this type of packing, an additional £2 a ton was received for the potatoes. The Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board asked the waterside workers whether they would handle the smaller bags. The Devonport branch of the Waterside Workers Federation replied, " Most certainly we will; we will give you every assistance in shipping this new pack of potatoes on to the Sydney market ". What is more, the board was given an assurance that the men would continue to handle the smaller size bag in the future. It is much more convenient for the men. I saw the men handling the larger bags in the hold on one occasion. They are loaded into the hold in slings, but then the bags have to be " lugged " to each side of the hold, which is some distance away. The bags are rolled over other bags from the centre to the sides of the ship, and heavy damage can result to the potatoes. The smaller bags make for much easier loading. The Bass Strait ferry passenger service is to be adopted between Tasmania and the mainland and what is known as the roll onroll off system will be used for cargo ships. By this method, cargo is stacked in rows along the sides of passenger ships. We have had a long fight to induce the Government to build the type of ship suitable for this method of loading. At long last we have achieved success, and the ship is to go into service next year. It will be the first passenger ship of its type on the Australian coast. It will be somewhat similar to the ferry-boats used in other parts of the world for this method of loading. It is also intended to build a roll on-roll off type of cargo ship and the waterside workers of Tasmania have agreed to this type of cargo handling. In all, I have given three illustrations of how at one port - Devonport - the waterside workers have shown that they are willing to co-operate. In the face of that evidence, it would seem that there is an ulterior motive behind all its criticism, all this sniping and all the sneers and smears we hear so often. It would seem that the purpose of the criticism, the sniping and the sneers is to weaken the Waterside Workers Federation until it is a wishy-washy organization, something like the weak tea some people drink - half tea and half milk. We' on this side will resist strenuously any attempts to break down the organization, just as we will strenuously resist any attempt to break down the mens' conditions. We shall fight at all times for better conditions for these workers. I congratulate the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on its decision to provide amenities for waterside workers. An excellent brick building has been erected at Devonport. It will probably be opened next month. The honorable member for Braddon **(Mr. Luck)** and I meet on the Devonport wharf. His electorate is on one side of the river and mine is on the other. He has been fighting with me for the provision of this amenties block. At long last, the Minister for Labour and National Servive has agreed to our request, and this fine brick building will be opened very shortly. In my opinion, it will be a model of what the amenities for waterside workers should be on the waterfront. I come now to the Hobart branch of the organization. {: #subdebate-29-0-s11 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! I am wondering whether the levies provided for in the bill are to be used to pay for the brick building or whether the honorable member intends to return to the discussion of the bill. I suggest that he discuss the principles contained in the bill. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- Are you suggesting I have been wandering from the bill? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I ask the honorable member to discuss the principles contained in the bill. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- I come now to the waterfront problem at Hobart. I submit that the two workers, the Hurseys, have been deliberately kept out of work and that this Government has deliberately fostered the fullest publication of the incidents down there. Reports of it have appeared in all newspapers throughout the Commonwealth. I realize, of course, that it is very good political propaganda for the Government and the party it represents. Despite all this opposition, however, the Hurseys are determined to keep on walking down to the waterfront even though they may never be employed again. It is obvious that some one is paying them, for I fail to see how two families could continue to live on £13 a week which is the appearance money they receive. These men have not applied to the labour exchange for other employment. They intend to continue this fight to the bitter end. As for the levy itself, I understand, from good authority, that the secretary of the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation has told the men that if they pay the 10s. levy- {: .speaker-JMF} ##### Mr Aston: -- Why should they pay the levy? {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- You had your say last night. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The interjections will cease, and the honorable member for Wilmot will address the Chair. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- Honorable members opposite ask to hear about these things, and, when I seek to tell them, they do not want to hear what I have to say. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! This case is before the court at present and therefore the matter is sub judice. I ask the honorable member not to pursue that matter any further. {: #subdebate-29-0-s12 .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE:
WILMOT, TASMANIA · ALP -- It is a pity that other speakers have not been stopped also. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- They hear one side only in this Parliament. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! What did the honorable member for Werriwa say? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- I said that, unlike the court, you insist on one side only being heard in this Parliament. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member will withdraw and apologize to the Chair. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- I withdraw and apologize to the Chair. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! As the honorable member has mentioned onesided rulings, I point out that the Minister was prevented from answering a question on this same subject. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- The matter was mentioned yesterday, but you were not in the House, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** when it was mentioned. However, I bow to your ruling but am prepared to give honorable members full details connected with the matter privately afterwards. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honorable member will discuss the bill. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- We on this side will not oppose the bill, for it proposes to do something that we want done on the waterfront. On the other hand, we cannot understand why the Minister for Labour and National Service and other honorable members on the Government side cannot mention the waterside workers without introducing bitterness into the debate. They seem to seize upon every opportunity to criticize these workers. Their sole desire seems to be to treat these men not as human beings but as the monsters they would have the public believe the waterside workers to be. Had honorable members on the Government side discussed this matter in a reasonable way, the bill would have gone through with perhaps only one or two speeches from each side of the House. Because of the attitude adopted by honorable members on the Government side, we of the Opposition have been forced to refute the charges levelled at the waterside workers. {: #subdebate-29-0-s13 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- in reply - I do not propose to take up much time by way of reply, but we have listened to an extraordinary performance from Opposition speakers. They have concentrated a personal attack upon me for most of their time. They have charged the Government and its supporters generally with being completely out of sympathy not only with the waterside workers but also with other unionists. They have said that we have misrepresented the position of those men. That is all the more extraordinary because most Australians know that, during its term of office, this Government has been able to secure a reduction in time lost through industrial disputes, which has given it the best record of any Government for very many years. In addition, this Government and the department under my administration in particular have been able to build up a closer and more active association between management and organized labour than ever before in the history of Australia. . Because honorable gentleman opposite, who have long regarded themselves as possessing some monopoly of trade union support and have regarded the trade union vote as a close preserve of their own, have now found that there are other political parties and other policies in Australia that can appeal with greater strength to trade unionists who can take a more realistic view of what is happening in this country, members of the Opposition have now decided upon a campaign directed at two things. The first is to create a belief in the Australian community that this Government and its supporters are lacking in any genuine sympathy with the great mass of people who work for wages. Their second objective is to destroy the very machinery of co-operation that we have so carefully and so painfully erected. I say that they do great discredit to themselves and great disservice to Australia when they carry their political ambitions to the length of destroying industrial harmony in Australia at this time. I have every justification for making that statement because, apart from channels of co-operation between representatives of the trade union movement and of management on such bodies as the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council, the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, the National Security Resources Board and elsewhere, we built up that co-operation to a pinnacle on the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council on which, under my chairmanship, the top representatives of the trade union movement 'and the top representatives of management met for the first time in the history of Australia. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I rise to order, **Mr. Deputy Speaker.** Are the remarks of the Minister relevant to the bill? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The Minister is speaking more directly to the bill than preceding speakers did. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- I shall link my remarks definitely with the provisions of the bill, as I shall show in a few moments. For the first time in the history of any government, we were able to reach a stage where the top representatives of the trade union movement and of management were prepared to sit around the table with a representative of the Government and discuss matters of common interest for the welfare of Australia. What happened? When honorable gentlemen opposite and in particular the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt),** found what was going on, the right honorable gentleman sent his hatchet man, the federal president of the Australian Labour party, **Mr. Chamberlain,** into the meeting of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to wreck this organization which had been built up by us. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- That is a deliberate lie. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Nobody took a more active part than **Mr. Chamberlain** in destroying- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw his remark that the Minister's statement was a deliberate lie; and I do not want any interjections while I am speaking. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- I withdraw the remark and substitute another term - falsehood. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- I do not think the Leader of the Opposition will deny that **Mr. Chamberlain,** who is the federal president of the A.L.P. and a senior member of the interstate executive of the A.C.T.U., took an active part in the decision which resulted in the withdrawal of the A.C.T.U. from the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. The principal reason that was given for this action was that the time had come for a bold political front against the Menzies Government in an election year. Is the right honorable gentleman now trying to suggest that, without his knowledge or approval and in an election year, the federal president of his own party was prepared to destroy this instrument of co-operation? If that is what he is attempting to do, the way is open for him to do so, but I read my own deductions into the facts as they arise. Because we did achieve this success at the level of co-operation, the incidence of industrial disputes last year - the year just before this election year when these matters can be a little embarrassing to honorable members opposite - was the lowest since our year of greatest peril in 1942. Do those two facts - the degree of co-operation and the low incidence of industrial disputes - suggest that this Government has been out of harmony with the Australian trade unions, or that it has lost their confidence and support? Of course not. The plain fact is that at no time - and the union representatives have said this - have they previously enjoyed more realistic and ready co-operation or more willing attention to matters that they have put forward to a government than they have had during our term of office. Honorable members on the Opposition side know it. Now they have embarked upon a campaign to try to destroy that goodwill even though, in the process, they destroy some of the industrial efficiency and harmony that has been developing in Australia. I said that I would make my remarks very relevant to the bill, and I shall do so now to the satisfaction, I am sure, of the House. Very few of the speakers on the Opposition side to-night have even mentioned the provisions of the bill for the very good reason that to mention what the bill is designed to do would destroy the whole structure that they were trying to build. What does this bill set out to do? Is it designed to help the shipowners or impose some burden on the waterside workers? On the contrary, this bill imposes an additional charge of 50 per cent, on the present rate that is paid by the Australian people to sustain the benefits that accrue to the waterside workers themselves. This bli increases the stevedoring industry charge from 2s. to 3s. an hour. What is the purpose of the charge? It finances the benefits for waterside workers and the attendance money which was increased by 50 per cent, quite recently. It finances the statutory holidays for waterside workers which did not exist before this Government took office. It finances the sick leave which did not exist for waterside workers before this Government was elected to office. When this Government was first elected, the stevedoring industry charge was 2id. an hour on the work of the waterside workers to finance the amenities and benefits for them. Under this bill, the charge is to be 3s. We are increasing it from 2s. to 3s. Does that suggest some lack of sympathy for the waterside workers? Through this bill, we are asking the Australian public to carry - whether by way of increased freight rates or by the same freight rates without the reduction from increased efficiency that the shipowners might have been able to pass on if they had not had to finance this payment - an amount that the shipowners have estimated to add £2,000,000 a year to their costs. That has been done to give benefits to the waterside workers, and yet I am told that I have no sympathy for these men. Honorable members opposite have said that the waterside workers are a crosssection of the Australian community. Of course they are. I accept that statement. I have no doubt that, as individual men, they measure up to any other section of the Australian community. I have never, at any time in my term of office, attacked the Australian working man. I have said that he will hold his own with the best in the world with proper equipment and proper leadership. Leadership does not always mean management leadership, however; it can frequently mean union leadership. In the course of a speech related to the imposition of this extra charge, I did direct attention to some unsatisfactory facts affecting this industry for the very good reason that if we are going to ask the Australian people to carry extra burdens so that benefits can be given to the waterside workers, we are entitled, on behalf of the Australian public, to ask the waterside workers to give a fair day's work and a reasonable standard of efficiency. Nobody would suggest that the standard of efficiency on the waterfront of Australia, whether the cause is due to the stevedoring employer, trade union leadership, or the individual waterside worker, is what the average fairminded Australian would regard as commensurate with a reasonable day's work. The Government is accused of never criticizing employers. It was this Government that put a provision into the stevedoring legislation that called on the Stevedoring Industry Authority to publish each month incidents that came to its notice of inefficiency on the part of either the employer or the employees in the industry, so that the public would have before it a running monthly record of what is happening in an industry that it was helping to finance. The Government has tried to be fair with all sections of the industry. This Government expanded the Stevedoring industry authority to include not only a representative from the employer side of the industry - and, by common agreement, a very fair-minded and objective one - but also a man who had senior industrial experience. He was, I think, a former president of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council. I refer to **Mr. Shortell.** {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN:
KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- He is a grouper. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- The honorable member may not like **Mr. Shortell's** politics, and **Mr. Shortell** may have the same feeling about those of the honorable member, but his fairness was not challenged by any member of the Opposition when his appointment was made. The Stevedoring Industry Authority reviews objectively the conditions in the industry month by month. If there are criticisms to be made against the employers, then the authority makes them. The honorable member for Cunningham **(Mr. Kearney)** cited some of those criticisms in his speech to-night. If there are industrial troubles causing losses, the authority reports on them. I think it is fair to draw the attention of honorable members to the machinery that this Government has built up over the years for the peaceful .settlement of industrial disputes. The great mass of the workers is willing to abide by these peaceful settlements, and loss of working time has become negligible. But on the waterfront the average loss of working time is 40 times as great as that experienced in industry generally. Surely that fact calls for comment. It is proper to point out to the workers in the industry what a great disservice they are doing to themselves. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr Crean: -- It does not prove that they are wrong. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Not necessarily, but why cannot the tribunals be given an opportunity to determine what is right and what is wrong? That applies throughout all industry. Ninety-eight per cent, of Australian workers suffer infinitesimal loss of working time due to industrial disputes compared to the loss of time experienced by the coal-miner and the waterside worker. These two mistaken groups of workers go on strike, not so much because things are going badly in their industry, but because they have the mistaken and fallacious idea that the work will still be there to-morrow - that the coal will still be there to be taken out even if they go on strike, and that the cargoes will still need to be shifted even if the port is held up for a day. The loss of customers by each of those industries is the most effective answer to that mistaken view. I do not want to go into detail about the coal industry, but there are some sections of it that have a very much lower rate of industrial loss than others. Is it because there is some great difference in working conditions? There is not, but there is a difference in their industrial leadership. If somebody argues that this has always been a turbulent industry and that it is the nature of the work that causes this trouble, let them look to New Zealand. Over the last few years the amount of working time lost in the industry in New Zealand has been practically negligible. In one year there was not one working day lost. So, let us have no more of this claptrap about it being the nature of the industry, its turbulent character, or the bad relations between employer and employee. Those things can exist, but they are also curable, as New Zealand has demonstrated and as this country could also demonstrate with a little sense of understanding. I apologize for taking up the time of the House with my reply, but I remind honorable members that this measure, far from showing some lack of sympathy for waterside workers, gives a 50 per cent, increase in the fund which has to finance the benefits so largely brought about during the term of office of this Government. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: The bill. {: #subdebate-29-0-s14 .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY:
Bendigo .- This bill proposes to increase the levy in respect of cargo handled for certain purposes. Those purposes are to provide additional money to enable a fund to be created, out of which, in addition to increased attendance money, payments will also be made in respect of sick leave and holidays. At the outset, I want to correct a misconception in respect of this fund, and a misconception as to how this fund came into being. I heard the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** say that before this Government assumed office, sick leave and holiday pay had not been granted- {: #subdebate-29-0-s15 .speaker-KZW} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lawrence:
WIMMERA, VICTORIA -- Order! The honorable member cannot reply to anything said by the Minister in the House. The honorable member must confine his remarks to the stevedoring industry charge. {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY: -- I confine my remarks to the stevedoring industry charge, and point out that this charge to enable payment for sick leave and holidays is the result of the decision of an arbitration court that heard evidence from the employer and the employee. This charge has no relation whatever to governmental action of any description. I want to make it clear that the decisions reached by the arbitration court are not political decisions. They are decisions arrived at as the result of a hearing, and under no circumstances can anybody suggest that there is any political responsibility for these charges. I think certain other matters should be clarified. Mention has been made of the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority dealing with the whole of the ramifications of the waterfront. It deals with non-productive working time percentages, time lost as a consequence of rain, and disputes between employers and employees. Therefore, in a discussion of the measure now before us, one cannot fail to deal with the relations between employer and employee. Those relations are of the utmost importance and must be carefully nurtured. Every effort should be made to see that the very best relations exist between employer and employee. Undue criticism of either side of industry is wrong because it destroys the very co-operation that we are endeavouring to foster in industrial matters. Whenever condemnation is expressed by one side of industry or the other, to that extent the cooperation which is so desirable is broken down. It is most important that those who are responsible in any way for the proper administration of the Stevedoring Industry Act should see to it that their utterances at all times do nothing to destroy the cooperation between employer and employee which they claim they are endeavouring to bring about. Governments have the opportunity to help to promote this co-operation. I can remember when steps were taken by previous governments, in circumstances of difficult industrial conditions, to endeavour to bring about closer co-operation. In 1941, in order to secure the best results from industry in the interests of the war effort, a conference was called of trade union leaders, employers, representatives off the arbitration courts of the States and of the Commonwealth, and of all persons able: to help. I think it is necessary that theefforts that were made to secure cooperation back in 1941 should be tried again. I can remember my friend, the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt),** presiding over the conference to which I have referred, a conference which had the objective of bringing about greater co-operation between employers and employees, not only in one section of Australian industry, but in all sections. A further attempt in that direction was made by my respected late leader, the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, when, in 1945 and 1946, he called conferences of the representatives of employers and the trade union movement with a view to overcoming the problems and the difficulties that were being experienced at that time. I want to make it clear, therefore, that this fostering of co-operation in industry is not something that has been attempted by only one person or only one government; it is in accordance with a principle that was adopted by governments which preceded the present Government. Those governments really laid down the whole basis for the action that has been taken since then. I suggest that this endeavour to bring about closer co-operation in industry might be carried a little further than has been the case so far. I can remember occasions within the last three or four years when the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard)** and I have moved amendments of bills with a view to providing trade union representation on various statutory boards, but in spite of the obvious desire that exists for industrial co-operation and better understanding between employers and employees, unfortunately on every occasion the Government members voted against the proposal and the chance for greater cooperation was lost. I point out these matters because it is one thing to say that something can be done and another thing to do it. Actions count for a great deal more than words. If there is to be cooperation in industry, let it not be confined to the waterfront. There are other industries where it is equally essential and equally desirable that the highest degree of co-operation should exist between employers and employees if the best results are to be achieved. {: #subdebate-29-0-s16 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Port Adelaide -- This measure contains really only one significant clause, and that is clause 3, which provides that until 30th June of next year the charge shall be at the rate of 3s. a man-hour of employment. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** stated, in the course of his second-reading speech that the levy would be 3s. from 1st April, 1958, to 30th June, 1959, and that thereafter, unless the Parliament decided otherwise, the charge would be at the rate of 2s. 6d. a man-hour, or an increase of 6d. on the present charge. I shall try to confine my remarks as much as possible to the question of the proposed increase. I hope that the Minister, when he replies to the debate, will not taunt us and provoke us to take the action that we took on a previous occasion. I contend, **Sir, that** the Minister has been responsible for any heat generated in this debate tonight. Unless the stevedoring companies and the waterfront workers are able to work in a fairly satisfactory fashion during this year, I do not think that it will be possible to reduce the charge. If any great trouble occurs on the waterfront during the next fifteen months - that is, between now and the end of June next year - I think it will be found that expenditure from the money received from the charge will be of such proportions that it will not be possible to reduce the charge to 2s. 6d. a man-hour, although I hope that such a reduction will be possible. While I am keen that we should have as much money as possible available to meet the needs of the men employed in the industry, for standing time, and for the provision of amenities for the workers, I appreciate that all the money that is spent on those things ultimately must come from the pockets of the public. There is no question of that. The Minister himself made a statement to that effect in the course of the debate. Whenever a charge is imposed on an industry, whether it be the shipbuilding industry, the steel industry, or a manufacturing industry, ultimately it must be considered in relation to the return from the sale of the goods which the industry produces. So I say that increases of the stevedoring industry charge ultimately will have to be met by the people who purchase goods or pay for services. Much will depend, during the ensuing fifteen months, on the harmony or otherwise that prevails on the waterfront. Some of the industrial trouble that has occurred from time to time has been due to the administration of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and, perhaps, also to the decisions of **Mr. Justice** Ashburner. I think that both the board and His Honour will have to be very careful to ensure that, in administering this industry, they act in such a way as to get the best out of it. By that, I do not mean that they must play second fiddle to the waterside workers. I realize that the management must determine what is required. Nevertheless, I think that future conditions on the waterfront will depend to a large extent on what the management does. I do not want to discuss matters concerning industrial disputes which have been raised by other honorable members, but I shall refer to a particular dispute that occurred recently. In this instance, the number of men in the gang was supposed to be seventeen, and a dispute occurred about -whether or not the number should be less than that. The decision that the number should be seventeen had been made, not by the waterside workers, but by the appropriate authority. The action of another authority in attempting to alter the number of men in the gang aroused a feeling of resentment in the waterside workers and a lot of trouble occurred. I hope that the authorities concerned will not make decisions which will lead to trouble, because if they do, even the increased charge will not meet the position. As was pointed out earlier to-night, quite a lot of money has been expended in providing amenities at comparatively small seaports. The waterside workers want suitable amenities, because they are interested, not only in their wages, but in the conditions under which they work. I do not know whether the Stevedoring Industry Authority, with the money that it will receive from this increased charge, will be able to improve port installations so that cargoes will be handled more quickly and less expensively. If some of the money is used to provide the facilities with which to discharge cargoes more rapidly, and thus hasten the turn-round of ships, the overall cost will be reduced. I ask the Minister to be a little more careful and not to raise in members on this side of the House the feeling that they must speak in defence of the men. {: #subdebate-29-0-s17 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- I wish to reply very briefly to the comments that have been made by the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Clarey)** and the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson)** during the committee stage. I was very happy to glean from the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo approval for a basis of collaboration and co-operation, if that could be established. I know that he recognizes quite well how difficult it is at times to create an atmosphere in which co-operation, particularly between the representatives of management and of labour, can be established. From his own experience, therefore, I think that he will sense something of my disappointment at the jettisoning by some who claim to speak on behalf of the industrial movement of a very valuable instrument of co-operation, at least for the time being - and I hope that it is no more than that. The honorable member mentioned one or two instances in which, he said, the Government had lacked willingness to accept trade union representation. I am not in a position to argue the merits of that suggestion to-night, but I have no doubt from my personal experience that the establishment and expansion of the sort of cooperation which was building between the Government and the top representatives of the trade unions and of management would create a spirit which would flow out into many other governmental activities. If the degree of collaboration and confidence that he said exists in the primary industries could be established in this industry, then I have little doubt that the sort of representation he asked for could be arranged. The honorable member for Port Adelaide asked whether the fact that a time limit was being placed on part of the charge might not result in inadequate funds being available. The best estimating that we can do would suggest that that will not be so, but, as I pointed out in my second-reading speech, if the Parliament so determines - and the Parliament will no doubt be invited to consider an alternative proposition if the funds are found to be inadequate - then the charge at the higher rate will continue. However, we hope that the surcharge of 6d. will not be required beyond the 30th June. We have that hope for the very reason that the honorable member for Port Adelaide has stressed - that in the long run the burden of imposts of this character, however beneficial they may be for the section they are designed to help, comes back upon the public either because the increase is passed on immediately by the employer or because the employer finds himself unable to make reductions which he may have made had the increased charge not been imposed. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Have you satisfied yourself that that is the case? Why do the companies not meet this charge out of profits? {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- If the honorable gentleman studied the profits of the Australian coastal shipping companies, I am sure that he would not be induced to invest any of his money in them. I have already shown in my earlier remarks that the employers around the coast have absorbed the equivalent of £1 a week of extra labour cost since the last increase was imposed. It is by no means certain that any or all of this additional charge will be added to existing freight rates. That is a decision that has yet to be made. I hope that it will not be found necessary to increase the freight rates, but any such increase will be kept to the minimum if the surcharge is imposed for only the limited period suggested in the bill. Bill agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. [Quorum formed.] Bill - by leave - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 580 {:#debate-30} ### STEVEDORING INDUSTRY CHARGE ASSESSMENT BILL 1958 {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 18th March (vide page 392), on motion by **Mr. Harold** Holt - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - by leave - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 580 {:#debate-31} ### ATOMIC ENERGY BILL 1958 Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by **Mr. Harold** Holt) read a first time. {: .page-start } page 580 {:#debate-32} ### SERVICE AND EXECUTION OF PROCESS BILL 1958 Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by **Mr. Harold** Holt) read a first time. {: .page-start } page 580 {:#debate-33} ### LIFE INSURANCE BILL 1958 {:#subdebate-33-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 13 th March (vide page 286), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-33-0-s0 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- This bill makes one or two minor amendments on the fringe of the broad subject of life insurance. The first amendment excludes from the province of control by federal legislation, certain activities with regard to funeral funds, insofar as these funds are conducted by companies or organizations not normally engaged in insurance. However, if such activities should be conducted as an appendance to other insurance business they will remain within the province of federal legislation. It is felt, as the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** said, when introducing this measure, that activities such as these are better covered by State legislation which deals with friendly societies and co-operative societies. It should be noted that from time to time there has been a great deal of scandal connected with this unfortunate kind of activity I know of cases in Victoria of burial clubs, as they are sometimes known, to which small weekly contributions were made by people - generally elderly people - who felt that they were providing a sum against a decent burial upon their decease. They contributed perhaps for a matter of some months, or even years, and then the person responsible for collecting the contributions fell ill or moved to another place of residence and no person was appointed to take his place. In these circumstances, the contributor was not always sure of where the head office of the fund was and in many cases the agreement lapsed and he lost his contributions. As a result of certain dissatisfaction expressed in Victoria this sort of practice was brought within the province of friendly society control. I do not know what the position is in other States. That is the principal matter dealt with under this bill, but I do not think we should let this opportunity pass to make one or two observations upon the matter of life insurance. Life insurance is a very significant factor indeed in the life of the Australian community. The latest White Paper on National Income shows that the net savings - that is the difference between contributions in premiums and amounts paid out on policies as they fall due - in the year 1956-57 amounted to £57,000,000. The total amount of premiums collected in the same year was £154,000,000. The increase in insurance funds in that year was of the order of £105,000,000. The total sum expended in administration in collecting these vast amounts of money amounted to no less a sum than £23,000,000. Although this is a mechanism for organizing the small savings - and often large savings - of those people in the community who desire to be insured, nevertheless there is a considerable economic cost in all the organization that is associated with it. According to the latest figures which I have been able to obtain from the eleventh annual report of the insurance commissioner for the year ended 31st December, 1956, at the end of that year there were 3,164,000 policies in force, known as ordinary insurance policies. The sum assured under those policies was £2,149,000,000. Roughly, the average amount of each policy was in the region of £700. That is one form of insurance, known under the act, as ordinary insurance. In addition, there is another form known as industrial insurance. This is a sort of insurance policy on which collections are made weekly, fortnightly or monthly, generally at the private residence of the person insured. There were 3,691,000 such policies in force, covering, a sum of £315,000,000, at 31st December, 1956. The average amount of those industrial policies, by contrast with that of the ordinary policies, was only about £90. Many of these industrial policies are taken out for the same kind of reason as funeral insurance is obtained, that is to provide a sum of money to be available at death or for a particular purpose in the course of the insured person's life. But associated with these two kinds of policies are entirely different kinds of problems and I think it is as well that this House, occasionally, should investigate some of the matters associated with this huge field of insurance. I propose, for a few moments, to touch upon one or two of these, and also to draw attention to two matters which have been raised in particular in the last two annual reports of the Insurance Commissioner, In his 10th annual report, referring to the subject of industrial insurance, the commissioner states - >Four companies have now ceased issuing new Industrial policies while the amount of this type of business written by two other companies is negligible. In other words, it is apparently found by some of these companies that the costs involved make it scarcely worth while engaging in this kind of business. I think that some of the larger companies may feel that often they are not doing the person insured a very good turn by having him enter into one of these policies. Nevertheless, it is a very significant form of insurance, and in the last year for which figures are available - and I quote again from the 1 1th annual report - there were 212,000 new industrial policies written during the year ended December, 1956. Considerable statistics have been published in relation to industrial insurance in this document which, I think, I should mention. For example, it is pointed out that in 1955, the latest year for which completed figures are available, 25.8 per cent, of industrial policies, measured in terms of value in relation to new business written in that year, were forfeited. To my way of thinking, that is a very high figure for policies that are forfeited either, perhaps, because of the inability of people to continue paying their contributions or because they have left the district in which they resided and have not bothered to do anything about their policies. The- number of policies forfeited bears quite a significant relationship to the number of new policies issued. In the year 1956, 39,304 ordinary policies and 52,916 industrial policies were forfeited. By way of comparison, in the same year 295,000 new ordinary policies and 212,000 new industrial policies were written. Two kinds of transaction are recurring all the time. On the one hand, people are being chased up to contribute to new policies and, on the other hand, a vast number of people are dropping out. I should think that in a community such as ours that is a cause for a certain amount of concern. Why do so many people enter into a contract and, after a period of time, allow their policy to lapse? Is it because insurance agents are too persistent in trying to induce people to enter into contracts that are beyond their capacity because they have to meet many other contracts, or is it because, after a time, people lose interest and say, " Inflation is rapidly eating away my money, anyway. I doubt whether it is worthwhile contributing to get a sum of less than £90 at the end of many years of weekly contributions "? The commissioner's figures throw a great deal of light upon other problems which I think are a cause for concern to a government that is responsible for administering the Insurance Act. I again direct the attention of honorable members to the eleventh annual report of the Insurance Commissioner which, in table 14, contains a tabulated analysis of business conducted in both the ordinary and industrial fields. In column 9, administrative expenses are shown as a percentage of the premium income for the year. In the case of the Australian Mutual Provident Society the figure is 15.8 per cent., but in one instance it is as high as 57.8 per cent., and in another it is 34.4 per cent. There are many other cases in which the figure is well over 30 per cent. If the commissioner has not the power already to investigate that kind of thing, he should be given that power. Why is it that one insurance company is able so to conduct its business that the relationship of administrative expenses to total premiums is as low as 15.8 per cent, but in another case it is as high as 57.8 per cent.? There may be a particular reason for such a high figure as 57.8 per cent. The company concerned does not seem to be very large; perhaps it is one that has just commenced business, or perhaps it is dying. But there are other quite active companies in relation to which the ratio is well above 30 per cent. I suggest that such a disparity calls for some comment. In my view, it calls for a more systematic examination of the problem of insurance in the community. I know it is easy enough in these matters to suggest the appointment of a committee of inquiry or a royal commission. I hesitate to make such a suggestion, but I feel that, because insurance is such a significant matter in our economic life, an examination is called for. As I have said, insurance is responsible for annual aggregate savings of £57,000,000. The manner in which those savings are invested can have important implications in our economic life. As I shall show in a moment or two, there have been very significant shifts over the last few years in the investment by insurance companies of surplus funds. I repeat that the point that I have just referred to calls for some critical examination. Why is there such a vast difference between the administrative costs of one insurance company and those of another? It must be remembered that the higher the ratio of administrative costs to premium income is, the lower will be the dividend or ultimate return to the person who is insured. The rates of insurance are high enough in the realm of ordinary business; they are much higher in the industrial realm. That fact simply bears out what most df us feel - that possibly industrial insurance has outlived its usefulness, and that it is no longer a very economic proposition when the labour and administration that are required to collect the premium are measured against the benefit that is ultimately reaped. Another matter that is of significance is referred to, also, in the eleventh report of the commissioner. At page seven of the report, the commissioner says - . . very few superannuation schemes provide for transfer of policies from one scheme to another as an employee changes his employment. That, of course, relates to the growing practice of firms of introducing superannuation schemes as an attraction to employees. Some schemes provide for weekly payments to be made to the employee; but more often than not, especially in the smaller concerns, they provide for a lump sum benefit at the end of the given period. Employers and employees make a certain contribution weekly, which is handed to one of the larger insurance companies, and individual policies are written. If a man has a row with his employer and moves to another firm, there is no provision whereby he can have his policy in firm A continued on the same or another basis in firm B. I feel that, because the amount which the employer has contributed has been allowed as a deduction in the assessment of his income tax, the matter has become a public as well as a private one. Similarly, the contribution of the employee will have been allowed as a concessional deduction for income tax purposes. I suggest that, because of the increasing number of such transactions, it is time that the insurance law was altered to provide for, not only a transfer at the behest of the employer, but also an automatic right of transfer where an employee, for any reason, transfers from one undertaking to another. At the present time the transfer is not automatic. It may be effected in some cases, but in many cases, as the Insurance Commissioner points out, a gap occurs and a considerable loss is incurred by the individual holding the policy for the time being with a particular firm. These appear to me to be matters that call for a close examination by the Government, and should lead to an inquiry into the present situation with regard to insurance generally. As I said earlier, the high rate of forfeiture seems to call for some investigation. There is a disparity in administrative expenses as between one insurance firm and another. There is also the matter that I have just mentioned, concerning the right of transfer, in connexion with superannuation schemes, from one company to another. The final matter that I think deserves consideration concerns the manner in which the various insurance companies invest the surplus funds that accrue from moneys deposited with them. Some time ago, it was accepted that insurance companies mostly invested their surplus funds in government securities, but that is no longer the case. For instance, in 1948, of the total assets of insurance companies - amounting then to £480,000,000 - 54.8 per cent, was invested in government securities, State or Commonwealth, and 15.8 per cent, was invested in local government securities. In other words, more than £2 out of every £3 of the assets of these companies were invested in government securities of one kind or another. Rarely were insurance funds invested directly in shares and debentures. Only 4.1 per cent, of total assets, or £20,000,000, was invested in this way in 1948. Mortgage business was also fairly rare. In 1948, it represented only 13.9 per cent, of the total assets of insurance companies. The position has now changed most significantly. By 1954, the total assets of the insurance companies had increased to £776,000,000. Again, this is a very large proportion of the total capital wealth of the community. The proportion invested in mortgages or advances for housing - and I am not suggesting that this is a bad move on the part of the insurance companies - had increased from £67,000,000 to £221,000,000, or from 13.9 per cent, of the total assets to 28.5 per cent. However, despite the fact that the total funds of insurance companies had increased by nearly £300,000,000 the amount invested in government securities remained constant, being £264,000,000. The proportion of total assets represented by these invesments had fallen from 54.8 per cent, in 1948, to 30.9 per cent, in 1954. Fortunately for the local-governing authorities the proportion invested with them has increased slightly. The amount has risen from £76,000,000 to £130,000,000, and the proportion from 15.8 per cent, of the total to 16.8 per cent. In many cases, I think, this has happened because loans have been made directly by insurance companies to various municipalities. The companies have at least filled a gap in this field of investment which, apparently, had been neglected by other investors. 1 think that the Government should ask itself, as a matter of economic policy, why the proportion of investments in government securities to total assets of insurance companies - which, after all, represent mostly only the aggregate of the small savings of the people - has fallen from 54.8 per cent, in 1948 to 30.9 per cent, in 1955. {: .speaker-KIF} ##### Mr Hulme: -- The answer is very simple, is it not? {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- I do not think it is. I think that if we delude ourselves by believing that the answer is simple, we are ignoring a very real problem in the community. There has been too great a tendency on the part of this Government to regard as very simple problems that go to the basis of our economic relationships. Investments in shares and debentures, which formerly had been rare, being only 4.1 per cent, of total investments, or £20,000,000, in 1948, had risen to 8.7 per cent, or £68,000,000 by 1954. In other words, insurance is becoming more and more caught up with prices and profits and other economic aspects affecting the private sector of the economy. To-night I am taking one of the few opportunities that come to us to suggest that, not just slowly but rather quickly, in the period from 1948 to 1954, despite the large increase in total assets of insurance companies, very significant changes have occurred in the way in which funds have been invested. I do not intend to-night even to comment on the question whether these changes are good or bad, but I suggest that at least they pose problems for the Government's examination, as the holder, for the time being, of the economic destiny of this nation. Insurance is a vast business, involving, as I have said, 3,000,000 ordinary policies and 3,000,000 industrial policies. The total amount represented by these policies now reaches the astronomic figure of £2,500,000,000. In view of the changes that have taken place during the last ten years, I feel that the time may have arrived for a comprehensive re-examination of the role which insurance plays in the community to see, among other things, whether there should be some better guidance or directions with regard to the investment of these vast amounts. Debate (on motion by **Mr.** Wilson) adjourned. {: .page-start } page 584 {:#debate-34} ### ADJOURNMENT Import Licensing - Paper - Automobile Spare Parts - War Service Homes - Statement in Debate. Motion (by **Mr. Fairhall)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-34-s0 .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART:
Lang .- The case that I desire to bring to the notice of the House to-night concerns a British immigrant who came to Australia in 1952 with his wife and four children. He commenced business selling bank paper to printers shortly after his arrival in Australia. In 1953 he was granted an import licence to the extent of £6,000 per annum. The amount covered by the licence has been gradually reduced until at present it is at the rate of £2,214 per annum. By arrangement with printers, members of the New South Wales Wholesale Paper Merchants' Association, he was able to obtain, at a special rate, supplies of local and imported bank and bond paper to sell to his printers. By 1955 the turnover in his business approximated £30,000 per annum. In August, 1955, the executive of the association informed his suppliers that they would be expelled from the association if they continued to sell paper to him. In other words, his suppliers, who, being members of the association, were able to obtain from the local manufacturers supplies of Burnie paper, but would be excluded from obtaining supplies of local paper if they were expelled from the association, then arranged to supply him by devious means. He wrote to the managing director of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited seeking supplies of bank paper. He received a reply, part of which reads: - >We would advise that it is our policy to distribute our papers through the recognized wholesale paper trade channels. The yardstick taken for determining such channels is membership of the Wholesale Paper and Wrapping Paper merchants' Associations in the various States. Membership of these associations is not directly our concern, but is governed by certain rules laid down by these associations with respect to such things as the carrying of certain stocks, the servicing of the printing industry, etc. Thus we are unable to sell white and tinted bank papers direct to you unless you are a member of an association such as the New South Wales Wholesale Paper Merchants' Association. I direct your attention, **Mr. Speaker,** to the statement that membership of the association is governed by rules such as that covering the carrying of certain stocks. I am informed that the value of stocks so carried should amount to £10,000. What hope has any individual, endeavouring to set himself up in the paper business, of obtaining stock worth £10,000? In any case, such stock would have to be purchased from a member of the association at the prevailing wholesale rate, and not at the rate at which the association obtained it from the manufacturers. This man made repeated requests to the Government for an import licence. H» saw officials at the Imports Division of the Department of Trade, at William-street, Sydney, on numerous occasions. I interviewed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade on his behalf and with him on two or three occasions, but all requests for an import licence were refused. The letter received from the Parliamentary Secretary reads: - >Your application has been examined but as supplies of bank paper are available to meet reasonable requirements, the allocation of addi- tiona! funds for this commodity could not be justified at present, li is not considered appropriate that a situation arising from established practices within a particular trade should be subject to intervention by the import licensing administration unless there is a breach of regulations. It is regretted, therefore, that it is not possible to help you to overcome the difficulties which you described. The man then appealed to the Import Licensing Appeal Committee and also to the Import Licensing Advisory Review Board, but both appeals have been rejected. The letter he received from the board reads - >After giving full consideration to all the evidence tendered in this matter, the board furnished a report to the Minister for Trade. In this report, the board informed the Minister of its opinion that it was not practicable, within the framework of current Government policy to recommend any variation of the departmental decision to reject your request. The Minister has concurred with the finding of the board. In other words, the Government and the import licensing authorities, who know that this man has been victimized by the association, claim they are not able to do anything to assist him because it is not Government policy to interfere with existing trade practices. During the last few days we have heard a great deal about the Hurseys in Tasmania. Here we have a parallel situation at the other end of the pole. I want to hear Government members agree with me that this situation deserves the attention of the Government, and that something should be done to assist this British immigrant who came to Australia in 1952 and, through his own initiative, endeavoured to set himself up in business but because of the action of the Paper Merchants Association was not able to obtain supplies. The members broke the rules of the association in supplying him with paper until the executive of the association prevented further supplies from going to him. In a couple of years he had built up his business to the extent that it had a turnover of £30,000 per annum. Gradually the noose was tightened around his neck until to-day he is expected to exist on an import licence worth £2,214 per annum. The Government will not do anything at all to assist him; it will not interfere with an existing trade practice irrespective of the fact that it is causing this man extreme hardship, that it can be proved he is being victimized, and that the regulations governing membership of the association preclude other people from obtaining supplies to set themselves up in business. This Government, which professes to believe in free enterprise, in giving every man the opportunity to set himself up in business to make profits for himself, pays only lip service to private enterprise. I want the Government to do something about this matter. Time and time again during the last few days we have heard about the action of a union against the Hurseys. I wonder whether the Government will do anything to assist this man who is being victimized, not by a union but by the New South Wales Wholesale Paper Merchants Association. It should do something to prevent these monopolistic and restrictive trade practices that are increasing every day in private business undertakings. {: #debate-34-s1 .speaker-KSC} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay: Order! The honorable member's time has expired. ' {: #debate-34-s2 .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE:
Capricornia -- I agree entirely with the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** that certain groups of people, particularly in the manufacturing and wholesale business, are making a determined effort to prevent any up-and-coming young man from establishing himself in a wholesale business where an organization sufficiently large exists to crush him. I have no doubt that the statements made by the honorable member are accurate. He cannot, however, expect that the granting of an import licence will solve problems such as this. The department is probably correct in saying that at the present time paper supplies in Australia are adequate to meet the man's demands. To my knowledge a cartel also operates in the automobile spare parts industry to prevent young men from starting in business. A young man in my electorate started a business, but when it began to prosper the established wholesalers tightened their grip on supplies and prevented him from purchasing from the manufacturers. The answer lies, not in import licensing, but in the application of the Australian Industries Preservation Act which became law in 1906 and still remains on the statute-book. I should like to see those people who are being victimized throughout the community band together and put a test case through the courts in order to see whether that act is applicable. I am quite positive that this act still applies and that the protection given by it may be availed of through a court decision. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- Could the AttorneyGeneral not institute similar action under that act? {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- Yes. There is a section in the act which provides that the Attorney-General may act in certain circumstances. But the cases that I have in mind and which have been brought to the Attorney-General's attention concern people who have been frightened to proceed with their action because they might later be involved in litigation which they cannot afford. So they have asked the Attorney-General to back down on the case relating to automobile spare parts. There must be hundreds of these people throughout the Australian countryside in various forms of business enterprise. Many of them are young fellows, immigrants or Australians, attempting to start in business. They have been squashed by established businesses through the rings and the socalled organizations that have been set up. I believe that if it is sufficiently publicized throughout Australia that the Industries Preservation Act is still on the statute-book, those people who have certain rights under it might, by a combined effort, put up a test case, which would deter any wholesale association from trying to squeeze the young fellows in the community. I have attempted, in the cases that have come to my notice, to apply the cure mentioned by the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** which is to seek an import licence so that the men can carry on in business, but I agree with the department that that is not the permanent cure. It can be only a temporary cure. This disease does not affect only this one man. It has affected hundreds of young men who have wanted to establish a business. I believe that they have their rights in law. Governments of the past tackled this problem by putting the Australian Industries Preservation Act on the statute-book. If we can publicize the fact that this act applies and has severe penalties attached to it, even in terms of the present value of money, sufficient of these people may join together and, by testing the matter in court, squash this thing for ever. The law is there and the people must use the law. I believe that in these cases the men affected, by a combined effort, could do a lot for each other. I should like to see young men of courage who are affected in this way join together, test the case, and smash these rings. I also ask the Government to examine the Australian Industries' Preservation Act. It was passed in 1906 and, if need be, it should be revised in order to stop this sort of thing. I know of a struggling young man who invested his savings and his family's savings in a business. Then the squeeze came on him and his business dwindled while, over the street, an established wholesaler extended his premises to cope with the business that he received at the expense of this young man. That is not right. Nobody can justify that sort of thing. I suggest that the hundreds of people who are affected in this way should get together, publicize their cause, pick a test case, take it to the courts, and fight it out. Also, the Government should have another look at the Australian Industries Preservation Act and see whether it cannot, by amendment, be brought up to date in order to ensure that young men of initiative are given a fair go and are not squeezed out of business. {: #debate-34-s3 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler .- The honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** has raised a very important matter relating to imports - the control that certain people have over the activities and prosperity of other individuals in the community. Whilst the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Pearce)** agreed, in substance, with the honorable member for Lang, the best that he could offer, in effect, was his sympathy to those concerned. I think that too much power is given to too few individuals to decide the destiny, in a business sense, of people such as those instanced by the honorable member for Lang. When all is said and done, to give people the power to say whether a man shall be in business or out of business is to give them a power that should be very thoroughly policed. Without going into the details of the matter, I support the submissions of the honorable member for Lang and I hope the Government will do more than sympathize with the people who have been very harshly treated. Sympathy does not get a man far when he is out of work, his business is gone, and his life savings are lost because of an action by some government official. There is a strong case to be made out for a complete review of cases of that nature and of many others which, I have no doubt, have come to the attention of honorable members. Sympathy is all right but people cannot live on it. We need a bit of practical action. I also have a matter to raise relating to war service homes, but before doing so, I should like to ask the Minister for Territories **(Mr. Hasluck),** who is at the table, whether any Minister takes notice of what is said during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of this House. In the last couple of weeks I have raised a few matters and only one Minister, the Minister for the Navy **(Mr. Davidson),** has bothered to ask me the names of the individuals concerned. It is of no use honorable members rising in their places and speaking on these matters if they are to be treated with contempt by Ministers. We do not get much opportunity to speak. This morning our " Grievance Day " was monopolized by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** and we were not given an opportunity to express our views. Therefore, to-night and on other nights when we speak on the adjournment, I hope that the Minister who happens to be at the table will, at least, take the necessary steps to ensure that matters that are brought up are referred to the Ministers concerned. I know that Government supporters form a silent, dumb organization. They do not care if they are never heard. They are used to the Ministry wiping them off. But on this side of the Parliament we want action and if we do not get it we are prepared to say that we are dissatisfied. If the electors put up with Government supporters who sit silently by while the Government takes no notice of their representations, that is the fault of the electorate. When I raise matters in relation to my electorate I hope that the Ministry will take some notice of them and, if it does not, I shall continue to press them. I now turn to the subject of war service homes. It has been said that immediate finance is available to provide homes for ex-servicemen under the War Service Homes Act. I put a question on the notice-paper a day or so ago and, for once, I received a reasonably prompt answer. I was told that the approximate waiting period for applicants desiring to purchase war service homes already erected was fifteen months from the date of the receipt of the application. The Government has been giving the broad story that war service homes finance is available forthwith. Look what is happening during the fifteen months' waiting time! I have here a copy of a letter that I wrote to the Minister for Repatriation **(Senator Cooper).** In it, I cited the case of a home purchaser whose application for a loan of £2,750 had been approved. He was told at the time, that he would have to wait for twelve or fifteen months. In the meantime, be was recommended by the War Service Homes Division to a finance house which is charging him £25 a month interest on an amount of money that this Government should have given him immediately. I submit that it is too much to expect a worker to pay £6 a week out of his wages in interest to a finance house. I subsequently wrote back to the War Service Homes Division asking whether it recommended to finance houses suitable persons on the waiting list, whether it made any check on the rate of interest charged by a finance house, and whether any action was taken to prevent the exploitation of exservicemen. I received a reply to the effect that the division did recommend in this waiting period suitable people to whom loans might be granted. After the receipt of that letter I placed a question on the notice-paper asking whether it was the policy of the War Service Homes Division to recommend ex-servicemen to apply to finance houses for loans, and for particulars of the rates of interest charged and so on. This is the answer that I received - >The War Service Homes Division does not recommend an applicant to apply to any particular organization to raise temporary finance. If an applicant desires advice he is shown a list on which all of the names of those who have advised their willingness to provide temporary finance are included. The arrangements for temporary finance are made personally by the applicant . . . The rate of interest charged is a matter between the applicant and the lending authority selected by the applicant . . . and the question as to whether the rate is reasonable is not within the jurisdiction of the division. In other words, a government, 75 per cent., of whose supporters are ex-servicemen, allows the War Service Homes Division to recommend applicants who have been approved to go to places where they are exploited to the extent, as I have already shown, of having to pay interest up to £25 a month. I have before me another case of a person in similar circumstances who is waiting for money. One finance company will lend him £150 at 25 per cent, interest, but other firms will not consider the proposition as there are already two mortgages on the house. This shows that ex-servicemen are paying interest at rates of up to 25 per cent, on the recommendation of the War Service Homes Division. Honorable members opposite may ask what the Government can do about it. I shall tell them. Spokesmen for the Government have said that there is no housing shortage and no lack of finance. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and various Government supporters have said that. Why, then, cannot the Government make the loan money available immediately in order to prevent ex-servicemen from being exploited through having to obtain temporary financial assistance from finance houses? It is a sorry commentary on the Government's administration that the War Service Homes Division recommends exservicemen to obtain temporary loans from finance houses, to which they have to pay half of their wages in order to get a roof over their families. These are matters which the Government ought to investigate. We do not want to hear the Prime Minister, or the Minister administering the War Service Homes Division **(Senator Spooner)** say that money is available immediately, because such a reply, if I am to judge from the answer I received to my question, would be far from the truth. I hope that the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division will take immediate steps to speed up the granting of finance by the division to persons who want to purchase homes and prevent the exploitation of exservicemen by firms which, in effect, batten on the need and tragic plight of people who are unable to obtain homes. I ask the Government to take notice of the cases that I have mentioned. I am prepared to hand the details to the Minister for Territories **(Mr. Hasluck),** who is sitting at the table. But, in an overall approach to the matter, the Government, which should protect ex-servicemen, should take effective action to ensure that money is made available immediately to prevent them being exploited by finance houses. Justice should be given to those who are urgently in need of homes. {: #debate-34-s4 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee .- As usual, the honorable member for Grayndler **(Mr. Daly)** has told only the part of the story that suits him. What is the position regarding finance for war service homes? What have honorable members said in this House? I have listened to a number of speeches on this subject. It has been pointed out that finance is available almost immediately to ex-servicemen who want to build homes, but that if a man wants to buy a home that is already built, the waiting period for a loan is as stated by the honorable member for Grayndler. I noticed that the honorable member was very careful to keep off the question of the building of homes; and, of course, the building of houses is of paramount importance. {: .speaker-KXZ} ##### Mr Peters: -- What is the difference? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The difference is this: If an ex-serviceman or any one else buys an existing house for his family to occupy, some one has to move out, whereas every house that is built is an additional home and helps to overcome the housing shortage and gives employment to the building trade. This, of course, helps the people about whom the Labour party has been very vocal recently. That is the whole story. The honorable member for Grayndler would have us believe that all ex-servicemen who want to build or buy homes have to wait for fifteen or eighteen months to obtain war service homes loans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The honorable member tells not the whole story, but only a half of it. Very often half of a story is worse than the whole story. He did not keep to the facts. I have a very vocal member beside me in the person of the honorable member for Burke. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- Do you mean the honorable member for Scullin? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- Yes. I mean the honorable member for Scullin. He was formerly the honorable member for Burke. I am often called the honorable member for Wimmera by Labour members, particularly by the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard).** It is a joke that he tries to put over us. I realise that members of the Opposition are only trying to divert me from my theme. I rose to put the record straight. We do not want the honorable member for Grayndler to tell only half the story in an effort to confuse the issue and make it appear that an injustice is being done to ex-servicemen who require houses. I hear the honorable member for Scullin interjecting that an exserviceman seeking a loan must own a block of land. Under certain conditions, that is necessary. However, I remind the honorable member that if an ex-serviceman wants to buy a house, the value of the land on which the house is situated is taken into consideration; in the long run, it does not make any difference. As I said at the outset, the vital point is that every house built is an additional home, but when an existing house is purchased, someone has to move out. The purchase of existing homes does not help to overcome the housing problem and it does not do a great service to the exservicemen. {: #debate-34-s5 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN:
Moreton **.- Mr. Speaker,** I apologize for detaining the House at this late hour, but I want to raise a matter which I believe is singularly important. I want to refer, indeed, to two matters. The first is an apparent weakness in the Standing Orders of the House, and the second is the behaviour in this House of the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward).** It would appear to any person with two wits to rub together - and that, no doubt would exclude a few on the other side - that we have now reached a stage where any honorable member can rise in his place and say to you, **Sir, and** to the Parliament, and ultimately to the country that he has heard by way of rumour that the honorable member for so-and-so: before he entered this House, was a bigamist on five counts, that he was an embezzler, a cheat and a liar, and accuse him by applying to him any term that he may select; he may level against the honorable member for so-and-so any charge of infamy. That is plainly an intolerable position. Last night, the honorable member for East Sydney declared to this House that he had heard certain things by way of rumour - and he repeated the phrase " by way of rumour" in approximately that context - and he went on to say that the rumours had come from a number of quarters. He did not produce to the House one tittle of evidence that would tend to substantiate the charge - the allegation - that he made. .The charge was a particularly miserable one in the circumstances under which it was delivered, because it was delivered against a gentleman who has just come amongst us. Far be it for me to presume to offer to that gentleman any protection. I think he will be more than capable of looking after himself when he gets an opportunity to do so. I feel that if there is any sense of responsibility residing in the honorable member for East Sydney, upon reflection even he will regret having made the charge. There are two things I should now proceed to say. The first is that the House may well devote its attention to correcting what is an apparent weakness in the Standing Orders that control its activities. If the House continues to tolerate a situation, which I have just described, in which it appears to be the privilege - so-called, and a rather quaint privilege - of any honorable member to say to the House that he has heard, by way of rumour, that suchandsuch a thing was said against an honorable member, that he was charged with soandso, or that he did so-and-so before he came into this Parliament, we will tolerate anything. The second thing that I want to say is this: It is high time that the bluff of the honorable member for East Sydney was called. There is nothing at all to the honorable gentleman. Bluff, bullying and bluster are about the only weapons that he knows. Therefore, **Mr. Speaker,** I suggest that the honorable member should be summoned before the Privileges Committee of this House and asked to produce evidence to substantiate the charge that he made last evening. If we are prepared to tolerate indefinitely the reckless mischief of which the honorable member for East Sydney is capable, we ourselves shall exhibit a sense of grievous irresponsibility. {: #debate-34-s6 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- I am rather interested in the choice of a representative, or defender, made by the honorable member for Parramatta **(Sir Garfield Barwick).** Now that we are talking about rumours, I may remind the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen),** who has introduced this subject this evening, that I had heard, also, the rumour that, in his own part of the world, in the days when he was a jackaroo, before he entered the Parliament - and the conditions under which jackaroos lived and worked account for his stunted growth, both mentally and physically - the honorable member, who was in those days a rebel, was referred to as " Killen the ' Com.' ". It is only now that he has come into this chamber that he is prepared to take every available opportunity to try to demonstrate that he is the one champion opposed to communism in this country. Let me now turn to the matter to which the honorable member referred when he talked about charges. Is any honorable member sufficiently naive to say that he has not heard the rumour that I mentioned last evening? Any one who moves in legal circles in Sydney, and elsewhere in Australia, hears it said continually that the honorable member for Parramatta had not been paid a direct fee, in the normal sense, by the Australian Associated Banks, for which he appeared before the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council in 1948 and 1949. As I was entitled to do, under the Standing Orders, I merely raised the right of the honorable member to cast a vote in a particular matter. There was no question of a charge against any one's character. Government Supporters. - Oh, no! {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- No! I merely questioned the honorable member's eligibility to record a vote on a particular measure. In doing that, I exercised a right that is accorded me under the Standing Orders. The honorable member for Parramatta said, " There is no basis for the rumour ". I accept his word for that. But I suggest to him that he would clarify the matter much more satisfactorily if he were to tell us the facts and say how he was paid for his services to the Australian Associated Banks in 1948 and 1949. This is a matter of "great public interest in this country. As I have said, I have heard the rumour discussed in many quarters, and I am quite certain that the honorable member for Parramatta himself knows that it has been discussed. I have no doubt that, on some occasion, he has heard the rumour himself in the circles in which he moves. What is it that worries the honorable member for Moreton? He becomes very sensitive when he thinks that a slur has been made upon the character of some honorable member. However, he did not challenge the honorable member for Robertson **(Mr. Dean)** for reflecting on my character. The reflection was brought to my notice only recently. Had I been aware of the occurrence, I would have taken exception, at the time, to what was said. It is now recorded in " Hansard ", and, therefore, I am now afforded the opportunity to answer the allegation. The honorable member for Robertson stated that he lived close to a certain gentleman. I think that the person whom he mentioned was a **Mr. "** Wally '* Evans, who, at one time, had been secretary of the New South Wales branch of tha Australian Labour party. The honorable member said that this gentleman, in conversation, had made reference to the fact that I was a Communist contact man in the Commonwealth Parliament. I think that was the statement that the honorable member made. It is interesting to note that the honorable member for Robertson made this filthy assertion only a few months ago, after the man who he alleges made the statement in question had died. Why did the honorable member not raise the matter earlier? On his own statement, he has been a member of this Parliament for eight years. He remained silent for eight years, and chose to reveal this alleged statement made by a dead man, who cannot now defend himself, only after that man's death. Why did the honorable member for Moreton not demand, when that statement was made in this House, that the honorable member for Robertson should be made to prove his allegation against a member of this place? The honorable member for Moreton becomes sensitive only when anything is said against a Government supporter. The statement made by the honorable member for Robertson was an absolute lie, and there is no doubt that this filthy individual in this Parliament- {: #debate-34-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark. It is completely out of order, and is unparliamentary. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I withdraw it - with great pleasure, having said it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member will now withdraw his latest remark. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I have withdrawn it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member will withdraw the later remark. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I withdraw my later remark. J suggest to the honorable member for Moreton that he should not be so sensitive when honorable members exercise their rights. All 1 did was to exercise my rights, and I now ask the honorable member for Parramatta, who, according to the honorable member for Moreton, will be able to look after himself when he gets the opportunity, what better opportunity he wants than this? Any honorable member may speak during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. The honorable member for Parramatta need not wait for a special invitation to defend himself. I suggest to him that, if he does not want his reputation to suffer, he should get a much more fitting advocate than the honorable member for Moreton to put a matter before the House. {: #debate-34-s8 .speaker-ZL6} ##### Mr HASLUCK:
Minister for Territories · Curtin · LP -- I would, if I may, try to dissociate this matter from personalities or any feeling that may exist between persons, and I ask honorable members on both sides of the House to give very serious and sober consideration to what I think many of us believe is a real problem bearing upon the functioning of this Parliament. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** has suggested that honorable members should not be sensitive about these things. I think that most of us, as practising politicians, learn not to be sensitive. But surely things are coming to a sorry pass in the Commonwealth Parliament when a newly elected member, who has been chosen by a vote of the people of a constituency to represent it in this chamber, is challenged to make his maiden speech in defence of his personal reputation. Something has gone wrong with this legislature when such challenges are thrown from side to side of this House. The general situation to which the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen)** directed attention, and to which the honorable member for East Sydney responded - and I stress that, from this point onwards, I want to take the matter away from any particular reference or allusion to a particular person - is surely this - that, under the practices that have grown up in this House over a number of years, it is now possible for an honorable member on either side of the House, by innuendo, imputation, or direct charge, to say something which is grossly damaging to the reputation of a fellow member, and which may even carry the imputation that the fellow member is guilty of unparliamentary conduct or even of something that would have rendered him subject to the processes of the laws of the land if it had been done outside this House. Such a statement, imputation, or implication, having been made, the honorable member against whom it is made may rise and deny it, and say that it is not true. We then reach the position where, the House not having intervened, a statement containing the imputation has been made, a statement denying the imputation has been made, and a reputation has been damaged. If that is to be regarded as a satisfactory way of conducting the business of Parliament, we are reaching a stage where a good deal of the traffic of debate must turn in the direction of simply destroying each other's reputation, and of regarding this as being part of the common practice of Australian legislature. That is surely neither in the parliamentary tradition which we have inherited nor in the hope which we have for establishing even sounder traditions in Australia. I would like members of the Opposition particularly to cast their minds back to a period - not so long agowhen they were popularizing, through the length and breadth of this land, the phrase " the onus of proof ". What is the situation which the honorable member for East Sydney seems *to* be defending now? It is a situation in which any member of this House can make an imputation, with or without foundation in fact, placing the onus of proof on the fellow against whom it is made. He has to defend himself. It is not necessary for the accuser to come forward and produce a single fact. It is not necessary for the person whose dirty mind has been revolving around rumour to come forward and prove a single point. The onus is placed on, possibly, an innocent party to produce facts which clear his reputation, besmirched as it has been in this place and all over the country. Is that the sort of thing for which members of this Parliament on either side want to stand? I say that it is something far below the standards which the great majority of us - on both sides of the House - set ourselves. {: #debate-34-s9 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Lalor .- I have listened with interest to the righteous indignation of the Minister for Territories **(Mr. Hasluck).** From time to time rather rough things are said in this Parliament, but they are not said exclusively by the members of any one party. In my experience of over twenty years in this Parliament I have noticed that some of the dirtiest and roughest imputations made by Government supporters have been directed at the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward).** I know that the Minister for Territories has not been here for twenty years, but in his long membership of the Parliament he has not previously seen fit to deliver such an oration, or rebuke any honorable member who has cast an aspersion upon any other honorable member of this House. It is remarkable that on this occasion we have had a Sunday school lecture from the Minister simply because something has been said, not by way of aspersion or reflection on the honorable member for Parramatta **(Sir Garfield Barwick),** in connexion with legislation affecting the banking institutions from which Government supporters derive their fighting funds. What are the facts? The imputation is that it was cowardly to make reference to the honorable member for Parramatta because he was a new member. If I know the honorable member for Parramatta, he is well able to defend himself. In fact, if the matter were to be raised at all it had to be raised at once - immediately the honorable member for Parramatta had cast his vote. My colleague merely made an inquiry concerning a rumour that the honorable member for Parramatta had received an annuity in payment for services rendered. Is there anything wrong in accepting an annuity instead of a cash payment, in such a case? I wish that I had been given an annuity, instead of wages, in return for some of the services that I have rendered over the years. The honorable member for East Sydney asked whether the rumour circulating was based on fact and, if it were, whether the honorable member for Parramatta was eligible to vote. That was a simple and elementary proposition. There was nothing dirty or wrong about it. It was not half as bad as an interjection by one Government supporter not ten minutes ago - "What about the honorable member and timber?" That accusation is repeatedly flung around this House. The honorable member for East Sydney can take it because no one, either in this Parliament or outside of it, has ever been able to convict him of personal dishonesty. His character, his home life and his honesty are beyond reproach - and every Government supporter knows it. There is not a capitalist press, or Government supporter, who would not damage irreparably the reputation of the honorable member if that were possible. But he is clean, and they have never been able to do that. We have heard to-night a pettifogging protest from a lot of people who never cease to cast dirty imputations against honorable members on this side of the chamber. {: #debate-34-s10 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr SWARTZ:
Darling Downs -- I assume that the speeches of the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** and the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard)** are a substitute for an apology for the rather scandalous behaviour yesterday of the honorable member for East Sydney. The matter to which I wish to refer very briefly to-night concerns import licensing. During the debate a number of direct and indirect references have been made to the import licensing system. As most honorable members know, I have, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, a rather close association with this system. The honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Pearce)** has raised, rather indirectly, a number of matters relating to this subject. He has always been a very strong advocate on behalf of constituents who have raised this subject with him. He has, on quite a number of occasions brought matters forward for consideration, and has presented his case in a particularly constructive manner. Although he may not always have been successful we have always had the benefit of his advice. I was very interested to hear his assessment of the situation. He pointed out quite clearly that the import licensing system was designed to protect our balance of trade position and not. for any other specific purpose. The honorable member for Grayndler **(Mr. Daly)** referred to the subject indirectly. He used a great many words but, I am afraid, said very little. The honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** mentioned a case with which I am personally acquainted. I can assure him that the matter was given every consideration on the departmental and ministerial level and went as far as the Import Licensing Advisory Review Board. The board decided that the case did not come within the policy laid down by the Government and therefore could not be recommended. In view of the information that the honorable member has produced to-night, I will undertake to see that the case is reviewed during the next import licensing period, and will provide him with further details as soon as that is possible. {: #debate-34-s11 .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Smith · Kingsford -- If I were one of the sensitive kind I should be almost overcome with emotion upon listening to the sickening slobber of the Minister for Territories **(Mr. Hasluck).** {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The expression " slobber " is unparliamentary, and the honorable member will withdraw it. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- I withdraw the word " slobber ". The fighting endeavour of the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen)** to defend the character of the honorable member for Parramatta **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** seems strange in view of the eulogies that we have heard in the last few months of the calibre and brilliance of this great man. I think he has made an awful mistake for a man who, according to the daily press, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and all the claquers who went to Parramatta to assist in his election campaign, is able to earn £30,000 a year. I believe that the Government parties are quite upset at the failure of the honorable member for Parramatta to poll as great a number of votes as his predecessor in the seat. The people of Parramatta spoke in no uncertain terms and showed what they thought of the present honorable member for Parramatta. Motion (by **Mr. Harold** Holt) put - That the question be now put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.) AYES: 50 NOES: 23 Majority 27 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.47 p.m. {: .page-start } page 594 {:#debate-35} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS The following answers to questions were circulated: - {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Taxation {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-KXI} ##### Mr Webb: b asked the Treasurer, upon notice - >As children of pensioners are often called upon to meet portion of the expense associated with a parent's admittance to a rest home or convalescent home and also, in some cases, portion of the funeral expenses of their parents, will he consider allowing these expenses as a concessional deduction for taxation purposes'? {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - >The provisions regarding income tax deductions for medical and funeral expenses already extend to amounts expended by a taxpayer in relation to a parent who is a dependant, as defined for income tax purposes, of the taxpayer. The question of extending the present allowances to cases which are beyond these limits will be considered when the taxation provisions are reviewed prior to the next Budget. {: #subdebate-35-0-s2 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: d asked the Treasurer, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Under what circumstances are bonus shares in public companies exempt from Commonwealth taxation? 1. What percentage of the bonus shares issued in each of the last three years was deemed to be non-taxable? {: #subdebate-35-0-s3 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The income tax law exempts - (i) bonus shares issued in satisfaction of a dividend paid wholly and exclusively out of profits from the re-valuation of assets not acquired for resale at a profit or from the issue of shares at a premium (section 44(2.) (b) (iii) of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1936-1957); (ii) bonus shares issued in satisfaction of dividends which, if paid in money, would be exempt from tax (sections 44 (2.)(a), 44 (2.)(b)(i), 44 (2.)(c), 44 (2.)(d), 44 (3.), 44 (4.) and 107). 1. Statistics of the percentage of bonus shares exempt from tax are not available. {:#subdebate-35-1} #### Wheat {: #subdebate-35-1-s0 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Do the terms of the United Kingdom- Australia Trade Agreement, concluded earlier this year, assure to Australian wheat-growers a market in Britain of 28,000,000 bushels of wheat each year? 1. Did the quantity of Australian wheat exported to the United Kingdom market in thefive years preceding the outbreak of World War II. average 52,000,000 bushels per annum? 2. Has he claimed that, in having provided in the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement for an assured British market for 28,000,000 bushels, he has achieved a great result for the wheat-growers of this country; if so, why? {: #subdebate-35-1-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Yes. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Pre-war trading figures have no relevance to present-day conditions in the United Kingdom wheat market. In particular, Australian wheat and flour have experienced heavily subsidized competition on that market in post-war years. In the three years prior to the commencement of the agreement, imports of Australian wheat and wheat equivalent of flour into the United Kingdom were as follows: - Under the agreement Australia is assured of a continuing opportunity to ship at least 28,000,000 bushels of wheat and/or wheat equivalent of flour to the United Kingdom each year. {:#subdebate-35-2} #### Trade with Communist China {: #subdebate-35-2-s0 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What has been the value of Australian exports to Communist China in the last (a) twelve months and (b) three months? 1. What has been the nature of the exports, and what were their respective values? {: #subdebate-35-2-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen:
CP -- The following table sets out the answers to the honorable member's questions: - {:#subdebate-35-3} #### Import Licensing {: #subdebate-35-3-s0 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Did he state in October, 1956, that action was taken to cancel licences where importers sold, or trafficked in, their rights, and where, because of shortages of goods, importers raised prices so that there clearly was unconscionable exploitation? 1. Is it the practice to refuse subsequent applications for import licences received from persons whose previous licences have been cancelled on these grounds? 2. If not, are applicants, previously deemed guilty of improper practices, in many instances granted licences almost immediately following the cancellation of their previous licence? {: #subdebate-35-3-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="a" start="l"} 0. Yes. 2 and 3. The fact that a licence issued to a person has been cancelled on the grounds stated by the honorable member is not regarded as necessarily debarring the person concerned from ever again receiving a licence. Indeed a person may "traffic" in only part of his licences - the remainder of his quota he may use in a bona fide manner in accordance with normal business operations. In this type of case the quota would be reduced by the value of the licences involved in the malpractice but the importer would operate on the balance of his quota. An application received from a person who has had his licence entitlement cancelled would be considered in relation to the circumstances surrounding his " trafficking " operations and the circumstances surrounding his subsequent request for a licence. The time that elapsed between the trafficking operation and the subsequent request for a licence would be taken into consideration together with other factors. Each case must be considered on its merits. It would not be possible to lay down a hard and fast rule to cover all cases. {:#subdebate-35-4} #### Eggs- {: #subdebate-35-4-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: m asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Did I ask him, upon notice given on the 27th February last, to what countries and at what price the Australian Egg Board had made sales of eggs in shell in the last twelve months? 1. Did he answer that the world shell egg market is a highly competitive one and it would not be in the best interests of the egg industry to disclose prices obtained in individual markets for the simple reason that dissatisfaction might be created in those countries paying the higher prices and future sales might be prejudiced accordingly? 2. Why did the reports of the Australian Egg Board for 1955-56, which he tabled on 31st October, 1956, and for 1956-57, which he tabled on 13th March last, show the prices obtained for eggs sold in shell in our leading markets, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong? {: #subdebate-35-4-s1 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon:
Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. The honorable member has quoted an extract from my previous reply to him. The full text appears in the " Hansard " report of 27th February, 1958. 2. This is a matter for the Australian Egg Board. I am informed that it is customary for the Board to include in the annual report it issues some months after the close of each egg marketing year a statement of the average prices received over the previous export season for eggs and egg pulp sold to the main oversea markets. As the honorable member may be aware, the Australian Egg Board's main markets are normally the United Kingdom and Western Germany. For very good reasons the board fixes the export prices for sales to Singapore and Hong Kong, but is not itself a seller to those destinations. The State Egg Boards compete among themselves for the business. In my reply of 27th February, 1958, to the honorable member, I provided information regarding the quantities of eggs sold by the Australian Egg Board to all oversea markets during the 1957-58 season. While the board is agreeable that its average selling prices to the United Kingdom and Western Germany, together with the export prices fixed for Singapore and Hong Kong during 1957-58 be disclosed, it does not wish the selling price basis on which it has been developing new and expanding markets to be made available for general information. This is quite understandable, and I respect the board's wishes, which are in the interests of the suppliers of the eggs that the board handles for export. If the honorable member so wishes, I will be happy to inform him of the average prices received by the Australian Egg Board for egg sales in 1957-58 to the United Kingdom and Western Germany and also the prices fixed by the board for sales to Singapore and Hong Kong. The board does not think it wise to go further than that. {:#subdebate-35-5} #### Olives {: #subdebate-35-5-s0 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr Swartz: z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Are plans being considered by an organization in South Australia for the establishment of an olive tree plantation? 1. If so, is there any indication of the estimate.! size of the plantation and the prospective production of olives and olive oil? {: #subdebate-35-5-s1 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon:
LP -- The answer to the honorable member's questions is as follows: - >I am informed that several newly formed companies are interested in the development of olive plantations in South Australia. The production of olives is a matter for the individuals concerned and the Government of the State concerned. Details of the production plans are not known to me or my department but it is understood that a significant degree of production has noi yet been attained.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 March 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.